Project LS S13: Part 1 - Getting the Chassis Ready

By George Kilada


Our latest project started as an accident.  The S13 that we are using started off as Chuck Johnson's, one of our writers, daily driver.  It was a really nice S13 with a sano SR swap, built well with nice parts.  Then a lady driving a late model Acura, amazingly with no insurance, decided to run a stop sign unbelievably in her own neighborhood smashing into Chuck and taking out the front end of the S13.  Even though the damage was minor, Chuck's insurance company totaled the car.  Chuck bought the car back from the insurance company and most of the good parts were swapped into our Project S13 LSR.

The shell of the car sat at Chuck's house until he decided to donate it to us for another cool project.  Since we now have an S13 with no drivetrain, what better to do with it than stick a Chevy LS engine in it?  What we envision is building a budget replica of Dai Yoshihara's Formula D winning Falken Tire S13.  After all we know how to do it.  However, we will do it on a budget so perhaps it might not be as trick as Dai's car, but it will rock.

We are not going to build the car just for drifting but as an all around car.  Not too many people know but Dai and the S13 handily won Ken Block's Gymkanna event which showed that the car has plenty of potential for grip driving.  We plan to take the car to the Optima Challenge and other events traditionally dominated by domestic iron to see if we can do something at this event and other track activities.

To start the car off, we stripped it to a bare shell to get it ready for some fabrication.  Stripping a car is hard work and not exactly easy.  Here is how we prepped the car for the next steps of fabrication.

Our other S13 Project!

First the obvious, we took the interior out by unbolting it.  Here Chris Marion attacks the inside of our S13.  BTW, if anyone wants to buy a really nice S13 interior, let us know!
Dai Yoshihara wanted to prove to us that he can work on cars.  Here is Dai hard at work taking out the spare tire.
Here I am doing something.  I don't know who was taking this picture.
The last totally cherry uncracked S13 factory dash in existence! 
Removing the interior and wire harness took about 2 hours of working carefully to preserve the parts.  The complete interior is for sale.


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Friday, February 08, 2013 3:22 AM
in the non structural brackets picture it looks like the front crossmember that holds the seats on has been removed. in all the cages I've built I've always assumed the floor would be too floppy without that bracket. do you find that the floor needs reinforcement in that area afterwards or is it completely removable?
Friday, February 08, 2013 3:29 AM
Did you paint the cleaned seams with a weld through primer? if so, which one? Or will it just be cleaned off later?
Friday, February 08, 2013 4:49 AM
Since it wont be street legal I assume you will be getting an LS on the cheap? There are so many sources for getting one these days I am interested to see which route you take.
Friday, February 08, 2013 5:09 AM
First of all, my DE-based S13 still has an original uncracked dash. So that's not the only one in existence!

Second, are you selling the interior as a whole or in parts? I need one or two of the rear panels for my own car. Thanks!
Friday, February 08, 2013 6:38 AM
@ Marc: The floor on most Nissans has some flimsy steel tube reinforcement underneath the car, plus the ribs. As long as the seats mount to the cage, and the cage is plenty strong against a side impact (which I don't doubt with any cage Mike specs), floor integrity shouldn't be a problem.

Hell, all the dune buggies I've been around use 0.0090-0.125" flat sheet aluminum (no extrusions at all) and none of them seem to have issues with flaccid floors.
Friday, February 08, 2013 6:58 AM

We've got LS V8s coming out of the woodwork in my part of the country. I know a guy who did a REALLY nice '69 Camero resto-mod project based on the 6.0 liter LQ9 V8 that had been yanked out of a Cadillac Escalade. He paid less than $1000 for the original motor and then dumped about $1500 worth of go-fast parts into it. What he ended up with was 500+ WHP. Its insane that you can put together a totally reliable, turnkey, 500+ horse motor with relatively low emissions and great fuel economy for such a tiny amount of money.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, February 08, 2013 8:30 AM
When I do a cage we attach the seat mounts directly to it so all of the floor stuff just gets in the way. We also have to flatten the huge floor hump to get the seat low enough in an S chassis.

We don't use weld through primer, I prefer zinc chromate aircraft primer on bare metal.
Friday, February 08, 2013 9:11 AM
is it possible to see how the seat is mounted? (link to previous cage picture would be fine)

this is an area of the cages i build for my cars that i'd like to improve.

Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, February 08, 2013 4:03 PM

Check this out.

Friday, February 08, 2013 4:46 PM
Thanks Mike,

That explains why i wasn't able to picture the attachment in my head. it isn't strictly attached to the cage. some of it still goes to the car structures. but either way, it looks like it's much stronger than stock and much stronger than what i've been using. Thanks for the tip and i'll try to use that kind of design in the future.

Friday, February 08, 2013 5:47 PM
Great article, I cant wait to see the rest of the series
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Monday, February 11, 2013 11:50 AM
Drunken - Don't forget that the LQ motors have an Iron block as do many LS-based motors. They've probably got an inside line on an LS1 or 2!? Although, I think there was a two-three year period where GM made an all-aluminum based 5.3 for there Silverado. Now finding and building those on the cheap would be inexpensive and outside the box!

Mike - If you can build the S13 to, say, 450-500 whp, with that weight, I don't think anyone at The Optima Challenge would touch you guys, with your grip knowledge! If Dai drives, then it's just rubbing it in guys faces. For 2014, challenge yourself a little, 67-68 SWB Chevy ;-)
Monday, February 11, 2013 12:14 PM
Mike you need a bigger piece of property. :P
Sunday, April 20, 2014 9:05 PM
hows this one coming?
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