240 Fall Update 2017
Work on the 240 continues! It is a pleasure working on a car that is not all rusty with frozen and broken hardware. Finding answers for mechanical questions for the 240 has been slightly more difficult than the NSX, but not impossible. I liked the 240 when I purchased it, and now, with every new fix or modification, it becomes better and better. I have been careful to try and retain the cars edge, without dulling the qualities and quirks that make it so fun to drive. The car is now safer, stops better, and runs better than it probably has in a long time.
Brakes were a surprising challenge for the 240. It started with a leaky front caliper. No new OEM calipers are left for the 240 – even if you purchase from Nissan, you are getting a rebuilt caliper. Initially, there was a problem with one of the calipers from Rock Auto. Since that is an online retailer, returning items through the mail was a hassle. Waiting to get a new unit to arrive while my car sat was no fun. After the front was fixed, the rear calipers started to leak! This time, I decided to get rebuilds from AutoZone, the only local retailer that had the units in stock. Again, the rebuilds were installed, and again, one of them leaked. So it was back to AutoZone again, two stores in fact, looking for a decent caliper in stock. Eventually, I was able to obtain an entire set of non-leaky rebuilt calipers. Next time, I will try Phoenix Caliper in Chicago – I hear reports that they offer superior rebuilds WHILE YOU WAIT. Sign me up…
Remember I mentioned that brake light in the instrument cluster? Turns out it had nothing to do with the brakes. I tested the emergency brake switch, and the brake fluid reservoir switch, and both checked out. The brake circuit is also inline with the charging circuit. Because my alternator was not sufficiently charging the battery, it was creating a low voltage situation that was illuminating the light. After replacing the alternator, the annoying brake light went out. Success!
When I purchased the 240, it did not come with a spare. The OEM spare would not have worked with the car anyway because the previous owner converted it to 5 lug (a good thing). I was able to source a 5 lug spare off a S14 chassis (the SE model had 5 lug hubs). Hopefully, I never have occasion to use this, but it is reassuring to know it is there if I need it.
While most of the repair items on my list so far were under the “repair” category, I did not care for the stock 240 seats. My car’s original seats were ripped and torn. However, I wanted to upgrade them, because even when the S13 240 was new, the seats were a common gripe, being cheap looking and offering little in the way of support. I decided to upgrade to the nicer S14 leather seats. I was able to find a set in back leather from JDM Hookup out of St. Louis. Thankfully, they bolt straight into the factory locations. This is the sort of OEM + mod that I like. For now, I am retaining the stock fabric back seats. The plan is to have those recovered in back leather to match.
The seats and the dashboard were the two biggest items to transform the interior. Next on the list to go are the white center console panel and the bubble shift knob. I might consider wrapping that center console in a funky vinyl wrap for some added style. Undecided about which shift knob at this point, but I don’t care for how the bubble knob messes up the shift feel by lengthening the throw. I like style, but I don’t think it should compromise function in a sports car.
Ouch! You’re not going to drive a car this low with a bumper that sticks out this far without have a scrape or two. Surprisingly, this one happened as the car dipped down a couple inches in a construction zone. I was able to fill this area with some short strand fiberglass, and then airbrush the repair to hide it. At least I have a system for dealing with the inevitable. In the mean time, I am shopping for a front bumper that is 1) made out of a more forgiving urethane and 2) has a separate, replaceable front lip. Right now, I am favoring the OEM Type X bumper treatment.
A new car is also a chance to make new friends. Eddy’s 240 is a great example of exactly where I see my car heading – full Type X kit and SR20DET engine swap. Eddy has been a huge help answering all my questions, as well as offering suggestions for vendors and upgrades. The 240 seems to attract people who like speed, style, and wrenching on their own cars.