A JAPANESE DREAM

November 29th, 2017

5 years ago I purchased a 1994 Ace model S13 Silvia with intentions to have a super simple street car. My main focus and goal with it was to keep things super simple which lead me into the window of styling and appeal of the early days of drifting – 1990s to the early 2000s. Years later after consistently traveling to Japan for my own brand and work I had the plan and somewhat end goal to eventually have this car in Japan.

This is a brief story and run-down that I want to share with each and every single one of my followers which was both the dream and end for the car.

A few months ago I had finally come to the decision to make this happen. In September the car was dispatched from Australia to Osaka thanks to Keisuke Nagashima from New Zealand and the worlwdide logistics company he works for – Autohub. The total price of the car including all taxes and costs was $2,340. Prior to this decision I was asked “why not just buy a car in Japan”?  Given the way the world and market are progressing in this day and age I don’t think people realise how expensive parts let alone cars are becoming in Japan purely because of the strong currencies outside of Japan and exporting companies becoming busier and busier selling the majority of goods offshore. Yes people are still managing to get amazing deals and cheap prices on certain things but everything has definitely shifted dramatically from when I first went in 2010. With that being said I had come to the conclusion to make this happen and have confidence of jumping in it, knowing how it was going to feel straight away and aiming to drive as much as possible.

After a few weeks of preparation and cleaning the car it had arrived in the bay of Osaka with another Australian – Jake Katts and his 180SX. I was probably a little too dramatic in raising the car this high for shipping but nothing was damaged which were my intentions. As for customs clearance I spent a good few days cleaning the car inside, outside and underneath just to avoid any kind of delays and speed bumps when it got to Japan’s shores.  On the other side we were granted by Shane Bingham and his exporting company Stacked Inc. The Autohub pickup location was roughly a short drive away from his work which made transport to their new home in Japan quick and easy. Seeing this car back in its place of birth and on Japanese soil was beyond surreal.

From the docks straight to Stacked Inc the first thing to do was get the car back to its original height which I had taken photos of before it left for Japan. Returning to where it was sitting the alignment and mostly everything felt spot on. 

Prior to the car leaving there were only a few things left to do to the car when it had arrived such as lowering it, all oils and filters, install new cams, fill it with Japanese high octane and fit some new tyres. Tightly jammed in the alley way of the yard the car felt like it was back where it belongs.

The first two weekends were drowned out by a few intense typhoons which made working on the car and attempting to get out driving almost impossible. However after it had all cleared we had booked in for a small mid-week practice soukoukai day at Meihan Sports Land for the first time. With the car not having any major paperwork shakken was basically out of the question so the only kind of possible transportation were these flat-bed trucks which cost around 20,000¥ a day (24 hours). I had this image in my head for the past 12 months and think everyone has some kind of fascination with these trucks. For the most part regardless if your car has shakken I think these are a really good idea. The majority of circuits in Japan are somewhat far out of the cities so if you’re ever in any kind of car trouble you’re always organised to get home safely.

Being only 1 truck and 1 driver it was usually a case of driving out the night before early as possible and doing a few runs with whoever was driving. Thanks to Rob for his countless sleepless nights in doing-so.

The first time seeing the car at a Japanese gas stand. Full tank of high octane which is really close to Australian prices per litre – around 140¥ ($1.40). After blasting a few photos it was time to jump on the expressway and head out to Nara. 

In the pouring rain we unloaded at the Meihan Sports Land gates. After running back to Osaka and picking up and dropping off another car to it was time to try and get an hour or so sleep before driving.

Meihan Sports Land. This was a free run practice day held by Speed Club Mars. One of the questions I get a lot is how do I find out about events and things to attend? One of the easiest solutions to that is to pickup the most recent Drift Tengoku magazine and find the event schedule which specifically shows what events are on at each circuit all over Japan all year round. This practice day cost 10,000¥ and according to my knowledge most Meihan days are very similar to that. Having rained non-stop the night before the first impressions of the day was super relaxed with very few cars running which was good for us wanting to get as much driving and practice in as possible. 

After shooting at Meihan for so many years it was in the back of my head how difficult and strange it was going to be in my car, being mostly factory and NA. Sending the car to Japan meant I was able to do some small purchases and adjustments I have wanted to do to for a while but being limited to what we have access too in Australia made that difficult. One of those was to change the front steer tyres – Toyo R1R in 195/55/15.

Rob & Jamie were both out getting loads of driving in.

Unbelievably fun day without any major dramas. Driving with friends I have met over the years really felt like it opened up a new window with furthering relationships. 

Since owning the car the internals and everything for the most part has been factory. I wanted a little bit of extra power without having to really stress about making the car unreliable. This car has forever somehow worked purely because it has been kept factory and super simple. Everyone has a different opinion but I will forever stick to driving and seat time over changing and upgrading parts will always make you progress faster than anything else.

I purchased TOMEI 260 11.2 drop-in cams for SR20DE which were around 45,000¥ and with the help of Jamie & Shane they were in with little trouble. The only time the rocker cover has been off on this car is to change the gasket so only issues we had were some of the lobe bolts were stuck due to carbon build up over the years. This car was edging towards 300,000km and still the same engine to the chassis from factory.

A few days later the majority of the foreigners coming to Japan for Super D Cup Japan on November 3 had arrived and eager to practice. That same morning Shane had privately organised for everyone to test out their cars at Meihan Sports Land, this time D course.

From Osaka out to Naoki’s we spent the entire night going over cars, and helping out and headed to Meihan just before the sun rose. Breakfast stop at 7-11 and admiring the scenery. One thing you’ll notice in Japan is how beautiful the country is but even better the further out of the cities you get.

If you’re unsure what D course is at Meihan it is basically a large, bumpy, horrible surface car park which whatever layouts can be desired to run. Perfect for everyone to feel their cars out and adjust what needed to be adjusted before Super D the following week. As boring and simple as it may look in the photo this was unbelievably fun. The small defects on the course and slight elevation changes made for dramatic and aggressive transitions which isn’t something I’ve experienced. 

This was the first run I did in the car after we had installed the cams. After double checking the CAS timing I drove the majority of the morning. The difference they made to how the car drove up in the revs, more importantly pushed a little harder through the mid-range made me wish I had done them years ago. As previously stated the car is mostly factory with a few small “must-have” add-ons for NA tuning. Short diff gears (4.9) which are out of a JDM Serena, Nismo flywheel, shortened intake, full exhaust and now cams. All of these small adjustments plus the cams made the car finally feel like it had come to life. I think one of the best things to remember with NA cars is there are a lot of small tricks and driveline mods that you can do to make the car perform a whole lot better. There is certain power bands within certain parts of the rev range and with these few small and basic mods you can get the car revving where it needs to be without having any major power and stress on the car itself. 

It was definitely cool to see the American boys in Japan also especially after seeing their cars in California only a few months ago.

The next week brought us all closer and closer to the Super D event itself and one last practice day before. This time C course which is where the competition was set to be held. For many of the Americans this was their first ever look at the course in real life. It’s a really hard thing to explain but the majority of courses and roads in Japan don’t show how tight and technical they really are in videos and pictures. So many of the drivers that are skilled and consistent have been driving here for a number of years week in week out. One thing from taking photos over the past 7.5 years in Japan is being super observant to a lot of things however my vision changed dramatically once getting in the actual drivers seat of a car and out on track. I can’t even begin to explain how much knowledge and confidence some of the drivers in Osaka have. 

By this practice day the car was feeling by far the best it has ever felt. Oil and tyre changes and the car was good to go. 

The front wheels are SSR Mark III 15×8.5J – 8 (B disk) and the new rears are Watanabe 15x9J -13 (B disk) which I purchased new from Watanabe. The other 2 pairs I have a SSR Mark II 15×8.5J -22 (A disk) and SSR Mark III 15x9J 0 (C disk). The rear end is still all completely standard arms. Front end consists of extended LCA, shortened knuckles and tension rods. All very simple mods but in saying that I drove the car for about 2 years without any kind of lock mods which I think is a better way to start out.

When I knew the car was going to Japan I knew it was going to be a challenge driving and taking photos at the same time. I didn’t take as many photos on this trip as I would have liked but at the same time this trip was finally to drive after almost 8 years. Every small break and chance I had I’d pull the camera out which now looking back on it I am super happy I did. 

As much as I was happy to have my machine in Japan it was also warming to see all the other guys and their cars in the pits at Meihan. Alongside mine they made this happen for themselves too and was really rewarding watching them get out and drive a circuit so well known to Japan and such a large history of drifting. 

Another faultless full day of driving with some people I have only ever dreamed of doing. Quickly getting pushed around the circuit builds your confidence in driving quicker than I could imagine. Swiftly getting into a rhythm of leading for 2 runs and then chasing for 2, over and over everything else quickly becomes irrelevant bar trying to get as close and more importantly consistent as possible. Being the day before Super D we were privileged enough to leave the cars overnight at the circuit with only a couple of cars coming back to Naoki’s shop for some maintenance. 

Another night of minimal sleep and we were back at Meihan before sunrise for the Japanese round of Super D Cup Japan. First impressions bought me back a few months ago to Kansai All Stars just without the mugginess and extreme heat. After the pits came to capacity and the drivers briefing ended it was basically go time. There was a lot on the schedule to get through in a days worth of sunlight so the practice kicked off almost straight away. I was in A class which was the first to run for the day. This was my first ever drift competition so I must admit I was nervous. Regular rules applied: windows up, full face helmet and gloves which was all new to me.

After washing off the car and sticking on the entrant numbers I went out, got the tyres warm and did 4 runs…

…to find myself into the wall on the main straight. The first few runs I did after warming up felt really good however after transitioning into the wall the rear slightly oversteered a little more than usual and sucked me right in. After getting skull dragged back to the pits I jacked it up with the help of a few people. Tower was pretty twisted, LCA, tie rod and tension rod all folded in. With the help of some friends I found some spares besides a LCA. Being in Japan made it extremely difficult to find a extended LCA. The car runs S13 ones extended 25mm however the vast majority of cars run S14 or even standard with large bolt on spacers. The brick, bonnet and bumper managed to survive. In short this meant I was pretty much done for the day. 

Drift Tengoku were there covering the event and was really cool to meet these guys and have a talk to them for 30 minutes or so about the car and where it had come from.

A few weeks later the editorial came out, Japanese publications are beyond fast! If you’re interested in knowing what it says and from what I can read here is a little brief. “Casey is a fan of Drift Tengoku, this S13 is from Australia and bought it to Japan. I like 1990s drift style cars and a lot of the parts off the car are from Yahoo Auctions Japan including the SSR wheels. I crashed and bent the frame and going to Ebisu the following week for drift matsuri” Speaking to these guys and getting a few small images in a magazine I alongside a lot of you guys have been reading and collecting for years was a cool and humbling feeling.

Quickly after realising my hope for driving Super D had ended I spent a few hours walking around and then went to the next best avenue which was picking up the camera and shooting for the afternoon. I won’t post too many photos as of yet as they can wait for another designated post but it was by far some of the most entertaining driving I’m yet to see in Japan. Expect to see some in next years Shirtstuckedin calendar.

Coming into winter meant shorter days. By the time the event and trophy ceremony had ended it was well dark. After getting the cars loaded it was time to get the cars to Naokis. The lead up to this event there was such minimal sleep by all the people that were helping out with the cars mostly all night every night.

The following night we had organised a BBQ at N-Style which is Naoki’s shop located in Nara with all members from overseas and plenty of local people also. With motivation high and all hopes to get my car sorted I had gathered enough parts to somewhat get the car driving again. I drove Shane’s newly murusaki painted onevia out whilst he drove the truck with my car on the back. 

After a few hours working in the dark I managed to find a spare LCA that had been extended the same amount as the drivers side thanks to Toshihiro, tension rod and caster arm which were all put in and aligned quickly before spending yet another all nighter driving. As soon as the car left Australia I had some intentions that at that stage it was the best and cleanest it will ever look. Having a car in Japan and wanting to drive as much as possible my expectations for keeping it clean respectable quickly went out the window and whatever parts accumulated could go back onto the car to drive that next possible moment.

As many times I have been to Japan and witnessed some pretty incredible stuff times like this I had to take a deep breath and realise the situation I was in.

After sleeping maybe 20 minutes at the Meihan gates that same morning was yet another practice day, this time held by Hitomi-San (HitomiGo) ひとみGO. She without a doubt has always put on some really eventful practice days and always manages to pull some of the best drivers out so as soon as it was possible to drive everyone was 100% in.

Another thing I am well used to is having almost perfect wheel alignments before I drive. This was another thing that quickly went out the window being in Japan, yes it is possible of course but usually very few people bother paying someone to do it for them. Either eye or some simple tools to help get it feeling good enough. Still from the crash at Super D the car was feeling a little sloppy but managed to get it to a stage of being able to drive okay for Hitomi-Go. After a few runs and quickly getting into some driving with Jordan from New Zealand we managed to get a little too close a few runs in a row which produced some more love on the left side of the car. This managed to bend another tie rod and made the car feel pretty horrible to the point of not feeling confident and keep wrecking it further. 

The rear member of the car had also shifted. If you can see in the photos the passenger side left wheel is almost 0 camber. The lines of the boot were about 2-3cm off from left to right also. I was still beyond keen to drive the car but I was somewhat at a cross road of deciding what to do with getting a new shell in time or trying to get this straight as possible before driving next.

Despite how tired I was I spent the last few hours in the afternoon shooting. Just like Super D this practice day Hitomi-San put on was unbelievably entertaining to watch. Everyone was getting completely carried away especially boss Naoki-san which made for some seriously exciting driving. By this stage of the trip everyone had been getting rather confident and into it all which of course without question more damage occurred.

Julian and Fujio-San had a little spill right at the end of the day. Nothing like this surprises me anymore with how hard everyone in Kansai drives, always pushing every single day they run and totally makes sense with the level their at but there is always the side of fixing and repairing.

The following week and edging towards the end of my trip I had made the decision a few months prior and had the opportunity to drive Ebisu Drift Matsuri with Shane, Naoki, Miki and Nisiho from N-Style, Team Burst & Otokichi Family all heading up from Ebisu. A few days out I had decided to spend the money to get the car pulled straight on a machine thanks to Naoki for organising with Tsuji-san who runs and owns BEAT-LIVE panel beating company in Nara who actually fixes and sponsors Naoki. 

I spent quite a while at Shane’s work getting the car feeling comfortable to drive out to Nara to drop-off. Driving this car on the road was really fun. To answer some of your questions this car doesn’t have shaken and is quite the process especially with a car from overseas. With my limited time in Japan it wasn’t really worthwhile spending the money on getting shakken however I had the luck of Shane’s dealer plates which can be used strictly for transporting cars to and from places. 

To N-Style and straight on the infamous BEAT-LIVE truck and off for repair.

Friday night, 24 hours later and the car was pulled back straight and dropped off back to Naoki’s shop. Shane and I had head out early to try and finish up a few things on both of our cars right before driving to Fukushima that night which was roughly a 10-12 hour drive with the trucks. Based off what Tsuji-san had seen was the tower was badly bent which was fixed, rear member shifted across and rear left LCA bent also. I managed to get another rear LCA in raise the front to match the right hand side and ready for Ebisu.

From Nara we had to drive north to Mie prefecture to get my car loaded onto Nishio-sans truck with his 180SX bound for Fukushima.

By the time we had got the car loaded and towards the end of the drive to Mie I noticed there was a strong smell of mission / diff oil. About 20-30 minutes before we got there the diff was getting really whiny and noisy which wasn’t normal. Loading the car onto the truck I had a look under it and noticed a 6-7cm hole in the back of the diff with intentions that the 4.9s had finally spat some teeth which apparently are well known for doing so along with 4.6s. Nishio-san and Yui-San were kind enough to offer me a spare 4.11 diff and rear housing to suit the car which was loaded into the car as spare and we were off.

Driving for 12 hours straight we stopped an hour outside of Fukushima at a parking area and slept for about 30 minutes just before the sun came up. Woke up, had a coffee and pushed through the last hour to Ebisu.

Arriving just after 11am meant we were driving for just over 12 hours from Kansai but this was a pretty surreal moment for sure.

I was beyond excited to drive Ebisu based on how many courses there are available at your hearts desire and many accommodating for NA cars. I couldn’t get too excited straight away as I wanted to do my best to avoid putting 4.11s in the car and save my 4.9 diff as that is a huge part of why the car drives the way it does. From once again next to no sleep and driving over 12 hours from Osaka I had told myself to get the car jacked up and spend most of the afternoon if it took me that long to take my diff out and have a look exactly what happened. 

Just before sunset I had got the diff out, saw the damage and had fixed it. From the Super D incident and based off what Tsuji-san had said the rear member had shifted across quite dramatically and basically snapped a large chunk of the rear housing off from where the 4 rear hat bolts bolt into the member. Good and bad, luckily, thanks to Nishio-san I had a spare rear diff housing hat which I cleaned out, put new oil and and threw back in the car. By this time it was almost dark but managed to go out on touge and higashi course to test the diff and it worked wonders which was an awesome feeling. 

After an hour or so of driving it started to sink in that this car all the way from Australia to Osaka was now way up north on the main island of Japan in Fukushima. I took this photo after driving Higashi course for a good while feeling out the car. This course was a lot faster than i anticipated but way too much fun.

Gasoline stand photo at Ebisu. 

Managed to get some driving in on Touge, Higashi, Kita & Nishi course before the weekend was done on Sunday at 4PM. 

Arriving back in Mie prefecture late Monday afternoon to Garage S Konfurito ガレージエスコンフリート which is both Nishio-sans garage and shop where he works. It was a little frustrating only getting a few hours of solid driving in at Ebisu but at this stage I was once again happy and somewhat confident in how the car was feeling, cosmetic damage of course but that is always bound to happen. 

Just before the sun went down Nishio-san, Yui-San and myself washed the car from top to bottom. I also got given a look around his workshop and some of the cars he is working on and has sitting inside, once again I’ll be sure to save this for another post and a later date but this workshop was unbelievable with so much variety.

Nishio-sans PS13.

The last leg of the trip. Mie prefecture back to Osaka on Monday night with Shane.

Stopping a few times on the way home to take it all in and get some shitty-style Japanese phone photos for the memory bank.

From this point in the trip I was beyond satisfied but I still had a few things planned that I was yet to cross off. One being a small dream of mine which I actually posted on instagram on the afternoon it happened. Shooting all my new products for December on my S13 in Japan. I was lucky enough to drive the car around Osaka Bay taking a bunch of photos at the port, street convenience store and on the docks as the sun set. Just like every other small thing that had happened on this trip with this car it was beyond surreal and almost hard to take in at times.

As cliché as can be I had to get some shots with some vending machines…

…and a few selfies.

I won’t post too many photos from this afternoon just yet, I am wanting to actually create something physical with these images that each of you can enjoy rather than on a digital screen. But here is a few selections I’ve decided to show now.

Sadly approaching the last weekend of my 5 week trip there was one more event I wanted to drive which was on Sunday at Motorland Suzuka which is a small circuit based about 1km down the road right next to Suzuka Twin Circuit (hence the name). I had the opportunity to also drive that Friday which I jumped at. 

Unfortunately for various reasons I can’t and don’t really need to say too much about this but this was the last time the car ever got driven. This shot is just outside a good friends garage in Osaka getting some tyres swapped over. 

These new logo banners will be available next month just before Christmas time. 

Due to pushing a little too hard and trying to keep up with very fast, talented and expert drivers i made a slight mistake causing me write the car off. Looking back on it all now I was extremely lucky the way this all happened, the car itself is quite bent and twisted which won’t be pulled back or fixed. I didn’t have any kind of injuries from this just a little bit of whiplash the following day. The wheel got pushed back 90 degrees and pushed into and through the firewall of the car into the passenger side footwell so also very glad that no one was in my car with me at the time. A lot of people in Kansai don’t wear seatbelts but I am pretty glad I had my harness on at this time and of course a roll cage in the car which I’m sure helped somewhat. 

Multiple seems split up through the towers and the suspension snapped cleanly out off the towers. The inside of the wheel is also pretty mangled. The same side that was previously repaired by Tsuji-san at BEAT-LIVE got another good bending this time the opposite way. As far as I can tell the engine for the most part is fine. The majority of the parts should be salvageable apart from some arms, wheel and suspension. The best thing about this car is whenever I decide what to do and whatever is possible that everything is super simple so it won’t be too difficult or too much effort involved in building another one or re-shelling this into another body.

Managed to just shave a guard rail causing it to banana-peel the door skin off the actual door.

Another shot on a flat-bed truck this time looking a little more sad.

🙁

I had the opportunity to drive and jumped on it at every chance I could. I don’t regret anything about this trip and or the final crash that has ended this cars life and if I could do it again I would 100%. I got on the plane to Japan with intentions to never bring this car back to Australia and for it to eventually rot here or possibly crash it. Thoughts that you never really want to think too far into but of course being human beings definitely cross your mind at times. At the end of the day it is just a car but it has definitely taught me everything I know about driving and progressing in the sport of driving. Simple cars will always win and this car was exactly that.

From now I have to make a decision on what to do with this car and the parts. I am definitely leaning towards building basically the same car again using most of the parts from this shell into another. From the small changes and upgrades that I did in Japan I felt like I wasn’t even close to driving it to its full potential so that in itself makes me want to keep going with the same setup just a few small changes which are bound to happen if doing a new car. 

Times like these I am so thankful I enjoy the art and have a passion for photography, the fact that we can somehow freeze time and look back on stories like this in years and years to come makes me warm inside. Documenting, shooting and driving without sleep sucks at times but something I never regret.

I want to really say thanks to each and every single one of you for your positive comments and private messages over the past few weeks, it was so humbling and warming reading each of your comments and positive thoughts and wishes I really never knew how many people were looking and gaining positive ideas and moves from this car and the way it evolved. I also want to take this time to thank you all for all your constant support through the online store each and every single one of you have helped me carve this dream of a life into a reality especially this most recent trip to Japan so thank you.

People I want to thank that genuinely made this dream become a reality and for all your help along the way. Your help and support will forever be appreciated.

Shane Bingham – Stacked Inc
Keisuke Nagashima – Autohub
Rob Beary – Stacked Inc

Jamie Loane – Stacked Inc
Keiko Inou – Stacked Inc
Jesse Streeter – Streeter Corporation
Nakamura Naoki – N-Style
Shun Nishida N-Style
Kijima Eiji

Braden Mace – Streeter Corporation
Toshihiro – JAPEXPRESS
Yoshiaki Tsuji – BEAT-LIVE
Xander Newell – Wolfreign Motors

1994 Nissan S13 Silvia
SR20DE NA 2.0L Engine
Shortened intake
KOYORAD radiator

STACK water temp gauge
Upgraded brake pads
SR20DET rear brakes
RSR extractors to a 2.5″ / twin 2″ blast pipes
NISMO flywheel
4.9 R200 diff gears
TOMEI 260 11.2 cams
Cusco bolt in half cage
Stripped interior

Shortened knuckles
Extended LCAs
Bride Zeta 1 fixed back seat

Lots of love. Have fun along the way. Casey xxx

5 Responses to “A JAPANESE DREAM”

  1. Julian Says:

    the best read. thanks casey x

  2. Ali Says:

    That was such an inspirational read, thank you for taking the time to write everything up with such detail!

  3. Joseph Says:

    Great read. Thanks for sharing

  4. Kamil Says:

    Mate, Legends Forever.

    Thank you Casey!

  5. Rob Says:

    Nice read man, it takes time to write these up but you can always come back to relive the amazing memories.

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