The Joy’s of Owning an S-Chassis

My sincerest apologies for the extended absence. Some times life can be demanding. I needed some time to reorganize the layout, and method of approach. I’ll be implementing these changes over the next few weeks, and I promise you shall not be disappointed! Now let’s jump into this article.

I’ve had an infatuation with the s-chassis ever since I bought my first one back in 2007. Honestly the car was my second choice, but while on the way to look at my first choice the owner informed me that he had sold it. So, being two hours into the drive I wasn’t about to go home empty handed. I called the owner of the 240, and headed over to check out his car. I had my father drive me to San Jose, seeing as its difficult to drive two vehicles at once. 

When we first arrived my father said to me “Boy, we should just keep driving and not stop” at first glance of the car. Honestly, he was probably right about that. Being the hard-headed eighteen year old I was, I decided to check it out anyway. It was a primer grey 1989 hatch, and still had the good Ole single cam in it. Only modifications done to it besides the terrible paint job were; Eibach lowering springs, a welded differential, and a MagnaFlow fart can. 

(Now here’s where my father’s advise should have become clear) After inspecting the car we tightened up a few bolts under the hood, and the lug nuts… Yes the lug nuts were barely on the car, I should have ran when I had the chance. But something about owning a 240 wouldn’t let me leave. It was raining earlier that day, and I remember scaring the guy in the first few turns. This was in all honesty my first rear wheel drive car, and the bug bit me hard. There’s just something about being able to throw the rear end out with the flick of a wrist that intrigued me back then, and still does. I managed to negotiate the car down to a reasonable price, and off we went!

I worked graveyard shifts at a small grocery store at the time. The first night that I took my new pride, and joy to work I left the house early to get some spirited driving in. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot I saw only one vehicle there. I decided to start swinging around the islands in the lot, and eventually around the building. Needless to say the supervisor on duty showed her true colors that night, which kind of ruled out that parking lot. 

Somewhere along the lines some of my at the time friends scraped up some gas money, and asked me to take them out for some spirited driving. Around this time I had discovered a wickedly awesome canyon road nearby, so I had no other choice but to go there. To our surprise as we are about to enter the canyon, a group of ten plus other 240sx’s happen to roll through the intersection in front of us. I tailed them down, and hung with them quite well honestly. After doing a few runs up, and down they all stopped on the side of the road to let their cars warm down. I started chatting with them, and discovered the local car scene finally.

Every weekend there would always be a meet of decent size down in Sacramento, and I was a very avid attendee. Didn’t matter if there were 20 cars, or 200 I was there. Obviously with large groups of people there would be unwelcome guests with flashing lights, so we would all just move along to the next parking lot until it was time to go for our runs. Those late night canyon runs lit a fuse that could never be extinguished, and to this day I still think about the fun times we had out there. Until about 50 of us were rewarded with “Aiding, and embedding a speed contest” tickets.

Now on a little side note, whenever someone notices a 240 they seem to expect us to act a fool. Sad to say, but sliding through the middle of a busy intersection is just something to avoid. I know that I get a lot of disappointed people. After watching a few close calls I learned it’s better to stick to the track, or very isolated areas. Luckily where I reside there’s plenty of those. Sure these isolated areas may not be the best of choices, but it’s a whole lot better than manslaughter charges. So please remmeber that not every s-chassis owner is going to get sideways because you ask them too.

Obviously with all of the thrill seeking, and spirited driving there comes gaps of down time. Some builds will stay under the knife for upwards of ten years, others maybe only a week or so. But seeing as how in some areas it’s harder to source parts for these cars it usually ends up being more like a month. I always here people complaining about 240s not being reliable, but honestly if people would stop doing half-assed janky repair jobs the cars would be excellent. Granted all three of the 240s I have owned have had some kind of ghosts, but that was mainly due to the previous owners hack job wiring skills.

I sold that 240, and moved on for a while. Fast forward a few years to right before I got 240 #2. I was looking to sell or trade my 2003 SVT Focus Europe edition. I didn’t really expect any bites on my offer seeing as how it had 226,000 miles and a bent intake valve,  but after about a week I got a text. The guy told me he had a 240, and would be down to trade with a little cash on top. 

I wanted to make sure that I would be happy with the deal, and didn’t want another single cam. I had asked him what engine was in it, but he wasn’t sure. Something about the car being repayment of money he loaned a friend. He sent me a few dark pictures of the extremely dusty, and buried 240. To my surprise I saw an RB20 swapped into it, I was hooked. It was time to sell my DA Integra to get the cash. Another week or two went by before it finally sold. Now this isn’t something I would ever recommend doing, but I did. Neither of us had physically inspected the other cars before he trailered it to my house for the trade. Obviously the 240 didn’t run, and he had no idea why, but I was 100% okay with this because well… 240. We were both pleased with the deal, and on his way he went with the focus in tail.

For the next seven to eight months I was chasing electrical ghosts, and had no idea about the condition of the engine or transmission. To my surprise the car fired right up after countless long, frustrating evenings of digging through hundreds of swap threads and diagrams. I’ll never forget my friends reaction when the car took its first breathe. “Dude you need your steering wheel!” Ahhh good times. I was like a little kid when I too it out for its maiden voyage, maybe driving a little to spirited. But who cared? I had just gotten my dream project runnin, and I felt it was long overdue.

There was nothing wild about the car, other than being deafening loud at the time. It was a simple flat black coupe on Bullitt rep wheels, and a pull so aggressive that Abe Lincolns top hat would’ve blushed! But I loved the hell out of that car, only my dog was above it. My neighborhood hated me, but I didn’t care I finally had my project running! Sadly I only got to enjoy the car for about three months before circumstances forced me to sell the car. For a short period of time after selling it, it was in some pretty questionable hands.

A few years later I was looking to buy 240sx number three. See a trend going on here? There’s something about owning these cars that never let’s go of you. Of course having put so much time and work into my last 240, I wanted it back. To my surprise I found it relatively fast. Sadly the newest owner said he would never part with it. After a little time talking to the kid, it turns out he was taking pretty good care if the car. Although shortly after I found, and bought my current 240 he traded the car. Then within a month or trading it, it was for sale by the new owner not running. Oh the irony, one day I shall be reunited with that car. Having just bought my newest project, I had to pass on re owning my realistic dream build.

Now owning my third s-chassis I can definitely say that I have an incurable addiction. Although it is a good one to have, it will cost more than any drug addiction. There’s limitless swaps available for 240s, but I’m contemplating just doing a mild turbo build on my ka24de with a goal of around 250-300 horsepower. So pretty much a small turbo, and a simple tune. The suspension on this one is pretty much dialed in, and only needs a few minor tweaks. That alone will save me a pretty penny for the build. Even though I’m currently rocking six different colors, and two sets of wheels I’ve got a smile on my face. Why, you may ask? Well because it’s an S-Chassis, and any s-chassis owner would tell you the same thing. Once you’ve owned one, there’s really no going back without regret. I know I have more 240s in my future, but for now I’m just glad to be part of the s-chassis family again.
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Photography special thanks to Liya.Willow

-Modified Dailies