Pat's Rocketbunny 180sx
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
After some rescheduling in these unusual times. I managed to score the opportunity to do a feature of Pat's 180. His wide body hatch had such a glow and was built by family and friends, showing us whats its all about.
The beginning of this story is a little odd compared to your normal buy off car sales tales we're all used to by now.
Pat's brother Brett actually purchased this car from a Pickles auctions as a repossessed vehicle by the Australian Federal police.
To match its odd history the car itself had been modified in a backyard mechanics themed way. A rough tune, plus a truck turbo that didn't have a water line had been adapted to fit in a very innovative way, adding to the reasons for the car not running quite right. Not much later the car was fixed and returned to stock so the car could get rego.
Pat started to show interest in the car now and made the big call to purchase it off Brett. Pat had some big plans stewing away in his head. He sat on his ideas for about a month while officially owning his 180. But something clicked and he embarked on a full rebuild and to turn the car into a street car with a heavy track car theme.
A wide body car was always something Pat wanted to do, He had fallen in love with the 180 Rocket Bunny look; which lead to a Genuine Rocket Bunny kit being the very first thing he ordered from Japan.
Pat worked with Brett at a Body shop owned by their folks, which places them as the perfect people to install the kit.
The insane thing is Pat doubles down on the crazy bodywork by doing a s15 front end conversion; and to triple down on that, a genuine C west front bar was added to the parts list. Simply to make a super rare body kit look even more unique and different.
Everyone by now knows of at least one stereotypical " Car Youtuber " who does the DIY wide body to their Scion FRS that consists of poorly hacking the guards, possibly setting fire to something with the angle grinder sparks in the process, putting the new panels on a bit crooked and holding those panels to the car by driving some chipboard screws into the bodywork. Well Pat's car would be the polar opposite to that.
When the boxes of kit made it to the workshop the brothers got straight to work. First thing was first, The s15 front end conversion; which meant lining up the new bumper with a set of stock s15 front quarter panels and headlights, making sure all lines were even. Sourcing an OEM s15 bonnet and adapting it cleverly to use the stock 180sx hinges. The bonnet closed and it all worked. Rocketbunny time !
The quarter panels were cut to the required markings, which was tough on the first time through but that didn't last long. Once cut; the guards were pulled up and welded to the quarter panels. The newly raised arches got pulled up and made to a shape in which the rocket bunny arches could actually sit over as a type of shelf. Once that had been done to all it was time to fix off the kit to the shell.
Nut serts were the only route the brothers were gonna go down. Bang the threads in like a pop rivet once they had all the fenders taped up in place to where their final resting place would be. Bolt those fenders into those freshly placed threads and the kit was on, Some fancy moulding and blending had to done to work the front wheel arch over fender to the sloping front bar. The boys made it look like it was always part of the kit. Cherry on top for the body is the rear wiper delete, plus a lock shave for the hatch, resulting in a butter smooth rear end. After all that was finalised it was time for paint.
Pat was going all out with the paint too, Open door respray. Headlining out, carpets gone and all sound deadening removed. Now he was deciding on what colour to make this unique body pop. Watching The dark knight one evening and he found his colour. Not matte black off the Bat Mobile; Nardo grey off Bruce Wayne's personal Lamborghini murcielago.
Paint ticked off it was time to put the Car's interior or what's left of it, back in the cabin. To add some rigidity, a front and rear strut brace we're installed. Helping meet track regulations for more serious events in the future, a 6-point bolt in AGI Cage was fitted as well. Two sets of Sabelt 5 point harnesses were fastened off to the cage to hold Pat and Brett firmly into the Genuine Bride ZEIG 3 Low max seats as they would fly around long sweeping bends. Upgraded rotors, pads and brake lines all round and some coilovers were the last things done before the car was taken to the track for shakedown.
The first track day for the car wasn't a great success. The car overheated, which lead to the boys doing a fluid flush in the pits, only for the turbo to go on them in the next session. More parts were in order. New radiator and overflow tank was purchased. The stock turbo was replaced with a Garrett 2860RS that got cooled and oiled with braided lines. These upgrades snowballed into a complete head rebuild. Head got decked and polished; a cosworth MLS head gasket was sandwhiched between the block and held down with ARP headstsuds. Kelford Cams and Valve springs dropped into the head to encourage more power. Tomei Cam gears held everything in time. An engine damper to keep the engine movements more stable during high revving was added too. Greddy Oil filter relocation that runs onto an oil cooler, That combo works well with the extra capacity baffled Aeroflow sump.
Needing to Match the large sums of air created by the spooly boi, the fuel system was upgraded and E85 was on. Aluminium fuel rail that seated 880cc injectors filled the combustion chambers for the boom; Dash 6 lines ran back to the Turbosmart fuel pressure reg. At the other end of the fuel system sat a work of art. Because of track regulations and the 180 being a open hatch, the surge tank and pump had to be enclosed. So a custom box encased the custom surge tank and fuel pump while having a Perspex lid to see all the goods. On the other side of the boot sits the battery, balancing the weight and freeing up space in the bay.
The car went in for tune before returning for another track event, it spun up 250 kilowatts on 20 psi. 250 is a healthy number in itself but the best bit is how light the car now was from the weight reduction in the cabin. The car darts around like a flea and feels very responsive.
The last touches now had to be suspension. Nismo power brace, bigger sway bars, camber arms, toe arms, traction arms and tension rods all bolted in to help take advantage of a serious alignment for grip.
The return to the track was a great success. Pat's 180 felt amazing and was very predictable in the corners. Looking back on it all now; those incredible times at the track weren't Pat's fondest memories. This car was the last car Brett and Pat worked on before their parents shop closed. The late nights sanding, welding, fitting and wrenching on it with his family and friends were special memories and the car is a unique time capsule that embodies their times had.
1994 Nissan 180sx
- SR20DET - 251.7 KW / 337 HP @20 PSI on E85
- Stock bottom end, with a rebuilt top head
- Head Decked and polished
- Coswroth MLS head gasket
- ARP Headstuds
- Kelford 188-a Camshafts
- Kelford KVS93 valve springs
- Tomei Adjustable cam gears
- Garrett GT2860RS
- Stainless steel dump pipe, Stainless Cat, Stainless Cat back to Canon,
Full System 3 Inch
- Braided Turbo oil and water lines
- Greddy Front mount intercooler
- Greddy Oil cooler, Oil filter relocation
- Upsized and Baffled Aeroflow oil sump
- PWR aluminium radiator
- battery relocated to boot
- Adaptronic ECU and tune ( Launch control, Anti lag and adjustable boost controller capapbilites
- Exedy Heavy duty Race clutch
- Tomei short shifter
- Rota 18 x 10 all round
- 245/40 front 255/35 rear tyres
- R32 skyline 4 Pot calipers front and 2 pot rear
- DBA slotted front rotors
- Braided lines all round
- Aluminium fuel Rail, 880cc injectors, turbosmart fuel pressure Reg
- Bosch fuel pump, aluminium surge tank, mounted in a custom box
- Aeroflow braided fuel lines and fittings, running E85
- BC adjustable coilers all round
- White Line adjustable sway bars from and rear
- NISMO power brace
- Adjustable Camber arms, Toe arms, Traction rods, Tension rods
- Full S15 5 Stud Hubs conversion
Body and Paint
- Full inside and out Respray in Lamborghini Grey
- Full 180SX rocket Bunny kit, with a full S15 front end conversion with a custom blended C-West S15 front bar
- Rear wiper delete and shaved boot
- Kouki Type X rear taillight set
- Fully stripped and painted interior, All carpets and sound deadening removed
- Full AGI Bolt in Cage
- Rear Strut brace
- Genuine Bride ZIEG 3 Low max Race seats, Sabelt 5 point harness
- Genuine Nardi suede wheel
- Alpine head unit w/ bluetooth, Clarion speakers in doors