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Feb 9, 2012

Photography By: Jordan Chronister

Words By: Andy Carter

Rush Hour: Khai Dinh’s Nissan S14

Nissan S14

When one thinks of the usual car building process, the course of the project can take several months (if funds are available) to multiple decades.  Regardless of whether the car is brand new or a frame-up restoration, there is always the dance of researching parts, carefully making selections, waiting on whatever is inevitably back-ordered to arrive, and eventually finding the time to install, troubleshoot, and dial in all the various pieces. More often than not, many of these projects exist not as a whole cohesive vehicle, but as multiple collections of unopened cardboard boxes, pending eBay deals, and recycled items strewn about a barely organized garage. Completion of a car (if that ever happens) requires a timely, orchestrated effort, thousands of dollars of disposable income, and enough free weekends and longs nights to nearly render one a hermit. There are, however, those times when the planets align, and a car just seems to magically pull itself together; Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo style. (Are Disney references okay on Canibeat?) Khai Dinh’s 240SX is that car; bare frame to the purple-coated monster you see here happened in just two weeks.

Believe it or not, Khai had originally planned to build a 180sx, and have it ready for last year’s Import Alliance Spring meet in Atlanta. He had the motor from his previous R33 Skyline ready to go but decided to change platforms to the S14 at the eleventh hour.  The shell was rushed off for paint while Khai carefully orchestrated delivery of the rest of the 240’s parts. The maelstrom of progress continued until 4:00 a.m. the night before the meet. Despite everything that one might expect from that chaos, however, the car arrived in downtown Atlanta the next morning problem free.

Some cars are destined to take a lifetime to perfect.  Parts can be allude discovery, time can escape us, and funds may always be out of reach. Much of a successful build can always be attributed being at the right place at the right time; checking Craiglist at right right moment to catch those wheels, or ordering a discontinued turbo only to discover that the store actually had only one left on the shelf. But rarely do these things happen all at once; luck just doesn’t usually flow that way. Whether it was the ubiquity of the platform, the modern era of mass communication, or a stroke of luck, Khai Dinh managed to pull off the impossible. This car’s build quality doesn’t match it’s build time, nor is it a carbon-copy of anything you’ve seen before. This kouki is the perfect meeting of execution, experience, and quality; a meeting that just happened to take place in the middle of rush hour.

Editor: Andy Carter