Ex-Pro Drifter Pays Homage to JDM Hero With Nissan S13 Build

Photography: Sergio Mendoza

  • Nikolay Konstantinov formerly drifted competitively on the Formula DRIFT circuit in 2010.
  • Built an S13 for his son, for comfort, and to pay homage to JDM drifting legend Yoshinori Koguchi.
  • Powered by a 340whp SR20DET, it rocks one of only two Ikeya Formula aero kits on a 180 hatch in the States.

Breathing new life into a 30-year-old Nissan that has been done a thousand times over isn’t an easy thing to do, but that’s exactly what Nikolay Konstantinov has accomplished. His 1991 240SX hatchback popped up on our Instagram feed this past July, and it was the talk of the S-chassis community. It wore an Audi Sonoma Green paint job, a color that’s absolutely stunning on the RS5; however, on the S13, it looks right at home. A long list of now hard-to-get JDM parts and a 340whp SR20DET add to the recipe of a masterfully executed build. Look inside the cockpit and notice a sequential gearbox which led us to think that this isn’t just a show car. Come to find out, at one point in Nikolay’s life, he competed professionally on the Formula DRIFT circuit. He’s since moved on after a short stint in 2010 but has continued to keep his passion for drifting and love for the S-chassis alive with his timeless 240 project.

How long have you been building your 240?
I’ve owned this car since about 2016, and it has been in progress for about four years.

When did you first fall in love with cars, and why the S-chassis in particular?
I’ve always been into cars as far back as I can remember. When my family emigrated from Russia at the age of 12, I’d never seen so many cool cars in my life. All we had back home were Soviet-made cars which were not impressive. Cut to me being 15 and watching bootleg Initial D in Mandarin, which is comical; I didn’t want the hero car like most people did. I wanted the 180 that Iketani drove, so I found myself a white 240 hatch, and that’s when all this began. Since 2001, I’ve been involved with the S-chassis and drifting.

You drifted competitively several years ago. Can you elaborate on how drifting became a big part of your life?
Drifting became a thing for me probably when I saw Initial D and back when I got into a good amount of reading and watching Option magazines and VHS videos. About eight years into the drift scene, I decided to try dipping my toes into Formula DRIFT. What can I say? It was probably one of the top five most memorable parts of my life! I had a great time and met lots of wonderful people that I’m still friends with to this day. Now I’m a bit older and a family man, but I do find a way to drive from time to time.

What was your overall goal for this hatchback build?
First, to enjoy it with my son, go on drives with him and take him drifting. Second, I wanted it to be comfortable as well, which the car very much is. Third, I wanted to pay homage to Yoshinori Koguchi of Koguchi Power, an idol of mine. It was his driving and his style that influenced me and got me driving, and I’m super thankful for that. I’ve always wanted to own his car, so I built my own. One day, in hopes of shipping it to Japan and having him drive it on his home track at Nikko Circuit. I can sit all stary-eyed and watch my hero shred in my car that was built to honor him.

Did you want to make any statement with this build?
I’ve always admired Honda builders for their cleanliness and flawless execution in building clean cars. I wanted to include that same sort of cleanliness in my drift car.

How much power does it put down?
The car currently makes 340whp and 340 lb-ft of torque, which is very adequate.

I noticed the Samsonas, pretty serious for this style of build, no?
I run a five-speed Samsonas gearbox which needs to be turned into a six-speed soon. The reason for the gearbox is I have had it for a number of years since they first made a splash in the U.S. Originally, the gearbox was supposed to go behind a 7.0-liter LS I had built that was going to go into a different project, along with a quick-change rear end. But since that project didn’t pan out, I had the gearbox sitting around and collecting dust. So, I ripped out the CD009 I was going to run and said, why not? At least I put it to good use!

What was the most challenging part about building this car?
More than anything, I wanted this to be a tribute to Koguchi himself, so finding all the pieces to finish the look was challenging. Fitting everything just right and having it look the way it does was definitely a worry at all times, but I think I nailed it.

Most rare parts?
Abflug headlights, ARC airbox, 180SX seats, and I’m also certain I have one of two Ikeya Formula aero kits on a 180 hatch in the States, which is bonkers.

What would you do differently? Is there still work to be done?
Differently? Not a thing. I’m in love with the end product, and so is my son. The only thing I would want to do is another engine build. Maybe a little SR 2.2-liter with a VVL head to make a little more power but also so it makes all of those great VVL SR noises. In the day of the JZ and LS, it is nice to hear some rowdy four-cylinders from time to time.

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