I was interviewed in the June 2016 issue of Road & Track Magazine regarding the B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R! You can read the article by CLICKING HERE
Nissan SR20DE & SR20VE motors / 1991-94 Nissan Sentra SE-R / 1995-98 Nissan 200SX SE-R mini-site
"The Last of the SE-Rs"
This mini-site is dedicated to the amazing 1991-1994 Nissan Sentra SE-R, 1991-1993 NX2000, 1995-1998 Nissan 200SX SE-R, the 1991-2002 Infiniti G20 and their fantastic SR20DE & SR20VE 2.0 liter motors. In my opinion, the SR20 motor is pound for pound, dollar for dollar one of the greatest motors in automotive history.
While I am of course an avid music lover, singer, guitarist, pianist, and songwriter, this is my second passion.
~ SCROLL DOWN FOR TONS OF SR20 INFO! ~
Click here for the actual website ----> www.JordanWhiteMusic.com <----Click here for the actual website
(the SR20VE motor and transmission, freshly pulled from the 1992 Sentra SE-R B13 chassis)
**CLICK HERE TO WATCH MY MOM'S REACTION TO THIS CAR ON HIDDEN CAMERA, quite funny:
The 1998 Nissan 200SX SE-R: Last of the TRUE SE-R's
After a weekend of hanging out with my brother and riding around in his 1993 MR2 turbo in July, I decided that boost was the way to go. I sold the SR20VE motor, transmission and shell of my 1992 Sentra SE-R. I still dearly love the SR20VE but in terms of cost effectiveness and power, forced induction makes more sense. Staying naturally aspirated, I had hit a power "wall" with the SR20VE. That motor was an NA beast with almost every modification and there wasn't much more to do to extract additional power. The car, with moderate weight reduction, ran consistent low 13's in the 1/4 mile on regular street tires. I'm pretty confident with slicks it could have been in the 12's....but anyways, a midst many changes in my personal life in the late summer and fall of 2014, I decided to get a '98 200SX SE-R for my next project.
(Stock photo of a 1998 200SX SE-R from Nissan)
Nissan 200SX SE-R (B14 chassis) overview:
Debuting in 1995, the Nissan 200SX (B14 chassis code) came in two different trim levels during its run. The base SE model came with an economy based 1.6 liter 115HP 4-cylinder, known as the GA16DE, with rear drum brakes, smaller wheels and conservative styling. The second was the SE-R model, which included the infamous 2.0 liter 140HP 4-cylinder SR20DE, quite similar to the SR20 standard in the 1991-1994 Sentra SE-R except for some minor changes (the benefits and disadvantages of those changes are still hotly debated in the SE-R community to this day!)
The SE-R model came standard with a viscous limited slip differential transmission, a leather wrapped steering wheel, 4-wheel disc brakes, more aggressive styling and other upgrades. The 200SX became controversial due to the state of California banning the sale of them within it's borders in 1997 due to emissions concerns. Nissan responded the following year by putting even more emissions related components on the vehicle; and perhaps to offset for extra costs"deleted" the previous limited slip differential (LSD) equipped transmission that had been standard on all USDM Sentra/200sx SE-R's since 1991. Now, if you're going to race a FWD vehicle on the track, LSD is basically a must. Luckily for owners of the 1998 models this is easily remedied by swapping in the LSD transmission from a 2000-2001 Sentra SE (which also came with the SR20 motor although in the B15 code chassis) as the B15 transmission is stronger. You can also swap in any 91-97 SR20 powered car 5-speed transmission for the LSD.
(Original Nissan magazine ad)
My 1998 200SX SE-R
In fall of 2014 after selling my 1992 Sentra SE-R, I picked up a near mint super-black 1998 Nissan 200SX SE-R (actual photos above) from a friend in Maryland. Thanks to Charles for driving us down! The car was in fantastic shape and has some modifications that address the issues I touched on above including parts that will be needed in the future to handle boost.
Current Modifications (as of December 2016):
The Mitch Pipe roll cage:
I have a custom rear roll cage installed by Mitch Piper Motorsports whom specialize in custom automotive safety components. If you are interested you can learn more about their roll cages HERE.
I will be up front about having a roll cage in a street car:
It's actually more dangerous to have a full (front & rear) roll cage in a street car than to not. Why? On the track you are wearing a helmet and in the event of a collision your head will be protected by the helmet if it hits the cage. In a street car or even daily driver you are not wearing a helmet, leaving your head susceptible to slamming into the bars in the event of an accident. The bar is made of steel, and why I only have the cage in the REAR. It's sort of a compromise between the helmet issue and not having a cage at all. The bars are no where near the driver or front passenger areas, however I am well protected in the event of being rear-ended, and semi-protected in a roll over.
As these photos show, I have lost use of the backseats but the cage not only makes the vehicle safer in the event of a collision (assuming there are no passengers in the rear) but also increases structural rigidity. Quality roll cages are welded directly to the frame and act similar to a strut tower brace by reducing chassis flex during hard cornering.
1998 200SX SE-R Future Goals
For the engine, braking, & suspension.
Modifications required: T28 turbo, exhaust manifold & down pipe, ECU tune, oil lines, outlet pipes, blow off valve, boost controller, front mount intercooler, couplers/clamps etc. The SR20DE has proven itself to be very capable in handling forced induction without internal modifications, typically up to about 350WHP. This will take some time but as I wrote above, I plan on going into uncharted territory for myself. It's a perfect candidate as all I really need is the turbo parts itself and an ECU retune. The B15 Sentra SE 5-speed transmission installed has been shown to handle up to 400WHP in it's stock form, where the original transmission typically has issues once you go higher than 200WHP. This major obstacle has already been taken care of, and it gets even better as the clutch is a Clutchmasters 6-puck unsprung disc setup (FX500). A Walbro 255LPH (liters per hour) fuel pump installed provides the extra fuel needed and there is ample space in the engine bay for all the extra turbo parts as the battery has been relocated to the trunk.
Modifications required: Braking is probably the most IMPORTANT aspect of any vehicle, let a lone a modified one. As the saying goes "speed doesn't kill: rapid deceleration does!" True! Luckily for the SE-R, improving the braking is as easy as swapping in the parts from more superior Nissans. The 98 SE-R comes with relatively small and weak brakes. A *proven* braking setup that holds up for street and occasional track use is swapping in the front brakes from the 1991-1993 NX2000. This includes the calipers, mounting brackets, rotors, and some grippy pads of your choice. The rear brakes in the '98 SE-R are even more pathetic, and a popular options is swapping in the rear setup from a 1995-1999 Nissan Maxima. That will give the relatively light '98 SE-R some SERIOUS braking power. Also, some stainless steel brake lines wouldn't hurt! We'll see.
Modifications required: Other than sticky tires, the main choice is which aftermarket coilover setup to go with. There are many choices (Tein, Koni, Ground Control, K-Sport,etc). A coilover setup is ideal due to the adjustability factor and quality. Dampening usually can be adjusted by simply turning a knob on the top of the mount, allowing you to "dial in" stiffer settings for racing conditions and then soften them for more comfortable daily driving. The height of the chassis can also be adjusted. As noted the B14 chassis suffers from minimal suspension travel therefore it's imperative the vehicle is not lowered more than 1.6" or handling can actually suffer. I have already owned a 1997 200SX SE-R with Tein 16-way adjustable coilovers and other suspension modifications and it handled FANTASTIC, especially with sticky Kuhmo tires. I already have a Manzo front strut tower bar and a F1 rear strut tower bar, and along with the rear roll cage assists in firming up and limiting chassis flex during cornering. Other types of braces such as control arm braces and fender braces are available and further tighten up the chassis (see photos below). The B14 SE-R comes equipped with front & rear sway bays however they are thin. Many options are available such as the popular Progress sway bars, Intrax (see photo below), Nismo, and Suspension techniques. I have never really messed with sway bars in my SR20 powered vehicles as I felt the stock units were adequate. If you want a well handling vehicle with a soft ride, one option is to leave the OEM struts and springs on the vehicle and install front and rear strut tower braces, front fender braces, front & rear thicker swaybars, a 4-point brace (see photo) and of course, sticky performance oriented tires. This will get the job done much better than stock, however you'll find it won't get you all the way there. So as of now we'll be shooting for Ground Control adjustable coilovers, front and rear strut tower bars (any brand will do), and Progress front and rear sway bars. If I find the handling still needs to be improved I may opt to add more of the items we discussed.
(From left to right: a B14 SE-R w/ passenger fender removed to show a "Stephan's" fender brace installed; Intrax sway bar kit; Whiteline 4-point brace)
(No one really knows why Nissan added white-faces to the speedometer & tachometer of the '98 200SX SE-R and '98-99 Sentra SE yet left the fuel & temp gauges black. Also Nissan swapped in a different front end fascia for this model year which included a solid piece grille and more modern-looking crystal headlamps)
So, why do I call it this the "last of the SE-R's"?
Although there have been other Nissan models given the "SE-R" badge after the B14 chassis was retired, there's one major difference: the lack of the SR20DE motor. The '02 + Sentra SE-R came with the QR25DE motor (see more info down below) - and the '05-06 Altima SE-R had the VQ35DE motor, a large and powerful 3.5 liter V6. While these motors have their merits (especially the VQ35 which put down an impressive 275HP from the factory) they don't compare pound for pound with the original SR20. Now some 25+ years later, the SR20 is still competitive against the high horsepower Honda, Acura & Toyota motors of TODAY. My '92 VE swapped SE-R with lots of work pretty much took out anything on the road that was naturally aspirated.
Those of you who have been modifying SR20 motors for a long time may have done a double take when you saw the word "Hotshot" - the reason being, from 1997-2004~ish, the Hotshot company developed and sold the best header for the 91-94 Sentra SE-R/95-98 200SX SE-R. I myself even had a few of them back then. Then around 2004 some foreign companies from China and Korea ripped of Hotshot's design and created their own headers with cheaper labor and materials. They undersold Hotshot on eBay and Amazon for 1/4 of the price. Since both headers made around the same power, most people just bought the cheap ones. Hotshot, a supporter of the SR20DE enthusiast community, went out of business. It is a depressing example of outsourcing cheap labor and materials to undercut the original, especially since these companies completely stole Hotshot's design. Hotshot's header was more expensive because of better materials and that they spent nearly a year dyno testing to give us the best product possible that made the most power. Hotshot eventually did file suits against these companies but I am unsure of the result. Anyways, although my plan for the car includes forced induction, a friend was selling the now-extinct 4-2-1 header for a few dollars and I picked it up. It may not be the prettiest thing as it's probably a decade old and it has some issues and rust here and there, but these have been dyno proven to increase peak WHP by 10-14HP on an SR20DE especially when used in conjunction with other modifications. Of course, this header is NOT compatible with a turbo exhaust manifold but I decided to slap it on the other day at a friend's garage for the heck of it. Installation is not difficult; the hardest part is dealing with rusted and/or breaking bolts at the catalytic converter to install the down pipe and fitting the primary onto the engine block with various things in the way (radiator fans, wires, oil dipstick etc.) You can definitely feel a some extra power higher in the rev range.
(The Hotshot header primaries. Notice the fitting for the 02 sensor on the bottom right. It may not be pretty but it gets the job done)
Semi-cold air intake:
Having an small section of extra 45 degree 3" intake piping laying around, I decided to add it to my current warm intake setup. In my opinion this makes it a "semi" cold air intake. It does certainly add some power and a cool sound, but doesn't sit in lower driver-side fender well so there isn't the dreaded potential hydro-lock issues. It may be the best of both worlds (although a TRUE cold air intake has been shown to make as much as 4-5 more peak HP on the dynos) - couple photos:
Notice the air filter is situated further from the engine bay, AND the extra piping length adds a bit of resonance. The sound is clearly noticeably and my "butt dyno" says about 2-3 peak HP.
The 1995-1997 200SX bumper conversion:
The '98 SE-R bumper is known as the "fish mouth" look because of the resemblance to, well, a fish. Some '98-99 SE-R owners actually go out of their way to swap in the '95-97 bumper because they like it better. Since styling is always subjective, see what you think:
I picked up this up on cheap on eBay. A strut tower brace is beneficial by inhibiting chassis flex during cornering. It also shines and looks nice in the engine bay :) Installation is simple but here is a brief description. You need to:
1) Loosen and remove the 6 strut tower nuts (3 on each side which are usually 13 or 14mm)
2) Place the mounting ends of the brace on the bolts on each side. Tighten the nuts back down in an even pattern.
3) Most strut braces can be lengthened or shortened by turning the large in-line nuts on either side for a proper fit. You can also tilt the bar forward so it does not make contact with the any of the emissions equipment up top (especially in '98-'99 SR20DE motors, prior '91-97 motors did not have this issue).
4) Once you have the bar positioned as desired, tighten up everything and go for a ride! You will feel more firmness especially on faster turns. The strut tower brace is a great and cheap modification, and paired with a rear strut brace will make the B14 SE-R handle MUCH better. The braces typically cost around $30 each on eBay, so it's a very inexpensive but fantastic modification!
The chrome plated strut brace really shines in the sun:
FALL 2015 - 200SX SE-R parts car
In the fall of 2015 I picked up another SR20 powered vehicle from a friend, not in the best physical shape but mechanically it was sound. It was a teal colored 1997 200SX SE-R, lightly modified and ran good except the clear-coat on the original paint was peeling and it was rusting badly. I pulled many good parts off of it including the complete A/C system, full exhaust, bigger camshafts (see below), a B&M short shifter, and more. Unfortunately, the rust was really bad.
I realized the car was just taking up space and I had no intentions of trying to get it road worthy due to the rust, so in the summer of 2016, after removing many of those goodies to install in my 98 SE-R, I let her go. Here are pics of her being towed away by her new owner (an avid SE-R road course racer who is going to use for parts). The rust was just too much to overcome unfortunately, even though the motor and transmission ran strong. Almost 210,000 miles all original!
A long time ago, circa 1997-2001, there was 1 single modification for the SR20DE motor that was consistently making an extra 14WHP on the dyno. Those were the JWT "S3" camshafts. Here's a short article about them from the June 2000 issue of Sport Compact Car:
The chart above shows how the JWT S3 cams are a great modification for the SR20DE motor, N/A or turbo, and this is just the horsepower and torque gains over the much more aggressive 1991 cams that came in the original SR20DE motor. The gains on a 1994 and newer SR20DE motor are nearly double this! Below we will describe the removal of the OEM cams and installation of the JWT S3 cams in full detail in my 1998 SE-R. I also first purchased these NGK Iridium spark plugs to swap in during the cam installation:
NGK Iridium BKR6EIX-11 are probably the best spark plugs for the SR20DE engine. Now onto the actual cams....
Some of this information may be redundant for those of you who are quite experienced with these motors, and truth be told, this was actually my 6th cam swap in a SR20, but I decided to photograph and document it anyway. There are some write ups on the internet on how to do this, but I found they skip steps or don't mention very important things etc. So this write up is aimed towards those who are new to the SR20DE motor and/or who are learning how to work on and upgrade their own cars. My way is my way and you may have a better way, but of course I must post this DISCLAIMER that I'm not responsible if you try any of these methods and something goes wrong. It is very easy to ruin an SR20 motor if you're not careful during a cam swap. Here's some things I've seen during cam swaps that have ruined or nearly ruined SR20 motors:
Another shot of the stainless steel brake line - passenger rear. Notice how the line goes right through the stock mounting points.
The rest of this page deals mainly with the incredible high-revving SR20VE 2.0 liter DOHC motor, basically the SR20DE's bigger, faster cousin. While I no longer own this motor or the vehicle it was in, I sure do miss it and have kept all the relative information below to answer other's questions. And as always if you have a question for me about anything at all, just e-mail me at Jordan@jordanwhitemusic.com - thanks :)
The SR20VE produces anywhere from 190HP to 205HP right from the factory, these motors were only available in Europe, Australia & Japan until several years ago when they slowly were being imported to the United States. While both motors are in fact 2.0 liter 16-valve DOHC, the SR20DE produces only 140HP. The SR20VE "red top" (pictured just above) goes for $1,000+ with around 60-70,000 miles on it; however the "blacktop" SR20VE motor makes 205HP and typically comes mated to a 6-speed transmission which is fantastic, but these are triple the price. The SR20VE motor swap is very popular amongst Nissan/Nismo motorsport enthusiasts as it is relatively easy to do. It will drop into any chassis that originally came with an SR20DE from the factory and bolt right onto the original transmissions contained/motor mounts. It also uses much of the same wiring harness.
(The B13 shell w/ most of the front end removed for easier access to extract the motor & transmission on the pallet on the right)
A lesson learned:
7/18: There was a STUBBORN oil leak I thought was coming from the lower oil pan since I had removed it to inspect the pickup and baffle. After I replaced and sealed it, waited a day, and refilled with oil, I started the engine and saw oil dripping on to the garage floor so I got under the car with a light and it appeared to be coming from the pan. The check engine light also was flashing. I thought I had a bad pan so I:
1) Located a new lower oil pan (the only U.S. model pans that fits the SR20VE motor is from the 2000-2001 Sentra SE or the 1999-2002 Infiniti G20).
2) Replaced the pan and resealed it very well; waited 24 hours for cure and started the motor after pouring in 4 fresh quarts of oil. DRIPPING OUT AGAIN, just as intense as before! I was not happy.
3) Once again, I pulled the (newer) oil pan out and did an even better job sanding down and removing the old sealant, I even switched sealants in case that was it. I bolted the pan up with no oil in the motor and waited overnight again, then poured in 4 more quarts of fresh oil and started it up. I looked under the car and saw nothing as the motor ran. For about 20 seconds I was happy, until there it was yet again. Drip. Drip. Drip Drip. This time I decided enough was enough. I shut the motor off until the oil stopped dripping down onto the floor, then restarted it and immediately got under the car with a light to find the source. What I saw surprised me. It wasn't the oil pan leaking at all. It was this:
What you're looking at it the OEM oil pressure sensor switch. It has an electrical connection that, if the oil pressure drops below a certain level, it triggers the oil light on the dash as well as the check engine light. I couldn't believe it. Oil was literally just pouring out of it down onto the oil pan below which gave the illusion the pan was leaking. To access this you need to remove the entire oil filter manifold attached to the block by three 12MM bolts. I got a new oil sensor switch at Autozone for $9.19. ALL that time and money in oil (easily $80+ total) and it was something simple as that. I put the new switch in with an open 19MM wrench and no more oil leak!! The lesson to be learned is this: the SIMPLEST explanation is NOT ALWAYS the correct one. I thought it was the pan leaking since I recently removed the pan but coincidentally, or Murphy's law or whatever the switch just a few inches above the pan decided to quit at the same time! DOH!
7/14: Around 30 pounds in weight savings by swapping out the OEM stock hood and adding a carbon fiber one w/ hood pins. Looks cool too! Stock hood weighs 38lbs, the carbon fiber hood weighs 18.5lbs. Every bit helps!
(New temperature sensor; mounts in passenger side of block near above oil filter in the SR20VE)
6/14: Sleeper front end. After learning that the "Tsuru" grille can restrict airflow to the motor, swapped in the USDM 1993-1994 Sentra SE-R grille and headlights/corners setup, with a new radiator. Also put a bra on that I've had:
April 2014: the ClutchMasters FX500 6-puck clutch was installed. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! This clutch is a tough SOB and even comes with a warning that says "HARSH ENGAGEMENT - DRAG USE ONLY." While pedal feel is quite good it does "chatter" a bit until it's been warmed up. According to other SR20 owners it should be able to handle up to 400 wheel horsepower. It is easy to stall the vehicle at full stops if you don't pay attention, but a great clutch overall. GEAR OIL: The '91-'94 Sentra SE-R RSF532V manual transmission, which contains a viscous limited slip differential, takes exactly 1 gallon of gear oil. At the advice of my friend Ray who owns a 1998 Sentra SR20DE turbo I went with NEO RHD 75W-90. This stuff is EXCELLENT and an ease in shifting was noted in both cold and hot ambient temperatures. The downside is it's expensive, going for around $80 per gallon in the U.S.
The FX500 fresh out of the box (not sure why they bother painting it as you never see it once installed):
While the engine was apart, it was treated to three-angle valve job, valve re-seatment, re-shimming, AND a port & polish of the head using a Flowbench.
(The SR20VE head all cleaned and polished up)
('92 SE-R with 15" lightweight black Rota Slipstream wheels, with a Mazda 626 lip modification)
The Nissan SR20VE engine in different forms:
(Nissan's SR20 motors, blue top and black top respectively. The bluetop was a 1.6 liter making the least power; the blacktop was the most powerful of the VE's making 205HP stock and very rare)
The SR20VE engine was NEVER available in any United States Nissan vehicles, but it all began with the SR20DE, also a 2.0 liter, 16 valve DOHC, inline 4-cylinder. The SR20DE began with the now infamous and legendary 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R, in the Nissan B13 chassis. The SR20DE produced 140 HP and 132 ft lbs of torque, which as you can see, is much less than the SR20VE. The SR20DE engine was also available in the Infiniti G20 and the short lived 1991-1993 NX2000. Except for the Infiniti G20, both the 1991 Sentra and NX were produced primarily as economy vehicles with a small and feeble 1.6 liter 110 HP engine, the GA16DE, in trim models such as the Sentra E, XE, SE and LE. The 1.6 liter version of the NX2000 was called, yes, you guessed it, the NX1600.
The 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R was nothing to sneeze about. For it's time, it set economy car speed records, was very affordable (one could purchase a brand new Sentra SE-R in late 1990 for less than $11,000) and it was also listed as Car & Driver's Top 10 Cars of the year, in 1991. And 1992. And 1993. And 1994. It is to date the only vehicle that has ever accomplished such a feat, being on the Top 10 list during all years of it's production.
(In their completely stock form, the original 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R (black) and 1993 Nissan Sentra SE-R (red). The main differences between the year models is a more aggressive front fascia in the '93 model. The seats also changed and the tachometer and speedometer swapped places in the dash. Cruise control became an added option in '92 models, and a front driver's side airbag also becamse standard in the '93 models and up)
It was September of 1997, I was 16 years old, and needed a car. My father had an hour long commute and had already driven his 1993 Sentra XE (his second Nissan Sentra since his first in 1987) to well over 100,000 miles. He decided he wanted a new Sentra, and he offered me his 1993 Sentra XE for only $1,000 - well below it's value of nearly $4,000 (cause my Dad was awesome like that) - and my love affair with the Nissan Sentra began. Now, if you read just above, you will see that the Sentra XE was powered by the relatively weak 110 HP GA16DE engine. It was a 5-speed, and it was very reliable, but it wasn't very fast. What was fast (or at least seemed fast to me) was my Dad's brand new 1998 Sentra SE-R. Technically, this car was called the "Sentra SE" although it did contain the SR20DE engine, and was a blast to drive (at least, when he let me drive it).
I was hooked instantly:
My First SE-R:
After a few weeks, I sold my Sentra XE to a friend of mine and then took a trip up to Boston, MA to purchase my first 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R which I located for sale on the then popular website, SE-R.net (the site is very outdated now). The car was completely stock, black, and had air conditioning. Little did I know that this was only the beginning. Over the next couple of years I would become obsessed with this car, to the point where my friends thought I was crazy. I probably was. Unfortunately, SE-R.net is down probably for good so now everyone goes on www.sr20-forum.com.
Anyways, for my first SE-R I eventually added a modest exhaust system, a cold air intake, a header, and the most important modification of all, new and bigger camshafts. There is a company out of Southern California called Jim Wolf Technology who have supported the SE-R community since it's inception, and sometime in November 1999, myself and several friends installed the new JWT "S3" cams on a rainy day in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. Then came the Stillen body-kit, and larger 16" wheels with nice, thick rubber.
(My very first all-black Sentra SE-R. Notice in the background is my mom's Nissan Pathfinder and what would eventually become mine, my dad's '98 SE-R)
The car was everything to me, I loved it so much. It was fast and left most other challengers in the dust (mainly, Hondas and Acuras). :-P
But then, my parents divorced, and I was offered my father's 1998 Sentra SE-R, so I took him up on the offer. I sold my first 1991 Sentra SE-R, and I still remember watching it leave my driveway under the power of another. This was in the year 2001, so my "new" 1998 Sentra SE-R, although powered by the same SR20DE engine, had the extras like power windows, power locks, cruise control, a sunroof etc. But it was kind of slow, compared to my modified 1991 SE-R I had just sold. My father bought an MX-5 Miata, and I was left to start modifying my new 1998 SE-R. I did most of the same things, intake, header, exhaust, big cams etc....
Mind The Gap:
Over the next few years, my interest and priorities changed a bit. I finally sold my '98 SE-R in 2005. I would drive a number of different vehicles between then and today. I purchased another Sentra (a 1994 Limited Edition) for a daily driver, then I drove a 2004 Ford Escape for awhile, a 2006 Nissan Pathfinder, and a 2007 Honda Fit. None of these cars were modified, all were for simple transportation. I had lost the "bug."
But my dreams were different. Yes, I literally had dreams about my SE-Rs. Mostly of my first 1991 SE-R. I would dream I would find it somewhere, that it had been there the entire time, and usually wake up just before I was about to drive it. I would dream of seeing it, or just that I never sold it. Those dreams lasted for years, and each time I woke up a little sad that those cars were long gone. Then came the year 2011.
The 20th Anniversary:
The year 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of the original, the one and only, 1991 Sentra SE-R. There were several articles and websites that made a big deal out of it being the 20th anniversary, and I started paying more and more attention. The dreams for me continued, and I gave serious thought to purchasing another one. I saved up some money from performing, and started the search.
1993 SE-R - A False Start:
So in November 2011, I found a 1993 Sentra SE-R, which looked good from the ad, in Connecticut, for sale for only $1,000. I ended up buying it, and soon found out why it cost so little. Let's see: the trunk floor was rusted out to about the size of a grapefruit (and the trunk didn't close or stay open anyway) the steering column had a lot of slack, there was serious rust on each side of the car, the speedometer didn't function, there was no stereo, the tires were bald, and there was no headliner and the sunroof was broken. I did nothing to this car except get ripped off at National Tire & Battery (NTB) for a set of tires (avoid NTB at all costs or it may cost you!) and I fashioned a cold air intake. But there were another 20 minor problems with the car, so needless to say, although it was modified and fairly quick, I didn't hold onto it that long. Although it looked kind of nice:
While the above 1993 SE-R brought back a lot of the nostalgia I had been seeking, it had far too many problems to become roadworthy, and I sold it after about two months and began looking for another '91-'94 Sentra SE-R, one that was in much better condition; which I found once again, in New England. (I'm unsure as to why most of the SE-R's I have purchased have been from that area).
(Photo of rocker panel rust, also known as "B13 rocker rot" - a condition that plagues the chassis)
Back To The Real Thing: My Second 1991 Sentra SE-R:
Alas! In February 2012, I located a 1991 Sentra SE-R for sale in New Hampshire. It was black, slightly modified, in FANTASTIC shape, and was priced reasonably. It looked exactly like my first 1991 SE-R, which I had owned back in 1999; a time of my life I missed so much (and still do) - getting back behind the wheel of the same model of car was the closest I could get. Unfortunately, it wouldn't last all that long (more on that later). This one was had almost no rust, already had an intake, Hotshot header, exhaust, and JWT ECU. It was also lowered on Eibach springs and supported by KYB struts. It drove very well, the only problem I had was a broken front left axle that I soon replaced. I purchased the car on Superbowl Sunday for only a bit more than the last one, and it was well worth it. Here are some photos:
SR20VE Swap "Buzz":
Around the time I purchased my second '91 SE-R (shown above) - I started hearing a lot of buzz about and researching what is deemed the "SR20VE swap" in which the motor from several European and Japanese Nissan models, the SR20VE, (chassis models listed at the top) is imported from companies like SOKO, and dropped into the 1991-1994 Sentra SE-R or the 1995-1999 200sx SE-R. It is compatible with the current transmission and is a relatively easy swap compared to other cars (i.e. - putting a 5.0 liter Ford Mustang motor into a Mazda Miata or something) I knew very little but I was determined to find out about it all. I wanted to make a lot of power but was unsure about going turbo. With turbo, there's A LOT of extra things that can break. So, knowing that a stock SR20VE still makes 50 more horsepower than a stock SR20DE, I was very intrigued, and knew that the SR20VE was not that difficult and I could add bolt ons and make it even faster. So, I began a light search, but in the meantime, I kept my eye out for any other SE-R's for sale and I came across an ad for a 1997 Nissan 200sx SE-R down in York, PA.
Spring 2012, my first B14 200SX SE-R:
A 1997 model year, it was not perfect, needed new paint, and had some minor body damage. It also needed a new axle and clutch really soon, but for the asking price of just $1,000, I had to pick it up. It would soon become the greatest handling SR20 car I've ever owned. I had the car professionally repainted the OEM Nissan "cloud white" color and also any dents and dings fixed.
(photo after brand new paint, JDM crystal 1-piece headlights & corners, Nismo Grill, and new 16" Konig Wheels on fresh rubber)
Motor: OBX 4-2-1 header, custom exhaust, G-spec under drive crank pulley, Tomei camshafts, JWT ECU
Suspension: Tein 22-way adjustable coilovers, adjustable camber plates, front & rear strut tower bars
Now I originally intended to keep this car fairly stock as a daily driver, but seeing it already had nearly $2,000 worth of modifications in it, I decided to add more parts over the next year, mostly for power. Plus the '97 SE-R, in a nearly stock form was slow as a dog. It felt like it couldn't get out if it's own way. Both monthly car mags Car & Driver and Motor Trend gave Nissan's new 1995 200sx SE-R (known as the "B14" chassis) mixed to mostly negative reviews. Most opinions were that the '91-'94 Sentra SE-R was vastly superior in performance, handling, and overall. So I had to add some extra power to my new '97 SE-R, because it certainly WAS slower. Among the major differences were that the redline of the 91-94 Sentra SE-R was 7500 RPM; for the 95-99 200sx SE-R, Nissan (for unknown reasons) lowered the redline to 7100 RPM, and also added a 109 MPH speed governor. Not to mention the previously rear independent suspension in the 91-94 SE-R was replaced by a cheaper and less effective multi-link beam suspension.
In a simple analogy: the 200sx SE-R was like a watered down version of the original Sentra SE-R. However, with the proper modifications, the 200sx SE-R could run just as hard and fast as the Sentra SE-R; it just required more money and time to do so.
After doing a basic tuneup with new plugs, wires, and a oil change to Mobil-1 synthetic, I added a cold air intake, an OBX 4-2-1 exhaust header, Tomei camshafts (270 degrees), a JWT ECU and d G-Spec under drive crank pulley. The car pulled harder than when I got it, but it still wasn't very quick. Handling though, it was a different story! With the Tein adjustable coil overs, sticky rubber, strut tower bars and bigger anti-sway bars, it handled like it was on rails. Absolutely fantastic.
Click the YouTube links below to view short videos of 1st thru 2nd gear passes @ WOT:
Fall 2013 update: I sold my lovely 1997 Nissan 200SX SE-R after I moved into a new home, and it gave me 60,000 trouble-free miles in just 18 months.
Sometimes Nissan does things that don't make much sense. Read on.
Without explanation, (possibly for better fuel economy?) Nissan chose to activate VVL in SR20VE powered vehicles just before redline which is quite frankly, a waste. So with proper wiring of an MSD window switch, you can change where VVL activates. Currently it is set at 5000RPM, the engine redlines at about 8200RPM, and the fuel cut is at about 8400RPM. It's a real screamer, the motor can go even higher than 8400RPM with a quick reprogram of the ECU (although in the current setup the dynojets show peak power drops off after 8000RPM). That RPM range is Integra Type-R territory, and just like the B and K series motors from Honda, that's where the SR20VE makes much of it's power.
So why didn't Nissan ever sell any vehicles with the SR20VE engine in the U.S. if it's so great?
This is a really good question. Frankly, there's no clear answer. Nissan certainly had the opportunity. The 200sx was dropped in 1999 and the Sentra was completely redesigned in the year 2000 into the B15 chassis, and then again in 2002 with a new power plant, the QR25DE. The 2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R "Spec-V" was released with massive hype but unfortunately it failed to live up to high expectations. (Just do a quick search on your local Craigslist for "SE-R" in the cars for sale section, you will find dozens). The QR25DE had a lower redline, although it did make more horsepower and torque than the SR20DE, but still, did not compare to the SR20VE. There was much speculation in the years of 2000 & 2001 (well, "hope" more than anything) that the new Spec V would contain the SR20VE, due to the "V" in the title. Not so. And once again, many Nissan enthusiasts were left scratching their heads. Why would Nissan do this? To be honest, no one really knows, although it must have come down to marketing purposes. Perhaps Nissan believed they needed an engine with more torque than the SR20 platform, as the QR25DE made 175hp and around 168ft lbs of torque from the factory. However, the SR20VE still was more powerful, on a proven bottom end and gearing, but it was left for Europe and Japan, once again. In my opinion, this was a huge blunder by Nissan, among many many others. A great example is the 1997-1998 240sx S14, a fantastic looking RWD vehicle but relativley underpowered in it's stock form.
Above left is a 2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V and right is a 1998 Nissan 240SX SE. I love the aggressive look of the 240SX, but both vehicles had controversial motors. In mid 2001, around the height of the "Import Tuner" culture, Nissan announced the revival of the "SE-R" badge trim level for the 2002 Sentra Spec V. People were very excited, but unfortunately it was more hype than anything else. The Spec-V's QR25DE, a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder was more of a mid range motor with a lower redline than the SR20DE, although it made well over 30HP & 40 ft-lbs of torque over the SR20DE, the vehicle was much heavier, the suspension was suspect and the car was too large. There are also many problems with the catalytic converters. It was a disappointment and mostly deemed inferior by the SE-R community. A good example is Nissan slapping the QR25DE into the base model 2002-2009 Altima while the higher trim model received the powerful 3.5 VQ35DE 6-cylinder. The QR25DE is an under square engine meaning the length of the stroke is greater than the diameter of the bore. This engine does not rev high and does not make power up top without some more work. This alone is a reason some folks dislike the QR25 engine. The pistons are a good design with regards to the skirts, but the piston top is thinner than most SR20DE pistons between the first ring and the combustion area. The block is an open deck block and some argue no where near as strong as a closed deck design. The rods are tiny and thin and made to be lightweight, not strong like SR20 bull rods are.
As for the motor in the S14 240SX, at the time it was Nissan's only RWD "sports car" (as the 300ZX Twin Turbo was discontinued after 1996) - it was simply under powered. The KA24DE, a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder from the factory made a mere 150HP although it contained a fairly firm suspension and a limited slip differential. In a strange coincidence this motor was also used in the FWD 1993-2000~ish Nissan Altima models, and it's also not surprising that the popular engine swap for the 240SX is a SR20DET - if you can find a 240SX that's not beaten up. The 1997-1998 model shown above had a more aggressive headlight design sometimes referred to as the "angry Kouki" or just "Kouki" and is exceptionally rare.
Modifications to my '92 SE-R VVL:
Well actually, before we get to those, let's first discuss what is more of a neccesary fix, addressing the 5th gear "pop-out" problem that has plagued the Sentra SE-R since it's release in 1991.
I was driving one fall day and the motor was running great, and I merged onto the highway. I shifted into 3rd gear, then to 4th gear, then into 5th gear, hit the accelerator, and the motor revved up like it was in neutral. Confused, I downshifted back into 4th gear, and back into 5th. Same thing. I was completely confused. And then I remembered.
My car had just now developed what is known in the Nissan world as the dreaded "5th gear pop-out" problem. Most of the time it happens more gradually, but for me, it was fine one moment then gone the next.
Here's what happens:
In the manual transmission 1991-1994 Sentra SE-R's the teeth on the 5th gear input shaft gradually wear down until they are no longer able to "bite." When you shift into 5th gear, the shifter can either pop out into neutral or stay in it's 5th gear position where the motor just revs up and the car goes no where.
(A faulty 5th gear)
Here's the part that bothers me most: Nissan never officially acknowledged this problem. Even though the problem was found in nearly half of all Sentra SE-R's. There was no "recall" where you could get it fixed for free. Those owners lucky enough to develop the problem during their factory warranty period saved a lot of cash. Unfortunately, many of the 5th gear "pop-out" problems developed in vehicles well after the warranties expired. Being that the Sentra SE-R is fundamentally an economy car, many were driven well past the mileage warranties and then they developed the problem.
Now, unless you don't mind driving in 4th gear everywhere, the solution is NOT cheap. Courtesy Nissan out of Texas, and G-Spec Tuning (a popular Nissan performance website) offer what is called the "5th gear pop-out kit" which runs around $340.00 and contains all the parts necessary to repair the 5th gear parts. I won't bore you all with the specifics here, but you have to drop the entire transmission and dismantle the gears to replace everything. It's a huge pain, and in my opinion, one of the few blunders by Nissan for an otherwise remarkable and fantastic car. The problem is most prevalent in the 1991-1992 Sentra SE-R's; the number of SE-R's with the 5th gear pop-out problem declined dramatically in the 1993 and 1994 Sentra SE-R's, although on occasion it still happened (there have been some reports of 5th gear pop-out even in the B14, the 1995-1998 200sx SE-R, although quite rare).
So now the 5th gear parts have been replaced, as well as a new clutch disc, the JGY 6-puck competition disc installed failed after only 4,000 miles. The springs busted. From much research it seems wise to stay away from JGY products. Sorry guys, I've heard a lot of negative things, and the JGY clutch disc is the only product I've ever owned from there, and it failed.
(JGY clutch disc; the springs are breaking out into the plastic)
K-Sport Coilover system:
This Sentra SE-R suspension setup is centered around the K-Sport coilover system. Each corner has 36 levels that adjust dampening and rebound by turning the little dial at the top of each strut tower. Adjustable camber plates are included and ride height can also be lowered or raised. The reason my car doesn't appear all that low in the photos on this page is because the Sentra SE-R/200SX SE-R suffers from a relatively small amount of suspension travel so an optimal lowering height is just about 1 inch. That doesn't sound very low but when you begin to go lower than that, especially past 1 1/2 inches the vehicle actually begins to handle worse than it would at the stock ride height because it begins to bounce off the bump-stops. It looks cool lowering it 2" or so but it's just for looks at that point. I once had Eibach Sportlines on my '98 SE which lowered the car 1.8" and the ride in the back was terrible. Eventually a couple of the KYB struts blew from potholes.
G-Spec Underdrive Pulleys:
I recently installed a set of G-Spec underdrive pulleys, both crank and waterpump, in my SE-R. These are much lighter than the OEM pulleys and work by "underdriving" them and thus freeing up horsepower, since less intertia and centrifical force is needed to turn them. (Kind of the concept behind a lightened flywheel) These do not make a HUGE difference in horsepower or torque gains, however they have been shown to increase power by as much as 8 horsepower, all over the power band, on the dyno. The biggest pain is getting off the original pulleys (either use a pulley-puller or, if you're brave, a bunch of screw drivers) - you also should and need to replace the crank oil seal. Also, it can be somewhat difficult to find the correct size belts depending upon your application. My SE-R does not have power steering or air conditioning, and thus there are only 3 pulleys in the car, a crank pulley, water pump pulley, and alternator pulley. I felt no need to purchase an underdriving alternator pulley, as this can cause electrical problems, (even though it's a brand new alternator) - I didn't want to take the risk. There is already the risk when using an underdrive crank pulley in a high horsepower, high revving engine - that it can throw off the balance of the crank. This risk is very low in the SR20 series engines however as the crank itself comes balanced from the factory. Other engines do not. So it is use at your own risk.
Here are some photos of the pulleys:
The G-spec underdrive water pump pulley on the left vs. the stock OEM water pump pulley on the right and vice versa. But wait, I thought you said they G-Spec pulleys are lighter?! It actually is, although from the photo it is hard to tell. It "underdrives" the OEM pulley by 30-40 percent or so, and thus frees up a few horsepower.
(The G-Spec underdrive crank pulley, front, with the Fidanza lightweight flywheel)
(Water pump pulley installed on the engine - notice the OEM Nissan oil filter in the top left photo that I use for this motor. The Nissan OEM oil filters are vastly superior to most common filters as they have a floating ring that collects more substance, although they need to be ordered in advance from any Nissan dealer parts department, you can't just walk into an Autozone and buy one)
(For the crank pulley, the rubber seal shown in this photograph needs to be replaced, outlining the hole. These are available from Nissan for $8 and really SHOULD be replaced, especially if you used the controversial "screwdriver method" to remove the pulley. This is a spare front cover of an SR20 motor that I have used for the photo)
Modifying an original SR20DE distributor for the SR20VE motor:
In the photo above I'm literally using a hacksaw to cut off the bottom "ear" of a SR20DE distributor to fit on my SR20VE motor. This is done for two reasons:
1) The SR20VE distributor is more expensive and harder to get your hands on,
2) If you are dropping a SR20VE motor into your SE-R you already have a distributor that just needs "the cut."
The bottom is cut because it makes contact near the driver's side of the VE valve cover and will not sit flush. The VE distributor does not have the bottom "ear" but the DE does, hence the cutting. After that there are wiring diagrams on many websites that help you to wire up your DE distributor to the VE motor (and VVL solenoids).
The Fidanza Lightweight Flywheel:
When I was having the clutch replaced, I had a lightweight Fidanza Flywheel installed that I purchased used from another SE-R enthusiast. The Fidanza flywheel weighs around 9.5lbs, whereas the OEM Nissan flywheel weighs 19.5lbs. The difference is signficant. While the flywheel does not "make" horsepower like a set of bigger camshafts would, it does allow the engine to spin more freely due to it's lighter weight.
Sitting at stoplights now in neutral, with the light flywheel and underdrive pulleys installed, the engine revs to 8000RPM very quickly, almost as if it was a 10 second motorcycle. This car doesn't run 10 seconds of course, as you'd need turbo to do such a thing, but it does run 13's.
(The Fidanza lightweight flywheel, all polished up and looking good; the Fidanza flywheel, G-spec water pump pulley and crank pulleys with their brand new belts)
The Warm Air Intake vs Cold Air Intake Debate:
So, there has considerable debate and controversy regarding which setup is better for almost decades at this point. Which one should YOU use, you ask? Well I have an answer for you: it depends. Don't put a far reaching air filter to the ground to get colder into your throttle body if you live in an area that is prone to heavy rainfall and flooding (below, right). Instead, choose to have the air filter up higher (below, left). The good thing even if you DO live in rainy climate most of the years, it only takes a few minutes to swap out the warm air setup for the cold air setup (which has been shown to produce an additional 6-10WHP)
(Warm air setup vs. cold air setup. In the second photo, the air filter is just out of sight)
How does it work?
In these types of engines, the colder the air is going into the throttle body, the better. The cold air intake works by doing 2 main things:
1) Instead of drawing warm/hotter air from locations inside the engine bay, the cold air intake pulls in air from other locations such as the inner fender well, where that air itself cannot be warmed up from the engine. It also picks up more of the air flowing under and around the car, the outside air, which may be cooler.
2) Resonance. A cold air intake requires longer piping to get the air filter as far as possible away from the heat of the engine. Resonance acts almost a form of supercharging because the long piping can cause the air to be sucked up faster than a traditional warm air setup where the intake piping is shorter in length, and less likely to occur.
The main issue with the cold air intake is that the filter is often situated in a location that makes it easily suceptible to water, meaning, the filter gets wet from rain, and there is the possibilty of hitting puddles while the throttle plate is open and inhaling water into the engine. Water can kill an engine faster than a pissed off "enemy combatant" with a rocket launcher. There are stories of people who have unknowingly tried to cross deep puddles from flooding on roadways, and then ended up inhaling gallons and gallons of water up there intake into their engine, and the engine blew, which is known as "hydrolock." When this happens, the water inside the engine causes the compression ratio to become so high that is basically explodes. Well maybe not literally, but it will never run again without some serious rebuilding. Most engines that hydrolock are scrapped for salvageable parts.
Now for me, this car is a weekend and track car. Not my daily driver. However I did remove the cold air section of the intake for my dyno runs to see if there was a difference between the cold and warm setups. We found no difference in the numbers because no air was blowing over the engine AND the hood was open for all the dyno runs. The only way to test which intake is better would be to dyno the vehicle with a strong stream of air pushing into and over/under the engine bay, to simulate driving conditions, with the hood closed.
(Above left: removing the cold air intake piping, above right: holding the cold air intake piping, ready to reinstall)
I can tell you undeniably that for my car, in real-world driving conditions, the cold air intake makes more power. When I removed it and returned to the warm air setup I was unable to get the tires spinning in 2nd gear where they usually would do so. The car feels more sluggish up top. I believe the warm air intake kind of "stunts" the acceleration however again, if you live in an area where standing water on roadways is common, you may want to save the cold air setup for a dry, sunny day or the racetrack.
So I was beginning to notice that under hard driving conditions, the motor would begin to overheat, even in the winter. I traced this back to a short at the ECU for the radiator coolant fan. Normally, the ECU automatically turns the fans on at around 202 degrees F; however in my car they were not coming on at all. So we wired a switch directly to the coolant fan, bypassing the ECU. The switch was mounted on an unused section just under the stereo on the right.
OEM SR20DE MAF vs N60 MAF:
Now, with all this power, the the original MAF (mass air flow sensor) needed to be replaced with something larger. I chose the Nissan N60 MAF since it's bigger and less restrictive. Since the MAF is attached to the engine's intake, it has it's limitations in stock form. When you need more air in an engine that dyno tests at over 200hp @ 7800RPM, the stock MAF doesn't cut it because of it's small opening. The ECU also needs to be reflashed to accept and work with the different MAF. See the photos below.
The larger, much less restrictive N60 MAF (two left) vs. the OEM DE MAF (right). The N60 MAF came from the factory on the 1989-1994 Nissan Maxima and the ECU you choose to run must be preprogrammed for it to operate correctly.
The JMR 4-1 Header:
The header pictured above is at this time probably the BEST header for a naturally aspirated SR20VE motor. Just look at those beautiful primaries! Remember though - you get what you pay for, and this header is not cheap.
In January 2013, I took the car to a dyno. Little did I know that it was actually Mustang Dyno (as it even says Mustang dynamometer at the top of each graphic sheet). The operator also dialed in the vehicle as weight 2,875lbs instead of the correct weight of about 2,400lbs. So my numbers were not quite as high as I'd like. Some photos:
This time particular the car made a peak of 195.7 HP @ 7834 RPM. This is 10 HP less than the car made before a few modifications on a different dyno. According to many, a FWD car on a Mustang Dyno will often yield lower peak HP number than a dynojet which I plan on going to soon. Even by the operators own admission, he told me "if you go on a dynojet you should be 20-30 HP more" ::smacks forehead::
UPDATE: A few weeks later, in February 2013, I took the car to an actual dynojet and the numbers were much better. Max horsepower was 206 and max torque was 148 at just about the same RPM)
Did *I* Have The Very LAST OEM Nissan Sentra "SE-R" Badge?
It was posted on www.SR20-Forum.com that Nissan no longer is producing the original 1991-1994 SE-R trim level badge that goes on the trunk. I am not suprised and let's face it, we don't see many early 1990 import economy cars anymore. So long story short, I never put the badge on my car as I intended to do, and I ended up selling it to another list member after I received about 20 e-mails about it. :)
(Could it be, the very last OEM Sentra SE-R badge in the world? :) )
More on Nissan's NEO VVL (variable valve lift & timing):
Instead of me trying to explain in my own words what the SR20VE engine does, here's Wikipedia's take (pay most attention to the very last paragraph in bold :)
Nissan Ecology Oriented Variable Valve Lift and Timing is a variable valve timing technology. VVL varies the timing, duration, and lift of valves using hyrdaulic pressure switch between two different sets of camshaft lobes. It functions similarly to Honda's VTEC system.
The SR20VE is the most common engine with NEO VVL. There have been two main versions of this engine. The first version made 187 hp and 145 ft lbs of torque. This engine was used by Nissan from 1997 to 2001. The second variant of the SR20VE is found only in the 2001 and later P12 Nissan Primera. This version of the SR20VE makes 204 hp and 152 ft lbs of torque.
The most powerful VVL engine so far is the SR20VET. The SR20VET is a turbocharged SR20VE. It uses a Garrett GT2560R turbocharger, and makes 276 hp. Compared to the SR20DET (used in the Nissan Silvia and Bluebird), the SR20VET (aside from having VVL technology) has improved airflow in the cylinder head, higher compression, and also improved coolant passages.
How is it different from Honda's "V-TEC?"
One difference from Honda's V-TEC system is that NEO VVL engages the change of intake and exhaust cams independently for a flatter, more consistent power band. On the SR20VE, the intake camshaft is switched at 5000 rpm, and the exhaust at 6500 rpm. Think about that, Honda/Acura guys. Ok so I must admit something; besides having a very powerful engine, I did lose twice this past summer. Once to a Chevy Cobalt SS turbo and once to an Integra with a K-series engine swap. Hey, at least I can admit it!
SR16VE (N1 cams) swap w/ Supertech valve springs (product SPRK-H1022D)
(The N1 cams, direct from Nissan, outside their boxes, ready to be installed)
Here is the G-Spec underdrive water-pump pulley actually installed:
B13 Sentra Weight Reduction:
Engine power is closely related to weight in moving vehicles (meaning the less weight and more torque = faster). During the relentless winter of 2013-2014 as the car sat in the garage endlessly I did some minor weight reduction. In these sub-2,400lb B13's, you'd be surprised at how much removing some things makes a noticeable difference. You can of course remove the seats temporarily, race on a track etc. and then replace them, as you can with the stereo and speakers etc. but I was more interested in long-term weight reduction. I removed ALL of the under-carpet sound deadening tar that Nissan put into each Sentra to lower road noise. If your car is stock your car will sound considerably louder, however it's basically unnoticeable when you're talking about a 4-1 header with a 3" cat-back exhaust with a straight thru Magnaflow muffler. So I removed about 46 pounds from the car for good. Here's how:
Socket set & wrench to remove front seats, rubber mallet, large flathead screwdriver, Phillips head screwdriver, sand paper (100-240 grit), primer, a close match to your exterior paint (for the trunk). Optional: clear coat.
What you do:
1) Remove both front seats. First remove the plastic coverings with a screw driver to access four large, possibly 16mm bolts. (I can't recall exactly but they're large). Unclip the seatbelt indicator connector harnesses under each one. Take them out of the car.
2) Remove the rear seats. These are much easier and are attached by large retaining clip sections, 2 on the top, 2 on the bottom.
3) Remove the carpeting from the plastic interior door trimming. It's attached by plastic retaining clips, it's not necessary to remove all of the carpeting at once, you can simply pull it off on the side your working on and work there, then do the same for the next side.
4) Once the carpeting is removed you will see a thick tar like substance. That's what you want out. This one all depends. My best luck was just hitting a large flat head screwdriver with a mallet and pulling it out piece by piece. Collect it all in a big trash bag so you can weigh it later. There is tar everywhere. Anywhere you see it, just work on it to get it out. Some of it will come out easy in large chunks, some will be a lot stickier and won't give in as easy. Then once your done, vacuum very well. You will see some small dime sized holes where you can see the ground underneath. Plug those up with whatever works so water doesn't get up into the cabin if you drive in the rain.
5) Remove the rear trunk bottom carpeting/support wood to access the strip of tar behind the rear seats. This part is of course optional as it only weighs about 6lbs, but every bit counts. It's more difficult to access because of the angle and it being deep in the trunk. I had better luck using a the Phillips head screwdriver, sort of stabbing into it and pulling it out in strips. Once you're done it should look something like this:
6) Use the lower grit sandpaper and really go at it to get the rest of it. In time, it will all come off. Then vacuum again, very well.
7) Cover exposed areas and spray some primer on the new bare metal strip. Get paint that closely matches the color of the rest of your trunk. Seeing as these cars are at the youngest, 20 years old, you may opt to sand down any surface rust and prime and paint the entire trunk anyway like I did.
8) Take that bag of all the tar you removed and weigh it. See how much yours weighed! Mine was 46lbs. (You can also remove that lint under the carpeting to remove an additional 8-10lbs).
The Sentra SE-R and the SR20VE motor just after being professionally detailed & steam-cleaned.
My Brother Austin's Cars:
This car is one the RAREST early-mid 1990's Japanese sports cars in existence. Sure, you may see an early '90's MR2 non-turbo putting around town, every couple of years, but they put down barely 140HP, my brother's car is the real deal:
MODIFICATIONS: He won't tell me! He wants to keep it a secret. What a nerd!!
More information on some other vehicles of this nature:
The U.S. available 1993 MR2 Turbo (W20 chassis) produced 200HP powered by a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder motor and was able to accelerate from 0-60 in 6.1 seconds and complete the 1/4 mile in 14.7 seconds, debuting in the U.S. in 1989. At the time, the automotive press dubbed it as "the poor man's Ferrari." However, looking at these photos I believe it looks just as good! Also recall this was the year 1993. Look at the styling of my 1992 Sentra SE-R on the rest of this page. True, the Nissan Sentra was and always has been a FWD platform as opposed to the RWD MR2, yet I had to wait until the year 2008 for the SR20VE motor (producing about the same power as the MR2 Turbo) became widely available to get my hands on it.
(MY 1992 Sentra SE-R VVL next to my brother's 1993 MR2 - summer 2014. All the NA modifications along with the SR20VE engine swap put the Sentra just a tad slower than the boosted Toyota)
Some Thoughts on the Toyota MR2 Styling & Design
As briefly mentioned, the Toyota MR2 W20 chassis debuted in 1989. It's hard to believe that was 26 YEARS ago! (where does the time go?) Despite this, it doesn't look dated in my opinion. Toyota was ahead of it's time. To me, the W20 MR2 looks like a mash-up between the 3rd generation Mazda RX-7 and the C5 Chevrolet Corvette. Both are great looking cars, but what do you think?
The Chevrolet Corvette C5 & the Mazda RX-7 3rd generation, respectively. If they had a baby, perhaps it could look something like this:
2015 Subaru WRX:
The 2015 WRX next to the 1998 SE-R, spring 2016. The SE-R w/ aftermarket header, exhaust, cold air intake, and JWT S3 cams keeps right up with the WRX, although it is 100% stock.
Although neither of us own one, another vehicle that comes to mind as a bit ahead of it's time are models like the third generation Mazda RX-7 (discontinued in the U.S. after 1994). The twin-turbo Mazda RX-7 produced 255HP with it's controversial rotary motor. While looking fantastic, it was plagued with issues due to the rotary design and costly repairs were often needed. Following that lesson very few vehicles in the United States were released with a rotary-based motor setups. Another vehicle in the vein of the MR2 turbo was the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo (Z32) chassis as well (available from 1990-1996 in the U.S.) The Nissan 300ZX TT was named one of the best cars of the year by Car & Driver Magazine, however it's timing was poor. In the early 1990's the United States government entered a mild recession and fuel economy became a very high priority of consumers especially leading up to, during, and after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Consider also that even though the 300ZX TT unleashed 300HP with 0-60MPH times of less than 5.5 seconds, in the year 1989 the MSRP was $30,000 and in its final year of U.S. sales (1996) the price had increased to a whopping $50,000 which when adjusted for inflation comes to over $76,000 in the year 2016.
(1990 & 1996 Nissan 300ZX TT)
Still the one, and only one....