Raising the bar: The home stretch

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my favorite project in Holland. Now that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy following Rik and his gorgeous S14 Zenki! In fact, I’ve been visiting him quite regularly since my last post and I can tell you; Rik has been a busy lad.

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In my last article I showed you how Rik and his long time friend Niels pulled the engine out because Rik wasn’t happy with the way the position of the VQ engine in the bay. It leaned ever so slightly forward but thanks to the world wide web he found a guy called Hamish Thompson who had done a similar transplant in New Zealand. It turned out that he made his own enginemounts from scratch and even better, he was willing to make Rik a pair!

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So with the new mounts in place it was time to put the engine back in its new home. And we both noticed straight away that the engine was positioned much prettier than before. Kudos to Hamish for a pair of very well made engine mounts.

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The funny thing is, it looks so right! I’m kind of a purist when it comes to engine swaps but this gets my stamp of approval for sure. It almost looks like it came from the factory with a VQ engine instead of a SR20.

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With the engine back in it was time to hook up all the ancillaries. The Cosworth intake plenum found its way back on the engine as well as the Injen cold air intake. This setup may change in the future as Rik isn’t happy with the position and chrome finish of the Injen intake. The blue hoses will be replaced as well with black ones for the ultimate, OEM looking, finishing touch.

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Two oil coolers you say? Why yes! One is indeed meant as, well, an oil cooler. The purpose of the other cooler is to keep the oil in the power steering system at acceptable levels. As you should know by now, this car is being built to go fast on the Nürburgring. Seeing as the Nordschleife has 176(!!!) corners, making sure that the car handles well and steers when you want it to isn’t a luxury but a pure necessity!

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With the engine back in and the ancillaries in place again it was time to finish the wiring. Rik has fabricated a complete new loom from scratch with three separated switchboards, a custom kill switch, custom dash and lots, lots more!

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I’m a n00b when it comes to the electrical stuff on a car but Rik is a true wizard. Even I am learning from him just by watching closely what he’s doing. I’m going to focus on the electrical part of this car once it’s completely finished because it deserves a blog of its own but I’ll give you a few examples…

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… because all those wires have to go somewhere right? Rik fabricated a custom centre console where he placed a couple of beautiful switches. These control the engine fan(s), indoor fan and so on. You might think that the buttons behind the Sparco steering wheel are used to sound the horns. Well, the one on the left is but the other is going to be a “move bitch, get out the way” button! Once this button is pushed the high beam lights will flash ten times to make sure cars that are slower than Rik will get out the way!

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The dash found its way back in the car as well. The dash has been flocked to prevent external light from reflecting. Rik didn’t want any external gauges what so ever to keep a clean look in the interior so he opted for a Aim MXL digital dash. This way he can keep an eye on any kind of engine temperature/pressure possible as well as speed and fuel consumption in real time. It also has a data logging / lap time function.

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The brakes are a piece of art on their own! Front discs are 365(!!!)mm Alcon j-hook units with six pot AP racing calipers that grip onto the disc using CL brakepads. They only just fit the Nismo LMGT-1 rims which are wrapped in Toyo R triple 8’s. It just doesn’t get any better than that if you ask me.

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Another “small” part of the brake system is a Wilwood brake pressure distributor. That way Rik can adjust his braking pressure from his seat any time he wants. It’s all in the details and keep in mind that this build is completely done by Rik himself! No sponsors, no big company support, just a man and his car.

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I caught myself just staring at this work of art more than once. Even in a unfinished state she is a sight for sore eyes! I think it has something to do with all the work that has gone into this car and the fact that, and I’ve said this in my first article, I’ve never seen a car that has so much thought put into it. Every single detail, every nook and cranny is either being used or has a function! Nothing is left to chance and I mean absolutely nothing.

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Yes, it has been four years in the making which is a long time for any build. Yes, it has cost him blood, sweat and tears. Yes, he has thought of selling the whole shebang and just get an M3. Yes, he would have done certain things differently if he could do them again.

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But for me the simple fact that he persevered and build something so extraordinary makes me smile and I think he should be seen as a source of inspiration to the scene in Holland. Oh and sorry ladies… He’s spoken for!

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As I write this, the car is even closer to being finished. Rik’s old friend Carlo from sticky stickers gave the car a complete wrap in the brightest white you’ll ever see and pictures do not do it justice! But the next time I’ll do an article on this car I promise you it’s finished. Rik’s planning to map the car over at Jez from Horsham developments and I’ll be joining him in England somewhere in the spring of 2014 so it’s going to be a while before you will see the end result…

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… but you better stick around! Because Rik’s best friend Niels has something quite special as well. And it’s only going to get even more special.

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But more on that in 2014 as I will continue to follow Rik and Niels in all their automotive adventures!

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Adventures that will take place in that special place we all know and love… The green hell!

– Allard van Grafhorst