Raising the bar – An introduction

We like cars. We like people who work on cars. But we love people who build their cars. Who put their own time, blood, sweat and tears into their cars. So there’s a new entry on the blog:
Raising the bar. Raising the bar will be all about builds that we think are, well, raising the bar! Of course there are enough projects out there that are well executed but the cars that will be featured in raising the bar are not your average projects. These cars (and their owners) deserve their own feature in a special kind of way. So what are builds that are raising the bar?

Builds that are thought through from beginning to end. That serve the purpose they are build for and that are being executed in a way a professional company would be jealous of. We are kicking of the Raising the bar series with Rik’s S14 for one simple reason;

It shows exactly what we mean with raising the bar! The electrical work on the car alone deserves a complete article.

Sometimes you need a little help finding certain builds. I had a shoot prior to meeting Rik with Luc Wevers and Jeroen van Os (who will have their own “double trouble” feature on the blog soon) and Luc was kind enough to tell me about Rik’s awesome build. Luc introduced me to Rik via whatsapp and before I knew it I was in Amsterdam to see what the fuzz was all about!

Luc wasn’t kidding when he said this was something else! Now you have to understand one thing before I continue. Normally when you meet up with someone it is at an industrial area of some kind in a well illuminated, well spaced garage. This was something else. The car is being build in a very old, very cosy, city garage 5 minutes from downtown Amsterdam!

Not only did I fell in love with the car but I fell in love with the garage as well. It’s a very small place with lots of nooks and crannies but with something to see in every corner just because they need to make use of every inch of space available! But enough about that!

This was the condition the car was in when we first met! It looked like it was almost ready to go but in the following weeks I would visit Rik almost every Wednesday to follow the progress on the car. In this shot you can clearly see that Rik had swapped out the SR20 lump for something a bit rather unusual.

It’s a VQ35DE from a 2004 350Z / Z33. Why you say? Well, this car is being build with only one goal in mind: Going fast on the Nürburgring and being reliable while doing so! The engine benefits from a Cosworth intake plenum, Cosworth fuel rail and still retains the Z33’s 6speed gearbox.

Now before I go any further, If you are expecting a full speclist on this car on the bottom of this article then you are going to be a little disappointed.

You are going to get a full speclist in the final article of this build. When the car has done what is being build for (and I can’t mention this enough): Going fast around the green hell! But before the car will even drive the ring I will follow it’s journey until it’s finished.

I will reveal that everything that is being put on the car is being put there for a reason! There’s not one part of the body that’s been untouched in one way or another. For example: Rik opted for a set of Tein Flex Coilovers which should be up to the job at hand but Rik figured that custom 10/8KG springs would be better for the harsh conditions at the ring. (Extra internet points for our readers who can guess the rest of the rear suspension set-up + diff!)

As I’ve mentioned before I visited Rik a couple of times over the course of a few weeks. I’ve also mentioned that when I first saw the car it looked like it was almost ready to go. Boy was I wrong!

Rik is one of the first in the world to use the VQ lump in a S14 but as with every pioneer you will run into problems at one point. The engine mounts for example where adjusted items from a Z33 but the engine just wasn’t sitting right. Thanks to the marvel of the World Wide Web, Rik found a guy in New Zeeland who had the same problem but had made his own engine mounts from scratch. As we speak there is a set of custom engine mounts traveling the globe on it’s way to Amsterdam to make sure the engine sits as it’s supposed to.

A couple of weeks later I found the front end of the car almost completely stripped so the engine bay could be painted…

… and because I’ve had some experience in a previous life with bodywork I opted to help Rik out by painting the engine bay and I must say the two of us did a cracking job but more on that in a next article! ;-)

Last but not least I would like to introduce you to the brain behind the build. This is Rik in his natural habitat. He’s either smiling, joking around, or very concentrated.

This is another aspect of the raising the bar series. It’s not just the build itself but also about the people behind the build who put a lot of love and effort into their projects.
Who decide to try things for themselves rather than spending way to much money at a tuner shop.

In the next couple of articles I will go deeper into the history of the car and some of the amazing aspects this car contains. I can tell you that this car hasn’t seen the light of day for over 4 years and Rik had a couple of times that he wanted to sell the whole bunch and just get something to smash around the ring. Luckily he didn’t!

Because I could’t think of a better project that’s raising the bar for everybody out there.

A special thanks to Rik for allowing me to feature not only his car but also his life. To Luc for getting me into contact with Rik. I probably wouldn’t have known about this build if it wasn’t for you or would have found out waaaaay to late. And to Niels for beeing Niels!

– Allard van Grafhorst