Sideways Ace: The Motul Autoplus 240SX
Ask any average gearhead from Manila about Autoplus Sportzentrium (now called Autoplus Sports Center) and they will likely tell you one of three things:
That’s where you’ll find all your Motul fluid needs
That’s where you can order a cool set of RAYS Engineering wheels. And…
They have a bunch of cool builds behind their old shop along Edsa
When you continue to pry about that last bit, again they will likely tell you about one of three cars:
The infamous Bayside Blue LHD BNR34 GT-R
The red Ford GT. Or…
The car you see here
This Nissan 240SX RPS13 has been around for about a good decade and a half and has since represented what Autoplus is capable of building when going completely all-out. Having competed in pretty much every drift event as early as the Lateral D days in the late 2000’s, the car has been known to be one of the most sorted drift builds among the usual roster of cars. Being already considered a ‘well-sorted’ build as early as a decade ago, the car has gone through a bunch of parts, setups, and configurations since to further improve on its performance for current standards.
Back in the early days of Autoplus this USDM 240SX was actually an old customer’s car that was offered up for sale to the shop. Seeing as how the Autoplus honchos were well-versed with Japanese tuning at the time (way ahead of the curve, mind you) they realized that this 240 would make for an ideal platform for building a drift car. The deal was made and they then proceeded to strip out everything and swapped out the US-spec KA24 to the good ‘ol SR20DET that powers its counterpart from Japan.
The exterior was actually one of the key talking points of this vehicle ever since it debuted. You see, this was one of the first cars in town to ever sport an original Rocket Bunny kit; Again, long before Rocket Bunny and Kei Miura became a household name for chopping up cars and going wide. Prior to making kits for various vehicles, Kei Miura was only known for making a widebody kit for the S13. This S13 originally sported that old Rocket Bunny V1 widebody kit along with really wide neon pink/yellow mismatched Gram Lights 57Ds – a setup that wouldn’t look out of place at a D1GP event at the time.
Speaking of D1, this car got its time at the limelight when a famous professional Japanese driver was called in to participate in one of the local Lateral D events in Greenhills back in 2009. If the name ‘Nobuteru Taniguchi’ doesn’t ring any bells for you, I reckon you’d look him up before reading on. With such a high-profile talent gracing a local event he surely needed a proper vehicle to match his technique – ‘Bring your best bakal’, as your local tambay would say. Autoplus prepped this S13 for the all-star professional, and surely enough he proceeded to put on a show for the crowd without a hitch. Luis Gono, the lucky lad who gets to throw this S13 around today, tells us that NOB didn’t expect the car to be on par with the usual D1 machines he’d drive in Japan in terms of reliability – he even gave the car a proper thrashing and rev-bashing to make sure.
More recently this S13 has been seeing more use thanks to Luis finally getting his license and getting into motorsports. In order to gear up for more regular drifting use, few updates such as a Wisefab wide angle kit and new overfenders to match the wider track up front gave new life to the 90’s Nissan. At one point it was even configured for circuit use and managed to clock 2’02’420 around Clark International Speedway – the third fastest production car lap record on that track by far. Eventually the car was put through its paces in local drift events like King of Nations back in 2018. That acted as a ladder for international competition and led to the Autoplus crew being invited to compete at the recently established FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup (IDC) in 2019 in Odaiba, Japan. This endeavor would have them ship the S13 to Japan and throw down with drifting talents from all over the world – a pretty daunting challenge to the teen who just got his license, right?
Going into the international competition, Luis admits that the S13 isn’t exactly built to spec to truly compete at the pro level. Going into the event with a full-frame body and 420whp out of their built SR20VET (yes, it’s got that VVT head now) on 100 Octane fuel isn’t exactly going to stack against a grid with easily 700-800hp on tap with fiberglass shells and tube framed chassis. While the option to swap to a more powerful motor is certainly on the table, Autoplus isn’t too fond of engine swaps – opting instead to get the most out of the motor the car originally came with; They’re still somewhat ‘purist’ in that sense. Still, the experience of competing at an international level ought to have been eye opening, and it was all because of this trusty 240SX.
You’d think that this drift car’s adventures would end after the FIA IDC, but thanks to hurdles of a legislative variety the S13 wouldn’t find its way home to Autoplus after being shipped back to the Philippines; The lemmings over at the Bureau of Customs kept the car on hold thinking the car isn’t locally registered and illegally imported from abroad. This would be a blessing in disguise though, because during the time the S13 was kept on hold Autoplus’ shop in Edsa caught fire and burnt down to the ground. It would’ve definitely been a loss to the whole car community to lose the car that way, thankfully it didn’t happen.
Nowadays the Motul Autoplus RPS13 240SX sits in Motul Philippines’ warehouse, lying in wait till the next event when it gets to be driven to its limit once again. We can only hope that event comes sooner than later.
Words by Aurick Go
Photos by Jaime Miguel Echavez
Motul Philippines Autoplus Sportzentrium Nissan 240SX (RPS13)
Engine and Driveline:
Fully Built SR20VET
Stage 5 cylinder head NEO VVL
Mazworx NEO VVL conversion kit
Garrett GTX3071R (Short Course), Garrett GTX3584 (High Speed)
Power: 450whp (GTX3071) 680whp (GTX3584)
Motec M8 standalone ECU
PST carbon fiber propeller shaft
Driveshaft Shop Driveshaft
OS Giken Triple Plate Clutch
R33 GTR Differential
TTI Industries 6 Speed Sequential Transmission
Redesigned RPS13 Rocket Bunny Widebody Kit
Gram Lights 57DR
Gram Lights 57 Ultimate
Project Mu Brake Kit - 6 Piston front / 4 Piston Rear
Project Mu D1 Pads
Project Mu Brake Lines
Megan Racing Chassis stiffeners and Sway bars
Wisefab angle kit front and rear
FIA Approved Fabricated Rollcage
Stack Oil Temp gauge and Boost Gauge
Bride CF Bucket Seat