J. Kowalczyk Sr20DET Powered 240z

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SR20DET 240z with ZG Flares

As the price of performance motors such as the RB26DETT and SR20DET drop. The option of slotting one into an early Z with an ageing L-series starts to become more and more tempting. For some like our latest feature car its the most logical choice especially when considering an SR20DET not only do you increase power output you also give the car a diet and loose a few KG's.

We realise its has been a while between featured rides at viczcar.com but we figured it was worth the wait for our next feature car. Engine swaps are always a topical debate, but when you can almost double the horse power while shedding a few kilograms at a fraction of a cost of what it would be to achieve the same power from an original engine it kinda makes more sense.

The motor of choice is still part of the Nissan family and anyone in the performance car scene has probably heard of the Sr20DET. Used in a variety of cars and a very common swap for the Datsun 1600 (510 in the US), the range of aftermarket goodies available is almost endless.

J also managed to rescue this wreck as you will see from the photo's below and that's just fine by us. Keeping an original colour scheme and period body kit to boot.

Owner's Story

I purchased the car in may 2003 and it was my first Z experience.

23 years old and living on the east coast of the US (NYC) on the rugged, salted, and pot hole ridden streets I had never seen any Z earlier than a Z31 (300ZX).What started my whole Z obsession was that I simply wanted a new project.

Through a 5 year experience with my last project, an MR2 Turbo I knew I wanted something rare, turbo and very light and nimble. I was looking around at Z31’s because they were always rare and interesting to me. While looking around at them I of course stumbled on some earlier Z’s the S130 and S30.

I researched more and found the most rare and light of the Z’s was the premier 240Z. So I started my search for one. It took 4-5 months for me to source the car I wanted which had minimal rot. What I got was a solid automatic 1971 240Z with 105,000 miles on the clock, about 30 miles from me in New Jersey.

The reason it was so solid was that it was parked in New Mexico for 30yrs of it's life, so instead of rot it had burnt paint and remnants of a few hail storms. It had a rot hole on the passenger floor from a leaky heater core, and a couple small rust holes here in there. It was not the natural missing floor rails and lack of wheel wells that you normally see here. I also was happy that it was an automatic car and had minimal abuse on the rear sub frame.

Being an an 80’s child and knowing little about carburettors and distributors with points ignition. I really wasn’t too interested at the time about learning how to make power from a motor using them. I was still very much into turbo power.

My friend had done an Sr20det swap into his 240SX in around mid 2002 and I was very impressed with its power band. I also had every intent on keeping my Z powered by a Nissan engine, you could call it an honour thing I guess.

The RB26DETT swap crossed my mind, but that would have threw my prime objective of light weight out the window. Plus the RB engine set was 2X the cost of the SR, and RB parts were almost non existent for the US in 2003 (let along the east coast).

Anyway, I wasn’t interested in a 500hp beast. I wanted something that performed very well and with great reliability. I learned a good way to keep reliability was to leave the engine well enough alone.

I planned an SR out of a late S14/180SX and found a 1998 engine. I wanted the T28 and VTC. My plans were to increase the boost to 15psi and call it a day.

I found many Z clubs and sites in Japan. I wanted to see how they made they’re Z’s look. And of course when I saw them they looked perfect. I saw an aggressive look with deep dish wheels, stretched tires, riveted fender flares and a little kicker wing. Finding a Gnose was not an option so I just went with the ZG flares and spoiler. I loved the look of the solid front air dam so I went with that. To complete the look I bought genuine Nissan fender mount mirrors and Fairlady Z badges. I couldn’t afford the RS-Watanabe R-type wheels I wanted so I settled with a set of discontinued Prime Racing wheels for $500. They are 8.5” wide with -32mm offset on all four corners with F215/50/15 and R225/50/15 Kumho tires.

The build was done by myself and with help from a few close friends at SPI Powerexcel in New Jersey. The route we went with the swap was to delete the stock 240Z harness and use the SR20 harness and ECU. We installed a Painless wiring switch board as the main power/fuse grid. To hold the engine a custom cross member was created and welded in place. This was done to move the engine back as far as we could without making hairy mount adapters. I used the stock SR20 engine mounts. We tried to use the stock SR20 Trans mounts which did actually line up but caused exhaust routing issues and a custom mount was created.

From time to time, on a forum or two I will get attitude followed by “Why did you remove a 6 cylinder for a 4?!” But most of the time I get praise for such a clever idea.

I figure there are two ways to gain performance, either add power or take away weight. I did a little of both. The car now weighs around 2200lbs and dynoed 250whp 260ft/lbs of torque. Plenty of fun for me. I have yet to get it onto the strip so I don’t have a 1/4mi number for you, sorry.

So that’s my Sr-Fairlady Z project in a nut shell. My next 240Z, I believe I will go for the stroked L28 with mikuni’s. But first I have to get a VG30ET in my 89 Z31. Nope, there is no cure for this dizeaze.

Owner Details and Car Specifications

Vehicle Category Details and Modifications
Name: J. Kowalczyk
Location: Staten Island, New York
Member Name: Sr-FairladyZ
Age(ish): 27
Year of Manufacture: 240Z
Model: HLS30 - Datsun 240z LHD
Body Style: 2 Seater - Datsun 240z
Colour: Burgundy
Engine Type: SR20DET
Transmission: SR20 Box wth Spec performance full disk/sprun clutch.
Power HP / KW: 250whp
Torque: 260ft/lbs of torque
  • Front: Wilwood Superlite
  • Rear: Standard Drums will be upgraded to disk
  • Arizona Z car coilovers
  • Pillow ball mount camber plates
  • Springs: 250lb/inch Rear: 375lbs/inch
Wheels: Prime Racing wheels 8.5” wide with -32mm offset on all four corners
Tyres: F215/50/15 and R225/50/15 Kumho tires
Sound System: -
  • Sr20DET
  • 3" turbo back exhaust w/ wastegate divorced downpipe
  • Custom fabricated front mount intercooler
  • 1600cfm electric fan
  • Aftermarket Radiator to suit Ford 5.0 V8
  • Defi Link Gauges
  • Nardi Steering Wheel
  • JIC Magic Cross seats
  • ZG Flares
  • Fender Mirrors
  • Front Airdamn Spoiler
  • 432r Rear Spoiler
  • Diff: 200SX Turbo (S12 Silvia) which is open with 4.11 gears
  • Adapter plates from Modern Motorsports w/280ZX Turbo CV shafts
  • ¼ Mile: - Uknown
  • Best Lap: - Unknown