NX GTi-R: Search for Traction – Part Two
The thing about being involved in a search, perhaps more aptly named a quest, is that one usually follows a meandering path as opposed to a direct route. I mean, the saying ‘as the crow flies’ implies a straight line but have you ever watched a crow? They do not fly in a straight line. They go all over the place and typically stop and chat with their buddies, so it is certainly not the most efficient path to take. My quest started just over a decade ago when I began the path to improve my Nissan NX 1600 beyond the limitations of what the factory had imposed upon it. Having owned the car since 1992, I knew what it was good at and what some of the limitations were. Over the past two decades I have enlisted the help of numerous buddies as the NX 1600 had transformed from a sport-cute car into a serious track contender. In 2011 I fulfilled a huge part of my quest, which was the installation of an SR20DET from a Pulsar GTi-R. That moved me into the next phase of my quest, which was improving the handling and the traction. If you have read my previous articles then you know my disappointment in finding that adding the horsepower has produced great straight line speed but reduced what was an amazing momentum/cornering car into a cornering lump. Each year since there has been improvement, and hopefully this year will be a huge step in the right direction.
I just had to go to Toronto to get the B15 from my friend Terry Martin. When I first did the swap, Terry has also sold me a couple of the Infiniti G20 transmissions that I have in storage as spares.
So it is with the path on my search for traction with the NX GTi-R. When I left off last I had just obtained a Nismo LSD and then a Sentra B15 transmission, which would house it. A straight line path would have had the G20 transmission removed and the B15/Nismo LSD installed already, but that has not happened and here is my story. First, I am simply not so mechanically inclined that I was ready to crack open a transmission (I have done so, but I have not successfully put them back together again!) and install this LSD. The search had been too challenging and the Nismo LSD too valuable to trust my skills. Joe Fergusson, a local mechanic and auto enthusiast, was one of a few individuals that I approached about getting involved in this project. I have known Joe for a number of years as he had been very involved in the local autosport world. In fact, a year or two ago John Dattomo and I picked up a Miata chassis (because, you know, you can never have enough spares!) from him for our ChumpCar team. Joe now works with Mantella Autosport as their lead technician. They are fielding a pair of Chev Z28’s in the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. But I digress, getting back to the transmission, Joe was not able to fit me into his schedule but he connected me with someone he implied was possibly even better suited for my task. That is how I met Paul Jenkins.
Paul was very curious about the project and the car. We discussed the goals and the challenges that I had been experiencing with traction. This discussion led me to the conclusion that this would be a good fit. When I arrived at his residence and visited his shop, I knew it was the place. A one car garage behind his house was where he did these custom jobs – after he completed his regular work. A ton of equipment. A sports bike. A transmission from a classic Chrysler on the bench and, if I recall correctly, a couple of other transmissions about the shop. Paul knew his way around transmissions and I was absolutely convinced that he was the transmission builder for my project.