Erin Sanford bought his first S13 in late 2003 after wanting to find something fun to daily drive. The S13 coupe was always visually appealing to him, and so he ended up with a navy blue 1991 manual-equipped example.
Within 6 months, the times got to him, and an SR swap was called upon to send Erin down the drifting rabbit hole. Erin spent a lot of time doing the sideways thing, and actually got quite good, as the South East was a relative hotbed of drifting activity in those mid-00s. With many events on the books, Erin decided that he was ready for the cake labeled “EAT ME”, and grew to get really competitive, targeting the regional Drift Fury and NOPI drift series. In the search for more and more reliable power, Erin took the then relatively-unexplored LS1 path. In those days, there was only 1 off-the-shelf swap kit, and very little information about the swap was available.
Early on, Sanford learned a hard lesson — the LS1 requires extra oil in the sump to keep it happy during sustained side-loads. But, after recovering from that engine failure, his LS1 set up kept him sideways happily for many years. In 2007, Erin realized a dream of getting to drive a car at full speed on a race track, attending a BMWCCA at Road Atlanta, his local circuit. From there, his Alice-in-Wonderland journey took him down the deeper, darker rabbit hole of chasing the stopwatch and constantly worrying about being late (or slow, as the case may be).
The years of drifting had taken their toll on Erin’s original chassis. It had been wrecked on the left front twice and needed a trip to a frame straightener if it was going to become a competitive track machine. Sanford did the mental math and realized it would be cheaper (at the time) to find another shell and build a whole new chassis.
Although the track bug had bit hard, Erin still had a little piece of his heart attached to the drift world. The new shell was stripped down and partially seam welded (only around the strut towers) and caged. As most drift car builders are wont to do, the front end was tubed/tubbed. In retrospect, it also helps with clearance for track tires up front. But, in contrast to most drift car builders, Erin actually did the cage himself. Sanford had purchased a refurbished Lincoln MIG welder way back when and had fabricated much of the original LS swap mounting himself. So he figured he might as well put his life into his own hands and build a cage, too.