It’s been a while, but I have to say it feels really good to finally have a fun car back in the garage again.


I used to have the Impreza  and the KP to daily drive at one point but after deciding yank the stock motor because KP needed more power and munching the tired EJ20 at the track I have been relegated to borrowing my gracious mother-in-law’s one owner, pride and joy, 1988 2-door Pathfinder for about the last 6 months.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that Silver brick to death and you’ll be hard pressed to find a cleaner one on the road but I’m just not an SUV type of guy.   Although one day I hope to inherit it, throw on some bronze off roadTE-37′s and swap the VK56DE out of the Nissan Titan into it….  one day.  Here it is accompanying me to one of the many shops I’ve been checking out for the last few months,  pretty clean right?

But let’s re-wind a bit…  last time we left off HERE, I had been working out some  mechanical issues with the 4AG swap before I embarked on the wiring job.  In between that I may have also mentioned that this was going on:

And I managed to crash a hard drive during the move along with most of my pictures from the last couple of months which means that I’m going to have to piece the rest of this blog together with pictures that were taken from my phone, sorry about that but let’s face it, wiring is boring anyways.  The electrical stuff went pretty smoothly and it would have fired on the first time but I came a cross a very odd glitch in the form of seized injectors….   and yes, it’s about as fun as it sounds to figure out.   At least I was able to make something cool that had to do with the electrical system in the process, this is my first attempt at a battery box because the 4AG’s intake sits right where the KP’s battery  used to so I decided to move it inside the car for a cleaner engine bay and a little better weight distribution.   A flat piece of Aluminum after some cutting, bending, rivets and latches turned into this:

Aluminum is awesome because it’s lightweight and easy to work with but you have to be careful when dealing with the terminals as a simple jump start can turn into a game of operation as I found out…  touch the sides and BBBZZZZTTT!  I now have the inside lined with rubber tape to make it a little safer.  After getting the motor to fire up I also soon noticed that the old radiator I pulled out of the AE86 wasn’t quite up to the task of holding it’s contents in so it was time for a fresh new Koyo.

After it was all said and done the motor with all of the wiring turned out something like this.

It’s  still a work in progress as the wiring needs to be cleaned up quite a bit before I’m happy with it but I was on a serious time constraint to get this car running and these are all things I can tidy up along the way.  Also note the windshield washer reservoir and radiator block off plate I had to make to help the car warm up in the cold Rocky mountain winter.  Remember, this is my daily so things like these are quite necessary (along with a 50 lb. bag of sand in the back) when the snow starts to fall.   After I got the 4AG up and running there was now another area on the car that needed some serious help and that was the suspension.  For you guys that were asking  why it wasn’t lower,  this is what it looks like with the front springs removed and sitting on the bump stops with the factory shocks that you can see in this a picture I took of the TA22 a while back…  not a whole lot of travel there.

With that in mind I knew short stroke was the only way to go and after contemplating a few options like the cheap and oh so tempting multi-branded China/Taiwan made coilovers I decided that being in the industry (or not for that matter) I feel it’s necessary to support a legitimate company that performs proper R&D and actually supports the aftermarket community by providing quality products and actually backing them up instead of some faceless ebay company that blatantly copies designs and builds them with cheap materials and cheap labor.   With that in mind I decided to give Techno Toy Tuning a call, a company with a long standing history of making high quality parts for older Toyotas and Nissans and located right here in the states.  I ended up going with the weld-on coilover kit with camber plates and RCA’s.  For the shocks I was tempted to go with the very cost effective KYB AGX setup that I’ve used in the past but they weren’t as short of stroke as I was looking for and I’ve always had issues using shocks that are valved for a Camaro and mid-engined MR2.    With that in mind, I decided on the Tokico HTS that were engineered in Japan specifically for the AE86 chassis that is obviously much more similar to the KP61.

There’s plenty of info out there on how to modify the strut tubes for a weld-on coilover conversion but if you’ve never seen it before here’s a quick basic rundown of the process.   With the strut inserts removed the next step is to carefully cut off the lower spring perch to give yourself some room to cut the strut housing.  Now measure how much you will be cutting out which will vary based on the length of the  shock you are using and low you plan to run the car.  I place the cut right where the old spring perch was so it will be completely removed.  There are plenty of ways do the job but I have found that a good quality pipe cutter works best for a perfectly level cut.

And this is what will be removed.

Now weld the upper and lower strut housings back together again.  You can MIG or TIG weld them together but I decide to TIG these for the simple fact that it makes a much cleaner weld which means you won’t have to grind off the weld to get the new collars over the strut housing.

The new collars will need a perch to sit on so measure where they will be when flush with the top of the housing and weld on the ones included with the kit.  These will support the entire weight of the car so make sure it’s a good one :)

A little paint and reassembly and we’re ready to roll.

I’ll probably go a little  lower and wider in the summer but for winter driving this is about as low as I dare go and there’s still a good amount of suspension travel.

Another quick run around the block and I noticed that the rigged up cable to hydraulic clutch setup I am currently forced to run was already showing it’s  weakness.  The stock clutch pedal was never designed for the lateral loads that are now being placed on it due to the new setup so it would twist and flex every time I stepped on the pedal.   After a little bit of reinforcement I was left with this uhh…    industrial but effective contraption.

The clutch master cylinder setup is still the weak link with the 4AG swap but until I can afford something else this actually works surprisingly well.   The factory AE86 shifter was also not in the ideal location for me so I decided to modify it by cutting the stock lever off and bending up a piece of steel to get it a little closer to the steering wheel just I like it.   All that left now was to tap it for the TRD shift knob.

If you recall the T-50 transmission required another hole to be cut in the tunnel which also meant I was left with a big gaping hole in the carpet.   At this point in time I really didn’t want to completely reupholster the entire car so sometimes you have to ask yourself, what would Tupac do?

Yep, cut a hole in your favorite bandanna…  instant $2 fix and at least +5 points of street cred.    I still have a huge list of stuff left to to talk about with the KP that I’ll cover next time.  Until then I’ll be enjoying life a little more driving something I truly enjoy again that just so happens to fit in the garage sideways with room to spare :)