Sticking to Clutch Kicking

Published on January 31st, 2014

They say coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous but the fact that the birth of Post-it notes and the rise of Nissan Cefiro A31s in the drifting arena share an uncanny commonality requires quite a stretch of the imagination yet could be stripped bare and shone under the simple light of a pleasant coincidence. You see, the re-adherable strip of pressure-sensitive adhesive on the back of a Post-it was actually the by-product of an attempt to create a super-strong adhesive that instead resulted n the reusable adhesive used on the iconic canary yellow notes.




However, from the creation of the adhesive to the actual implementation of it on Post-its took some time because the parties involved couldn’t find a use for it until somebody else realised its potential, and thus the Post-it was borne. Similarly, Nissan designed the Cefiro A31 to be a luxury VIP saloon with just a hint of sporty pretensions that ensured it didn’t deviate from its luxurious intentions of being a chauffeur-driven machine. One of the most telling aspects of that were the rear windows that were designed from the factory to only drop down halfway for the VIP in the rear to peek out without letting the outside world get a clear glance inside.

Nonetheless, parts-sharing was common in those days and that resulted in the Cefiro A31 sharing basic engine series’ with the Nissan Skyline R32 and suspension components as well as chassis underpinnings with the Nissan Silvia S13. So when the drifting phenomenon swept across the region like a tsunami, the Cefiro A31 suddenly received a reinvigorating injection of attention as it became a more affordable option as a platform for a drift machine.The RB range of engines from the Skylines were plug-and-play for a decent power upgrade while suspension components could be swapped around with the S13 Silvias to get a proper alignment geometry for drifting. Even the suspension layout was the same as the S13, save for the fact that the S13 coilovers were short-stroke while the Cefiro required long-stroke versions.


Over here in Malaysia, the drifting scene exploded like the Big Bang and the Cefiro presented itself as a viable platform to get into drifting as it was a more affordable car over the performance-oriented R and S chassis cars from Nissan. The story of how these two Cefiros came to be couldn’t be more worlds apart. One was purchased from the onset for drifting while the other was a family heirloom that went down the sporty path before finally focussing on drifting and its final form here.

Black Cefiro

One purpose and one purpose only was the reasoning behind the purchase of the black Cefiro that actually started out life as a JDM-spec dark grey model. It came into the new owner’s possession in relatively stock form with an untouched manual RB20DET sitting in the engine bay and aftermarket coilovers completing the mods list.It marked the beginning of a tumultuous journey that spanned three stages and the better part of seven years, as well as three engines and a total rebuild, before finally being reincarnated in this form.


Having blown up the initial RB20DET due to a faulty boost controller, the subsequent two engine lantai replacements didn’t yield much luck as well. After deciding to sit on it for more than half a year, leaving the car tucked in the back of the workshop to get a new coat of matte dust, the decision to spring for a halfcut engine was made to ensure that it was in proper running condition. Believing that there is no replacement for displacement, an RB25DET Series-2 was sourced and mated to the existing RB20DET transmission to cut costs before being loaded up with a GT2540 ball-bearing turbocharger. Down the road, an overheat saw the engine being overhauled but not before a 1.2mm Cometic metal head gasket was dropped in for reliability.



Supporting the GT2540 was an Infinite GTR-sized intercooler and piping kit as well as a custom triple-core aluminium radiator, an NTCL low-temp thermostat and a manually operated Forged Racing 12-inch electric fan to keep things cool in the engine bay.The air enters through a cold-air intake from the bumper before being filtered by the Blitz air intake that itself is shrouded by a custom heat shield in the engine bay. From there, the air is compressed and cooled before entering the engine. Fuelling is handled by a Walbro fuel pump and Sard fuel pressure regulator setup.



Excess boost is vented out by the TurboSmart Comp-Gate 38mm wastegate through a custom screamer pipe while a GReddy blow-off valve prevent boost surge in the intake manifold. Following the combustion cycle, the exhaust gas is piped out through a custom three-inch exhaust setup that ends in a twin-shotgun barrel straight-through exit that redefines the term mind-numbingly loud.

Ensuring that when the clutch drops, the shit stops is an ORC Ogura Super Single clutch set that leads to a Nismo full-lock LSD in the rear for those smokey drifts. Governing the engine’s operating parameters is a GReddy e-Manage that works in conjunction with a HKS EVC 3 to keep the boost levels steady at 1-bar, good enough for 300whp. On the handling side, the centrepiece is a set of JIC coilovers with pillow-ball mounts at the front. Asahi provides the tie-rods, bump-steer correction tie-rod ends and steering lock spacers for the front to give a little more steering lock and reduce the steering bump due to the extremely low ride height. A polyurethane steering column biscuit cuts out and free-play between the column and rack for more feedback.

A bunch of generic adjustable suspension arms in the front and rear allow for complete adjustability to get the best alignment geometry. The chassis itself is further stiffened up with a custom 10-point rollcage extends all the way into the boot. Drift House provided the polyurethane rear subframe bushes that reduce flex and keep things nice and tight in the rear.

Stopping power is not a cardinal aspect of drifting but seeing as the car gets driven on public roads, a simple brake upgrade was done. It consists of Skyline R33 calipers all around with slotted rotors up front. Project µ pads, steel-braided brake lines and a custom handbrake cable for easier locking of the rear wheels finish up the braking department.



The car rides on a set of Advanti wheels with a square setup, measuring 18×9.5jj with an offset of +10. The front gets a slight hipari treatment with 225/40R18 Achilles ATR Sport rubbers while the rear gets wider 235/40R18 Achilles ATR Sport 2 rubbers.

On the inside, the rear was stripped to accommodate the roll-cage and cut out the flab as well to improve the power-to-weight ratio. The driver sits in a Bride full bucket seat while the passenger parks themselves in a Recaro full bucket. Strapping the driver down in place is a generic four-point harness while an Elevo Marino deep-dish steering connects him to the front wheels. Interestingly, the gear knob is a from a Civic Type-R as the driver just loves the feel of it while swapping cogs.




The striking exterior is headlined by a complete D-Max body kit consisting of the front and rear bumpers as well as the side skirts to bring it mere centimetres away from terra firma. Hugging the edges of the stretched tyre walls are a pair of vented fibre front fenders that extend the sides by 20mm each while the rear makes do with  custom rear guards that extend out 15mm. Completing the exterior mods are a TBO front grille, custom vented hood, Depo front headlamps, R32 sedan tail lights and F1-style side-view mirrors just because.





Red Cefiro

While it used to belong to his father, there’s no fairytale-ending that sees the owner of the red Cefiro take over the family business of delivering tofu in the mountain regions and becoming a drifting legend in the process. Having been owned by the father, the car had the benefit of being well-maintained and was even the recipient of a complete RB20DET halfcut that was plonked in with the five-speed manual gearbox.Going down the path of power, a HKS GT2530 ball-bearing turbo was put into service. All the supporting mods were upgraded accordingly as well, such as a generic GTR-sized intercooler, D&D aluminium radiator, Nismo low-temp thermostat and RB25 nine-blade clutch fan for better cooling.



Intake air is channelled through a Sard Sports EX+ open pod filter before flowing through a Z32 air flow meter. Fuelling saw the installation of a Walbro fuel pump together with an aftermarket fuel pressure regulator and larger 444cc injectors from the RB26DETT. A 38mm wastegate and HKS SSQV blow-off valve handle boost pressure on both ends while the exhaust setup consists of a Blitz Nur Spec muffler on the end of custom three-inch piping.The stock clutch has been retained for now although the differential has been replaced with a Cusco Type-MZ unit for better locking of the wheels.




On the electronics end, a standalone Haltech Platinum Pro Plugin keeps tabs on the engines operations and ensures that all the fuelling and ignition are kept to the dot for 280whp and 350Nm of torque. Boost is controlled by a GReddy Profec B while a trio of Shadow Pro BF gauges help the driver keep an eye on boost pressure, oil pressure and water temperature.

Supporting the chassis is a set of Kei Office coilovers with pillow-balls in the front. Once again, a plethora of adjustable arms work in sync with the Asahi tie rods and bump steer correction tie rod ends kit to help alignment geometry. Squaring up the front and rear struts are Nismo strut bars while a custom six-point roll-cage keeps the chassis nice and stiff whilst providing a safety shell for the occupants. Unlike the black Cefiro, the red one still manages to retain a full interior.



Filling up the four corners are a set of super wide and super dishy chrome RiverSide Altstadt Dish Range three-piece rims that measure 18×9.5jj in the front and 18×10.5jj in the rear. Wrapping those rims are once again, Achilles ATR Sport rubbers in the same measurements.Hiding behind those VIP rims are complete un-VIP-like four-pot Brembos and rotors from an Evo 7 while the rear makes do with the twin-pot callipers and rotors from an R32. Inside, you will be greeted by a pristine R32 dashboard that was part of the halfcut and a Bride Zeta III full bucket for the driver together with a Nismo gear knob and Drift House handbrake drift button.



Going down the route less traversed, the red Cefiro uses a complete Autech body kit that is an original Japanese unit and not a cheapo locally moulded piece. Unfortunately, the front Autech bumper has since moved on to the junkyard in the sky following an off-track excursion at the last drift event. Keeping the engine bay cool is a vented fibre hood that gets a sprinkling of glitter in its coat of red.




Different paths that lead to the same destination, a destination that included friendship, is probably the most acute way to describe these two Cefiros. There have been many a barrier that has often come in the way of their drifting, sometimes quite literally, but nothing that has completely halted the progress of finally pushing these cars to the limits for their intended purpose, which is simply to drift with friends and enjoy themselves.


Black Cefiro Tech Specs:


RB25DET S2, GT2540 turbocharger, Cometic 1.2mm metal head gasket, Infinite GTR-sized intercooler + piping, Walbro fuel pump, Sard fuel pressure regulator, Blitz air intake, custom triple-core aluminium radiator, NTCL low-temp thermostat, TurboSmart Comp-Gate 38mm wastegate, GReddy blow-off valve, aluminium radiator reservoir, custom oil catch tank, custom three-inch exhaust piping + twin-shotgun straight-through exit, cold-air intake, custom air intake heat shield, Forged Racing 12-inch electric fan. All of that produced 300whp


RB20DET gearbox, ORC Ogura Super Single clutch set, Nismo 2-way LSD


JIC coilovers + front pillow-ball mounts, rear strut bar, Asahi tie-rods + Asahi bump-steer correction tie-rod ends + steering lock spacers, polyurethane steering column biscuit, adjustable front tension arms, adjustable rear camber arms, adjustable rear toe arms, custom 10-point rollcage, Drift House polyurethane rear subframe bushes


R33 calipers + slotted rotors, Project μ pads, steel-braided brake lines, custom handbrake cable


Advanti wheels (18 x 9.5jj, offset +10), 225/40R18 Achilles ATR Sport (front), 235/40R18 Achilles ATR Sport 2 (rear), Rays Engineering lug nuts


Complete D-Max body kit (front bumper + rear bumper + side skirts), TBO grille, custom vented hood, fibre vented fenders (+20mm), custom rear guards (+15mm), Depo front headlamps, R32 sedan tail lights, F1-style side-view mirrors


Bride full bucket seat (driver), Recaro full bucket seat (passenger), Elevo Marino deep-dish steering, Apexi mechanical boost meter, four-point harness (driver), Razo pedals, Type-R gear knob, Drift House handbrake button, stripped rear, Sony Xplod head unit, GReddy e-Manage, HKS EVC 3, Apexi turbo timer


Dazzle Auto, J-Tuck Motorsports


Under5ive Garage


Red Cefiro Tech Specs:


RB20DET, HKS GT2530 ball bearing turbo, HKS SSQV black edition, aftermarket 38mm wastegate, RB26DETT 444cc injectors, Walbro 255lph fuel pump, aftermarket fuel pressure regulator + Arospeed fuel pressure gauge, Cusco oil catch tank, Z32 air flow meter, Sard Sports EX+ open pod filter, aftermarket GTR size front mount intercooler, D&D aluminium radiator, Nismo low temp thermostat, RB25 clutch fan, Blitz NÜR Spec muffler


RB20DET five-speed manual gearbox, Cusco Type-MZ LSD


Kei-Office Erfolgkei fully adjustables + pillow ball front mounts, Asahi tie rods + bump steer correction tie rod ends, Kei-Office adjustable front caster rods, aftermarket adjustable rear camber arms, aftermarket adjustable rear toe control arms, Nismo front strut bar, Nismo rear strut bar, custom six-point bolt-on roll-cage


Mitsubishi Evo 7 four-pot Brembo calipers + rotor (front), Nissan R32 GTS two-pot calipers + rotors (rear)


RiverSide Altstadt Dish Range three-piece rims, 18 x 9.5jj offset +17 (front), 18 x 10.5jj offset +4 (rear), Achilles ATR Sport 225/40R18 (front), 235/40R18 (rear)


Complete Autech body kit (front bumper + rear bumper + side skirts), aftermarket Top Secret style fibre hood, Domuken plush toy


R32 dashboard, Bride Zeta III full bucket seat (driver), Nismo gear knob, Drift House handbrake drift button, Haltech Platinum Pro Plugin, GReddy Full Auto Timer II, GReddy Profec B Spec II electronic boost controller, Shadow Pro BF Gauge (boost + oil pressure + water temp)

D’Tuning Service Sdn Bhd
Daniel Lee (D’Tuning)

words : Dindin pix: Haznajims


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