This was not easy. Assembling the list last year wasn’t the simplest of tasks either, mind you, but this year I really had to sit down and think for a while about how on earth I could not just find but also rank five individual builds from our community.
Like I had mentioned in The Top 5 Posts of 2018, last year’s list was (very happily, I might add) met with a lot of amazing feedback and so I knew from that point that a 2018 edition would be going live on the site. Even with the advanced planning though, I still found myself – for lack of a better word – struggling to find clear choices for the spots this time around.
I suppose that’s a good problem though, as it highlighted just how many strong builds there are in our community. A lot of cars received makeovers this year, and many new builds were debuted as well, so narrowing it down to five was not all that straight-forward. Many cups of coffee were consumed while I worked on this list.
Before we get any further I will stress again though, as I have before in regards to the 2017 list, that I never intend for these to be taken as a final say on our community’s offerings and just as I would be very happy to hear that these owners – or anyone for that matter – enjoy the list or that it means something to them, I also will understand (and not mind) if it doesn’t matter to people as well. At the end of the day this is my own take on our community and not meant to be the definitive ranking system for everyone to observe. And with that out of the way…
In the end the biggest thing I had to consider – which I’ll touch on more further on in this post – was the time frame of the builds in question. There were many builds which I had in consideration fairly early on, that I ultimately felt were too unchanged from previous years to count as being a “2018 build” and so unfortunately I had to exclude them from the running. In the end though, I finally found myself with a list of five that I was very pleased with; I couldn’t find reason to move any of these five builds up or down in the rankings and that’s when I knew I finally had it. And so, I now present to you officialTHREETWENTY’s Top Five Local Builds of 2018:
#5. Will’s AE86
This year’s first build is Will’s AE86, a car that I actually rarely get the opportunity to see in person but thankfully have been able to see through social media when pictures pop up now and then. I actually went back through my photo albums seeing if I had any other recent-ish photos of this car, because I only managed to take two of it in all of 2018…and I couldn’t find any (which is to say it doesn’t get as many photos in this post as the others).
What I can offer though, is a bit of context to illustrate the extent of this project. If you read Part 2 of our 2018 iMSS coverage you may recall that I mentioned this back then, but a few years ago this coupe was nothing more than a shell on a rotisserie! Not only was it refinished inside and out, but before that the shell was also reinforced with additional bracing and even stitch welding! In fact, if you look closely in these two photos – in the engine bay – you can see a bit of that additional bracing by the shock towers.
With the hood down, and without looking inside, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a much more lightly-modified AE86 than it really is; but this is a car that rewards a closer look. Even the undercarriage was taken to better-than-new condition and the fact that the entire shell restoration/reinforcement was followed up with the iconic black and white paint scheme makes it even better.
With all of this in mind then you may be wondering why it didn’t place higher on the list this year, and the reason is simply that of the five vehicles here, it saw the least amount of work in the last season. I still felt that it met the criteria of being “completed” in 2018 as it saw some final touches and updates to bring the whole package together, but I couldn’t ignore that it had already largely been finished. With the sheer amount of work into it though, top and bottom, inside and out, you cannot argue that it isn’t an incredible build and displays a huge amount of time and effort, so it makes the list this year. I hope that in 2019 and beyond I have more opportunities to see it though, so that I can grab more photos!
#4. Adrian’s Civic Coupe
Taking this year’s number four spot is a car that should be no stranger to regular readers; Adrian’s Civic coupe. If you know what this car has been through in the last 18 months or so, you’ll understand why it’s on the list this year; if you don’t, you may be wondering why a car that was already “complete” has been included among these other builds. Let me explain…
Adrian’s Civic has been around for a number of years, definitely cementing its spot as one of the most recognizable builds in our community. Once powered by a turbo B-series and now a naturally-aspirated K, Adrian had assembled an extremely well-rounded example of a not very often seen (at least up here) chassis. From tormenting other cars on the track with its speed to taking awards at shows, it could – and did – it all.
Last summer however, a distracted driver ran into the back of it at high speed and caused a substantial amount of damage. On paper it would obviously have been a write-off because a mid-90’s Civic coupe isn’t exactly the most valuable vehicle out there; however, after dealing with insurance it was (thankfully) not deemed a total loss due to the extensive work that had already been carried out…but that didn’t change the fact that Adrian faced a long road ahead to get it repaired.
Frankly, if the car had seen a strictly bring-it-back-to-exactly-how-it-was repair, it probably wouldn’t have made the list this year – but that wasn’t the case. Adrian, and the team at Speedy Collision, put an incredible amount of effort into the car to make it even better than it was before. A pile of OEM parts were sourced to repair the damage (including brand new in box quarter panels), while further work was carried out to bring the shell to an even better state than it was in before the collision. Following that it received a full exterior respray – jambs included – before being reassembled, and Adrian even changed up the car’s appearance with a more subdued aero package and Diamond Black CEs.
Given that it has been such a long-standing “member” of our community it was great to see the Civic saved following the incident. Since a lot of the car was left as it was before the collision though it wasn’t the most drastic build of the year (hence landing at number four), but it certainly earned a position on the list because of the fact that it wasn’t just brought back, but brought up to an even higher level than ever before. This wasn’t a case of just repairing a car, but improving a build.
#3. Giuseppe’s S15
Coming in at the middle of this year’s Top 5 is the newest build of the bunch – Giuseppe’s S15. When compiling this list I had to take into consideration how much value would be placed on the time frame of a build; what I mean by this is how long could a vehicle sit in a semi-complete state before being considered an existing build? With no disrespect to Giuseppe’s S15 (obviously I consider it a great build since it’s on this list), it has obviously not seen anywhere near as much work in total as Will’s AE86, for example. However, it lands in the third spot this year because while it may have seen less work overall, all of that work was carried out in the last season!
Giuseppe picked this up at the start of 2017, if I’m not mistaken, but it wasn’t until the fall/winter of that year (the off-season) that the project really got underway so it was actually an entirely new build for 2018. A massive collection of parts that had been building up more or less all found their way onto the car in one go, while it was also torn down for a nearly full colour change from its original silver to an R35 blue. The engine bay has yet to be painted, but you do have to pace yourself right? Haha
Given that he was coming from an extensively-modified R32 it was no surprise that Giuseppe wouldn’t be messing around with this successor, and sure enough that first round of modifications addressed all areas of the vehicle and created an extremely well-rounded (and not to mention distinctive) S15. There are no signs of him slowing either however, as new aero has already been received for a much more aggressive exterior, and I’ve also seen that a big brake kit will be going on to help fill the space behind those wheels.
With the exterior, interior, engine, and chassis all seeing work in the last season this car was a clear contender for the Top 5 this year, but like I said above I had to consider the time frame as well; and while it could be argued that this car saw the most effort in the last season out of any here, others such as the two still to come have seen much more overall, and importantly saw enough recently to count as being completed in 2018.
#2. Terence’s Civic Hatch
It may be the runner-up of this list, but if there were an award for “Surprise Debut of the Year”, you’d be looking at the winner right here; Terence’s Civic. This car stopped all of us in our tracks when it was unveiled at Sunday School and rightfully so; we knew that it had been undergoing a rebuild but frankly weren’t expecting to see it completed so soon after the first pictures of its new paint had been shared!
This had been a long time coming for Terence – he’d wanted an EK forever and finally picked this one up in 2014, I believe. He built it up a bit with some tasteful aero, new wheels, brakes, and so on, but it wasn’t until this season when the whole project really came together with two makeovers; one cosmetic, and one mechanical.
The first thing to grab your attention – and it certainly grabbed ours at iMSS – would be the colour change to Mercedes’ Chinablau. Incidentally, it’s a shade that’s not only very “in” right now, but one that probably would have looked right at home on a Civic build 10 years ago as well. It makes the carbon accents pop, pairs beautifully with the gold of the wheels, and even plays nicely with the subtle burnt titanium of the exhaust and the few red accents throughout.
As mentioned though the full respray wasn’t the only makeover; sitting inside the repainted bay wasn’t a D-series any more, but a new K-swap! With the car set to be stripped to a shell for the colour change the old engine would be coming out anyway, and with the old engine having to come out for the K-swap the bay would be bare and ready for a repaint; ether way you prefer to look at it, it worked out nicely!
Given how long Terence had been working towards this, it’s understandable why the finished product is so good. It’s a very well-rounded build which should stand the test of time with its tasteful appearance and quality parts. As for its placement on the list this year, while it retained a number of parts from prior seasons (wheels, brakes, aero), there’s no denying that it’s pretty far removed from its previous iteration with a completely new engine, redone bay, new hue, and even a few additional interior modifications as well.
The #1 Build of 2018…
And then there was one. Honestly, it was difficult at first to decide which car – this, or Terence’s EK – would take the top spot for 2018 but in the end it was the sheer number of rare parts, not to mention the incredible detail in terms of materials and hardware, that meant this year’s winner would be:
#1. Binh’s 240Z
I’m sure that for many people, this was one of the cars that was expected to make the list this year; like Terence’s EK it was one of the big debuts at iMSS 2018, and was also a long time coming. Also like Terence’s EK then, it wasn’t much of a surprise that the finished product was as head-turning as it was.
I will say that perhaps the one thing which I wasn’t expecting in regards to the car was how well the burnt titanium accents would work against the OEM Datsun 112 paint; and speaking of, oh boy is there a lot of titanium on the car! From hardware under the hood, to that of the steering wheel, and even hidden within the front bumper – where no one would ever notice it – to hold the aero baffles in place, it is everywhere. Plus, his freaking carb linkages are carbon fiber. What?!
Binh’s 240Z shows off a great combination of traditional aspects (such as keeping the original paint colour and L-series power) with some modern details and parts, all on top of a no-corners cut approach to the entire project. The car had been in a “complete” state before, running and driving with a lot of the parts you see here already installed, but it was then torn down for its transformation into what you see now. Stampede Collision handled a full restoration of the shell – taking it to bare metal and making it perfectly straight and smooth again – as well as the final fitting of the ZG kit from Marugen before putting it all into the booth for a full repaint. Upon being returned following its stay at the shop, Binh too somehow managed to get it up and running in time for iMSS and blew us all away with the result of those years of planning and preparation.
This is one of those builds that you can study for hours yet come back to later and still find something that you hadn’t noticed before. If you’re a Datsun nerd you’ll appreciate the parts selection and rare items throughout, but even if you’re not you can enjoy the build for the quality of its execution and details. Nothing about this car was rushed or done for immediate satisfaction. Binh took his time acquiring the right parts and constructing a cohesive package, and the “finished” car (no project truly is, but you know what I mean here) clearly illustrates that he knows what he’s doing.
Therefore, Binh’s 240Z lands at the top of the list this time around, as the Top Local Build of 2018. I hope that you all enjoyed this year’s countdown, and look forward to hearing your feedback on the chosen vehicles. Hopefully their owners appreciate the rankings as well, but like I said I won’t mind if they don’t care. Haha
It may have been a huge amount of work to put this together, but once again it was a lot of fun as well; and now it’s time to start watching for contenders for 2019’s list! Let’s see what our community brings out this time around…