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Author Topic: Tyler Cox's new S14.  (Read 11554 times)

aaronlosey

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Tyler Cox's new S14.
« on: December 15, 2012, 02:52:32 PM »

   Earlier this year a friend of mine, Tyler Cox, passed away.  Drifting brought us together nearly 7 years ago, and we had a great time running around the country and drifting all over the place.  When I was asked to speak at his funeral, I retraced our steps and discovered I had covered 27 US states with Tyler.  Some of those states like Louisiana, California, Nevada, Georgia, and Florida we frequented quite a lot.  We spent so much time together people thought he was my little brother multiple times, and he used to pick up my mannerisms constantly.  Those were great times. 

   Everyone that came into contact no doubt has stories about him, as he was quite the character.  Now that might sound like a generic thing to say, but if you knew him, it was an understatement.  Everything that happened around him got out of hand in some way, and for better or worse everything turned into an adventure.  To say his life was all about cars would also be an understatement.  His loving family indulged his love of cars in a way that makes all of us in the drift scene jealous.  We all wish we had parents that would support our love of such foolish things as drifting with enthusiasm and excitement instead of confusion and questions.  Of course cars are silly, and traveling the country playing with them is a waste.  But when life is over and there is no time left, I would rather I didn't spend it in front of a desk shuffling paper and instead embarked on ridiculous adventures that left me cold, hungry, and lost.  These silly car adventures have given me so many beautiful sunrises in distant lands, so many interesting moments, and so many emotions.  And above all, so many friends all over the globe. 

   But this is going to be a fairly long story, and it is going to be about Tyler's last car his was lusting over, a replica and better version of his first and awesome S14.  This story is about me trying to finish his last car up since he isn't able to do it himself.  This photo was taken at D1GP Anaheim in California, circa 2009.  This was probably considered the glory days for the Texas boys, and truly the glory days for his S14.  Amazing times!



   Tyler's run of the D1GP USA series was cut a little shorter than the rest of us, when he totaled out his car in Florida that same year.  The car was working amazing and he was having a fantastic time, but the track was wet and the that was that.  He still continued driving that weekend, but after the event decided the chassis was done even though it still functioned, and tore it down.  He had been driving full steam for about 4 years at this point, but he slowed down a lot after this.  He picked up a few lesser cars to have fun with, but after having an SR20 with nearly 500whp, it is hard going back to 200whp cars and not get caught up in the modification game again.  He dreamed of rebuilding his car bigger and better.



Around late 2009 to 2010 Tyler sent off a new chassis to be "caged" by Forrest Wang in Las Vegas.  I thought Tyler was silly for sending a car all the way across the country for a cage, but Tyler loved Forrest's style and obviously wanted it incorporated into his new car.  Most years I go to SEMA ( a trade show ) in Vegas, so each year for the last 3 years I would see the car very slowly coming along while I was out there.  The first year the car was just a simple cage with lots of dimple dies.  The next year the car was cut off front and rear and getting really serious, and way past what I thought the project was going to be.  This quickly was becoming an insane full chassis build, nothing held back.  I have pictures of lots of Tyler's friends, myself included, standing inside his new bare chassis in Vegas while he wasn't there.  I can't find them at the moment though.  But we were teasing him sending him progress pics years before the thing was finished.  Well, actually, it still isn't finished.  The pics are really cute, use your imagination.

Then, before the car could be completed, Tyler passed away this summer, leaving the car unfinished and a world away.  During long conversations with his father, I wasn't sure if it was worth finishing because it would be expensive and somewhat without purpose when it was done.  However, his father decided to finish the car, which I am very happy with, and wheels were set in motion.  I gathered up a posse to go retrieve it with me in Vegas.  Josh Buckley and Fielding Shredder jumped in the truck with me and off we went.  We scheduled it so we could attend the Vegas round of Formula Drift which worked out really well. 



We stayed in the Stratosphere hotel, and this was the view out the window.



We ate at our favorite foodie spot out there, Hash House a go go.



And we picked up a sad looking neglected S14.  It had a mountain of tube work done to the chassis, but it had taken a glacial 3 years or so to get to this stage.  The motor was now a SR23 of some sort, we still aren't sure.  And basically every nut, bolt, seat, fitting, mount, glass, fiberglass, and anything else not seen in the picture was missing.  We would later find much of it hiding in Kilgore, but that would come along months later.  It sat much like this from August until around the end of November.  I and everyone else who volunteered to work on the car in their free time were simply too busy.  I also around this time came to the conclusion that no one would ever really have time to devote hundreds of hours to finishing the car besides myself, and if the car was ever going to be finished, it would fall on me for the work and his dad for the finances.  This poses a few problems as you can imagine.  First if you know me, while I am always around cars, deal with them constantly, and know a lot about them, I am not a mechanic.  I don't browse forums looking at builds.  I don't dream about engine parts, suspension parts, or any of that stuff.  My car has basically been the same for almost 5 years now without any real changes except fixing problems, and when any of that happens, my good friends Derrick or James see to it.  I wouldn't really call myself your typical car guy.



So far in the picture below I had a week into fetching the car, and a few days loading, unloading, budgeting, and tinkering with the car.  Not a huge investment in time yet, but I also hadn't accomplished much more than transporting the car around.  This is the part of the story where I actually start pouring time into the car.  It is hard getting motivated to work on a 240 with stock SE wheels on it, so I tossed on some of my fancy white wheels to add some contrast and spice things up visually.  I spent a few days cataloging things, zipping across the state to pick up about 5K pounds of stuff including another car from Tyler's storage area.  The process of putting the car together is daunting for me, so I chose to methodically pic apart one system at a time.  I started with the steering system since it should be pretty straight forward.



So steering system, lets see how bad you look.  No steering column in the car, completely trashed steering rack, trashed tie rods.  Catch can, pump, and cooler are accounted for though, that is a big plus.  Steering knuckles don't get within 2 inches of hitting anything to stop them, and only have about 40 degrees of angle even though they appear cut.  Hmmmm….  At this point I should also mention pictures of this car are an illusion.  It looks like an almost complete car.  But I assure you, behind those wheels there is basically nothing.  The car didn't even have lug nuts on all the wheels when I took possession of it.  There were about 4-5 total lug nuts on the car.  Stock worn out subframe in the rear with no brakes, no lines, rusty lugs.  The interior is 100% empty.  No fuel lines, just a fuel cell sitting in the trunk.  The car is missing over 50% of the bolts on it.  When I try and mount things the new tabs and holes don't really line up, and everything has to be coaxed together with some removal of material.  But on the flip side there is already a mountain of work that has been done to the car.  There are hundreds of hours of fab work, dozens of hours of prep and paint, and hopefully a functioning and built SR23 sitting in the engine bay.  Not the we will able to tell for awhile though, as there is no tune, no wiring, nothing hooked up to the motor.  The driveshaft is missing.  Little details of the car give me a smile though.  This is definitely at least Tyler's valve cover, I recognize the Porsche Turbo emblem residue.



After lots of cleaning I got his old baller hand made catch tank looking pretty good.  Tyler didn't keep things clean LOL.



And I have piles and piles of his old stuff laid out for cleaning and cataloging so I can figure out what I need to order and what I already have.  There is a mountain of missing stuff, and I have already at this point spent more than 20 hours just buying parts online, locally, and sending friends off to get them for me.



And so I purchased a cute little journal so that all my progress was recorded on paper, and so I can figure out what I need to order when I get home from working on the car at night. 



So you can see I sketch out what I need, start labeling every piece of it, and anything I am missing spec wise I ask one of 3 people.  Derrick, Marty, or Stew.  I try to alternate through them so I don't bug each of them too badly, but each of them gets many texts a day from me.  For example, this is what the page looks like at the shop, then I get home and figure out I need -6 to 14mm x 1.5 and -6 to 16mm x 1.5 for those two circle fittings in the middle of the page.  Then two 45 degree AN fittings that are -6 over to a push lock, and the other to another -6.  And on and on.  I update my little drawing with all that info as I figure it out so I know what is what, even if I am not standing next to the car.



As I have been collecting items like the steering column, I test fit, find all the correct hardware, then lay them aside for fancy cleanup and paint.  You can see in this picture the holes don't line up perfectly, so I carefully take everything apart and massage them in the direction they need to go a little.



Not difficult, just lots of time finding all the little things that are off.  It also means you assemble, disassemble, and reassemble things over and over.  Test fitting the steering rack required several hours locating some key missing pieces, clocking the waste gate dump tube, opening some holes, a trip to the junkyard, getting Anthony to find me a few parts, and the time to clean everything up.  If this was my race car we would have spent 30 minutes bolting everything together and been done with it, but I am moving very slowly and methodically with this car.



As I work on the car I find things that I get stuck on for the simple reason I am worried what Tyler would do in the situation.  For example, the brakes and wheels.  Tyler always had this crazy set of $3500 Project Mu brakes, they embodied his style and persona.  However, I am not going to subject his father to buying another set of $3500 brakes for the car, so what do I choose?  Simple 300ZX brake setup?  Tyler would go for that probably.  350Z Brembos?  For some reason I can't see Tyler wanting those.  I don't know why, but I get hung up on little details like this.  I tossed my wheels on the car since it came with the worst wheels I have ever seen on a 240, and these help motivate me to work on the car since it looks better with them on it. 



I purchased an assortment of nice zinc plated hardware to replace all the missing bolts on the car.  The majority of the hardware on the car is going to be nice and new, or cleaned up and shiny.  So all in all I am working hard on this project, methodically and carefully making through one part of the car at a time.  I have in total maybe 100 hours into the project so far, and I am not very far into it.  Most of those hours aren't really working on much mechanical, but I am about to get into that pretty heavily now that parts are starting to arrive.  Just today I have had about 7 boxes arrive at the door, and it should keep up that pace for a week or so.



I will be continuing posting about this ongoing story as I make my way through it.  I am glad to get the chance to work on the car, and happy that his father is interested in finishing the car.  It has been good therapy for me as well as well since I feel guilt and other emotions now that Tyler is gone.  I hadn't seen him much in the last year or two, our lives had drifted apart.  This car is, in a way, an opportunity for me to put more positive effort into our friendship even after he is gone. 
« Last Edit: December 15, 2012, 04:28:05 PM by aaronlosey »
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ON3L3G

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2012, 03:01:00 PM »

so so so so so rad man.
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imran.rashid

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2012, 03:18:45 PM »

heart touching read....... glad to see you continuing this.

Let me know if you need help finding parts or help with whatever

Royal_T

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2012, 03:43:38 PM »

Mad respect to you Aaron for doing this. It goes to show you how great this sport is and how one person can touch another in so many ways. Can't wait so see this thing finished, and if you need any help please jut ask.

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Johny5

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2012, 07:11:41 PM »

Nice post Aaron, cool to see you working on a car and blogging about it so we can all follow :) I look forward to putting my hands into this project alongside you and am excited for its completion! Ask as many questions as you need btw :)

ZachTriggs

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2012, 09:14:14 PM »

Great read aaron! Very happy to finally see some pictures of this car and I'm sure tcox would be happy to see the direction your taking it! Can't wait to see more.
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s13_guy

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2012, 10:47:34 PM »

so awesome aaron i wish i lived closer man i would be there ever day with u working on this car
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Deedilus

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2012, 02:57:50 AM »

Super awesome read, and super awesome that you're doing this. Can't wait to see it progress.
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hotdoghogie

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2012, 05:15:55 AM »

Super curious now, those r32 wheels I bought from you, did they belong to Tyler? Maybe they will have good juju!? BTW super rad man, you're a cool dude.
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Alex33

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2012, 10:00:19 AM »

SO glad this car didnt get scrapped or dropped into the hands of some kid. It is where it belongs with his closest drift buds. I would only hope to have friends like yall, cool enough to finish or hang onto my dream car when I am gone. What a great way to honor Tcox and remember him by. Keep up the good work Aaron.
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zaquan

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2012, 11:26:16 AM »

so awesome aaron i wish i lived closer man i would be there ever day with u working on this car

:( i miss tyler , so much fun
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Surge

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2012, 01:27:45 AM »

Tear jerking read aaron, looking forward for every update on this.

Respect
« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 03:03:17 AM by Surge »
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aaronlosey

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2012, 05:28:49 AM »

2nd Entry, Dec 13 to Dec 20th. 

This seven day or so stretch on the car has gone really well.  My wife has been working nights at the hospital, and I find my schedule slipping farther and farther into the late hours of the night over at Autocomp.  I am most productive with no one around, and any distractions and my productive level goes to about zero.  So all in all I have been having really relaxing afternoons working on the car until around 2 am, then I stop by and see my wife for a short time, then order/research parts for an hour or so, then hit the sack.  So lets get started here.

I might have mentioned earlier that I have been agonizing over parts selection with the car.  I want the car to be a reflection of Tyler, and what he would want, but also a reflection of what I am willing to put in the car.  For example I am not willing to purchase $4,000 brakes ( which is what Tyler would want ), but I am willing to do something crazy with them.  This leads to tons of research, an obsession with wanting to do something unique and interesting but also awesome.  That, weighted with the concern that when I turn the car over to his father that I am not leaving him with some odd ball car with super difficult to service obscure racing parts.  And then there is the point of not spending a ton of money, although the budget is substantial, and keeping things within reason.  I poured over off the shelf brake setups from tons of retailers, piecing together a completely new Z32 setup, 350Z Brembos, and even trying to track down some Project Mu setups.  They don't seem to sell the brakes where in the states anymore, and are an example of how difficult it can be to try and maintain and use awesome niche JDM parts.  There are tons of problems associated with each setup, and nothing I really wanted to settle on.  Then Stew turned me onto something really neat.  The newer 370 and Infiniti cars come with a setup from a manufacturer named Akebono, and they are a great mixture of OEM clean styler and function, GIANT 14 inch front rotors and 13.8 inch rear rotors for bling, and fairly simple and straightforward to get onto the car.  I think they would make Tyler both happy for the ridiculous bling factor, as well as keep the car functional and useful so that his father can enjoy and maintain it.  That is a huge load off my mind, and I am excited to get them in the mail in a few days. 

Moving on to the physically laborious side of the project.  As I browse through the pictures I am about to include in this I realize how productive the week has been!  This is going to be good!  As I am waiting for fittings and other parts to complete the steering system I moved onto other portions of the car.  Tyler's dad is going to come take a look at it this weekend, so I really wanted to let him see the car start taking shape.  Having a functioning steering system in a car that doesn't look anything like a car isn't very exciting, but having unfinished steering in something that is taking physical shape is something more visually appealing and I want him to feel the project is advancing.  The car has been 3 years in the build at this point.  So I grabbed the dash and starting soaping it up, scrubbing it as clean as I could.  I then started to use tar and bug remover on the difficult parts, and spent a few hours bringing it up to the level of cleanliness that I am trying to keep the car at. 



After getting it clean, I then needed to start chopping it up so it would fit in the car with the elaborate cage.



I very carefully fitted it to the car.  Over and over I very carefully fitted it to the car!  I kept having to make decisions which I didn't really want to make, such as how much material do I remove.  Do I make it possible for someone to remove the dash once the car has the windshield in, or do I leave it stuck there forever?  Do I potentially crack the dash getting it in because I cut the dash perfectly to fit the cage, and by doing so have to bend it terribly to install it?  I ended up doing what I always do, which is use reason and logic to arrive at a fairly neutral middle ground to everything.  I cut the dash enough to make it fairly easy to get in and out, but with close enough tolerances that you have to bend it substantially to get it in, but not TOO much.  Of course I arrive at this AFTER trying to make it fit perfectly and being unable to install the darn thing.  I was FORCED into the neutral decision : (



I have been going kind of crazy on the details in the project, and if you see the yellowish seam in the dash, which will be hidden by the windshield in most places anyways, I have been taking a magic marker to it.  A huge magic marker.  I looks really good from a reasonable distance of a couple feet.  I have a lot more of it to do, but I was getting kind of high from the fumes so I procrastinated finishing the rest of it.



I cleaned up the steering column, getting rid of the rust and repainting it so it will be pretty…. even though you won't be able to see it when finished.  I am using this logic for as many things as I can, just because you can't see it doesn't mean I am not spending a huge amount of time on it. 



Pretty!



During one of my super late night shopping sessions I made a poor choice.  Someone who shall be nameless told me that knockoff 30 dollar steering wheel quick release hubs are actually really well made nowadays.  I did something that ended up costing more money in the end because I had to do it twice.  I ordered the crappy knockoff ebay part and then was so disappointed in it after installation that I had to order a higher quality part to replace it.  When assembled in the car it give the feeling of too much slop in the steering, way too much.  It is one of the few things in the car you have a tactile relationship with, and needs to feel high quality and trust worthy.  The last thing I want is people thinking the car is terribly built because they simply feel the steering wheel and experience way to much slop in it, and write off everything else as poorly constructed.  Plus this crappy part required hours of putting together.  I had to chase out all the threads, assemble it multiple times to play with it and disassemble it, and figure out if I was doing something wrong or if it really was that sloppy.  It was.



It looks cool assembled though.



Then as I was starting to mount the body panels I found a little present Tyler left me.  He has been leaving me a lot in this car!  I am sure he meant to fix it…. but then he painted over it….  Very Tyler.  It is a broken bolt in one of the most important fender mounting holes. 



This one little broken bolt took me about an hour of fussing with until it was completely drilled out and re-tapped carefully.  Good as new now.  That stitch weld next to the drill bit is mocking me.  I know Tyler would have just not used the bolt hole and mounted the fender with just 2 bolts. 



Tyler was rough on everything.  Even the key to the car was mangled.  Luckily a locksmith made a new one!  Took a couple tries though.  This is the key after it had already been mostly "unbent".



Everyday has been Christmas lately for this car.  About 3-7 packages a day show up for this thing.  They range from a simple can of spray paint all the way up to the seats.  I am patiently awaiting that box with the brakes though! 



ASD sent out a sweet handbrake for the car!!!!



And finally, we are getting to the fun ricey stuff.  Mounting the fiberglass on a car is always fun.  It changes the car so quickly into a finished looking car, and gives it volume and style it didn't have without the few pounds of FG hanging off of it. 



Plus, you get to drill into a perfectly good car!  That is always fun.



Don't mind the rear wheel fitment here!!!  I tried to use the dog to cover it up, but you can still see it.  : (  The front isn't too bad though, although I still have the width of a very large brake rotor this is about to be added.  I even took the time to fit the gas tank cover, even though it has a fuel cell.  Those cool little hell raiser things sticking out of the back fenders are called Clecos.  They are like temporary rivets and are really neat, look them up. 



And finally, today's work.  I spent an entire day fitting the head lights.  Considering the car doesn't really have a core support, this went pretty well.  The mounts off the tube frame structure are pretty good, and only need about 1/2 an inch of adjustment at the middle part of the car, and maybe a bit more than that towards the corner lights.  The intercooler had to be relocated about another half an inch, and the headlights had to be cut about another half an inch.  Then the fenders needed to be cut in various places to fit around the tubes, and I think the hood is going to need to be clearanced a bit more.  All this meant I had to assemble and disassemble, modify things, then repeat dozens of times.  Each time I had to lift the hood off and set it aside, take the fenders off, remove the head lights, corner lights, and make my adjustments.  But it is definitely coming together.  I love the style of the car, and I love working on it.  I can't wait to fabricated a bunch of little items for the car such as a catch tank, brackets, mount the seats, etc.  I am going to go spend some time practicing my TIG skills, and get to it.  I hadn't really paid attention to the welding on the car much, but everything so far was done with a MIG at the previous shop, so it will be fun to add some delicate TIG work.



If you made it this far thanks for reading!  I hope you didn't mind the fact that I have been documenting a lot of the build with my iPhone shooting with Instagram.  I have a fancy DSLR camera but it is so much faster and more fun to shoot with my phone.  I can just pull it out of my pocket and fire away and keep working without fiddling with my settings and changing lenses.  Also, I get some fun dramatic shots with drills and stuff, shooting with one hand and drilling with the other!  I would like to throw some quick shout outs to Autocomp Racecars for letting me take up space and use their tools to work on this sweet chariot.  I would like to thank Amazon and Ebay for insanely easy shopping LOL, I buy most parts and consumables while I am working.  I have only made ONE parts run during this entire build, and that was only to see what kind of bolts Autozone carries out of curiosity.  Everything is ordered online from zip ties to spray paint.  I simply move on to something else and budget my time accordingly.  I have more than enough work to do this, and it hasn't been a problem yet.  Just like cell phones, email, computers, and everything else have changed how we do everything, this is really the first time I have really taken advantage of ordering everything from my phone as I work and not stopping.  It has saved me probably 20+ hours of parts runs, not kidding.
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o.g.darkdrifter

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2012, 06:34:57 AM »

Thank you for this Aaron. I hope I can see you and all the rest of Tyler's closest friends ripping it up in this car like I know he would want it to be.
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zaquan

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Re: Tyler Cox's new S14.
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2012, 09:07:31 AM »

omg so sick , and so tyler , keep it up aaron ,
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