Personality Personified: Nissan 240
One of the last things that comes to mind when thinking of a Nissan 240 is ‘different’, especially if it’s a drift car. The stigma that follows 240’s is one that you can’t really ignore, because it’s not really wrong. Most you see are molested beyond belief and have been reduced to nothing more than somebody’s dream that never came to fruition. They’re never all one color, they never have body panels that line up, they usually are held together with more zipties than OEM fasteners. The broken and beat 240 is just as much part of the drift image as vaping and flat-bills are to the Subaru bros. This isn’t your average S14.
What makes this car special isn’t the insane power that it makes, because it doesn’t. It’s just a bone stock KA24DE. It’s not the piles of money thrown at the suspension to make it a professional drift car, because that definitely hasn’t been done either. They’re some mismatched K-sport and Godspeed coil overs. It’s the way in which it has come together over the years and the adaptation of styles that make it unique. Instagram likes and Facebook fame were never a consideration, and it shows. The owner, Casey Hawkins, has never been one to just follow along with trends. The car is built to drift, but not really anything special mechanically. It’s reliable, functional, and never fails to show up to an event and survive the thrashing he gives it. Compared to the V8 swaps and finicky turbo conversions that spend more time in the paddock than on track I think keeping the KA was a good choice.
Wrapped around this reliable, daily driven drift chassis is what can only be described as one of the more noticeable exteriors you’ll see on the streets. What Casey has done with this car blends so much of the Shakotan feel from Japan into something that could have only been done stateside. The car isn’t a missile, it’s got way too much going for it for that, but it’s not the perfect and pretty car you’re used to seeing at Cars and Coffee meets either. It may have overfenders, ridiculously wide wheels, and a flashy paint job but it’s about as far from what I’d consider a stance car to be.
What this Nissan has become is more akin to a modern day rat rod, with plenty of personal flair. When you look at Shakotan or Bosozoku cars from Japan I think you get a glimpse into their interpretation of what the rat rods of the past were. It’s something that has every detail thought out, but strives hard to make it look like no thought or effort was put into it. The obscure scrutiny of details is what really makes them shine. The mods have no purpose, but they make the owner happy and allow them to make an image that is from their heart.
Back to the 240 at hand though, it seems as if the car was cobbled together out of parts found in a few friends garages, which might not be too far from the truth. But the car has actually been through quite a few iterations to get to the point you see today. Sure the welded diff, upgrade bushings all around, and adjustable suspension arms could be considered run of the mill for a drift car, but this isn’t about those kinds of parts. All of the wacky parts and outlandish style has plenty of time and thought put into exactly what would fit the overall idea the best. Nothing was left to chance.
If you know Casey then you know that he could care less what people think of this car. One thing you could never say is that this 240 wasn’t built from passion though. From the aftermarket Integra hood scoop now residing on the roof to cover the, now empty, sunroof aperture to the just crazy enough to work LED headlights this is a car that is not easily forgotten. The latest paint scheme probably cost more in stripper glitter than the thing is worth, but it’s yet another way Casey went above and beyond to see his vision become reality.
Building a car that could look at home in a Japanese parking area meet and gets regularly drifted at events along the Gulf Coast is no small order. From the beginning this car has been nothing but an embodiment of Casey’s style and with this latest version it takes it to a whole new level. Personally, I’m glad to see someone leaving the judgemental side of the car scene at the door and do what they want with a car that really only needs to please them. What good is a highly modified parking lot queen if it never gets used and has the same look as every other car with an owner with deep enough pockets? I say this 240 is what we should strive for, not to make a car exactly like this, but to build a car that is what we want. Not what we think everyone else is going to like.