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Run_Away Dork
11/15/19 11:18 p.m.

So I've been watching the builds on this forum and reading about them in the mag for many years now. Always figured I could never do it, mainly because of the distance (about 2000 miles). My VQ Sentra project proved to myself that it was possible for me to do.  It's been gathering momentum in my head for a while now, with scrap prices around here being so low. SVreX's K20 swap thread and an evening of chatting with a buddy also helped me figure out a plan. I was thinking either a K20 swap, or try another fwd VQ35 since I truely it's a very overlooked budget option.  I announced to SWMBO last weekend that I was going to give it a go, if the right car showed up I would go for it. Didn't think anything would really happen anytime soon, then I saw this.



2006 is one of the good years, it has the better management with factory wideband O2 sensors. My current sentra has the older style. The 5 speed is actually better for both autox and drag than the 6 speed found in Maximas as I found out with my Sentra project, as the 2nd gear top speed is higher and a 13 second quarter mile won't need a shift to 5th. There is an open-source tuning software that I'm trying to figure out called Nisprog via Rom Raider, so I can tune it for the cost of a VAG-COM cable ($10 or so).

So I went to look at it. The car is pretty trashed, leather is torn, wheel and tires mis-matched, all four door handles broken. I don't see much recoup other than scrap weight. The car is supposedly a tow company auction buy. I'm taking a pretty big gamble not knowing if it even runs.


I lowballed him at $300 CAD.



And that's how it ended up at my work today. I haven't touched the car yet, no idea what shape it's really in. But I have the basis for a challenge build, and I'm $226.88 into a challenge build. 



I'll update tomorrow when I try to get it running.


Plans are long term, this is for 2021 at the earliest, probably later.  Now I just have to be on the lookout for a car to build. Considering Civics, 1g Neons, another Sentra, or something like a Metro/Firefly/Fiesta and mount the engine in the back. Whatever comes up in the right shape and price.


mr2s2000elise Dork
11/15/19 11:34 p.m.

Congrats ! 

AnthonyGS Dork
11/16/19 7:44 a.m.

I always thought the Nissan 3.5 was a pretty stout engine itself.  Why not stick with it?  

wheelsmithy SuperDork
11/16/19 8:16 a.m.

Wheels could be some recoup. Nice score on a VQ.

TurnerX19 Dork
11/16/19 8:46 a.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

Read him closely, the engine is what he was after, not the shell.

TurnerX19 Dork
11/16/19 8:48 a.m.

I would vote Metro/Firefly, as the Fiesta has been done well several times.

jfryjfry Dork
11/16/19 12:01 p.m.

He Jedi mind-tricked you into $60 more!

karplus2 New Reader
11/16/19 1:19 p.m.

I love your other builds. Looking forward to this one!

Run_Away Dork
11/16/19 9:05 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry :

$300 for the car, $60 for his buddy to tow it. Towing is budget exempt....I could have rented a U-haul for $55/day but this was much easier. Last time I rented a Uhaul, it took 1hr at the desk for the clerk to figure things out even thought I had booked online and done all the pre-check-in forms. frown


So I went to work today to mess around with this thing. I got the drivers side lower dash out and was working away at the break-away bolts holding the ignition cylinder on when I spotted a small box wired to the smashed up remote start that was under the dash. Looked like an old key-coffin bypass! Opened it up and it sure was.


Tossed in a junk battery and clamped the neg cable wires to the post since the terminal is missing

I had my phone on picture instead of video for the actual first start, so here's about 30 seconds after I started it


Underneath looks okay. Very small exhaust leak from the flex pipe. The drivers side floor has been patched, and it's rotten though again. Very common for these cars. The RF lower ball joint has a lot of play, the LF outer tie rod has a bit of play, the LF end link is broken, and the RF outer CV boot is split. Couple of burnt out lights. Pretty complete though.


Then I tried to move it. No dice, car wouldn't even spin the tires in the air. Took a video of the slave cylinder, seems to move normally (feels normal too). The shift linkage is all good, had someone move the shifter while checking under hood. 95% sure the clutch is completely fried, you can smell it a bit if you let in run in gear for a while. I took the inspection cover off, but couldn't see anything. I guess that solves why the owner let the car be towed.


So instead I cleaned out the car. It was super gross, filled with trash. Here's everything that was loose, that garbage can is stuffed full of clothing and random other garbage. I wore gloves.


Also found $0.25 n Canadian tire money and $3.44 in some very gross change. I'm going to try putting them in Coke and see if they clean up enough that I can put that back into the budget.


Car came with a pair of good used lower control arms from the local U-pull yard (Bucks Auto - yellow B in paint pen gives it away), an axle with a bad inner boot, a hammer, a 1/4" ratchet with a deep 8mm socket, 19mm wrench, flatblade screwdriver, plumbing snake, and some sort of pliers. Anyone know what kind they are?


Also a set of thrift store steel toed boots with the tag still on them. Too bad they're not my size.


There was also 4 Toyota ignition coils in there, a lot of heavy chain, and a split open battery. Pretty sure the drivers rear floor is covered in battery acid.


Fixed the flat tires and pushed it outside. Looks okay from this angle.


Now I have to decide if I want to spend $105 USD on an ebay performance clutch, or hope another stickshift Altima or Maxima show up at the U-pull and pull the trans in the snow.

I found a guy parting out a G35 and those clutches (G35/350Z) are supposed to be a slight upgrade over OEM but some people report clearance issues.  I offered $30, but he countered with $50. That would be a $38 USD budget hit. WWGRMD?

jdogg New Reader
11/16/19 9:29 p.m.

spend the money for the clutch, wear items should be replaced with new stuff, do it right. the OEM clutch for my probe is like double that and the one I need for the power I'm going to be making is like 500 bucks and I don't have a flywheel yet.

not a bad start, totally touring car fodder, I've always thought those were neat and you never see them its always the 2.5L model with an AT

TurnerX19 Dork
11/17/19 10:10 a.m.

Those pliers are for sheet metal folding or upholstery stretching. 

SVreX MegaDork
11/17/19 11:39 a.m.

Happy to he an enabler. wink

Run_Away Dork
12/15/19 2:04 p.m.

Bought some cheap headers


Pulled the transmission



Clutch is original and was fried.


Flywheel is dual-mass, which means resurfacing or replacing isn't really in the budget. I'm contemplating pulling the pins for the pressure plate and sanding it all down by hand with a piece of glass to try and keep it flat.


Still haven't made a decision on what I'm going to do for a clutch. There are brand new 350Z clutches on Amazon.com for $77, but quality is abviously suspect. There are also a couple OEM used clutches on ebay for around the same price, and the local guy with a used clutch. Or I can be patient and wait until spring for a manual Altima or Maxima to hit the U-pull yard and grab both the clutch and flywheel as a matched set. That's relying on a fair bit of luck though.

Professor_Brap Dork
12/15/19 4:01 p.m.

Doing a good job, this will be awesome!

Run_Away Dork
12/31/19 5:37 p.m.

Made a purchase.


$75 out of the budget. Looks like very low mileage in the pictures, we'll see when I pick it up.



This is the front runner for the actual challenge vehicle right now. Layed eyes on it a couple evenings ago and took the pics. It's a buddy's former DD. He bought an 8th gen Civic Si to replace it. He's planning on abandoning his SRT4 swap setup in his very clean 1g R/T because he's frustrated with getting MS to work and putting it back to stock with the DOHC/3.92 from this car. Feel free to add yourselves to the list of people telling him this is a terrible idea...


Only 65k miles


It's crustier than I'd like, but hard to beat the price and we're pretty familiar with setting them up for autox. I'll have to FMV it probably, but we're thinking weight of the shell sans drivetrain x scrap value?



There's a $300 Tercel coupe locally on facebook, but probably just as if not crustier. Also a now sold $900 X1/9 that might have been interesting, but I don't know if the chassis is competent enough to get where I want in a challenge budget.


exST165 Reader
1/1/20 10:04 p.m.

Cool build!  Where in Canada are you located?  There are a few of us in the west-end of the GTA (that is the Greater Toronto Area for those not familiar with Southern Ontario, nothing to do with the video game).

CanadianCD9A New Reader
1/2/20 11:39 p.m.

Somebody would probably pay $50 US for the cluster, which will increase the money you get from accepting the Neon in the first place.


(inside joke, sorry)

Also, Mag, if you're reading, N/A on the R/T is a terrible idea.

Run_Away Dork
1/11/20 11:30 p.m.

In reply to exST165 :

I am in Winnipeg!



Small update.

Won an auction

Also came with some wiring, a switch, and what appears to be a bottle nut along with an adapter fitting for a gauge. I know a heater could be budget exempt if I took it off before the pass, but maybe I'll sell it and keep the fittings.


Still keeping an eye out for a cheap nitrous kit locally. The kit I have in my Sentra I don't have receipts for most of it, but between what I paid for the kit and what it cost me to complete the kit I think I can do better by buying another.


Also doing some mental planning on what it would take to put Nissan power to the ground via Mopar knuckles. Just going to use this thead as a scrapbook for ideas.

According to the Rock Auto catalogue, the Sentra Spec V bearing has the same 1.575" inside bore as a Neon bearing. The Neon bearing however is 0.418" narrower. I could press Sentra hubs into a Neon bearing/knuckle with a spacer possibly. Brake caliper spacing is an unknown as the 1g Neon has the pad bracket integrated into the knuckle. Could get lucky. I'd also end up with the stupid 4x114 bolt pattern up front. This is also all assuming some combo of Sentra Spec V axles are a close enough length.

Going the other direction, an Altima/Maxima wheel bearing has the same 2.992" outer diameter as the Neon bearing. Again, the Nissan bearing is 0.394" wider than the Neon's, so pressing that hub/bearing combo into the knuckle would mean finding a way of securing the bearing since the factory snap ring groove would be covered. Brakes again are another hurdle.


The Neon also has several knuckle swap available, from 2nd gen Neons, PT Cruisers, SRT4s, and 91+ Shadow. I'm going to ignore the SRT stuff because I won't find that at the junkyard, and 2nd gen has the same brake setup as the 1g. PT cruiser and Shadow have a caliper with a removable bracket which would make spacing for rotor/hub differences easier.


PT Cruiser bearings have the same 2.992" outer diameter but the inner diameter nor the width match up with anything Nissan. Width is shorter than the Altima/Maxima by 0.158".

Shadows have a bolt in front hub/bearing, no specs listed for the hub sizing.

Altima/Maxima have 29 spline outer ends, Spec V has 27 spline. 1g Neon has 23 spline outers, PT/Shadow/2g are 26 spline. Inners don't match either. I suppose there's a slim chance the inner or outer joints have the same spline count on the shaft itself. Worst case is having to sleeve and weld axles together to make a custom set, but that's a pricey option as I don't have a lathe or TIG capabilities. A good catalogue of bearings and hubs by size would be real handy.




Can I recoup the cost of the fuel in the tank of the car? Noticed the Altima has over half a tank, that's like $30 in fuel.

Run_Away Dork
3/1/20 12:17 p.m.

Did a border run down to North Dakota.


Had to open up one box and ditch the packaging to safety pack it all into the VQ Sentra.


Challenge build related haul:

$123.96 USD headers


Nitrous parts.


$32.89 for a bottle heater with a bit of wiring, a micro switch, and a bottle nut with gauge adapter fitting. Bottom left in the pic, see above for the receipt.



$325 for the beat up looking nitrous kit on top of the cardboard box. Came with brackets, bottle, bottle heater, feed line, two solenoids, a purge solenoid, a fuel pressure gauge, and a fogger nozzle with 0.055 and 0.035 jets. I bought this kit first, thinking it was an okay deal, then bought the second because it was a better deal. Probably won't use this for the build, if I do it'll only be peices that I keep if I manage to sell off the rest of the kit.



$250 for the nicer looking NX kit. Came with one bracket, pressure gauge on the bottle, lines, two massive solenoids, fuel line T fitting, and a fogger nozzle with jets. One jet is marked "16" which I assume is 0.016, the other I couldnt' get apart by hand so I haven't checked yet.


There was a 3rd kit I almost bought for $250 that had some nice RPM and TPS window switches as well as a blow down tube, but I was kinda tapped out at that point. Sort of regret not getting it....

Run_Away Dork
3/1/20 12:38 p.m.

The Altima's flywheel was missing a dowel pin for the pressure plate so I dug the original flywheel for my Sentra out of the garage and stole one from it. Not sure if I need to budget that.


Hit the flywheel with a DA sander. Not ideal, but better than leaving it untouched I think.


The QR25 and VQ35 flywheels appear almost identical, with maybe a slightly smaller friction surface on the QR flywheel and it also lacks the timing ring. Might be a good upgrade for QR25 guys to get some extra clamping with cheap OEM parts.



Also dug out the QR25 clutch disk from the garage. Couldn't' find the pressure plate. Here's how they all compare


I bought the 350Z clutch for $50 plus $15 shipping for a total of $65 USD.



To my surprise the 350Z and Sentra Spec-V clutch disks have the same dimensions. The main difference is the Z disk has a sprung hub, while the Sentra hub is solid.


The Z and Sentra disk is smaller than the Altima disk. Rock Auto part catalogue shows the Z having a 250mm diameter disk and the Altima a 240mm disk, but clearly it's the opposite. Both clutches I'm 99% certain are OEM Nissan. Z on the left, Altima on the right.


The Z clutch I bought doesn't have much meat left on it.


My old Sentra clutch is in better shape. Some of that is probably the marcel spring on the Sentra disk looked a bit wider.


I noticed the Z pressure plate was damaged. Looking back on the eBay auction, the damage was there prior. I went ahead and installed it as is, which was a mistake.


I put in the 350Z stuff as is. I wasn't sure how to budget putting in the Sentra disk rather than the Z disk, and also didn't know how that would affect torque capacity. Isn't that more a function of the pressure plate? Obviously the Sentra made a lot less torque than a 350Z, I would think that meant the Z disc would hold more. But how much does the friction material differences gain given the same dimensions?

Run_Away Dork
3/1/20 12:54 p.m.

Tossed it back together. The Altima throw out bearing fork tabs were in rough shape. One side was broken, the other almost broken.


Car now moves under it's own power, but the clutch makes a huge racket when the pedal is all the way depressed. Pretty sure that broken tab on the pressure plate is beating the hell out of the release bearing.

A custom 2x4 pedal stopper is my temporary solution for that.


Not ideal but the car runs and drives now.

Gave it a wash.


The first test drive revealed a very noisy drivers front wheel bearing, and the passenger front caliper or hose is locked up. Was fine pushing the car around, but one trip around the block and it was smoking.


The total now is $224.28 USD for the car ($300 CAD for the car minus $3.44 in change found in car, times the exchange rate at time of purchase) and $65 USD for the clutch.


I have a $250 USD nitrous kit to install, and a set of $123.96 USD headers. Still waiting to find a lighter donor car, the above Neon is still in the lead. I'll probably try and find a better/cheaper clutch as well. As for right now, at least the car now moves under it's own power. I'm probably going to try and grab a good caliper from the junkyard to make it driveable on the road.

Run_Away Dork
3/8/20 7:46 p.m.

Went junkyarding this weekend.

This was cool:

Then I found this 1996 200SX without sunroof. I don't remember the last time I saw a B14 chassis driving around, especially this clean. Someone had already fixed the rust up once. Really wish I had had the opportunity to buy it before it hit the junkyard, it would have been perfect for my challenge build.

Someone had swapped the stock GA16 for an SR20 with a pretty valve cover, deleted the AC, added a header, and an aluminium crank pulley.

Also swapped in an NX digital dash

They didn't use any screws to fit the cluster in, and only twisted and taped the wire so I was able to pull it all out by hand without tools.

I don't really have a use for it, but it's too cool to pass up. Also a quick search of eBay completed listings showed this.

So not really challenge related, but a neat find and should make a decent profit if I don't find a use for it. I don't think the tach will play nice with the V6 engine, but maybe?


ECU appeared stock so I left that.

But I did grab a nice 3 position switch on the dash that had been wired to the fans.


Run_Away Dork
3/8/20 7:55 p.m.

Saturdays haul.

That's a left front knuckle and right front caliper for the Altima, some yellow fog lamp capsules (JDM y0!) from an old Acura TL, the NX digital cluster, and the aforementioned switch. If you have a keen eye you'll notice the 200SX also had coilovers...


Ran to work and swapped the RF caliper and LF knuckle on the Altima.


I had tried to be sneaky and bolt the caliper to the knuckle hoping they'd just charge me for the assembly but they charged me for everything. They tried to ding me $10 for the rusty old rotor so I left that at the yard. Total for that yard - went next door and got some truck stuff too, but that's for another thread.

Price in USD for the caliper and knuckle in case I end up using the knuckles/brakes or the Altima itself as the challenge vehicle. If I don't, I'll keep the old ones out of the scrap weight when I crush it.

Altima was running on 5 cylinders when I pulled it in. P0303 missfire cyl 3 was the code, which is the middle hole on the rear bank. Pulled it apart to play musical coils/plugs.


Plugs are worn but not bad.

Put it back together and the missfire followed the coil.

Today I went back to the yard and got the coilovers from the 200SX.

They're Tein Basics, which apparently have a 6k/320lb front and 5k/280lb rear rates. A bit mild for autox, but better than stock. I don't think I can easily adapt the rears to a Neon, but they're a possibility. I may try and put them on my Sentra too. First order of business is to try and get them moving. Here's what I paid


I also got another coil and a negative battery cable for the Altima, which they didn't charge me for. You'll notice further up that I have been using vicegrips to stick the remains of the negative battery cable to the post.

Stampie UltimaDork
3/8/20 8:05 p.m.

So your yard likes a nice even final price then works out the price of the parts?  Is it negotiable?


Professor_Brap Dork
3/8/20 8:33 p.m.

You can also use various minivan knuckles on neons also. 

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