Words and Photography: Jonny Smith
Occasionally people pop up into your life by chance. Back in 2017 it was my second trip over to H2Oi. I got to meet all the friends I had seen the year before and also had Adam King along for the ride. We had a bigger group that year, meaning more people to meet. One of those was Luke. One evening me and Adam didn't want the night to end. We both were loving the atmosphere. From the group Luke offered for us both to jump in his car and drive up and down the strip at Ocean City. At this time Luke had a supercharged his EP3. It was fun him pulling on the strip with the noise of the charger. Many hours passed with a stop or two on 121st Street at the best gas stations in the USA, Wawa. Pulling up there were always cool cars to see. One time we did 2 very clean NSX's were there topping up and grabbing some midnight brunch. We conversed about many topics, laughed a lot and by the early hours of the next morning we were knackered. 2017 was a fantastic second trip. Another one I came away with more memories and friends across the pond.
From that first week of meeting Luke, one thing that struck me and was obvious from the get go was his passion for cars, especially Japanese. The level of detail he would talk about topics was mesmerising. You could tell that he loved cars through and through.
On returning trips I would stop by and have quick catch ups whilst in the Connecticut area. But 2019 was the year we both hung out a lot more. Luke lives with Sammy at Sammy's at the time newly acquired house. They've got quite the set-up. Sammy straight away got to building the perfect garage after moving in. It was the first time in our 4 years on friendship that I got to see his drift car, even if it still was broken and not running.
Along with his Honda EP3, Luke owns a 1990 240sx. Built for one main purpose drifting it has served him well for many Lock City and other drift events. A lot of Luke's younger years was be watching many drift videos from Japan. The early days of D1 Championship, Video Option Mag and Sunpros videos. You can see this influence in his own car straight away. To me it looks like a car seen in one of those early 00's DVDs, paused and plucked straight out of the screen.
Luke has had this car along time. Primarily built for drifting, it has served him well all these years. The friendships and experiences the car has given him is priceless. One of Luke's favourite memories was years back drifting a demo at Thompson Raceway with a good friend Dave O'Leary for the Broke East Car show. Luke was telling me Dave was taking a much wider and exciting line so Luke wanted to follow and join in. Unfortunately Luke's hand brake wasn't working well so Luke couldn't do the same line but realised if he did the normal line he could cut under and pass Dave who would then tuck back tight behind him. They did this manoeuvre a few times and the crowd loved it.
Upfront we have the JDM Silvia front end with brick headlights. I always sway from which 180/240 model is my favourite. From the days of discovering Initial D I've always swayed towards the Sil80 look because of Mako Sato's car, so I am naturally drawn to Luke's. K's aero front bumper and D-Max hood round off the front end. A set of 180sx Chuki side skirts, D-Max clear markers, OEM rain visors and Gandor aero mirrors give a period correct side profile, whilst at the back the ever popular Kouki 180sx rear lights and valence complete the look. Speaking of Luke's attention to detail and love for cars, watching one of Jimmy Oakes videos, where he buys a selection of new old Nissan stock for his own 240sx, you can see the excitement and appreciation Luke had for those parts, so I can only imagine how Luke felt when he received the parts for his own car.
A set of Bridgestone Creative Studio B.I.M Zeit R wheels in 17x8.5 and 17x 9.5 sit under the arches. Dropping the car Luke has installed a set of Kei Office coilovers. Other parts of the suspension set-up have been upgraded. PBM knuckles offer more front lock. Touge Factory outer rods, GK Tech inner tie rods and PBM tension rods all the keep the car we aligned. Energy Suspension Bushing have been fitted all around the car too. This all helps when Luke takes the car drifting.
Under the hood is a special place. Luke is very knowledgeable when it comes to this part of his car. I've seen him comment on other peoples cars when they either have a new idea or if they're having a hard time working out a gremlin. He's always there, thoroughly thinking of ways to help and offer advice.
At the time of my visit then engine was going through some maintenance and upgrades, and Luke himself was working out some issues. The SR20 has been fully built inside. It's quite the list of parts. Eagle rods, JE FSR Pistons 87mm 8.5:1 compression ratio, Tomei oil pan, Apexi 1.1mm head gasket, S13 high port head, fully ported intake and exhaust, Supertech +1mm Stainless Steel intake valves, Inconel exhaust valves, Brian Crower spring and titanium retainers, Brian crower 264 cams, Radium Fuel rail with Fuel Pulse Damper, Direct Mount Fuel Regulator, Deatsch Werks 700cc top feed injectors, Taarks R35 GT-R coil pack conversion, Taarks power steering pump relocation, Tomei Arms M8270 turbo, Tial MV-S 38mm wastegate, Custom turbo manifold, PBM Cobra downpipe.
Inside, it's a simple and well weathered setup with the one thing in mind, to give a comfortable place to sit whilst getting the all important seat time. A factor that is crucial to improving your driving. To many times you see people building these crazy cars that in theory would drift really well, but the person behind the seat doesn't have the experience. For years Luke would just drive to rack up those hours as time went on, and upgrade parts when either he felt it would contribute to improving his driving, or replacing a broken part.
Buddy Club P1 drivers seat and a classic Nardi Steering wheel. Yashio Factory shift knob and turn knobs. AEM gauges and AEM Series 2 ECU. To complete the very early 00's vibe, a banging JBL Flip 5 sound system.
Since taking these photos and me finally writing this, Luke got the car running again. With the help of friends, Jean Paul, Sammy Deiwert, Jimmy Oakes, Jamie Marsh and John Cahill the car managed to make it to a few last drift events on the East Coast for the remaining 2021 season and all ready to start driving again in 2022. Hopefully I'll be able to get back over there early 2022 for the first events and grab more updated content of Lukes and the many other cars that attend. Until then, be careful near cliff edges. You wooden believe what these two branched off to do this day.