After limping to Japfest, will we have a clear run to the Retro Rides Gathering?

Japfest was 3 weeks away and the engine still wouldn’t start.


We knew we had our work cut-out to get the Silvia on the road for Japfest Silverstone, but the relentless rain was really starting to slow progress. A few late nights in the dark wiring the battery, fuel pump, ECU and fitting coolant hoses got us to a point where the engine could attempt a first start.

A disheartening click, click, click is all the SR20DET would give us. Through more hours of swearing and head scratching, some iffy night time wiring was corrected and finally we heard our classic turbo skid machine fire in to life. As the oil got round the engine and the blue smoke cleared, the burden of worry eased. The engine sounded spot on.

The celebrations would have to wait as we pressed on with finishing the intercooler piping and started bolting the interior back in. Originally the intercooler was going to be lashed underneath the front bumper sticking out like a big old chin stud. During initial mock-up of this we opted to move it to fit in the lower grill opening, after realising the first position would leave the intercooler in speed hump striking distance.  A hole drilled in the old batter tray and another where an airbox used to sit and the intercooler was connected. Our engine was making choo choo noises in no time.


2 Weeks to go and the engine runs but the rear brakes are seized on and the clutch wont disengage.

Finally our top quality Chinese hydraulic handbrake arrived and we could get the retro-fitted Skyline R32 GTR brakes bled. Amazingly it all bled up easily, initially. Then I pulled the handbrake and the rear brakes seized on… Further head scratching and tea drinking revealed the need to adjust the off position of the handbrake, which was stopping the rear brakes releasing. With that fixed the brakes wouldn’t bleed up again. Some beard scratching and beer drinking revealed that someone, who’s name rhymes with Panthony, had fitted the front brake calipers back to front. Note to self always check the bleed nipples are at the top of the caliper!

Just to make sure I was really sick of bleeding things, the clutch wouldn’t release. The pedal felt ok but would not disengage the clutch. Eventually I sought enough people’s opinions to find the solution was a simple adjustment to the freeplay on the clutch pedal.


More late nights and a rainy weekend and the car was on the ground running, driving, stopping and turning.

1 week to go and the first drive is to the MOT garage.

Friday before Japfest (bank holiday Monday) and the final touches like seat belts, cooling fan switch and lights were lashed in for a maiden voyage to the MOT garage. With every spare part, tool and fluid loaded in the boot, just in case, the mighty old Silivia made it to MOT. It misfired all the way there and all the way back, but crucially didn’t breakdown. On the odd occasion the misfire cleared I was thrown up the road in a raucous mixture or exhaust rasp, turbo woosh and differential drone. This thing is fast. The standard car weighs in around 1100kg, strip the interior out the back replace the engine with a lighter modern unit with 50% more HP in stock form and the result is superb. Yeah it might not have the road holding or refinement of the modern car the engine came from, but that just makes it feel even faster.



The final goal to achieve, clean the greasy finger prints off and make it the 140mile round trip to Silverstone for Japfest. The original aim to get out the track session was side-lined due to the misfire. The whole way to Silverstone and back, I tried to diagnose the problem. Even now a few months on I continue the diagnosis. As soon as boost comes you get a flat response, holding a consistent 7psi of boost until sometimes eventually at higher revs it clears and you travel at warp speed to the rev limiter. The Silvia drew a good amount of interest at Japfest and even started an impromptu group diagnosis with a collection of helpful show goers.


The next aim is to fix the misfire, adjust the rear diff as it is a bit tight at the moment and get out for the Retro Rides Gathering at Shelsley Walsh in 2 weeks time…

The Subaru performed admirably, as always.



Thanks to CMatthews Photography

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at
%d bloggers like this: