Old Favorites & Unique Racers: The Coolest Builds from Import Face-Off
Now that we've set the scene that was the Import Face-Off 2018 at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, it’s time for a breakdown of our favorite cars from both the drag racing portion of the event and the show and shine. While the staging lanes were dominated by Honda Civics in various states of modification, there was much more to the event than that. Here are our favorites.
240SXs for the 1320
Drifting may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Nissan 240SX, but Import Face-Off featured a couple different S-chassis that were built specifically for quarter mile action.
One of them was this S14 on slicks and skinnies, which was packing not SR20 or LS power under the hood, but a built Toyota 2JZ. Given that the 2JZ-powered Supra has long been a popular drag platform, it’s only natural that you’d get great results with the same motor in the lighter, more affordable Nissan.
Over in the car show area we found another 2JZ-swapped 240SX that was getting a lot of attention—this one a red S13 hatchback wearing JDM 180SX Type X aero parts.
The car had an especially cool look with its factory styling. The clean presentation blended beautifully with a unique combo of Desmond Regamasters up front and Weld drag racing wheels out back.
Whether it’s drifting, time attack or drag racing, these cars are just a couple more reasons why the 240SX is one of the world’s most popular and versatile tuning platforms—even if the powerplant happens to be from Toyota.
If you followed the sport compact scene in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, you might remember just how popular the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon were among those looking to go fast for cheap.
Today you don’t hear as many people talking about the DSM cars, but it was nice to see a few examples hitting the track at Import Face-Off, including this first gen Eclipse GSX.
With Mitsubishi’s legendary 4G63 under the hood, available AWD and a relatively light curb weight, a used first gen DSM is one of the best performance bargains around, and we wouldn’t hesitate to put it into the “future classic” category.
Others might be partial to the looks of the second generation cars, which have an equally high chance of, as they get older, becoming more sought after and harder to find in clean condition.
For now though, it’s nice to see the DSM platform still getting love from racers, and the ETs they're capable of today are every bit as impressive as they were back in the day.
"A Taste of Japan" Nissan Laurel
Over in the car show area, we found one car that couldn't be more different from the sea of drag machines—a C33 chassis Nissan Laurel straight from Japan with some healthy RB power under the hood.
Now that the import flood gates have been opened, it's not nearly as rare to see JDM vehicles at events and meets, but this four-door Nissan still managed to stand out in a big way.
We just can't help but love the factory style two-tone paint, Work Equip wheels and most of all the unique four-door hardtop bodylines.
With the sound of cars ripping down the quarter mile just yards away, we couldn't help but wonder what kind of ETs a car like this would be capable of putting down.
Or maybe it would just manji the whole way down the track?
Not Your Typical Honda Drag Racer
Without a doubt the most popular race car at Import Face-Off was the Honda Civic, but Civics weren't the only Honda models taking to the track.
This fourth gen CB-chassis Accord Coupe may have been the most unusual Honda running.
While this generation of Accord was only offered with SOHC four cylinder engines in the US, this one has had its original engine swapped out for a Honda J-series V6 mated to a manual transmission. Check out the way the engine pops out of the hood in old school street machine fashion.
Honda's V6 engines might be some of the most under-appreciated engines out there. When swapped into an older, lightweight chassis like this one, the performance can be downright impressive.
How did it do on the track? On the run we saw, it went through the traps to the tune of 12.2 seconds at nearly 117 mph. Not bad for an old Accord, eh?
Last but not least, we have a pair of cars that were big crowd favorites all day long—two TE72 Toyota Corollas from Del Monte Performance in San Bernardino.
While vintage Toyotas drag cars are quite big in the East Coast drag scene, you don’t see nearly as many here in California. That’s one reason why they were getting so much attention at Famoso.
The other reason? They were wickedly quick, both powered by fully built and turbocharged 2RZ four cylinder engines mated to drag-spec automatic transmissions. This was all good for ETs that were into the high eight second range.
Not only did this make the Corollas some of the fastest cars at the event, but they were also some of the most entertaining to watch with their short wheelbases and wheels-up launches.
Watching the former economy cars go through the traps at over 150 mph was easily one of highlights of an interesting day spent at the drag strip.