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sethmeister4 Dork
1/2/15 11:36 a.m.

Let my first Challenge build begin!

I finally decided that I was tired of talking about coming to the Challenge, and it was time to actually do it. I have a love for 4th gen (95-99) Maximas, so I thought I would start looking for one of those to build, preferably with a 5-spd. I sold my '95 back in July of 2013, and have regretted it ever since. My wife and I bought it a few months after we got married in '06, and it stayed with us until '13. We went on lots of road trips in it (including to spectate at the $2006 Challenge), brought our son home from the hospital in it, and generally made it part of the family. In those 7 years, we put ~110k miles on it. I sold it to fund a 280Z project, which fizzled out rather quickly. Anyway, to make a long story short, as I was perusing the List of Craig's a couple months back for Maximas, what do I see but my old Maxima?! Sure enough, there it was. And for the low, low price of $750. Apparently the college-aged girl I sold it to didn't love it as much as I did, and proceeded to jack it up pretty good. I went and looked at it, offered her $300, and she countered with $500. I picked it up today with a buddy, so I knew it was time to start a build thread!

I think this will be the first Maxima to ever grace a $20xx Challenge with its presence, and I hope it does well. I don't expect to win, nor am I trying to, but a solid showing would be nice. The parts I previously put on the car are still on it (strut bar, TEIN springs, Infiniti 17" wheels), but it's going to need some lovin'. I'm pretty sure it needs a motor (it has 230k on it now, and most likely a blown head gasket or two), and I will probably gut it to get the cigarette smell out. Once it's running and driving it will become my DD, though, so it has to stay somewhat livable.

The short list of items to fix are a new/used engine, an aftermarket Y-pipe (supposedly one of the best bolt on upgrades for these cars), and general clean up. Any junkyard mods I can come up with WILL be used. Let the hunt for a motor begin!

$500 for vehicle purchase

Previous damage from a run-in with a pole. I replaced the door, but didn't fix the dogleg. Not sure yet what I'll do with that...

The one downside is that it's an automatic. My nostalgia for having my car back and taking it to the Challenge is enough for me to overcome this.

This thing is so nasty...the carpet was fairly clean when I sold it!

Not sure what happened to the arm rest...

ebonyandivory SuperDork
1/2/15 12:45 p.m.

Watching with interest! Sounds like it's gonna be fun !

(While reading on my small iPhone screen, that second pic looked like there was a dead coyote on the floor behind your seat! Probably because I had a picture of one on my phone: [URL=http://s265.photobucket.com/user/derekrichardson/media/Mobile%20Uploads/image-97.jpg.html][/URL]

sethmeister4 Dork
1/2/15 4:41 p.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory:

Yup, should be a blast! No dead coyotes, thankfully.

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
1/2/15 4:42 p.m.

Well that doesn't look like an MX6 at all!

sethmeister4 Dork
1/2/15 4:44 p.m.

In reply to Swank Force One:

Haha, definitely not. I haven't looked for an MX6 in a while. The Challenge needs more Maxima... I'll let you guys keep carrying the MX6 torch. One day I'll get one though.

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition Dork
1/2/15 5:16 p.m.

I had a '95 that I bought new. Great car, if a little dull on the styling. The ex got it in the divorce and proceeded to beat the crap out of it. Got in several accidents. In the last one she rear-ended a BMW. She couldn't get the hood open after that and apparently ignored a coolant leak. Eventually she overheated it and killed it. Besides her abuse, the only non-regular-maintenance repair was new CV joints. Have fun with that, I'll be rooting for you!

sethmeister4 Dork
1/2/15 6:41 p.m.

In reply to Basil Exposition:

Thanks! This had 209k on it when I sold it, has 230k now. I'm sure it would still be running had I not sold it, but I fully intend to revive it and drive it into the ground!

echoechoecho New Reader
1/2/15 7:57 p.m.

I learned to drive in my moms 93 Maxima SE, man that thing was fun to drive. If you are doing a junkyard swap i would look for a VE30DE from a 5 speed 3rd gen maxima se. variable valve timing, dual length intake manifold, stock limited-slip differential. i think its worth the extra work of swapping the auto out for a 5 speed. only bad thing is the VE30DE is 100lbs heavier.

NGTD SuperDork
1/2/15 8:57 p.m.

You really need to keep the fuzzy pink steering wheel cover for the Challenge!!!

DILYSI Dave MegaDork
1/2/15 10:17 p.m.

+1 for newer swap with manual. Could make for a pretty potent combo.

sethmeister4 Dork
1/3/15 1:17 a.m.

Believe me, a 3.5 swap from a newer Nissan has been on my mind. It's hard to find a 3.5 for cheap though (think $800-1500 vs. $300-500 or maybe less for a 3.0), and doing the swap is more than I want to mess with. Plus I kind of like being the underdog. Maybe someday, but not now. A 5-SPD swap may happen, but its not at the top of the priority list. Think of my build as what GRM should have done instead of the Camry-this is truly a grandma car-beige, automatic grocery getter. This one will be gutted (partly) and rocking slicks though.

The VE30 is cool, but WAY too rare to think about swapping in. Plus, a stock VQ30 makes the same power and has lots more of an aftermarket, albeit not huge. If I was going to swap, I would move forward to a 3.5, not back.

DILYSI Dave MegaDork
1/3/15 8:12 p.m.


sethmeister4 Dork
1/3/15 10:22 p.m.

In reply to DILYSI Dave:

Haha, thanks for the links. The 3rd link is interesting because that is a bolt-in swap I think. Still a VQ30, but it has the variable intake. Power difference was 222 HP vs. 190 on an older 3.0. Not sure if it's worth doing though with 218k on it. The first link seems like a great price for a 3.5, but I really think at this point my most realistic goal for this is to get it on the road with a solid, reliable stock motor and go from there. Plus my wife will appreciate me getting it running and DD'ing ASAP, so I'm trying to be realistic too. Plans can always change though.

irish44j PowerDork
1/3/15 11:02 p.m.
sethmeister4 wrote: The one downside is that it's an automatic.

um, I see another downside too. Hint: it's round.

irish44j PowerDork
1/3/15 11:06 p.m.

Another year or two and I bet I could buy back my old Maxima as well. I still know the guy that bought it. It has all kinds of goodies. Hell, I sold it to him for like $4k and that was 6 years ago!

OP: one great cheap mod you can do to a Maxima (especially a 4th gen): 3 or 4-point subframe braces with a crossbrace. That's a pretty noodly chassis, and some SFCs make the car so much better in every way. And for Challenge, you could really do it for basically the cost of scrap metal if you're able to weld :)

If interested, LMK. I'll dig up my old information on it.

Also, bend the rear axle for camber. Look on maxima.org. There's a guy who does them here on the east coast.

sethmeister4 Dork
1/4/15 6:03 a.m.

In reply to irish44j:

Thanks Irish! Haha, I assume you're talking about the steering wheel cover... Yes, it will be going ASAP. It's nasty dirty and reeks of cigarettes.

That SFC info would be awesome if you have it. I'll PM you too in case you don't see this. Could you just use alignment shims in the back to get camber instead of bending the axle? I'm going to try to hunt down any guys who have nationally prepped Maximas in the past for autox and try to get some info from them on cheap upgrades too. I'm excited to make this thing as cool as possible!

wvumtnbkr Dork
1/4/15 8:22 a.m.

If spending time and money on an engine to put in car, please swap or upgrade now! You will regret it if you dont! rob r.

sethmeister4 Dork
1/4/15 1:17 p.m.

In reply to wvumtnbkr:

If the stock motor in these was crap, I probably would feel more of an urge to upgrade/swap. But, the VQ30 is a fantastic motor, and I want to get this thing running and driving as quickly and easily (and cheaply) as possible. A 3.5 swap is not really any of those things, and most of the guys I have seen/read about online that have done the swap still have drivability issues (cold start problems, too rich, too lean, etc.). I'm looking to have a cheap, reliable, yet surprisingly quick and fun sporty sedan. A 5-spd LSD swap would be more important to me than the motor swap...maybe the next time I need a motor I'll do the swap.

sethmeister4 Dork
1/5/15 11:59 a.m.

I started making a rough "Build Sheet" last night, and wow, I have some work to do. I'm hoping to score some good used deals, but some things I will just have to buy new--I will probably replace the timing chain set-up and water pump and assorted gaskets in any used engine I get, so that stuff will be purchased new. Can't wait to get cracking on this! I will be regularly hunting Craigslist for an engine, that is for sure!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/5/15 12:41 p.m.

Bring it!

ssswitch Reader
1/5/15 9:59 p.m.

I love this generation of Maxima. A great engine and a surprisingly competent chassis. I'd find it hard to change anything other than swaybars and tires.

Really excited to see what you're going to do. Can you make a VG30DE turbo on the cheap with Z31 turbo parts? There are so many of those rusted out in the local market that I smell a powertrain deal.

AClockworkGarage New Reader
1/5/15 10:50 p.m.

You remind me of me. Not bringing "The car that will win" rather "The car that I like." I'll see you in October.

sethmeister4 Dork
1/6/15 12:47 a.m.

In reply to ssswitch:

This is a VQ car, so the VG Z31 stuff is totally different.

In reply to AClockworkGarage:

Yup, that's me. Although, I'm sure I should be able to surprise a few people if I can stiffen the chassis, add a little power, and get some good tires on her. I guess we'll see.

sethmeister4 Dork
1/7/15 12:31 a.m.

Man I can't wait to get this thing going! Every time I head out for work in my other car, I see this sitting there just looking at me.

sethmeister4 Dork
1/13/15 12:45 a.m.

I'm starting to rethink the 3.5 swap...a little more research shows it's not too difficult, and I may have found a motor locally for a good price.

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