At 354bhp and 303 ft/lb of torque, the Pink Pao is easily the world’s fastest, most powerful Pao* — maybe even the most powerful K10 chassis’d Nissan/Pike Factory car.
Why are we writing about our car again, and not pens or ink or book covers? Well, you may remember, good readers, that when we imported our little pink car from Japan in 2017, we knew we’d adopted something a bit ornery and special which would require us to maintain a certain lifestyle for it.
The blog that recorded the first few months of the car’s life in the UK can be seen here, but this is the next chapter, detailing what we’ve done since with our Nissan Pao x Silvia SR20DET-engined machine. If you’ve read my blogs before, or follow me on any socials, you’ll know that we keep a small fleet of ‘interesting’ Japanese vehicles, and if that’s your thing too, you can follow us on Instagram at @inkymolesmotors.
Like any of our projects, this was something we put ourselves and our energy into. People LOVE this car and smile and laugh wherever we take it, laughing in disbelief as we tell them the current bhp, as the sun bouncing off the wheels blinds them and the little kids point at the pink and coo. Just like our gallery, our shows, records, our chocolate projects and our radio stations before it, and everything else that’s to come, we know that our projects often give other people enjoyment; they’re neither designed to make money (though they sometimes do), nor to satisfy any brief but our own. And it’s not like we started this project with a brief, I think with this one we’re writing that as we go along!
Both a show car, a driving-wherever-you-want car and a potential track car, this beastie emerged from its time with Dynodaze a much-improved and upgraded version of itself; a makeover of the likes seen in car programmes on the telly: stronger, safer, faster, tidier, cleaner, more stylish, but still very much the one-of-a-kind car that first attracted us to an auction thousands of miles away.
So, for those who share a penchant for the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) car scene: here’s what happened next.
~ THE BIG STUFF ~
On track at Silverstone in the summer of 2018 we were into only our second lap when the engine thrust out one of those noises that you Do Not Want To Hear. Being of unknown age, around 30 years old and subjected to who knew what kind of life, the original SR20DET had finally given in.
That was the end of our track day, but it was the beginning of a new engine era: a trip to JDM Garage allowed us to review the four rebuilt engines on offer there, glinting in the window. The chosen engine went in with a GT28 turbo, a new flywheel, stage 3 clutch and a winged sump.
While the engine was being swapped, the gearbox was subjected to an overhaul as well as the diff; new brake discs and pads, and we changed out the alternator.
Do we buy this one? Or this one?
We knew that we’d need a roll cage fitted as the car got faster and more powerful, so we asked HDF Motorsport to build one for us. One of the most awkward installs of his life, the tight spaces of the Pao required yoga-like welding moves for 6' 2" owner Billy.
Wafting about the HDF premises like it works there.
‘A Comfortable Working Environment’
Cage in progress.
The car made its way from Japan on red and silver 1980s Star Sharks, and although we were fond of these and the fact they were a recognisable link with ‘the car that Nomuken drove on TV’, they were tired and had suffered in their very long lives. We took them to Isaac Brain at Rimscarnated who treated them to a full restoration, widening the back rims by half an inch and blasting off the old red paint. The rims were polished to a ludicrous high-maintenance gleam (we use Peek cream to keep them shiny) while the red paint was replaced by one of over 100 silver paint options — the choosing alone took over two hours, comparing swatches and shades.
And the finishing touch was a single pink stud, hand-painted with enamel by Mole (took me HOURS) and fresh centre caps.
Here are some gratuitous shots:
Progress shot by Rimscarnated
Centre caps by Barrel Bros.
This original pink was close, but not close enough, so was swapped for a near-perfect matched ‘Pink 200’ by Humbrol Enamel, hand-painted on.
Photograph by Rimscarnated
Photograph by Rimscarnated
(We made him some stickers to say thanks.)
In a bid for better night vision and ‘to help people see’ the hard-to-spot noisy pink thing hooning down the road, we swapped the factory headlamps for LED versions, more commonly seen on a Jeep. They’re an almost perfect fit, and give flexibility with their very human-like ring option or full loving gaze:
Since it had always bugged us that the wheel arches made the car look like it was floating way above its wheels when viewed from a distance, we got them painted in matching Hellrosa (an 80s Mercedes colour) by Keith Ellis at Uncle Keith’s Paintshop.
They’d needed a bit of a wriggle to get them to fit, and they’re still not a super-slick match to the car, but it looks so much more ‘together’ now — especially from across the track.
The car’s also been fitted with a Tein EDFC coilover suspension system which totally revolutionised the handling. Our first words on returning from a post-fit test drive were “it drives like a normal car!”
More stable, level, comfy and highly adaptable due to its myriad setting options, the car did indeed go from feeling like a lairy unpredictable bounce-fest to a comfy ride you’d be happy to give Great-Grandma a lift to the track in.
And of course, the tiny control box LEDs have been set to pink.
We’d bought a tired donor Pao a couple of years ago and kept the door cards, which we hacked hard to modify into a fit for Pink Pao (which had had its battered cards removed early on to allow for roll cage fitting and other work). Serious chopping and slicing was needed to fit them around relocated handles, but once painted Hellrosa-pink and put in place, they brought the car another step closer to ‘comfy’.
We added a Sinco digital dashboard for easier, more immediate sight of the vitals while driving.
~ THE SMALLER STUFF ~
We re-painted the faded gear knob it came with — a MAC screwdriver handle — in Hellrosa and picked out the lettering in permanent black. Much better!
Rather than replace the wheel it came with, which is a bit tired but wearing its Japanese drift history with stoicism, we gave the empty horn push centre an identity of its own.
We ordered a stock horn push, took out the badly-printed ‘Nissan’ logo and replaced it with our own. Since the car is a half-S13 half Pao Francarnstein, we designed a ‘Paovia’ logo in the style of the Silvia marque and printed it on a brushed aluminium stock.
The teeny pull-back-and-go toy Pao we bought from Japan, which arrived in fugly yuckpink, was repainted to match its real-life counterpart!
Tiny Pao now lives on the dashboard.
Original body shell
Proper pinked (Elgrands and Carry van parked behind it in the desktop car park).
RIP BACK AND GO
~ THE NUMBERS ~
354bhp / 303 ft/lb. Here’s the most recent dyno print out.
*Ours is certainly only one of two rear-wheel drive Paos in the world, the other is currently being finished in the US by the brave (and now probably empty-pocketed) Roman Vasquez.
Roman went for 13B rotary power and is currently naturally aspirated, but we know that a satisfyingly big turbo is on the horizon next year!
2020 wasn’t the most fruitful year for car shows, but we really didn’t do too badly considering. As well as some Exclusive JDM events and a couple of pre-covid track sessions, Pink Pao’s last public outing of the year was at a double Exclusive JDM / Go Japan! weekend in September 2020.
With its new bits all in place, Connor at Exclusive JDM kindly invited us and Pink Pao (along with Blue Pao) back for a third time in a year, somehow managing to pull off well-organised and welcoming events in a very difficult pandemic landscape. New to the car show world, Connor’s events have a ‘less is more’ approach with a hand-picked roster of cars representing the full spectrum of JDM machines. This particular weekend he had a post-rainstorm slot at Yakushi! which saw both Paos side by side on an only mildly treacherous grassy slope, the sun beaming down for 8 hours.
Pinkymole was invited to be part of the ‘JDM Legends’ stand at Go Japan! where we got to take part in the parade: a selection of infamous drift, rare/tuned and show cars taking to the iconic British track accompanied by a lively commentary detailing the specification and history of each one.
Streamed live on the day, Leigh drove the first parade and Sarah the second, alongside the Ayrton Senna NSX, the HKS Hiper Genki S15 and Blitz Nissan Skyline R34 drift car (owned by Garage-D), a rare Subaru SVX, the V8-powered Fujin Nissan GT-R, the Winfield R32 Skyline replica and a beast of a Porsche 911, with enthusiastic commentary by a narrator who was clearly a fan of the car. Sun-drenched visitors were treated to a mini-drift display while given plenty of time to enjoy the cars cruising past.
Scroll down to watch!
At the time of writing, like all loving built-not-bought car owners, we’ve got a pile of plans as long as your lockdown to-do list, and we hope to be through most of them by the mid-to-late summer when the car shows reopen for business — and at that point we’ll probably be ready to write Pink Pao Blog Part III!
From where we sit right now on a rainy dull February day that all feels like a long way off, but we hope you enjoyed this run-down, and we’re really looking forward to meeting people again in the outdoors with an overpriced coffee; fumbling with sunglasses with one hand and a dyno print-out in the other.
Thanks again to everyone mentioned in this blog who’s helped us get the car where we want it to be -sorry about the cuts/burns/strains/scraped knuckles — and everyone we might have unintentionally omitted.