With the wide fenders trimmed and test-fitted, it was time for John to bust out the cutting tools and prep the wheel wells and OE fenders for final installation. As you can see, this step takes commitment because you need to enlarge the wheel well openings and patch it up so that it’s structurally sound and closed off to prevent rust or airflow penetration. This is a standard part of the wide body experience if you want to go wide the right way and make as much room as possible for some seriously wide wheels and tires. With his vintage 17×9.5 (f) and 17×11.5 (r) HRE wheels and stock fenders, John was running 225’s up front and 275’s out back, and now with his custom wide body and CCW 18×11 (f) and 18×13 (r) wheels he’s running BFGoodrich g-Force Rival 275’s up front and 315’s out back, with room to spare.
I think you’ll agree the finished look is absolutely stunning. From John’s perspective, “Now that its all together I’m about 95% happy with everything. The highlights are absolutely perfect, being a design sculptor for a living, I always strive to achieve excellent highlights. The fitment is near perfect. This was extremely difficult as I didn’t have the proper wheel base set in the data. Also, when the wheels turn for steering, things become tricky, but luckily the front came out exceptionally well. The rear is very close, too. I wasn’t really trying for the hellaflush look, so I left a little room for wider tires on both the front and rear.”
Looks aside, the real question is, how does the car corner now that its gone wide? As John put it, ” The handling is now ridiculous. I can beat GTRs in corners now, especially in autocross. I couldn’t be happier with the performance. Even the braking has improved drastically, not only grip but heat management too. The old wheels did not allow for proper airflow to the brakes, so I would have to rebuild my calipers after every event. Not anymore. From here, its a decent starting point. I will test with 315’s up front once I feel I can’t get any faster with the current setup. It’s really just more testing and tuning from this point.”
As far as any downside to going wide, John had this to add. “The only thing I’ve noticed so far is mild power steering loss after a few laps or in really tight sections. I recently added a power steering cooler and that seems to have cured the problem. But I don’t even try to turn the wheel if I’m not moving. It’s very difficult. But once the car is rolling, its easier than my stock 240sx, surprisingly light and agile. The weight of the wheels and tires are exactly the same as my old 17” setup. The classic HREs were very heavy to say the least. As for the suspension, I’ve noticed that I can run it a bit stiffer than before with the same results, but it really depends on the track. I’ve only run 2 events so far on this setup, so there’s a lot of room improvement.”
John’s starting to remind us of Japanese Time Attack legend Under Suzuki, because he’s not done developing his Starquest. Not by a long shot! “My to-do list is long. After SEMA and GTA Super Lap Battle, the car is getting a full rebuild. The engine is coming out and will be built with near twice the power it has now. I’ll be cutting off the front clip too and rebuilding it tubular style. Tons more aero improvements on the way as well. If I don’t win this year at the Optima Utlimate Street Car Invitational, I will be back swinging for the fences next year with a far better car.” Man, we like the sound of that!