Back in 2012, Omar Cabrera bought his dream car – an S14A. since then it’s been on a constant journey of modification, with each distinct look building on the success of the last. That’s evolution baby. Here’s his modified S14A Silvia.
Feature taken from Banzai magazine. Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Viktor Benyi
It’s often said that the lifecycle of the human being can be neatly subdivided into four distinct phases. The first phase is birth, infancy and childhood, the time when you’re beginning from a blank slate and learning all of your reference points from scratch. Phase two is adolescence and early adulthood – the period when you learn to stand on your own two feet and really grow into being your own person. The third phase is adulthood, mid-life and mature adulthood – the meaty bit of your existence when you mark out all of your main achievements. And the fourth stage is retirement and old age, the time when you look back over your existence with the wisdom of years. If you’ve procreated at some point then the lifecycle can begin anew with your offspring; if not, you cash in your chips and that’s you done. A life well lived.
With all this in mind, we can satisfyingly consider Omar Cabrera’s Nissan 240SX to act as an interesting symbol for the very nature of life itself. You see, this is a project that’s developed over a number of years through various distinct phases, each one identifiable by its unique characteristics, and each acting as a learning stage to push onward to the next evolutionary step. “I’ve pretty much been building cars since I was in my teen years,” he explains. “I started out with S13s, and eventually got the car of my dreams – the S14A – back in 2012. When I bought this car it was a bone-stock, family-owned example, and the only flaws it had were a bent front lower control arm and the odd spot of oxidised paint.”
A solid starting point, for sure – and since this had been Omar’s dream car since he was ten years old, he had a pretty clear vision of what he wanted it to become. We can look on this as the first lifecycle phase of the S14A build, the infancy stage; he started out with the usual touchpoints, wheels and coilovers and some aero parts, before carrying out a kouki conversion with yet more OEM aero.
Then things started to level up: “Since the car was black and had the horrible oxidised paint, I decided to do a colour change,” he recalls. “I ended up painting it red, and got some new rims for it when it came back from paint – a set of white WORK VS KF wheels – and that was my phase two setup.” It certainly made a bold statement, as the colour he’d chosen was a shade of red from the Lamborghini Aventador palette. The project’s adolescent stage was progressing into adulthood in fine style. And with the car’s stature growing, so were the aspirations.
“After attending plenty of big shows with the car, it just pushed me harder and I wanted my Nissan to really kill the competition,” he recalls. “I started planning my phase three evolution, and it wasn’t going to be an easy task. So I decided to do the right-hand-drive conversion…”
Now, this is a pretty bold way for the build to step firmly into its own personal interpretation of adulthood. You see, authenticity is a powerful tool; peeping through the window of this car today, you’ll spot that the steering wheel is indeed now on the ‘correct’ right-hand side, which is wholly at odds with the California license plates. This is a USDM 240SX that’s been reconfigured back to JDM layout, and it takes a huge amount of work to do this; it’s not just a case of swapping in a new dash, you’ve got to get down and dirty with linkages and columns and pedals and all sorts, but the kudos points among the aficionados make it all more than worthwhile. Driving a right-hand drive Japanese car in the USA carries a lot of respect: everyone knows you’ve had to put the graft in, and get it inspected and blue-tagged by the authorities to prove it’s legit. The quality of work here really is outstanding too, there are no squeaks or rattles or whiffs of adhesive like you find in a lot of backstreet lash-ups, Omar’s modified S14A Silvia sports OEM-like levels of fit-and-finish.
This third phase also saw some other seismic alterations, not least a set of Art In Motion MA5 wheels and Recaro SPG seats. “I attended more shows, and took home some wins and some losses,” he continues. “And I knew that in order for me to start winning even more, my stock motor had to come out.”
And so we arrive at the fourth life stage; for humankind this is the point at which we re-evaluate our past decisions from a timeworn perspective of wisdom; for the S14A, it meant a heart transplant. And Omar went all-in, balls-to-the-wall with this one, swapping in an RB26 straight-six from a Nissan Skyline GT-R. Which is a pretty aggressive way to behave.
As you might imagine, the car was wowing the populace and scooping all manner of silverware by this point. A fitting way for the project to reach the conclusion of its lifecycle and slip into retirement, yes? Ah, well, no actually – because unlike us mere mortals, this S14 has further phases of evolution to play out. Omar was far from done with the build, he’s always having new ideas and there’s always a fresh idea bubbling away. And so we reach phase five, the ethereal afterlife evolution: “I ended up chroming the RB26, getting new WORK Meister wheels, installing air-ride, fitting the wide-body kit, and adding the big wing,” he grins, nonchalantly reeling off a fairly incredible list of upgrades that’d be a life’s work for some people. Omar just doesn’t know when to stop, his approach to success is half-rollercoaster, half-steamroller. Full on to the max.
“Version 5 blew up the internet, and so much hard work was finally getting noticed,” he beams. “I took home my first trophy from Wekfest in August 2018, and got my first magazine cover feature.” But he wasn’t done. Of course he wasn’t. Never one to rest on his laurels, Omar did a few more shows with the car in its fifth phase, and then following the Tuner Evo show in February 2019 he headed back home to Dinuba, CA and started tearing the Nissan down again. The wheels, bonnet and seats all got sold… and so did the engine. Clearly something massive was afoot, and the plans for phase six involved stepping into some other-worldly past-afterlife realm that we can’t even begin to imagine.
“In April, I collected my new wide wings, new aero, and picked up the new engine from my good friend David at JDM of California,” he goes on. And what engine had he chosen? Why, the revered Toyota 2JZ-GTE – a choice so offbeat for an S14 that it was sure to break necks. Not only that, but he opted to go single-turbo thanks to a Driftmotion billet 6262 upgrade, fully rebuilding the engine and mating it to a Nissan 370Z manual transmission. “All of the car’s progress has been carried out at home in my garage,” he assures us. “By July the motor was in, along with the new seats, aero and a few other parts. I attended Wekfest in August 2019, and took home 1st Place – Best Nissan again, two years in a row! I feel blessed to have my hard work pay off. In November I got the opportunity to attend SEMA in Las Vegas with the car, and this has been a long-time goal of mine. I got to meet so many people, along with the opportunity to be featured in Banzai, truly a blessing. People’s reactions when they see my build are pure love, I get so many compliments; my goal has always been to inspire with this build… and yes, I still have a few more incarnations to go! I hope to have my S14A remembered as one of the greatest. So, a lot more is coming.”
This man, it seems, simply cannot be stopped. Having acquired his dream car, Omar set about reimagining a whole new storybook of dreams, and the result is a car that transcends the mortal world and ascends into the heady heights of the extraordinary. How many more lives can this motor live? Not even Omar knows the answer to that… but what we do know is that he’ll keep putting on a hell of a show.
Tech Spec: Modified S14A Silvia
2JZ-GTE VVTi 3.0-litre straight-six, Driftmotion single-turbo conversion with billet 6262 turbo, chrome valve covers, carbon fibre coil pack cover, Driftmotion pulley set, Supertech valve seals, custom intercooler piping, HKS SSQV blow-off valve, custom 3-inch up-pipe, K&N filter, Mishimoto radiator, Mishimoto fan switch, Collins engine mounts, Nissan 370Z 6-speed transmission with Collins Performance adapter plate, Stage 4 clutch, Collins transmission mounts, Collins custom propshaft, Z Speed clutch slave, Collins short-shift
11×18-inch +12 RAYS Volk TE37 Saga wheels, 265/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Achilles ATR Sport 2 tyres, Cadillac CTS-V Brembo brakes, Air Lift suspension with 3P management, custom front lower control arms, fully adjustable rear upper control arms, toe arms and tension arms
Right-hand drive conversion, fully stripped, Cusco 6-point rollcage, Bride Euroster II seats, Cusco harnesses, Cusco drift button, Bride seat rails, NRG harness bar, NRG steering wheel hub with quick-release, Personal steering wheel, LRB Speed rear seat delete, Tamale boost, AFR and water temp gauges
Lamborghini Aventador red paint, Origin Labo Aggressive bodykit with 75mm-wider front and rear wings, Big Country Labs rear spoiler with APR carbon end plates, APR carbon front splitter, DMAX taillights, DMAX rear window visor, Spyder headlights