There are a lot of things that can motivate or kill that motivation when it comes to doing a big car project.  This 20v swap in my ae86 has proven to be a rollercoaster of that.  Starting out with really strong motivation and drive to get my swap going, followed by a dry spell, back to motivation.

As of the last couple weeks, I hit a wall with my swap.  The engine was in the chasis and was awaiting all the little things.  But I simply just did not have any motivation to get it finished.  I KNEW it was just a bunch of small things that were left to do…but I just couldn’t get myself to do it.  My motivation was lacking.  There were nights where Joseph was going to come over and help me finish the swap, but I told him I was too tired after work to do anything. Continue reading

motor is in!

So on my day off this past wednesday… I ran around picking up little parts I knew that I’d need to finish my motor.  Sadly, I got called in to work around 5pm :[  Story of my life.

I worked a few hours and Joseph came to the shop and grabbed some sushi.  Once business died down, I was free to go and it was homeward bound to drop my motor in!

After some Dreyer’s Dibs ice cream that joseph picked up from the gas station, it was time to get going on the motor.


I had to be really careful with the engine, so I don’t scratch the paint on the bay.  But as careful as I was, once it was secure in the mounts, the engine leaned backwards and my fuel return barb gauged the back of the engine bay :[  Luckily it’s behind the engine, so it’s a bit more difficult to see.

After a couple tweaks here and there, I got the headers in just to see what it would look like!  (in case you’re wondering about the headers, I got them used from club4ag.  they’re old JSP Fab headers.  Made by Formula Drift driver John Russakoff.  I think he might have run them in his old 20v competition 86)

go pho it!


By this time it was like 2 or 3 in the morning.  Joseph and I decided to call it a night.  He had to get up early for work and we were hungry as heck.  So we went inside the house, nommed on some eggrolls leftover from work — which wasn’t enough so I made some spring rolls to fill our bellies.

All that’s left to get the motor running is hooking up the radiator/oil cooler, finishing wiring up my coil on plugs, tucking the harness, then brake/clutch lines.  Almost there!  Everything that’s left is just super tedious.

in all its glory


long awaited update…

So, if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you might be caught up on my swap.  If you want to — follow me @thaisonnguyen.

I started this about a month ago and REALLY wanted to do a clean swap.  My inspiration?  The Car Peace ae86 from the Hellaflush meet in Japan late last year:

car peace ae86 engine bay

car peace ae86 engine bay

The first thing was to pull the motor — thanks a bunch to Joseph Dann for helping me so much with the swap.

joseph d, mounting the 16v

Soon enough we got it all removed and it was time to start removing everything and prepping the engine bay… Continue reading

ccm xiii — okc

So as many of you may know, this past weekend was Cupcake Meet 13: Cupcakin for CF Care.  Alllll the way up in Oklahoma City.  When Branden and I first heard about the new location, we KNEW that there needed to be a natsukashi road trip in store.  New city, new state, new people, new styles, new friends!

My original plan was to drive my peanut up there.  Given the history and turmoil that went hand in hand on my journey to attain the peanut, I thought it was only fitting to take the car back to where it originally came from.  In just the couple of days journey it took for me to drive up to Oklahoma City and drive it back to Austin, a LOT happened.  Both car-wise and non car-wise.  To say the least, a couple chapters were added to “The Life of Thaison.” Continue reading

blacktop swap progress

So the blacktop swap into the 86 is about to go full swing.  I’m waiting on a couple parts to come in from the mail!

I found a deal on a harness that I could NOT pass up.  So I ended up buying this harness from a gentleman on club4ag, rather than rewire the aw11 harness that currently is on the engine — I’m just gonna sell that harness instead.

I’m also waiting on some exhaust parts — a jsp header and a buddy club spec ii to be exact.  Meaning, this car is going to make babies cry and your ears bleed from exhaust tones.  So my set up will be 110 mm velocity stacks, jsp headers, straight pipe, buddy club spec ii.

jsp header

My parts should all be here tomorrow!  I’m excited to get started on this swap.  Should make for a completely different car

So it begins

So it begins…my blacktop 4age swap into the 86.

Just last week I finally got my engine on the stand to really start converting it from fwd to a rwd configuration. This means rerouting the water lines, etc. I decided to go with the sq engineering kit based out of Australia. He makes some really high quality parts for the 20v 4ag swaps.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a 20v 4age is — to put it short, it’s the newer revision of the 86’s original motor. Higher compression, stock individual throttle bodies, 5 valves per cylinder (as opposed to e stock 4 valves per cylinder.

Here’s my workspace:


Tonight, I decided to start taking apart my harness. The motor and harness I picked up was being run in an aw11 mr2. So I need to rewire the harness to fit the ae86 chassis and also to mate up with the ae86 harness. Spent a couple hours on it and decided it was time to go to sleep. I’ve got a lottttttt of work ahead of me…


track day — more to come!

So this past Saturday, Branden and I went down to Harris Hill Road for the “Mazda Raceway Outlaw Autocross.”  Essentially, a higher speed autocross, where we got to run a section of Harris Hill Road with a couple slaloms down the side straight, back straight, and before the dam turn.

Here’s a look at the track:

A really fun, technical course with elevation changes.  There was a slalom between 3 & 4, 5 & 6, and 7 & 8.  Gridding was in the pit and the finish was right before turn 9.  Needless to say, it was a suuuuuper fun day.

More to come on this event soon!

tearing up the slaloms!

tearing up the slaloms!

clutch job — still not finished

So…the clutch job still isn’t finished.  My slave cylinder decided to blow up.  So it is permanently stuck with the clutch “fully depressed.”  But luckily, I made it all the way home from David’s place — a good 20 minute drive.

I spent tonight with one of my 86 buddies, Joseph, (which I soon will do a feature of his build) and he helped me clean out my garage.  I really should’ve taken before and after pictures.  But…those of you who’ve been to my house know that the before picture was just tons of trash and junk piled into our garage.

After a solid four hours of moving things around, cleaning, and hosing — we got the dead fish/poop smell out of the garage and cleared enough space to fit my 86 in there.  This way, I won’t have to continue working on my gravel driveway…

The car hadn’t been in the garage for about four years — the last time it was in there was when I did my first motor swap, winter/spring of 2008.

Hopefully I can get all my parts in and swap everything in for Saturday.

And in typical Thaison, always doing things last minute.  And then everything blows up in your face, but somehow I (usually) get it done in the end.  Hopefully I can get my 86 up and going for Saturday’s track event.


clutch job

needless to say, i have an oil leak somewhere...

Took my car over to my buddy David Liu’s place to swap my clutch.  So I wouldn’t have to do it in my gravel driveway in the dark….

Clutch was SHOT to hell.  hahah, no wonder it was slipping so much.

Should be finishing it tonight!