Nissan Engines - Engine Builder Magazine

Nissan Engines

DRZA Auto is no stranger to Nissan engines, in fact, it's one of their specialities. Read below to learn about owner Derek Cho-Sam's experience building Nissan SR20 and RB line engines for his customers!

Nissan has had many vehicles that are impressive, but over the past years, certain models have definitely made a strong comeback. I’m talking about models such as the 240SX, Skyline, 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, etc. Some of these vehicle are imported from Japan, Australia, etc., while others are right here in our backyard. Car enthusiasts all over the world and especially here in the U.S. are lining up to get their hands on them.

As the owner of DRZA Auto specializing in Nissan and Infiniti, we see our fair share of these beauties every day, and it’s truly a dream to come to work with excitement of what our day could look like. My wife Rita likes to say, “We build dreams one car at a time,” which is pretty spot on. Together we have built some amazing cars for some awesome clients. Here are a few of our current projects.


The SR20 has been around for decades, but over time it has become increasingly more popular due to the engine being used for drifting, drag racing, time attack, and modified street and show cars. 

The SR20 engines came in a few Nissan platforms like the 180SX, Silvia, Sonny, Bluebird, etc. Once we get our hands on them, we can then build and modify to fit in various U.S. vehicles. For instance, we can install them into the Nissan Hardbody, Datsun 510 or 240SX, and others. Because these engines are being used in so many platforms, the need for modified aftermarket parts has created a huge market and is constantly being developed. 

The stock SR engine creates 205 hp, but it’s capable of creating way more power. Some steps that we take in upgrading these engines are as follows; cleaning up the lubricating system, making sure the short block and head is machined properly, replacing all freeze and welch plugs, and depending on the project, we sleeve the block with heavy-duty sleeves and suited with a knife edge crank or a forged crank with other mods to reach our target. Replacing the oil pan is also a must because SR’s are ofter known for bearing failure due to the lack of lubrication. 

We recently built an SR20 engine with a sea foam green valve cover that will be used for SCCA racing. This particular engine is a 2.1L and we upgraded the piston (with larger wrist pins), rods and bearings. We’ve also modified the oil system that still accommodates the stock oil pump assembly. As for the cylinder head internals, those are also upgraded to achieve a more sustainable and dependable build. 

We built another SR20 engine with a white valve cover, which is a father/son project being built for our 16 year old with mostly the same key components as the sea foam green one. This is an impressive build for a 16 year old and his vision is to have everything white with all wiring tucked away for that fresh clean look. He also plans to try out for SEMA Young Guns, but he still has a serious way to go. 

RB Engine Line 

Nissan’s RB engines came in many different Nissan platforms as well and they vary from RB20, RB25, RB26, RB28, RB30, etc., but some of the more popular ones that we see daily are the Skyline GTR (R32, R33, R34), Stagea, etc. 

We recently did an RB30DET engine build for a customer named Jonas. Originally, this beautiful 240SX Silvia came to us with a stock SR20DE engine. After hearing our client’s vision for this project, we were both sad and excited at the same time – sad because it was a perfectly good, running car that we will be tearing apart, but very excited because it was going to be an amazing project that does not come along very often and we love a challenge around here. 

The short block came to us partially assembled and based on some research it was originally from a Nissan Patrol that was imported from Australia. The engine was then built for a Pro1 Formula Drift car here in Florida before making its way to us. 

After removing the original engine, we prepped and painted the engine bay before it was time to make some magic. We were in full throttle on this project until COVID hit and parts stopped coming in and everything came to a stop. We used the down time to restore everything else on the car. We assembled everything as much as we could and completed the engine build process by mating an RB25 head that came out of a Skyline GT-R engine to the RB30 short block. 

We also modified the timing belt component to accommodate the RB25 cylinder head, modified the RB timing cover due to the RB30 block being longer, upgraded the oil pan to a 8-qt. pan and added an external cooler. We also added a cylinder head oil drain and block oil restrictor. As things got better and parts start rolling in this project was back on track. 

We then installed some very impressive performance parts and fabricated all necessary components to make a sustainable and dependable car. We fabricated a custom stainless steel catback exhaust with an HKS Can. We fabricated all piping (down pipe and intercooler pipe), fabricated all custom brake lines and power steering components and also fabricated custom crimped fuel lines and made a custom fuel tank housing. 

Living in Florida, every car needs air conditioning, so adding an A/C system was a must. All A/C lines and components were also fabricated in-house here at the shop. All said and done this project is looking sweet and is definitely going to be a badass car. At this time, we are awaiting a date to get this project tuned. We are super excited and very honor to be part of this project and can’t wait to see it popping up at car shows and car meets. 

We also recently did an RB26DET build for a customer named Patrick. This beautiful R32 Skyline also came to us as a perfectly good, running car. The client bought this car, drove it around for a few months, then moved to South Carolina. A few months later, he brought it down to us for a full engine upgrade. This beauty has some serious performance parts along with all the key components required to make this another beast on the road. 

No matter what the job is, building cars is more than just a job for us – it’s what we love – so we definitely try to show that in our day-to-day work. Each client has their own unique vision for their vehicle, so we always try our best to see that vision through and bring it to life

We disassembled the engine completely. The cylinder head got a complete makeover with port and polish, springs and retainers, guides, cams, and a 5-angle valve job. We’ve also added an oil drain for a faster drain back to the pan. As far as the short block was concerned, we installed a new crank with a crank collar upgrade and suited it with a set of new main and rod bearings, upgraded pistons, and stronger rods for higher boost pressure and new oil pump assembly. 

We upgraded almost everything including taking out the stock twin turbos and manifold and replacing them with a tubular manifold and a larger turbo. The RB26 intake manifold originally comes with tons of vacuum and coolant hoses, which we eliminated and replaced with an aftermarket front-facing intake manifold with a larger throttle body setup. We removed the crank angle sensor and incorporated a cam and crank trigger kit system, which helps us to dial in our timing and fuel more efficiently. This setup also required new engine management and wire harness setup. 

Upgrading the fuel system was also a must so all lines were customized to this setup. The A/C system was also modified and upgraded. Currently, we are in the process of building a customized 3.5˝ titanium exhaust from the turbo back with a high-flow cat setup along with all the intercooler and turbo piping. All said and done, this build is also turning out sick and we can’t wait for our client to see it in person. We’ve built several vehicles for this client and have developed a very unique family relationship. 

No matter what the job is, building cars is more than just a job for us – it’s what we love – so we definitely try to show that in our day-to-day work. Everything we touch has to be precisely thought out before we even begin. We try to modify and build each vehicle in a way where servicing and any future upgrade can be accessible with ease. Each client has their own unique vision for their vehicle, so we always try our best to see that vision through and bring it to life. The best part of doing what we do is seeing our clients faces and the joy it brings to them and their family. EB

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