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Tandem of bro: two Silvias that shook the New Zealand car scene

29 April 2016


Blake Harpur and Jared Croft have built two of the raddest Nissans this country has ever seen, and they stole the show at the 2016 V 4&Rotary Nationals — with a few popped tyres to boot!

If we listed the mods sported by this pair of Nissans without you seeing the cars, you’d think we’d wound the clock back 10 years to the height of the New Zealand show scene. But, just like moustaches, denim on denim, and Docs, colour-change paint and chrome wheels are back and looking radder than ever. And that’s thanks in part to Jared Croft’s Nissan 180SX and Blake Harpur’s Nissan Silvia S15, a pair of near-identical Christchurch-based Nissans that have been stealing the show, no matter where they go. 

So, how do a couple of Nissan enthusiasts from Christchurch decide to build near-on identical projects, and how do they become close enough to think like this in the first place? Well, it all dates back to 2012. Although Jared and Blake were buddies at the time, they weren’t as close as they were about to become. For those who aren’t familiar with Christchurch locals’ hangout spots pre-earthquake, Trailers — a car park — used to be the place to go for skids, hanging out, and admiring others’ rides.

It was at this location that the future for Jared and Blake was sealed, as Blake explained: “I had my genuine Type X 180SX parked up at Trailers, as I wanted to show it off, so I parked it right in the middle of everyone. Jared told me that I should go show off and do some skids, but I decided not to. Instead, I just watched everyone else.” Blake continued, “Next minute, I hear my car revving, and I turn around and Jared is in the driver’s seat. I told him it sounded good, but as I did, he dropped the clutch and took off down the street, snaking from side to side. He went a bit too hard and went up the kerb, which was luckily enough a driveway, but then he pulled off and drifted off down the street away from us, out of sight. I then received a phone call — it was Jared.” Jared had phoned to tell Blake he’d hit the kerb again, smashing the right rear of the vehicle — it was a near write-off. 

Jared, laughing and dodging hard stares from Blake, told us, “I turned up the next day at Blake’s house, with $10K and a box of beers to say sorry. Fair to say, I was the new owner of the Type X.” From this point on, the pair were inseparable, and they share the same interest in all things drift and automotive. 

You’re probably thinking the 180SX you see on these pages is that same car, but Jared told us that car is sitting at home in the shed. Instead, another 180SX was purchased, around the same time that Blake bought an S15. The initial goal was to build a pair of similar cars to learn how to drift in; however, as Blake has an undeniable attention to detail and Jared has a clear vision for crazy projects, the duo got carried away. “Our plan from the get-go had been to produce two Tandem of Die–style cars, with super-wide wheels, low ride height, and cool colours,” Jared explained. With the cars purchased, the two sourced their bodykits and the required parts to complete the builds, with Jared even selling Blake his spare set of Work Equips so that the pair would be matching.

Cool paint was one thing, but Blake and Jared knew that, to make an impact, they’d need something unique, or in this case, a colour that hadn’t been sold since the height of the Auto Salon days. They finally landed on Mipa Very Important Paints (VIP) Venus, purchased from RJ’s Panel Supplies. As it was the last tin on the shelf, the two got an extremely good deal on the old paint, so it was time for Blake’s workmates Ron and Bennie from Ron’s Panel and Paint to set to work on the tiresome job of smoothing and filling both shells, fitting the guards, and installing the bodykits ready for Blake to work his magic with the paint gun. It was now six weeks until the 2014 V 4&Rotary South Island Champs, and the biggest hurdles were yet to be tackled.

“It was one thing we couldn’t agree on,” Jared told us, after we asked why the engines weren’t matching. “I wanted a 1JZ, and Blake wanted an SR20. We were both pretty stubborn on this.” Around the start of the build, Jared had sourced a 1JZ engine complete with R154 gearbox, and Blake got hold of an SR20DET backed by a six-speed gearbox. Both engines received big single turbos, with Jared’s getting a Garrett GT3540 and Blake’s a Turbonetics unit.

Both cars now produced good power, the paintwork was complete, and the ginormous Work Equips were fitted — it was at this time that the Silvias debuted at the South Island Champs. Ever since then, we’ve been waiting patiently to feature them both; however, as we all know, life throws you curve balls, opportunities arise, and projects get thrown on the back-burner — or partly parted out — as was the case with Blake’s S15. As Jared said, “As you can imagine, I was pretty dark when Blake sold his Work Equips. They’re very hard to source, and now our cars weren’t the same any more.” 

But Blake had his reasons. He explained, “I had the opportunity to purchase my second home, but I was short on cash, so I sold my engine package and my wheels to make up the money.” The non-matching status didn’t last too long, though, as, once Blake was settled in his new place, another opportunity arose to show the pair of cars at the 2016 V 4&Rotary Nationals, thanks to a friend — Falgoon Patel. “Falgoon phoned us up and told us we need to be on his stand at Nationals — it was all on once again,” Jared said.

This time around, the duo had three months to prep the cars for the transporter that would carry them north. But, Blake was still engine-less, and the Work Equips were long gone — or so he initially thought. “I did some research, and found out who owned the wheels I had sold, and I managed to buy them back. Jared was stoked.” Blake said, continuing, “I ended up buying another SR20DET engine, but, this time, I didn’t want a laggy set-up. I decided to go with a Tomei turbo, which would get me good power but remain responsive.” Power it certainly had, with 273kW (366hp) at the wheels, and the S15 was a low-slung Work-equipped machine once again. Meanwhile, Jared knew that the 180SX would need a tune, and, with a new Link ECU-controlled boost controller, boost came on much sooner, and power rose to 321kW (430hp) at the wheels with E30 fuel — more than enough to haze up the rears when required. 

After researching overseas suspension combos from the world’s best-known static cars, Jared was itching to get his hands on some 326Power suspension with custom spring rates. Two sets of 326Power coilovers were ordered, with custom 30kg front springs and 20kg rears — that’s stiff, no doubt, but essential with cars this low: squat and roll are two things you can’t afford to have. On their highest setting, both chassis are barely 100mm off the ground, with another 150mm or more adjustment left. Jared is certain these kits are designed to have the chassis dragging. 

There’s no denying that these two Nissans were standouts at the 2016 V 4&Rotary Nationals. From show time to go-time, the pair took part in everything possible, proving that cars this low, with wheels as wide, can and do get driven — hard. From drag racing to popping tyres in the burnout competition, the pair weren’t afraid to damage barrels, engines, or paint jobs. “Everything can be fixed,” they both told us on numerous occasions, usually followed by, “We’re here to have fun, play with cars, and meet people.” And that’s a solid mentality to have. 
This is the last you’ll see of these Nissans in this guise, as their owners are already scheming the next phase — we’re told it’ll be bigger and better — or, in their case, lower and wider — so let’s see if these committed southerners have what it takes to blow us all away again. 
PS. We hear you won’t be waiting long — watch this space. 

1999 Nissan Silvia Spec R (S15)


  • Model: SR20DET, 2000cc, four-cylinder
  • Block: Factory
  • Head: Cosworth head gasket
  • Intake: Z32 airflow meter, Spec Performance intercooler piping and intake piping, K&N air filter, GReddy intercooler
  • Turbo: Tomei M8270 turbo, Tomei braided oil and water lines
  • Wastegate: Internal Tomei
  • BOV: TiAL 50mm
  • Fuel: Bosch fuel pump, Tomei fuel-pressure regulator, 
  • Ignition: Factory
  • Exhaust: Tomei stainless-steel downpipe, Tomei exhaust sytem, MB Fabworks twin three-inch exhaust tips
  • Cooling: Fenix alloy radiator, twin 12-inch electric fans
  • ECU: Nismo chip tuned by Spec Performance
  • Other: e-Boost2 boost controller, Jap Race oil catch can with braided lines, tucked and deloomed engine bay, MB Fabworks smoothed rocker cover, Cany Custom coil cover  


  • Gearbox: Factory six-speed
  • Clutch: Exedy five-puck 
  • Flywheel: Lightened
  • Diff: Detailed and painted R200 two-way LSD, GK Tech solid diff mounts 


  • Struts: 326Power coilovers (F) 30kg (R) 20kg
  • Brakes: GK Tech braided stainless steel brake lines, GKTech hydraulic handbrake, GK Tech ABS delete (F) R32 GT-R calipers, DBA slotted rotors (R) R32 GT-R twin-pot calipers
  • Other: GK Tech caster and toe arms, Parts Shop Max solid subframe mounts, Parts Shop Max drop knuckles, Parts Shop Max camber arms, detailed and painted subframe, detailed undercarriage, Cusco strut brace


  • Wheels: (F) 18×9-inch (-9) Work Equips (R) 18×10.5-inch (-20) Work Equips
  • Tyres: (F) 215/35R18 Nankang NS-20 (R) 225/35R18 Nankang NS-20
  • Exterior
  • Paint: Cany Customs painted Very Important Paints Mipa Venus
  • Enhancements: D-MAX fibreglass bonnet, 50mm Workshop rear overfenders, tubbed rear guards, 30mm fibreglass front guards, Vertex bodykit, chrome-wrapped Big Country Labs rear wing, smoked LED tail lights
  • Other: Chrome mirror tints


  • Seats: Sparco Evo
  • Steering wheel: Magenta Grip Royal, NRG 2.0 quick release
  • Instrumentation: Defi oil temperature, exhaust temperature, fuel pressure and boost gauges
  • Other: Cusco bolt-in half cage, JVC head unit, 400W JVC 6×9-inch rear speakers, 180W six-inch front speakers
  • Performance
  • Power: 273kW (366hp) 

Driver profile

  • Driver/owner: Blake Harpur
  • Age: 29
  • Occupation: Painter at Ron’s Panel and Paint
  • Location: Christchurch
  • Build time: Six months
  • Length of ownership: 1.5 years 
  • Thanks: Big thanks to my workplace and my boss, Martin, for all the support and the help; thanks to the rest of the boys at GT-R Performance and Ron’s Panel and Paint; my partner, Sally, for the late nights helping me and putting up with me; my parents for the vision and passion for cars at such a young age and letting me live my dreams; Kerry and Snow at Budget Tyres for the help; Ryan at Luxury Sports; Jared for the help and vision throughout the builds; MB Fabworks for the custom work; John and Ryan at Spec Performance; all my friends who have helped over the years; huge thanks to Falgoon Patel and the crew at Speedmagnet for all the support and getting me to Nationals 2016

1996 Nissan 180SX (RPS13)


  • Model: 1JZ-GTE, 2500cc, six-cylinder
  • Block: Factory
  • Head: Factory
  • Intake: Four-inch K&N air filter, four-inch intake, 2.5-inch and three-inch intercooler piping, R32 GT-R intercooler
  • Turbo: Garrett GT3540 (.63 turbine housing), stainless-steel top-mount manifold
  • Wastegate: 44mm TiAL 
  • BOV: Turbosmart
  • Fuel: Walbro fuel pump, Sard 850cc injectors, custom relocated fuel lines, Sard fuel-pressure regulator
  • Ignition: NGK iridium spark plugs, rewired coil loom, MicroTech ignitor
  • Exhaust: 3.5-inch straight-through mild-steel exhaust system, 3.5-inch blast pipes, heat-wrapped downpipe
  • Cooling: Mishimoto alloy radiator, twin 12-inch Mishimoto fans 
  • ECU: Link G4 Storm, full engine rewire by Spec Performance
  • Other: In-cabin boost controller, Aeroflow radiator catch can, custom-texture black rocker covers, Weld texture coil cover


  • Gearbox: Toyota R154 (JZX110) five-speed 
  • Clutch: Quartermaster 1406kg (3100lb) clutch
  • Flywheel: Quartermaster flywheel
  • Diff: R32 GT-R, GK Tech hard-mount diff bushes
  • Other: Rebuilt axles, custom one-piece driveshaft, GK Tech hard-mount subframe bushes


  • Struts: 326Power coilovers (F) 30kg (R) 20kg
  • Brakes: (F) Four-pot R32 GT-R calipers, DBA Gold cross-drilled and slotted rotors (R) twin-pot calipers, DBA Gold cross-drilled and slotted rotors
  • Other: Voodoo13 caster, toe, camber and traction arms, powder coated R32 GT-R rear sway bar
  • Shoes
  • Wheels: (F) 18×10-inch (+18) Work Equips (R) 18×11-inch (-32) Work Equips
  • Tyres: (F) 225/35R18 Falken FK453 (R) 245/35R18 Falken FK453


  • Paints: Cany Customs painted Very Important Paints Mipa Venus
  • Enhancements: Custom 35mm fibreglass and metal front guards, 50mm fibreglass rear overfenders, URAS bodykit, panel beating by Ron and Bennie from Ron’s Panel and Paint
  • Other: Mirror tints, Raybrig headlights, chrome-wrapped Big Country Labs rear wing
  • Interior
  • Seats: R33 GT-R 
  • Steering wheel: Magenta Grip Royal, NRG 2.0 quick release 
  • Instrumentation
  • Other: Bolt-in roll cage, Alpine USB head unit, six-inch front speakers
  • Performance
  • Power: 321kW (430hp) at the wheels on 20psi with E30 fuel

Driver profile

  • Driver/owner: Jared Croft
  • Age: 27
  • Occupation: Hustler by night, sales rep by day
  • Location: Christchurch 
  • Build time: 14 months
  • Length of ownership: 15 months
  • Thanks: Haylie for being by my side and putting up with the late nights; Blake for the countless hours we spent at work bouncing ideas off each other and then putting them into action; Bennie and Ron for the panel work; Jon, Burger, and the boys at Spec Performance for always going out of their way for us; Jonny at The Sign Lab; Marcus from Tint-a-Car
    ; Marty for being the best boss and understanding where and what our plans were; Jeremy from Hi-Tech Auto Electrical; Dean from Elite Wheels; and last up my father for giving me the car genes — it’s an addiction. RIP Paul Walker

This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 232. Don’t miss out on having this copy in your collection — grab a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: