There is always talk about engine swaps, suspension set ups, interior mods, exterior mods, et cetera. But I’m sure this might be lurking in some of your minds (as it was mine before I now own one) but, What’s RHD like, and is it worth it?
I’ll go into it as a general basis for those of you that are wondering, and answer any questions you guys have. This is mostly meant to be an informative thread to those of you wanting one.
I will cover mostly the following subjects (in no order):
– How to find parts
– General differences
– Driving experience
Most times you read threads about people just wanting a JDM car for the attention factor, others maybe not so. But as for attention? yes, you will get it. Stoplights, gas stations, etc. If you are attention shy and are thinking about a RHD car, you will be noticed.
Many people say “cops will notice you, its a red flag!”
Well that may be true as far as Cop Attention goes in some areas, but in my experience I haven’t been pulled over or eyeballed suspiciously once yet. I suppose this depends on your area of residence though. I have been behind and in front of police officers and next to them at stop lights, and have gotten nothing more than a curious look and forget.
Now, if you decide to go through a drive through backwards, you’re asking for it
The first thing you will notice about a RHD (we will use my car for example, a late model 97 180sx) is obviously, the steering wheel is on the right hand side.
Big Surprise there right?
In the cockpit of the vehicle there are many things that are different, although the general critical controls function the same way. The gear pattern on the shifter is identical to USDM LHD Manuals, As well as the placement from right to left of Gas, Brake, Clutch.
What might throw you off though, is shifting with your left hand, although it wasn’t terribly bad for me.
The Turn Signals and Wipers are inverted. that is, the Signals are on the right side of the column, and the wiper switch is on the left. Likewise, the wipers work the other way on a rhd car.
Other minor differences include the radio controls bring close to the driver, and the ebrake being on the drivers side (not the case with some cars).
Okay, so you’ve familiarized yourself with the controls, now what about driving you say? many times ive seen on forums people say a RHD car in a LHD country is just down right dangerous. My response to that?
While there are a few factors that make it, “interesting” to say the least, if you are already a decent driver here, moving the steering wheel over is not a cause for concern or danger in any way, although there are some things to get used to.
Passing on two lane roads: Normally, we just inch over to the left, take a peek, and if its clear, safely overtake the car in front of us. Well when you are on the left side driving, thats all well and good. But what you will quickly notice in a RHD car is that you are essentially crippled in that aspect.
Passing on a two lane road in a RHD car is very do-able, but like i said, with common sense. Slowing down and letting the car in front of you get a good few lengths helps tons.
Left hand turns at major intersections: I’ve heard this mentioned plenty of times and i honestly have no idea why. If you are making a left hand turn at an intersection and there is a car on the opposite side making a left, people say visibility is crippled. I haven’t noticed this much in any way.
Just plain driving: you might have some trouble at first staying in your own lane. I dont mean to the extreme of taking up half of the oncoming traffics path, but you might tend to stick to one side of the line or the shoulder. This is merely just a first time instinct, and with practice it isn’t an issue. I drove from FL to NC on I95 the whole way, its perfectly fine once you get used to it.
Remember all those times you hit the drive through for food/atm/whatever? well, thats not entirely out of the question. Many people say that driving RHD you are completely out of that luxury unless you find a drive through that has a window on the right side. I have personally went through many drive throughs in my car with no passenger. All it took was a minor lean to the left to pay and grab my food. all in all it wasn’t that difficult. I found most times people in the drive throughs are so intrigued by a RHD car they put in that extra effort to lean out towards you.
Now this, is perhaps the most difficult part of owning a RHD car that was never directly marketed here. Skyline, Silvia, whatever. Most people just think of wanting a RHD car and driving one with the illusion that its going to be in perfect working order. RHD cars were driven just like the LHD counterparts, and while the japanese mostly drive their cars less than we do (hooray for my 55,000 mile car!) It is a car, and things still break.
“oh no, my turn signal switch/gas release/AC Control/radio/window switch just broke! What now?” well ladies and gents, running down to your local napa/advance/oreileys/kragen/autozone is out of the question.
Finding RHD specific parts are very difficult unless you know exactly where to look, and take a great deal of time to arrive once you do find them. whatever part breaks, plan on having it remain out of commission for a few weeks at least. Also plan to search hard and pay harder.
Wiring diagrams? better learn how to read Japanese.
Now some parts are interchangeable, yes. but only to a certain degree.
But what makes a 180sx so much different? If you really want to import one, i’ll list the differences i’ve found, and you be the judge of if the price is worth it
This comparison is on a Dual cam 240sx with my 98 Type X 180. There are differences not documented here, but I feel sharing the basics will be at least informative to those of you that don’t know.
Electronics: Yes theres the obvious like Automatic Climate Control that everyone knows, but what about more in depth?
Radio: Frequency! Japan does NOT operate on the same band that we do in terms of frequency. Yes, there AM/FM is still the prime method of broadcasting, however frequencies between the two countries are very different with only a small portion of overlap.
Japanese frequencies run from 76.00 FM to 90.00 FM ( might be off by a tad here) so you can imagine, most of your radio stations will be unobtainable on the vehicles radio, Ipod receivers will be your friend.
Keyless Entry: 180sx’s were offered with a keyless entry system, self explanatory, it unlocks and locks your doors.
Wiring: Harness wise, the 180sx type X shares wiring very similar to an S14 in terms of relays and whatnot.
Headlights: Most of us love to hate the sealed beams of the 240sx’s. I’m not sure what year Nissan made the change over in japan, but late model 180’s do not have this sealed beam design anymore.
Alright guys, this was just the first part, if anyone has anymore questions or comments go for it.
Semi closing thoughts: Rhd is fun, but its up to you guys to make the decision to be different or not. it’s a huge increase in cost for virtually not much benefit, but it is a fun and enjoyable experience.