white S13 180sx Nissan type X with chrome Work Equip wheels in front of sunset

Driver Spotlight: Kanyon Howard (@kanyondrift7)

Tucked away in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California you will often find things that rarely, if at all, exist in any other part of the world. Whether that be the coastal redwoods regularly thousands of years old, bright yellow Banana slugs lurking across the forest floor, incredible peaks and valleys only minutes to the ocean, and possibly vampires (ie Lost Boys) Santa Cruz and surrounding mountains boast incredible hidden gems. As a driver, the roads to navigate across the region weave and curve through the terrain offering an experience second to none. 

  Much as the redwoods produce a habitat for creatures to evolve into something found seldom elsewhere, the roads produce a byproduct as well; Incredibly skilled drivers and builders. Case in point Kanyon Howard, whose byproduct of driving is unmatched craftsmanship, and his experience is utilized to create and implement incredible vehicle builds for not only the roads but the track as well!

Kanyon Howard in front of S13 LS Erod swapped vert with ocean in background

So you have had a few cars tell us about them!:

  Well, my first high school project car was a wrecked (rolled over) 2001 Roush Mustang! It was a black convertible with the 4.6 modular v8 in it which came with a pathetic amount of horsepower. So I fixed it up cosmetically and painted it. Did a little bit of street racing in Watsonville and got my ass handed to me by an AWD 90s eagle talon TSI haha. So after that, I took it upon myself to save up a decent chunk of money to add a ProCharger p1SC running 10lbs of boost. Which, Unfortunately, it only increased the 4.6 to a dismal 340 wheel horsepower. Not the greatest investment lol.

  My next car came in around 2006, I got a 2000 Audi S4 twin turbo with a 6-speed. Once again I fixed it up cosmetically and started learning that platform. That was the car that I learned that I could handle the mountain turns along with Adam Swan in his WRX (who we have a blog on here). It also taught me a lot about turbocharging, tuning, dynos, etc. To this day it is a fantastic car (my daily). However, I eventually got to a point where I realized that the platform had quite a bit of problems mostly being weight and understeer from having the motor pretty much in front of the front axle. From there I started to give more attention to something else that had become popular at the time amongst my friends.

  In 2010 almost all my friends I would drive with seemed to have Nissan 240sx’s and I knew they handled amazing (although they had low horsepower)from following them in my Audi S4. Literally, Adam, Nano, Brandon, Masai, Miles, Patrick, Jared (9AM), Austin, Shane, Joe, Dan, etc. all had S-Chassis and were running the mountains (touge) having a blast. So I found an S13 hatch on Copart online for 1800 that had a bodykit and a KA24de! In all honesty, I tried to make the KA work for a bit but I think the previous owner had an angry ex-girlfriend or something because I dropped the oil pan and it was filled with sand haha! So after looking at different options and searching the forums (yes, before the popularity of YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram pages), and watching plenty of my friends have SR20 problems, I wanted bigger horsepower, more reliability and an aluminum motor that wouldn’t upset the weight distribution of the S-Chassis. I bought a Rolled GTO with a 6.0 LS2, swapped the motor over, and sold literally everything off the GTO down to the sun visors. All in I think the swap cost me like 1600 bucks after the sales of the GTO parts factored in.

  S13 180sx 240sx Type X car in white with sunset background

Rear of 180sx 240sx white car with Work Equip Wheels

Rear of 180sx S13 Type x tail lights on white car in forest

 Now here is where the snowball turns into an avalanche:

  I learned the LS was an amazing platform and with all the drivers of Formula D using them, along with tons of cool parts being made for both the LS and the Schassis in conjunction, I got in pretty deep lol. Angle kits had become popular at the time (pre-Wisefab) so I got some cut and welded Knuckles from Marcus Fry and hit my first drift event which was Super-Am at Thunderhill! After that, I realized I wanted even more angle and got an Abercrombie Motorsports kit (now extinct). That kit had some pretty decent angle and I loved it haha. I eventually snapped that subframe and switched to PBM (parts shop max). They had a one-piece forged knuckle that I knew would hold up to abuse via Matt Field’s experience in Formula Drift.

  So I ran a few rounds of Pro-AM at Stockton 99 Speedway (the Destroyer) and watched a few people total their cars. After the event, I decided I wanted/needed more power, and threw a cam in the LS ending up with 420whp. By this time it was 2015ish and cars were getting seriously competitive and a lot of money was coming into the previously underground drift scene. Competition became more intense with corporate-funded cars and events. To keep up with the trends and remain competitive I knew I would have to adapt the chassis so roughly around the same time I added a Magnuson TVS 1900 supercharger, Walbro 450 fuel pump, twin disk clutch, and a few other things. I took it to the dyno and made 550 to the wheels (Now with E85 making about 600)!  At the same time roughly, I knew I wanted even more angle, and found an up-and-coming company at the time named “Wisefab” that made a kit that gave an insane amount of steering angle. The car was then a freaking cloud-making machine haha! 

  Although the car was incredibly competitive, I was burning through like 5 sets of tires per event, and with the price of Schassis skyrocketing, I decided I wanted to keep my car in one piece and didn’t want to destroy it by drifting and some random hunting my doors. The reality was that my car was always a mountain Touge car and I never really wanted some insane full race car build. It always had an almost full interior (although caged) a decent paint job, body kit, etc. and honestly, I really enjoy the mountain driving I grew up doing with my friends, along with some drag racing, and hitting the smaller local events like Drift Central, Sonoma Wednesday nights, etc. And that's how the car happily lives its life now! The wisefab angle kit is just sitting on the shelf for the time being, I’m running the PBM kit now which is a lot more street-able, with a set of FEAL coil overs, z32 brakes, and my first set of 3pc Work Equip 05s in 18x10.5 front, and 18x13 rear. It's just a fun car that I like to drive around my coastal town and twisty mountain roads here in Santa Cruz! 

LS Supercharged S13 240sx with sunset background

Trimmed S13 vented hood with supercharger pulley sticking out

Nissan S13 240sx 180sx with LS3 supercharged swap at suset on mountain

 Love how this build has evolved man, You also have had a few other S-Chassis:

  Yeah, man It's funny all of a sudden I had a bunch of 240s! Around the year 2017 ish, the cops were catching on to the modded import thing and I had a lot of friends getting their hoods popped, state ref’d, etc.. sideshows probably didn't help so I happened to pick up an S13 vert, and made it a goal of mine to have a BAR legal LS swap 240sx. I bought the Erod ls3 package, and used basically all the excess parts/upgrades I had from building my car to make another! So I gave it a body kit I had lying around along with some paint, a new convertible top, welded in a 4pt roll bar, put on some old ksports coil overs, my (old) Abercrombie control arms, welded the diff and made some bash bars, etc. and really took my time putting it together. By this time I had quite a deep skill set and formula for working on these cars from doing the swaps throughout the years so the project came out incredibly well done. She passed the BAR inspection and got the bar label which felt like a great accomplishment. By the time it was done, it was 2020, and during the pandemic, I was able to sell the car which would then help fund the next project. Come to find out that the prices for the s chassis cars would skyrocket in the next few years along with everything else. It was a really fun car but the vert life just wasn't for me lol.

S13 convertible Erod LS Swap carb legal

S13 LS Erod Swap

S13 Erod LS swap carb legal sticker

Around 2016ish I came up on an S13 hatch for a couple of hundred bucks on Craigslist, and staying true to form I put in another 6.0 LS2 I got from Marcus Fry and once again would finish the build with parts I had accumulated over the past few years. This chassis went in a very different direction than the typical S-Chassis. It's a full-on drag race car. Fully stripped-down interior with a 6pt cage, Kirkey seat, custom dash, etc. Something unique about this drag setup is the 2-speed Powerglide with a trans brake and a Ford 9” rear. It's basically the only car I have that's not “street-able”. I haven't taken it to the strip yet but I'm predicting it to run somewhere in the 11-second range for the quarter mile. I hope to get out there soon because it seems like all the good legal drag strips are closing down!

Interior of S13 180sx Drag race car

S13 LS Swap Drag Race car

S13 180sx Type X Drag race Hurst shifter assembly

S13 Drag race car rear racing slicks

180sx type X tail lights on purple and white s13 hatch

Alright so you have one car sitting on the lift, what's the current build?:

  In early 2021 I was able to acquire an S14, which was a chassis I had never built before, with the plan to do what I wish I had done with the s13 vert originally; Build a smog-legal supercharged LSA E-rod kit! To fund the build I used the profits from the vert, funds from doing customer builds and general maintenance working as a mechanic. Sold my 02 WRX, and a bunch of miscellaneous items.  The car actually came already swapped with a VQ35DE and a CD009 out of a G35, A 2F body Kit, Tanabe coils, z32 brakes, a hydro Ebrake, and a vinyl wrap. In all honesty, it drove great and was pretty fun. I drove it for a year or two while I worked out all the bugs and previous work of other people, which gave me the time I needed to buy all the parts for the LSA swap. *Sidenote: I (Jared @ 9AM) drove this car with the VQ/CD009 and it was awesome*. In August of this year (2023) I started the swap process and in all honesty, it flew by in just under four months taking my time and not rushing (now December 2023) and I'm almost finished. If I wasn't so meticulous and didn't have to wait for parts it could probably be done in weeks. However, some things you wanna do right the first time, like powder coating subframes, cleaning up engine bays, etc. When this car is done I am expecting it to be in the 650whp range! It's definitely been a fun build so far and I can't wait to drive it! The plan is to make it just like my first s13 with brand-new parts, more power with the potential to pass CA smog in the future. Basically something I can hop in and drive to LA if I want to and just cruise around town, hit the mountains, a road course, slide around, and be super reliable.

LSA Erod S14 Kouki with S13 drag car in background

LSA Erod in Kouki S14 with whiteboard in background

Dual Z32 Calipers on Kouki S14 Erod LSA swap

S14 Kouki VSKF wheels

Underside of LSA Erod Swapped S14 Kouki

Any Plans for the future?:

  Just finishing my cars and enjoying them! It's easy to chase the drifting thing to no end and spend a bunch of money doing so, I am just happy to work on my cars and drive them at any time, at my leisure. Just continue doing general maintenance and performance mods for myself, friends, and customers. I am dipping my toes into parts manufacturing, I currently offer some chassis braces and some smaller things! Possibly a purpose-built competition drift car but we will see! 

Anyone you want to give a shoutout to before we go?

  9AM for doin’ their thing and for doing this feature on me! All the OG homies we used to drive the mountains with! Todd at Fueled Racing for the knowledge and killer pricing on LS swap kits! Marcus Fry for the motor and welding things up now and then over the years. Joe Chavez for pushing me to get some real wheels lol. Along with anyone else who has helped me over the years, you know who you are!

 - 9AM would like to thank Kanyon for the support of helping our S13 for well over a decade. Anytime something catastrophic happens, or quite frankly we are in over our heads on a project/repair/fabrication Kanyon has always stepped up to the plate and provided us with his second-to-none experience and skills. We look forward to continuing to support Kanyon on all of his future endeavors and can’t wait to see what the future holds for him! -

   Follow and connect with Kanyon Howard:
Kanyon Howard Instagram - @Kanyondrift
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