" I have seen the car culture grow and change right before my eyes in the last 15 years"

The Long Haul : Bauza's S15 Words : Charlton Ochoa Photos : Steve Cucinotta | Charlton Ochoa | Ryan Chavarria

As with all of our articles, it’s not only the cars but the friendships that come out of our experiences. So, when we put a shoot together, it’s not just a set of photos but a chance to share one of many awesome stories that we feel should be acknowledged. I've known Alex for about four years now and have been a fan of his car from the moment I laid eyes on it at a Nurotag Miami show.I’m a fan of just about any machine, but there is no doubt I’m also a sucker for some clean JDM. So, when I finally got a chance to shoot Alex’s beautiful S15, it was very exciting to put a good friend's hard work on display.


Looking to obtain a car not produced in the states is always a challenge. It's a process paved with money, relationships and patience. Eighteen years ago, Alex found himself at the start of a long road to being an automotive enthusiast. His first car was a second generation Mazda RX7, which, unfortunately, was stolen from the front of his house before he even owned it for one year. While heartbroken, he (thankfully) didn't give up on the car scene. His second ride, a Mitsubishi Eclipse, was his slingshot deep into the culture.

Between that and several other builds, he now owns a 2002 Nissan S15 Spec-R. A beautiful RHD car from overseas was now in the possession of an eager enthusiast waiting to add his personal touch.

The first year was spent acquiring the Vertex Edge kit and a few other miscellaneous parts, and as soon as he could, it was sent over to Berjam Auto Creations to start the paint and wide body transformation. Some people go all out on the motor first, others on suspension and wheels. It really doesn't matter how you go about which steps you take first, as long as you steadily continue growing your build.


When you pass the 3-4 year mark of a build, sometimes your tastes can change, causing a visual and financial flip that can emotionally mess with those with the deepest pockets. But for Alex, it’s been a pretty straightforward path to how he envisioned the build from the get go. The car has already been featured in Super Street's online platform, which Alex says was an honor. However, he still aims to get the car featured in print and make a cover one day. (Sorry, Alex, all you get from us is a digital cover...for now.)

While the car doesn't see the track regularly, the engine is still tastefully modified to match the quality of every other aspect.

*ARP head studs, Cometic head gasket, Chase Bays power steering reservoir and coolant reservoir, ISR performance radiator, electric fans, FMIC, GReddy top mount turbo kit (TD-06 20G turbo, Type-R wastegate, BOV, IC piping)

In its stock form, an S15 can easily blend in with modern vehicles, which can be good or bad depending how you look at it. In my opinion, the Vertex Edge body kit is just right, providing extra width and, at the same time, accentuating the car’s perfect combination of smooth and sharp edges.

The interior is almost finished, according to Alex. He has no intention of turning this into a drift car anytime soon; however, he does currently have a CF rear diffuser, Vertex Edge front diffuser and canards on order and is also looking into getting a new trunk spoiler.

The car may even see a color change in the near future, alongside a different set of wheels. It only proves that, ultimately, no matter how hard you make progress or claim to be content with a build, no ride is safe from taking another step, regardless of position.

"Having been around the scene for so long, I have been able to meet and befriend many people who, luckily, were more than happy to help out with this build.” There is no doubt having the right people help out with a build is a pleasure, but more importantly, building friendships through what started off as business transaction is something all too common for us all.

DNA Performance is responsible for all of the major mechanical, fabrication and tuning aspects of the build, while Berjam Auto Creations did their magic with the paint and body. And a friend who also details my car, After Image Detailing, handles how the car shines in the spotlight. We all know how difficult it is to trust anyone with our “side chicks,” so gentleman, when you find a good detailer, you never let them go.

The RE Amemiya fender mirrors are a couple of my favorite pieces on the car. Granted, I haven't had a chance to drive it and see if the position provide a noticeable difference in convenience. For Alex, it's the standard and one of the many things that make his car stand out, not only from other s15's but many other local builds, in general.

After the shoot, I was speaking to Alex about the troubles that come with driving an RHD car in the States. I have been in a few RHD cars, and it’s an odd feeling being in the drivers seat, without being able to drive. However, it felt as though, with a little more time, it would get more comfortable quickly. I’m not sure I’m ready to get in one at WOT and try to shift with my left hand.

For Alex, it seems as though he was more stunned by the fact he had an S15 than the fact he was driving on the 'wrong' side. He admits to mis-shifting a few times his first several visits to the local drag strip, and, of course (the elephant in the room), confusing the drive-thru operators at any fast food joint. While it’s ultimately about getting lost in the moment and bonding yourself with your machine, he admits that it’s fun to see the look on the average person’s face when they look over and see the driver on the passenger side.

2002 Nissan S15 Spec-R

Body – Vertex Edge kit with CF Hood, RE Amemiya fender mirrors, Origin trunk spoiler, Vertex canards, Custom paint (Porsche GT-3 RS grey/black with lime green engine bay)

Wheels – ISS Forged GT-7 wheels, black nickel lips, flat black face, lime green inners (18×9.5 18×10.5) cant remember the offsets; Achilles Tires)

Brakes – D2 Racing 8 POT BBK (front), stock in the rear)

Suspension – Function & Form type 2 coilovers, ISR performance rear upper control arms, tie rods, tension control rods, toe control rods)

Interior – Bride/Cusco Zeta III seats, Takata harnesses, harness bar)

Engine – ARP head studs, Cometic head gasket, Chase Bays power steering reservoir and coolant reservoir, ISR performance radiator, electric fans, FMIC, GReddy top mount turbo kit (TD-06 20G turbo, Type-R wastegate, BOV, IC piping))

Electronics – Haltec Pro ECU, AEM Fuelsafe wideband, HKS boost controller, Blitz turbo timer, Pioneer head unit, Alpine rear deck speakers)

Social media : @Bauzas15