The world of New Zealand drifting harbours many mysteries, and among them is a conundrum we’ve never quite managed to get our heads around — telling twin brothers Jason and Matt Sellers apart. The Sellers have long been involved in the sport thanks to Jason’s contention of the D1NZ Pro series with his big Nissan Laurel, and while it can be hard to differentiate between the two (we find the best tactic involves calling whichever one you’re talking to “bro” until the conversation progresses far enough to work out who it is that you’re talking to) the brothers’ cars couldn’t be any more different.
In stark contrast to Jason’s big, lumbering VIP Laurel brute, Matt has recently finished his own project drifter, a Kouki S14 Nissan Silvia. About the project, Matt says: “I had been crewing for Jason for a while and had always wanted to get into it myself. The car came up on Trade Me super cheap — I was looking for a Cefiro or S13 at the time, but when I found this car, I had to have it.” There was a very good reason Matt’s new car was ‘super cheap’ — it was non-turbo, auto and most crucially, had just been run over by a truck on the motorway. “The car was a written-off complete shell — it was not in a good way at all,” is how Matt puts it.
From this humble starting point, Matt, with a massive amount of help from the rest of the Sellers family, began to rip the car apart piece by piece. The roll cage (one of the only parts of the car to be completed outside of the family shed) was first to get put in thanks to work done by Waiuku Radiators and Mufflers. Once the newly caged and newly straightened body was back in the shed, the build picked up pace as everything started to come together. A unique custom colour was chosen and mixed, then layered onto the freshly kitted car by Tony Jillings at Orewa Panel and Paint, giving the shell a very unique look with plenty of flip and sparkle for those sunny days out on the track. Under the vented bonnet, Matt did his research and decided to stick with the original SR20DE motor and to turbocharge that (commonly referred to as SR20DE+T), instead of pulling it out and replacing it with a factory-turbo SR20DET. Matt explains his decision: “The main reason I went with the +T set-up was money. It was a far cheaper option because the car came with the motor and only needed the turbo gear. I had talked to Carl Ruiterman at E&H Motors and he was all for it. It seems to be all right, we haven’t really pushed it yet, I just wanted a reliable package and so far its only weak point is the fact we don’t know exactly how far we can push it — other than that it’s been perfect.”
With its light weight (thanks to some serious poundage savings in the panels, interior and windows) and super-stiff chassis, the car is one seriously nimble machine — something that seems to impress anyone who’s been behind the suede Sparco steering wheel (and there have been a few). Says Matt: “My favourite thing about this car is that no one can seem to break it. It gets driven hard, always seems to last and everyone has fun driving it.”
Indeed, it seems as though he’s built himself a great drift car — it’s one of the best looking S-chassis in the country, it’s super-reliable and capable of footing it with the big guys in the pro field — as recently witnessed at the D1NZ Grand Final at Hampton Downs. Australian drifter Nigel Petrie (who competes in his own S14 across the ditch) made the trip over to compete in a round of D1 (something he had always wanted to do) and Matt was kind enough to let him borrow the car. About the experience, Nigel says: “My first laps out on the Hampton Downs circuit I was impressed with the car. Compared to [mine] it was a little stiffer, a little lighter and stopped a little better.
The Sellers family are smart and have this car dialled-in super well, it’s a lesson in building a semi-competitive car with brains over raw dollars.”
While letting other pro drivers loose in your pride and joy is an admirable move, what does Matt intend to do with the car now that it’s running so well? “I’d love to compete,” he says, “but I just don’t have the budget to, and I’d rather just do track days for now, they’re a lot more fun than competing.” With only a few small plans left to implement — upgrading the turbo and fitting wider front guards (to allow for the super-low ride height Matt is after) — the car is essentially finished and its future beckons with the promise of nothing but days and days of sideways action on racetracks around the country.
Now that the Silvia is always out and about, it should no longer prove as difficult to tell the Sellers brothers apart in the pits. When they’re not standing next to their sliders however, your guess is still as good as ours!
For more photos and full specs, visit the Performance Car website.
Words/Photos: Peter Kelly