ModMax, you must have heard that name by now. It is the craziest, most insane S15 Silvia I have ever laid my eyes on, and I’m sure many of you will agree. This is the brainchild of Marty and Moog, the guys behind the hit show Mighty Car Mods. I got in touch with Moog for an interview, and exclusive never before seen photos of the build.
The idea was to build an apocalyptic wasteland vehicle to celebrate the release of the latest MadMax film – Fury Road. First up, as in any apocalyptic wasteland vehicle build, in fact any vehicle build, you need a suitable chassis. In this case something with a lot of ground clearance, power, and preferably a decent set of bull bars would be a good start, not a chassis designed for race tracks and Japanese touge roads. So when Moog surprised Marty with the S15 you can imagine the doubt and confusion that filled his mind.
“You can’t destroy an S15 like this!” I can hear your comments in my mind already. Don’t worry, the old owner sealed the fate of this S15 and it was written off the road. As a statutory write off in Australia this S15 was never able to be registered again and it was only good for parts. So in fact the boys actually saved the Silvia and allowed it to live another day. As Moog said “You want street cred, you buy an s-chassis, right?”
So far the only thing about this car that would be any good in the apocalyptic wasteland is the power from the mighty SR20DET engine under the hood. That power probably would be very reasonable indeed, if only the boys owned the engine. You see, part of the deal meant that the motor and gearbox along with the wheels had already been pre-sold to a co purchaser. Basically what they had left was not much use to them in this case.
If you thought that then you are very wrong. We all know that when a Silvia’s engine needs replacing there are a ton of replacement options out there – another SR, or an RB, maybe a 2JZ? The hunt was on, and after going through a ton of adverts, something worth viewing finally came up. The vehicle of choice was an Australian favorite, a late 90s Holden Commodore VT sedan with a 5.7L LS1 V8 engine fitted from factory, and to make the deal sweeter, the Holden was fitted with a manual gearbox as well.
Once both cars were back in the workshop, and after a quick test in the Holden to establish the V8 was in good working order, it was time to start removing the SR20 engine and gearbox from the Silvia. With help from Turbo Yoda, this was achieved in a little under 10 minutes. Yes 10 Minutes. With that job done the pros took care of business under the hood while Marty and Moog got to work on the S15’s interior, stripping everything out in preparation for the weld in half cage built by the team at AGI Precision Roll Cages.
With the power problem resolved, it was time to tackle some of the other issues, like the lack of wheels for example. This is an apocalypse vehicle after all, so low profile road or track tires just wont cut it. This situation calls for big, chunky mud tires and sturdy steel rims. Easy to say but making them fit is another story. After some persuasion from a hammer, grinder and spacers – The wheels now fit, sort of.
Once the V8 was out of the Commodore it was time to think about how this engine would be mounted into the S-Chassis. As this car was not being built with comfort in mind, the easiest option was to solid mount the motor using steel plates. With the engine secured in place the team moved onto the next issues that usually arise from doing an engine swap, things like making the power steering and clutch work. As luck would have it, the power steering pump on the Holden V8 was in the perfect spot and the Nissan power steer lines hooked right up, only requiring the banjo bolt to be shortened by 5mm. Using pieces from both vehicles, a custom clutch master was made to suit the conversion. By the end of the day the loom was complete and the engine was fired up and it started first pop.
The next challenge was to get the car sitting higher off the ground than ever before. For the front, pieces of 40mm box tube were added in between the chassis and the cross member, but as the rear sub frame pushes up over studs that are attached to the shell of the car, this option in the back was not possible. After scratching their heads the idea came to have some spacers made up to sit on the rear shocks between the top hats and the body of the car. A pair of custom spacers where machined, camber and toe arms were fitted and the rear end was now sitting as high as the front. The added clearance was still not enough to make room for the rear wheels, so the rear arches were cut out and reinforced with some sheet metal kindly donated by a WRX boot lid.
While all the work was carried out to the body and chassis, the stripped panels like the doors, boot lid, and bonnet got the custom paint treatment. By paint I mean paint stripper, and by treatment I mean fire! Yes the panels were set on fire to achieve this cool MadMax style coloring. Please don’t try that at home, do it at a friend’s house! Another important part of the exterior look is the exo-skeleton which is made up from a trampoline frame, and I am awarding extra style points for the Jerry cans which are securely attached to the rear of the car.
Surprisingly the WRX played a big part in this build with another boot lid sacrificed to cover the trans tunnel, which had to be cut out to accommodate the Holden gearbox. Other WRX parts used include yet another boot lid with metal cut out to reinforce the front doors and a WRX boot spoiler was also fitted.
With the engine in place it was time to make up the custom exhaust manifold, which is a pretty simple design. Four vertical pipes on the left, and four on the right. The rear pipe on the right needed to clear the brake and clutch master cylinders so it was the perfect opportunity to make up something that resembles a double barrel shotgun. Custom rear quarter glass louvers and door glass protection grates were added and a custom paint job using black spray paint and big boots was applied to the rest of the car. A shortened drive shaft was fitted and the team set about getting it ready to leave the shop. The brakes were bled with performance brake fluid, the engine was filled with Castrol Edge oil and the cooling system was topped up with new coolant – the car was ready.
On test day Marty and Moog had a few things in particular they wanted to check. Test 1 was the power test, which it passed sideways while throwing up mad amounts of dirt. Test 2, ground clearance. Most S-Chassis usually find it hard to get over a speed bump, this one needs to get over death hill, a steep incline usually used for testing four wheel drive capabilities. Of course ModMax made it to the top.
The 3rd test was for the armour, could it really keep the occupants safe while driving through the wasteland? Ask the mannequins left waiting helplessly to be destroyed and they will tell you the answer is yes. This armour will keep anyone safe, as long as they are inside the car. Last up was the drift and street cred test, which it passed automatically because it’s an S-Chassis.
So there you have it, one crazy mad S15 Silvia that you would totally want to own in the event of an apocalypse!
- LS1 Engine conversion
- Holden 5speed manual gearbox
- Mad big mud tires
- Steel mag wheels
- Wheel spacers
- Trampoline frame Exo-skeleton
- Body Armour
- Custom burnt / spray can black paint job
- Externally mounted Jerry cans
- Half cage
- Stripped interior
- Pool fence windscreen protector
- Custom rear quarter window louvers
- Custom rear windscreen insert
- WRX Boot spoiler
- Forklift grate bull bar
- Shortened drive shaft
- Adjustable suspension (maxed height)
- Rear suspension spacers (50mm)
- Front subframe spacers (40mm)
- Fast food store exhaust fan intake pipe
- Modified front and rear guards
- Modified sills
- Custom clutch master cylinder
- Custom shot gun style exhaust extractors
- Custom solid engine mounts
A special thanks to the team:
- Alan Butler aka Turbo yoda
- Scott Diver aka Hightower
- Mario Grifa aka Super Mario
- Ben Neal aka Mechanical Stig
- Andrew Hawkins aka Hawkins
- Ulric aka The Viking
Photos with thanks to Ross Waldron
Make sure you check the Mighty Car Mods #ModMax build episodes below if you haven’t already. Don’t forget your popcorn!