There are so many different car enthusiasts out there and that’s what makes this passion of ours such an exciting one. There’s the hard-parkers, the drifters, the muscle-crowd, the time attack racers, and plenty more — and sometimes they’re a combination of a few. I myself am addicted to detailing, Sunday cruising, and time attack racing. I don’t have exceptional mechanical skills or any sort of engineering skills, but I am more than happy to hand those tasks over to the experts. Those experts keep the rest of us out on the circuit or driving around on the weekends. They have exceptional vision and serious talent — Glenn Hodges is one of those people, being a talented fabricator after a career as an aircraft technician and now runs his own shop; The Lab Ltd.
I first met Glenn when I was working at NZ Performance Car Magazine, as we featured his custom chassis Nissan Navara with a Nissan VK56 V8 engine. I knew he was talented then, but then I found out he was a serious Nissan Fairlady enthusiast too and competed in the Prowear NZ Superlap Series in his beautiful blue example. To progress, some serious money had to be spent in the power department and his extremely clean example would soon turn into a dedicated race car — something Glenn wasn’t going to let happen.
After what Glenn described as months of ‘scattered car related dribble’ on what to build next, his mind kept wandering back to Group B rally cars and smallish cars with relatively large engines in the back. “I decided to go ahead with a build that was originally just a load of talk,” Glenn told us. The catch though, was that it had to be a Nissan, Glenn explains “There was no chance it was going to be anything but. After investigating various dimensions and weights, the K12 Nissan March – as ugly as they are – actually stacked up pretty well on paper for its dimensions.” As it happened, Glenn’s long-time supporter Nissin King Izuzu Partsworld had a fresh shell literally sitting on the shelf — and so it began.
Being in the industry certainly helps things, as Glenn had a donor engine for the new project sitting on the floor of his workshop. A Nissan 350Z-based 3500cc V6 that was not economical to repair for his customer, was utilised using Nissan 350Z heads, intake chambers, and plenum bolted to a Nissan Maxima block and sump plate. This combination would have sufficed in naturally-aspirated trim, but Glenn had much larger aspirations for this engine.
To handle the boosted-onslaught that would soon be unleashed on this Frankenstein engine, Glenn installed forged Wiseco 11:1 pistons, Eagle forged rods, Cometic head gaskets, ARP L19 head and main studs, and ACL bearings. However, before this could be bolted in and the manifolds fabricated, Glen first had to get out the angle grinder and get to work removing the rear floor pan and fabricating a firewall between the driver’s compartment and the engine bay.
“Literally every part of the car is modified in some way shape or form. I think the head and tail lights have escaped, but apart from that it has all been under the knife,” Glenn explains. With the March now ready for an engine, it was jigged up, mounts were made, and eventually shoehorned through the rear hatch of the K12.
Fabrication began on the turbo manifolds, which work their way to the left-hand side of the engine bay and high-mount twin Garrett GT2860RS turbochargers with .83 turbine housings. Individually, these turbos would be fantastic for a 200-250kW SR20DET engine, but the pair on the 3500cc V6 would be capable of some decent numbers once tuned on E85 fuel.
The fuel system, mounted at the front of the vehicle consists of a Jazz 35-litre fuel cell, which is drained rapidly by a pair of Bosch 044 fuel pumps into check valves and fuel filters. Injector Dynamics ID1300 injectors and an Aeromotive fuel-pressure regulator make sure the hungry twin-turbo engine gets the fuel it requires when the boost comes on.
Ethanol content is measured by a Link ethanol content sensor and excess fuel makes its way back to the Jazz fuel cell via a single AN dash six fitting. Black Speedflow fittings have been used throughout.
Power figures are still at a conservative place for the engine, which Glenn is still getting used too. The small March is now propelled by 418kW and 700Nm of torque at the hubs and uses a Nissan Sentra six-speed gearbox to get the power down. A Maxima bell housing was used for this conversion and J32 Maxima half shafts.
Utilising J31 Nissan Maxima knuckles, Glenn was able to literally bolt on Nissan 370Z Akebono front calipers, the rears required a custom bracket,
They look absolutely ginormous on the little March, and Glenn has opted for Z1 Motorsports two-piece discs with custom top-hats designed by himself and produced by Znoelli.
Bolted to these gigantic hubs and brakes are DTM Gravity 18x9-inch front and 18x10-inch rear wheels shod in 235/40R18 and 265/35R18 Nexen SUR4 semi-slick tyres thanks to Glenn’s sponsor DTM.
They’re a fantastic looking wheel, but would not even be close to fitting without the addition of Glenn’s custom-made Aluminium with carbon fibre wrap over fenders, inspired by Group B rally of the ‘80s.
Surrounded by a jungle gym, Glenn saw fit to add some much needed interior additions. An OMP HTE-R driver’s seat was fitted with Sabelt six-point harnesses.
When you’re strapped in, you grab hold of the OMP quick-release steering wheel which is attached to a Woodward steering shaft. Look through that, and you’ll keep an eye on things with the Link Dash2, which has replaced the humble Micra’s gauge cluster. The dash and door cards were flocked by Mike Shaw fibreglass to prevent glare.
The Nissan March is currently in its second reiteration thanks to a very serious crash at Hampton Downs Raceway, but things are now progressing smoothly. The biggest hurdle currently is intake air temperatures, with them sky-rocketing to around 80-degrees Celsius thanks an inefficient water-to-air intercooler setup.
Glenn is currently in talks with a large intercooler manufacturer, so this will be remedied soon. This has been an incredible build to follow, and we’re constantly blown away by the quality of workmanship done in-house by Glenn. Once the faults are ironed out, this will be one seriously fast econocar.
Engine: VQ35DETT, Wiseco 11:1 pistons, Eagle rods, Cometic head gaskets, ARP L19 head and main studs, ACL race bearings
Driveline: Nissan Sentra six-speed manual gearbox (H pattern) Maxima six-speed bellhousing, JWT ally flywheel, J32 Maxima half shafts
Braking: 370Z calipers, Z1 Motorsports two piece rotors front and rear, custom The Lab/Znoelli custom hats rear
Suspension: King Springs, custom SH coilovers
Wheels and Tyres: (F) Nexen SUR4 235/40/18 (R) 265/35/18, DTM Gravity 18x9-inch and 18x10-inch
Body: Custom rear chassis rails, five-door to three door conversion, The Lab Limited custom aero & flares
Interior: OMP HTE -r driver's seat, Woodward steering shaft, OMP wheel & quick release, Sabelt six-point harnesses, Link Dash2 pro dash, flocked custom door cards and dash top (Mike Shaw Fiberglass)
Performance: 418kW at the hubs, 700Nm torque
Driver/owner: Glenn Hodges
Age: too old
Build-time: approx eight months
Length of ownership: 13 months
Thanks: My wife, Race Cars In Sheds, Link ECU, Mike Shaw Fiberglass, Nissin King Izuzu Partsworld, Autoparts, Partsworld Timaru, Z1 Motorsports, GSS, Nexen Tyres NZ, DTM wheels, Top Town, MSNZ, Four and Rotary Promotions, those who got in and supported when times were tough.