A chance encounter turning into a full day photo shoot extravaganza in the rain with a cherry blossom backdrop, who would have known. But let’s roll this all the way back to the beginning of 2015. I met Mike, Franklin M. Rayes proper, or rather his classic fire red S13 Silvia in the streets of New York. I was invited to one of the many notorious WekFest Preps where by invitation only everyone would be in their Sunday best to cruise down the streets of New York City making you wonder if they were filming the next Fast and Furious. Taking some shots before the grandiose drive I snapped a shot of Mike’s S13 Silvia and threw it up on the grams. It wasn’t long before the owner of this flaming red car found us on Instagram and I struck up a friendship.
I think whenever I see a really nice build I really want to know what kind of madness drove that person to paint that vision into reality, especially in such an unforgiving city such as New York. Mike is the kind of guy who has a method to his madness. He would be categorized as the rare New Yorker who actually grew up and was raised in this concrete jungle on a diet of Breakdancing, BMX and Car Culture, in the Bronx no less. At a young age the love for RWD cars was planted by his father who use to drive Cadillacs and soon led to the admiration of the japanese super cars that would only be presented to you in magazines. Think pre myspace, aim and forum time. I think you forget how fortunate you are these days with regular imports available from japan and a plethora of information, but back then all you had were a few magazines, some bootleg Option VHSes and onlines forums and not to mention getting parts for these cars was next to impossible in the States. So the next best thing in Mikes case was to get yourself a 1/10th replica and style that out, and drift it to your heart’s desire. Which ultimately took him down this rabbit hole of wanting to recreate it at a 1 to 1 scale, and that’s precisely what he did.
The road started for Mike on November 26 2011, with a S13 coupe shell with pretty much broken everything, barely running, 100% stock with a KA engine. Mike is the kind of person who would rather focus on the quality of the build and do it right the first time with authentic parts and proper installation, then to speedily put together something with whatever is available. He wanted to be as authentic to that 90s OEM style encompassing reliability, functionality, and style as much as possible. Sometimes that means not doing everything yourself because there is a lot of trial and error in that process. So he opted to find people who could support the kind of vision he wanted to create. He teamed up with a friend of his that worked at Nissan to help with the mechanical aspects of the car, enabling him to learn about the processes along the way. For the body it had to be the guys he trusted the most. It had to be the place that he saw cars come out of for years and they were impeccable and that place was Rubins Auto Body in the Bronx. From there all that was left was the vision. Mike has a mantra “visualize the action, actualize the vision”. From his experience in Breakdancing and BMX he knew that “you have to see yourself doing it before doing it in order to create style”. As Mike progressed in his build his vision for it got bigger and he found ways to make it better. And to think this all started from a small 1/10th scale RC car.
He is definitely a guy that sweats the details and wants to put real craftsmanship into each aspect of his S13 to get it just right for him. You can really tell by how there is a story behind every aspect of this car. Like one of his favorite parts: the functional heads up display that at the time he got the car was not functioning and the glass was shattered. Once again Mike didn’t settle he went big, soldering and replacing the capacitor and even getting an OEM Nissan heads up display glass replacing the broken one.You really get a great sense of accomplishment from building something from scratch and seeing what it becomes, but the biggest reward for him is to be able to show and share his passion and by happenstance be able to spark inspiration in other people. So that when you see this hot red beauty on the road you’re inspired to build something like it or even better.
All that patience and work landed Mike with an Origin Lab Silvia Stylish Body Kit with widebody front and rear fenders, Weds Kranze LXZ wheels, Silvia brick lights with the JDM Silvia s13 OEM Grill.Painted with the same red as the BMW M3, running a SR20DET black top circa 99’. A fully stock interior decorated with Bride Brix passenger seat and a Bride Ergo for the driver’s side. Vertex Steering wheel, D-Max red checkered floor mats, White nismo shift knob (aka the butt plug), and nismo pedals and full sound system. And as you might have noticed there’s quite a bit of a red theme throughout the car. And why all the red you might ask? Well, its a mixture of having a lot of red toy cars as a kind but also paying homage to the old Japanese kamikaze flag.
I want to thank Mike for putting up with our all-day photoshoot in the rain and being super patient as we tried to get this site running before releasing this shoot out to the public. It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here! Find Mike on Instagram @picturemikeyrollin
Photo x Katarina Rdultovskaia
Location @ New York, NY