Ultimate S13 Rollcage Guide
Want to take your S13 on track? Then a rollcage is just what you need. Everything you need to know about S13 rollcages right here.
- History of Roll Cage
- Why Put a Roll Cage in your S13 Chassis?
- Types of Roll Cages
- How To Choose The Best Roll Cage
- Bolt-in or Weld in Cages: Which is better?
- Minimum Gap with Body
- Best S13 Rollcage Recommendations
- Roll cage Installation
- Basic Safety Tips
- Common FAQs
When you think about racing modifications, nothing is more important than your safety because your life depends on it. Since most race or drifting cars have no extra space to accommodate airbags, a lot of effort is put into roll cages, harnesses, and helmets to shield the driver from impact during an accident. In fact, if you want to participate in professional drifting competitions, you’re required to install a roll cage in your chassis.
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about installing a roll cage in your S13 chassis. We’ll also review some of the best roll cages that you can install into your 240SX.
History of Roll Cage
When auto racing was a fairly new sport, safety was almost non-existent and most of the engineers focused on making the cars go faster. The problem was most race drivers lost their lives after serious roll-over accidents despite wearing helmets and overalls. Something needed to be done, and fast!
Initially, roll cages were used in tractors especially in Sweden to reduce accidental deaths caused by vehicle rollovers. The roll cage eventually became popular in the car racing scene and by 1971, it was a compulsory safety feature implemented by the International Racing Federation; although roll cages back then affected speed, fuel consumption, and performance.
However, the technology evolved and today we have roll cages that are engineered to be lighter, stronger, more aerodynamic, and stream-lined. That means, you could install a roll cage in your 240SX or 180SX and it wouldn’t affect your speed, fuel consumption, and performance.
Why Put a Roll Cage in your S13 Chassis?
As the name suggests, a roll cage is a safety structure or frame designed to absorb impact and protect the driver or passengers from harm during an accident. In other words, a roll cage will prevent your 240SX from crumbling in case of a hit.
Of course, if you want to participate in professional drifting race events, you’re required by the regulations to install a roll cage in your car. Besides that, you can install a roll cage in your Nissan 240SX to strengthen the S13 chassis and reduce the flex; this would be significant to improve its handling performance.
Types of Roll Cages
Before we start, it’s important that you know the difference between a roll cage and a roll bar. For starters, a roll cage usually extends to the driver’s seat while a roll bar is positioned behind the driver’s seat. Obviously, a roll cage offers better protection than a roll bar but it’s not practical for road cars.
Otherwise, you can classify a roll cage based on chassis attachment points. Some of the most common types include:
The 4-point roll cage: Technically, this type of roll cage is a roll bar since it includes a main hoop that is attached behind the driver’s seat. It’s also designed with a cross brace and 2 rear struts. As the name suggests, you can attach it to the chassis through 4 points.
The 5-point roll cage: A five-point roll cage is also classified as a roll bar because it’s installed behind the driver’s seat. It’s no different from the 4-point except that it comes with an extra metal tube stretching out diagonally to improve stability.
The 6-point roll cage: A 6-point roll cage is usually designed to extend over the driver’s seat and offer better roll-over protection compared to a 4-point or a 5-point cage.
The 7-point roll cage: In most cases, a 7-point roll cage isn’t so different from a 6-point roll cage besides having a cross bar to improve rigidity and strength.
The 8-point roll cage: This is the most common type of roll cage used by professional race or drift cars. The best 8-point roll cages are usually designed with anti-intrusion and door bars to minimize side impact.
Note: Even though the most common roll cages have 4 to 8 attachment points, it’s possible to encounter roll cages with up to 14 attachment points.
How To Choose The Best Roll Cage
If you want to choose the best roll cage, it’s important that you consider the following factors:
Rules and Regulations
Before you choose a roll cage for your drifting and racing endeavors, make sure that it’s compatible with the rules and regulations mandated by the relevant governing body in charge of the admission. Keep in mind that different drifting or racing competitions have different sets of rules about the type of roll cage you should install in your car.
For instance, the type of roll cage that is integrated in the Formula Drift series wouldn’t get a pass in a Nascar event.
A roll cage is typically molded out of steel. However, there are different grades of steel that play a big role in the structural integrity of the steel cage. What are we talking about?
If you’re looking for a type of steel that is easy to weld but difficult to bend or break apart, the 15CDV6 grade is a good option. In fact, it’s one of the best top-grade steel materials used to make racing roll cages; although it’s expensive. It’s usually made of vanadium, chromium, and molybdenum alloys.
Some of its features include elongation of 10 percent, a yield point of 790 N/mm2, and tensile strength of 980-1180 N/mm2.
ROPT510 Mild Steel
This type of mild carbon steel material is preferred by Motorsport UK and FIA racing events. It’s well-known for its strength and bendability properties with an ability to absorb high-impact collisions. To be specific, it has a yield strength of 370 N/mm2, a tensile strength of 510 N/mm2, and an elongation of 25 percent.
It’s also known as ‘Chromoly Steel’; it’s an alloy of chromium and molybdenum. Even though it’s a popular carbon-based steel used to make bicycle frames, it has one of the highest strength per unit weight compared to other types of carbon steel material. That means you can use it to make a strong roll cage; although the welding process can be a little challenging.
Its qualities include a yield strength of 435N/mm2, a tensile strength of 470 N/mm2, and an elongation of 25.5 percent.
15CDV6 1.7734 Steel
This type of steel is a combination of vanadium, chromium, and molybdenum alloys. It’s one of the toughest, most bendable, and easiest to weld steel; because of that, it’s usually the most expensive type of steel to use on a roll cage.
It has better properties on a spec sheet compared to other types of simple mild steel; from minimum yield stress of 790 N/mm2, a tensile strength of 980-1180 N/mm2, and a minimum elongation of 10 percent.
The bottom line: If you want the best quality roll cage with the highest tensile strength for drifting and drag racing, we recommend you pick anything made out of 15CDV6 material; although it’s the most expensive type of steel used to make a roll cage.
Bolt-in or Weld in Cages: Which is better?
Before you purchase a roll cage, you should consider if it’s a bolt-in or a weld-in structure. Sure, bolt-in roll cages are easier to install and remove but they don’t offer better protection and stability than welded roll cages. For that reason, we strongly recommend you choose a roll cage that needs to be welded into the chassis.
Of course, you can order a roll cage that is specifically made to be welded into the chassis.
Minimum Gap with Body
The best roll cage should have a minimum gap with your car’s body as possible. In other words, if the space between the roll cage and car body is too wide, you will have less room in your vehicle and compromise your safety. Because of that, you must choose a roll cage that is compatible with your chassis.
Best S13 Rollcage Recommendations
Now that you know what to look for when choosing a roll cage, let’s have a look at some of the best S13 roll cages on the market:
Nissan 240sx 89-94 S13 ER Spec Drift Car Roll Cage
Type: Full roll cage
Compatibility: 89 – 94 240SX
Value for money: 4/5
If you drive the 89 – 94 Nissan 240SX (coupe or hatchback) model, this roll cage will be a perfect fit. It’s made out of mild steel with a low carbon level; that means, you can easily weld it without compromising its toughness.
Another thing; it comes with anti-intrusion bars which protect against side impact when you’re drifting. In fact, this type of roll cage would be suitable for Drift Formula racing events.
However, this roll cage doesn’t fit 240SX convertible models.
Manufacturer description: “This 89-94 Nissan 240sx (coupe or hatchback) car roll cage is ideal for drift driving. The roll cage features sturdy milled steel in its construction. The main hoop and roof hoop are wider than hoops on most cages, and they hug the car’s chassis perfectly.
There are several mandatory steps necessitated by this roll cage. The interior car panels must be removed for this cage to fit, the cage is meant to be used with a factory dash bar, and the windshield runners fit in between the dash and the door. The roll cage also includes a diagonal and 2-piece crossmember for the main hoop, as well as a rear strut tower crossmember.
If you’d like to add more strength to your ER spec cage, you can choose your preferred type of dimple plates when ordering. The dimple plates feature dimensions of 24” x 6” x 1/8”.
Since these cages are weld-in, not pre-notched, they aren’t ideal for owners who want bolt-in builds. We recommend that these cages be installed by a professional fabricator, experienced with installing roll cages.
Nissan Silvia S13- 4 Point Bolt-in Roll Cage
Type: Roll bar
Fitment: Bolt in
Compatibility: 89 – 94 Nissan 240SX
Value for money: 3/5
This is a 4-point roll bar for the Nissan Silvia S13 that is designed to be installed behind the driver’s seat. Since it’s a bolt-in type of roll cage, it’s easier to install than a welded fabrication. Not to mention, it helps to stabilize the S13 chassis and prevent a body roll if you make a sharp corner turn.
However, this 4-point bolt-in roll bar doesn’t offer better protection than a complete weld in roll cage.
Manufacturer description: All bolt-in roll cages kits come with zinc plated back-up plates and high tensile hardware for an easy DIY fit.
Brown Davis roll cages are manufactured from 350 MPA CD Mild Steel Tube.
All bolt-in roll cage kits are assembled in jigs with laser-cut foot plates to assure accuracy and create an easy install.
240sx 95-98 S14 ER Spec Drift Car Roll Cage
Type: Full roll cage
Fitment: Weld in
Compatibility: 89 – 98 240SX
Value for money: 4/5
Technically, this is roll cage is designed to be installed in 94-98 Nissan 240SX models with S14 chassis; but according to Enjuku Racing, it can also be fitted on S13 chassis. It has the same diameter, thickness, cross-sectional area, tensile strength, and weight specifications as the roll cage designed for 89 – 94 Nissan 240SX. Even the dimple plates dimensions are the same.
What’s more, it’s made out of mild steel with a DOM tensile strength of 70,000 PSI equivalent to 29,352 lbs. Besides that, it has a diameter of 1.5 inch and a thickness of 0.095 inch.
- Main Hoop and Roof Hoop Are Wider Than most cages and hug the chassis very nice.
- Interior panels must be removed.
- Meant to be used with factory dash bar.
- Windshield runners fit in between the dash and door.
- Cage includes diagonal & 2-piece cross member for main hoop and rear strut tower crossmember.
- Add more strength to your ER spec cage, choose type of dimple plates when ordering.
- Dimple plate dimensions: 24″ x 6″ x 1/8.
These cages are weld-in, not bolt-in, and do not come pre-notched.
Roll cage Installation
Installing a roll cage into the S13 chassis can be a complicated process and we recommend hiring a professional welder to get the job done. However, if you have the skills to do it yourself, you shouldn’t use any shortcuts since your life depends on it. The last thing you want is a structural failure due to poor welding.
It’s also important that you consider the fabrication technique when installing a roll cage. For instance, a competent welder will attach a roll cage to the boxed sills instead of the vehicle floor. This is because if you attach the roll cage to the vehicle floor, it could be overwhelmed by the added weight and tear off during an accident or overturn.
Another thing; tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding is considered a better fabrication technique than metal inert gas (MIG) welding when it comes to installing a roll cage into the chassis.
Of course, don’t forget to paint the roll cage to match the interior and make it look more appealing.
Here is a video of a roll cage installed in an S13 chassis:
Basic Safety Tips
- Always wear a helmet with a HANS device when you’re riding in a car with a full roll cage. This is because in case an accident happens, the helmet and HANS device will protect your head and neck from hitting the roll cage.
- If you’ve installed a roll cage, you also need to install a halo-style seat and a 5-point harness to minimize your movement in case of an accident or overturn.
- When installing or choosing a roll cage, make sure you choose the option that is safer than rather going for a unit that looks cooler. Sometimes, the most aesthetically pleasing roll cage isn’t the safest option.
- Don’t take shortcuts when installing a roll cage to save on cost. For instance, if you need a few things like gussets, cross bars, side bars, subframe struts, door bars, and seat crossmembers to install a roll cage, you should get every item on the list without compromising.
Q. How much does it cost to install a roll cage in the S13 chassis?
It depends. If you’re hiring a professional welder, it could cost you up to $1000. However, if you’re doing it yourself, you could end up spending more money if you buy the fabrication tools.
On the other hand, if you’re installing a bolt-in roll cage, it could be cheaper since it’s less complicated.
Q. Is a roll cage street legal?
Most roll cages are illegal on public roads, but it also depends on where you live. Nevertheless, if you’ve installed a roll bar behind the driver’s seat, you could get away with it on public roads; but you will still need to wear a helmet for safety purposes.
Q. Does the weight of the roll cage affect drifting performance?
No. The weight of a roll cage shouldn’t affect your drifting performance as long as you choose a unit designed for your chassis. In fact, a good roll cage should improve your handling and make it easier to drift.
Most people who drive an S13 240SX, 180SX or a Nissan Silvia do it because they want to drift. However, you can’t drift on the race track without a roll cage to keep you safe in case of an accident. Besides that, a roll cage can also improve your drifting performance.
If you’re ready for some action, all the roll cages we’ve recommended in this guide are perfect for your S13 chassis.