Nissan Silvia History

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Nissan Silvia History

Post  George on Sun Feb 28, 2010 12:24 pm

The Nissan Silvia is the name given to the company's long-running line of sport coupes based on the Nissan S platform. Although recent models have shared this chassis with other vehicles produced by Nissan (most notably the European 200SX and North American 240SX in the S13 and S14 generations, and 180SX in the Japanese market), the name Silvia is not interchangeable with the chassis codes.
The Original Silvia

The Nissan Silvia CSP311 made its public debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in September 1964. The introductory model was a hand-built coupe based on the Fairlady convertible, styled with input from Count Albrecht Goertz. Production ceased in 1968 after a mere 554 were made, every one unique with hand-formed body panels. Most of the cars remained in Japan, however 49 examples were exported to Australia and another 10 went to other countries. The low production numbers and tedious method of construction assured each car was unique and valuable; this is reflected by the car's purchase price of almost twice as much as the next model in the manufacturer's lineup at the time. After production ceased in 1968, the name Silvia would not grace another Nissan until 1974.

The S10 was the first Silvia built on the S platform. It featured more "traditional" lines than similar offerings from rivals Toyota and Mazda and was summarily less popular with consumers in most markets. In Japan it was fitted with an L18 engine, which it shared with the Datsun 610/Bluebird 180B. In the North American market a version incorporating the larger-displacement L20B was offered as the 200B of the same series Bluebird. This model was affixed with the mandated 5mph (8.0km/h) bumpers and badged as the Datsun 200sx. Its success in both markets was limited, most buyers opting for the Celica over what was considered the more mundane S-Chassis.


This iteration of the Silvia (sold in North America as the Datsun 200SX and in Mexico as the Datsun Sakura), available as a 2-door hardtop coupe and a 3-door hatchback, was uniquely progressive in that it was originally intended to feature a rotary engine, designed and built by Nissan. The resulting unit was fairly unreliable, and forestalled production. Ironically, it shared a chassis code with the also ill-fated Mazda Cosmo, first Japanese production car to feature a rotary engine. The car was redesigned shortly after it was released and the Wankel power plant was replaced by a line of conventional piston engines based on the new Z-series engine. These included the Z20 and the turbocharged and fuel injected Z18ET. In USA/Canada the 200SX had the Z20E with H165 rear axle and from 1982-1983 It had a Z22E engine with H190 rear axle

This generation saw the introduction of the Silvia 240RS, a coupe fitted with the 2.4 liter DOHC FJ24 engine. The 240RS was built between 1983 and 1985, its production extending the end of the S110 itself. The resulting monster became Nissan's official rally car in the World Rally Championship from 1983 to 1985, and finished 2nd in the 1983 New Zealand Rally.

The S12 was produced from 1984 to 1988, with revisions to the exterior trim in '87 (referred to as "Mark II"). It was sold in two configurations -- a coupe (often called a "notchback") and a hatchback.

A number of different engines were equipped in the S12 chassis, depending on production year and more specifically on the geographic market. These engines borrowed from previous designs, or in some cases, inspired future engine platforms (with the exception of the FJ series, which was designed solely with Rally competition in mind). For instance, the CA series initially borrowed design cues from the NAP-Z series. The CA18DET's DOHC head design was also later utilized in the "RB" engine series, the inline six engine that powered the famous Skyline GT-Rs. And of course, the VG series was the predecessor to the VQ, which powers the 350Z.

In North America:

The S12 chassis in North America was badged "200SX". The Coupe was available with a 2.0L SOHC engine (CA20E), while the hatchback received both the 2.0L SOHC engine, and a 1.8L SOHC Turbo (non-intercooled) engine (CA18ET). For 1987 in the United States, Nissan discontinued putting the 1.8 Turbo into the hatchback, and created the "SE" model which had the potent 3.0L SOHC V6 engine (VG30E), generating 160hp (120kW) and 165hp (123kW). This was the same engine offered in the non-turbo 300ZX for that generation.

In Europe:

The S12 chassis in Europe was badged Silvia, and was available only in the hatchback configuration. The engine available was the same 1.8L SOHC Turbo (CA18ET) used in North America, and in some areas the 2.0L DOHC "FJ" engine (FJ20E). The "FJ" engine series was originally designed for the 240RS rallycar as a 2.4L carbeurated system (FJ24), and was underbored to 2.0L. It also saw use in the "DR30" Nissan Skyline chassis, in both turbocharged and naturally aspirated versions.


The S12 chassis in Australia was badged as a Gazelle. The Gazelle was available in both the coupe and hatchback. It was equipped with the same 2.0L SOHC engine (CA20E) found elsewhere in the world.


The S12 chassis in Japan was badged as both a Silvia and a Gazelle. The Gazelle was produced so that Nissan's different dealership networks in Japan could all carry the Silvia. There are minor cosmetic differences. Both the S110 and S12 Silvias have a Gazelle counterpart. The S12 Silvia in Japan was available in a hatchback as a basic model only, but the S12 Gazelle in Japan was strictly a hatchback, available in regular, RS and RS-X variants, as was the Silvia notchback. The RS was equipped with the 2.0L DOHC "FJ" engine(FJ20E), while the RS-X was equipped with the same engine in a turbocharged version (FJ20ET). In 1987 Nissan discontinued to put in the FJ Series engine and installed the updated version of the older CA, with dual cams and a bigger turbocharger -- the CA18DET.



The S12 chassis in 1984-86 is referred to as "Mark I", with "Mark II" as a revision in '87. Below lists the description of both.

Mark I

The first trim of the S12 chassis. Bumpers featured matte-finish raised surfaces, and sides featured half-inch rubstripping. Cars featured a honeycomb radiator grille, and long cornerlights. '84 Turbo came with a "TURBO" monogrammed hood bulge accent. '84-85 could be had with a foam rubber deck spoiler. In '86 the foam rubber deck spoiler was changed for a fiberglass version w/ an integrated third brake light. Some hatchbacks and all Turbo models came with ground effects -- a combination of plastic mudflaps and accommodating foam rubber sideskirts, as well as a foam rubber lower deflection lip.

Mark II

In 1987, the bumpers were updated, and the matte finished surfaces were eliminated for a more uniform surface. Rubstripping was increased to 2-inch height w/ scribe detailing. The honeycomb radiator grille was replaced with a slatted version that spanned the entire front end (previous was shorter), and cornerlights were shortened. The "SE" model and the Turbo (Canada, Europe) came with new ground fiberglass ground effects and mudflaps, painted in the color of the car, and a new and more pronounced lower deflection lip in the front. "SE" model also received a new hood bulge design to accommodate clearance for the 3.0L V6. Optional rear mudflap accents were available.
Drivetrain Variations

The S13 Silvia, introduced in mid-1988 for the 1989 model year, was immensely popular in Japan. The Silvia name was no longer used on export models, however; European models were now known as 200SX. Following industry trends, the S13 Silvia switched to relampable fixed headlights. Projector optics were offered as an option.

The Silvia fastback was discontinued and replaced by a new model sharing the S platform, the Nissan 180SX. The 180SX continued using pop-up headlights. A convertible was briefly offered soon after the start of production, but it was never popular, perhaps due to high cost (3.25 million Yen in 1988), heavier curb weight, and chassis flex.

The S13 was one of the first uses of Nissan's multi-link rear suspension, the technology of which was previewed in concept cars in previous years, such as the Nissan MID 4. It also offered a four-wheel steering system for the first time, known as HICAS-II. In 1990, HICAS-II would be updated and renamed SuperHICAS. The S13 also saw the introduction of a viscous-type limited slip differential for some models.

S13 Silvias were initially powered by the CA18DE and CA18DET engines carried over from the end of S12 production, with an intercooler added to the CA18DET for a slight increase in stability and power. In mid 1990, (for the 1991 model year) the SR20DE and SR20DET engines debuted, offering improvements across the board in power and torque due to increased displacement and a more efficient turbocharger than was offered on the previous cars. One of the other simple changes that was made between the CA generation and the SR generation was switch to a single colour paint job, instead of the two-tone colour sets that were previously offered. On top of this, the SR motor later debuted another variant of the platform known simply as the 'Black Top'. Identifiable by its black and silver rocker-cover (as opposed to the traditional red/silver cover), it featured a number minor changes, resulting in little performance gain. It is vastly different to the more powerful 'black top' used in the S14 and S15 variants. Amazingly, a revised and revamped version of the Nissan SR20 engine that first appeared in the S13 is still in use today, as can be seen in the following sections of this page.

The S13 Silvia was replaced after the 1993 model year by the new S14 design. In 1998, the S13 Silvia was resurrected, in part. A variant was produced by Kid's Heart for Nissan called the Sileighty, which featured the 180SX body with the front end from the Silvia. The Sileighty style was originally created by Japanese enthusiasts for their own 180SX's, and is still a common modification for the 180SX and 240SX fastback. The Sileighty also made an appearance in a Japanese Anime and Manga series known as Initial D. The series (based around the Japanese motor sports of Touge and Drifting) featured the Sileighty in one of the last battles of the First Stage (or first season in the Anime).

Interestingly enough, the creation of the Sileighty then was to give birth indirectly to another version of the Silvia known as the Onevia. Based on the chassis of the S13, the front end of the Silvia would be removed and replaced with the front end of a 180sx or 240SX fastback. Unfortunately the Onevia was never retailed as a complete car as the Sileighty was, but is still very sought after by drifters, being seen to offer the best of both cars, the looks of a 180SX with the rigid rear end of the S13 Silvia. As with the Sileighty, this conversion is still very popular today for the S13, with kits readily available on places such as Ebay.
Trim Level Designation

The S13 Silvia was the first S-series car to use the J's , Q's, and K's (references to the face cards of English playing cards) designations for the different trim levels or "grades."

The J's was the base model with a very basic interior, few standard amenities, and 14" steel wheels. The Q's model offered a slightly more refined experience and received electric options and an available LSD. The K's grade received the turbocharged CA18DET or SR20DET (depending on the year of manufacture) in addition to the options offered on the Q's.

On top of the K's and Q's models, The Club and Diamond Selection packages came with specific options bundled together. For example, all K's Club Selections came with projector headlamps, a rear spoiler, and 15" aluminum wheels.

The rare Silvia A's "Almighty" was introduced in late 1992. Trim wise, the Almighty slotted between the J's and Q's, offering options not available on J's, but not including all the standard features of Q's. The Almighty was purportedly offered as a "purer" form of the sports car. The only available engine/transmission was the naturally-aspirated SR20DE coupled with the 4-speed automatic.

The S14 Silvia debuted in Japan at the end of 1993. It was lower and wider than the S13. New rounded styling contributed to the illusion of a much greater increase in size than actually occurred. Wheelbase and track were both increased, leading to slightly improved handling. Unlike export markets, where sales of the S14 chassis variants faltered, the Silvia remained popular in Japan.

Trim level designations were similar to the S13, however the Club Selection package was dropped. "Aero" variants of the Q's and K's were offered that featured large rear wings and mild ground effects.

The S14 Silvia K's received a new version of the SR20DET, boasting a slight bump in power due to the implementation of Nissan's variable valve timing system, VTC, and a larger T28 turbocharger.

There was a mild styling update to the S14 during 1996, which added aggressive-looking projector headlamps and tinted taillights to all models. Fascias and other exterior trim pieces were also revised. The turbocharger now used a more efficient ball bearing center section. This updated version is popularly known as the kouki (後期, literally "later period") S14, or by enthusiasts as the CS14. This car was sold as the second generation 240SX in North America from 1995-1998. The final model year of S14 production in all markets was 2000.

The Nismo 270R was a limited edition vehicle developed by Nissan Motorsports. The vehicle was built on the S14 chassis but had many enhancements over the Silvia. Only fifty 270Rs were ever built and they were only produced in 1994. The '270' is in reference to the horsepower of the unique car as opposed to the displacement of the engine (as other vehicles, including the 240sx, were previously named upon). The 270R featured a vented hood, Nismo 'Edge' Aero kit, heavy duty clutch, 2-way limited slip differential, and a front mount intercooler among many other upgrades. All the 270s were painted black with 'Nismo 270R' badging above the rear wheels and a product numbered plaque in the glove compartment.
Autech Version K's MF-T

Tuning company Autech, has a tuned adaption of the CS14 King's variant. This includes Aero style HUD with white displays and gauges for oil pressure, boost, and voltage in the centre console, along with a MOMO steering wheel and leather gear knob. The interior trim is also revised.

Handling improvements include multi-link suspension, firmer shocks and springs, front strut brace, and a rear sway bar. A large F40 style rear spoiler and aero bodykit with Autech indicators are also fitted. An "Autech Version K's MF-T" badge and sticker can be found on the boot.

An IHI ball bearing turbo (VN14) was fitted in favour of the Garrett T28 for slightly quicker response and flow. Larger 480 cc Injectors found in the later S15 Spec R's were also fitted as well as a thicker 80 mm intercooler also found in S15's. To help expel exhaust, a higher flowing Fujitsubo Giken (FGK) exhaust was fitted.

The engine is an Autech-tuned SR20DET that produces 182kW (245HP/250PS).

According to the Autech website, the vehicle is still available at a cost of ¥2.99 Million Yen ($USD26875).

Japan saw a new version of the Silvia (S15) in 1999, now boasting 250hp (184kW) from its SR20DET engine, thanks to a ball bearing turbocharger upgrade, as well as improved engine management. The SR20DE (non-turbo motor) featured only 165 hp (121 kW).

The S15 Silvia included aggressive styling inside and out, updating the previous Silvia styling in-line with modern car design trends.

The S15 Silvia model lineup was initially simplified to just the Spec-S (non-turbo) and Spec-R (turbo), both models offering an "Aero" variant with a large rear wing and side skirts/valances.

Spec-R Variant

The Spec-R differed from previous Silvia models by featuring a 6-speed manual transmission. The Spec-R also included extensive chassis and suspension strengthening via the use of larger anti-roll bars and strut bracing. The S15 featured the same 4-piston front brake calipers that were found in the S14 but included a larger brake booster.

One of the biggest changes to the S15 model of the Silvia was the implementation of a helical limited slip differential similar to that found in the 350Z. The result was a safer, more track suited drive; in some contrast to its drifting heritage and subsequent media attention.

As with many Nissan's, HICAS (High Capacity Active Steering) four wheel steering was available as an option.

Spec-S Variant

The Spec-S featured only a 5-speed manual transmission (in addition to a 4-speed automatic available on both the Spec-S and the Spec-R). It also lacked the additional chassis support of the Spec-R; featured 2-piston front brake caliper and a slightly smaller brake booster. The Spec-S also only featured the viscous limited slip differential, the same unit found in the S14.

The S15 line was later expanded to include various luxury and upgrade option packages for both the Spec-S and Spec-R. Autech, a specialty car developer, also offered several tuned versions of the S15; one with body and interior trim modeled after the Ferrari 456, called the style-A, available in both Spec-S and Spec-R based trims; and a second tuned version was based of the Spec-S trim level with the engine output increased to 200hp (150kW) through the use of increased compression, more aggressive camshafts, and free-breathing intake and exhaust tracts, along with ECU tuning and upgrades to the chassis and suspension. This version also included the 6-speed transmission and other upgrades normally found only in the Spec-R.

There was also a convertible variant of the Silvia, called the Varietta, featuring a folding retractable hardtop. The Varietta was built by Autech and was based on the Spec-S model, featuring the same naturally aspirated engine, with a choice of the 4-speed automatic transmission or the 5-speed manual transmission.

Production of the Silvia ended in August 2002 amidst Nissan's efforts to reduce its myriad of platforms. The S15 Silvia was therefore the last car to hold the Silvia badge. Sadly the car was only made in Japan, Australia and New Zealand and of which only for a relative short period of time 1999-2002. This has made the S15 a very unique model. Even in its home country of Japan it is becoming increasingly difficult to find original examples that have not had crash damage in some form or another.

Nissan's sole worldwide sports car platform is now the FM Platform, which underpins the current Fairlady Z marketed in the United States as the 350Z.

The S-series' claim to fame is that it is one of the world's most popular drift cars, especially the S13 through S15 vehicles. It also has a long history in road racing. Its sister, the 240SX S13, was a multiple-time champion in the IMSA GTU series which its Silvia counterpart had a one make series in Japan. Silvias have been raced successfully in the JGTC and its predecessors. S110 and S12 Silvias also enjoyed limited success in rallying before AWD cars (including Nissan's own Pulsar GTI-R) proceeded to dominate the sport. During the S13's production, there was a one-make series in Japan.
Future development

As of 2002, Nissan stopped producing the S platform with the S15-series Nissan Silvia being the final variant.

In early September 2007, it was confirmed by a few unnamed Japanese magazines that Nissan is planning a new 4-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive, turbo sports coupe. Evidence of this confirmed report has been popping up all over the web with photos of what appears to be a test mule FM chassis that has been heavily chopped down and welded back together. The test mule FM chassis has been shortened quite a bit from a normal 350Z and resembles what appears to be a much smaller hatchback hybrid (this can be seen in the images on the doors, roofline, front bumper and bonnet).

It is speculated that with the GTR being re-released into the market all over the world, with the absence of the Silvia for so long, and the run away success of Nissan's FM chassis (the 350Z and G35/G37 and upcoming GTR) that the market place is ready once again for an affordable, turbo, rear drive sports car.

The new iteration of the Silvia is rumored to be priced in a very affordable range of 21,000 to 23,000 USD and will be available as soon as 2010.

Nissan has neither confirmed nor denied any of the above claims, however, in 2003 and 2004, during a few key Nissan press conferences, Carlos Gohsn was asked about the Silvia in Japan, Australia and even the US. His response to the "Silvia" question was simply "It is a good time to be a Nissan fan. Keep your eyes and ears open around the time the new GTR is being released as you may find a surprise."

As of June 2008, rumors have been abound about the future of the new Silvia. Toyota and Subaru have officially announced a new rear-wheel-drive sports coupe to be introduced to the Japanese, European and American markets starting in 2011 (in fact a new test mule Toyota/Subaru chassis has been seen running around a few tracks in Japan). The new platform has been billed as a spiritual successor to the AE86, and will be priced between $20,000 - $23,000 USD. The new "Toybaru" coupe has yet to be named, but because of the similarity in price range and overall appearance, some believe that may be sold as the next generation Scion tC in North America. It's also worth mentioning that the second generation Toyota Avensis, which shares the same platform as the tC, is being phased out in favor of a new platform and design, which means the tC may need to be retooled as well.

A few days after the car's official announcement, reports from various Japanese car enthusiast magazines reported that their inside sources at Nissan have said "Nissan is not sitting back and taking the new Toyota/Subaru sports coupe lightly. A new Silvia will be available on the market before the end of 2010 and will be priced in direct competition with the new Toyota/Subaru sports coupe." The report went on to say "The new Silvia has in-fact been in development for over 3 years now and that it is being built on a modified FM platform." The motor for the car was discussed in the reports as well sighting that either a new 1.8 litre or 2.0 litre turbo charged, rear-wheel-drive, 4 cylinder engine will be used (that outputs nearly 250hp).

Again, nothing has been made official at this time, however, it is speculated heavily that the new Silvia platform resurrection will be officially announced within the next year at either the Tokyo Motor Show, LA Auto Show or Detroit Motor Show.

At the 2008 Nissan360 conference, Infiniti of America confirmed that they are planning on releasing a brand new BMW 1-Series fighter by 2011 (this new car is to be slotted below the G35/G37 series as a entry level vehicle for Infiniti much like the old Infiniti G20 was). This announcement gives fuel to the new Silvia fire as from a marketing and financial standpoint, it would be very unprofitable of Nissan to build a brand new, compact, RWD car to compete directly with the BMW 1-series and not use the chassis in any other Nissan or Infiniti branded cars. Nissan had a glimpse of what the new 1-Series competitor would look like on hand in the form of a top-down view plastic mold of the car. The only definitive details the mold showed was the body lines, that the car was definitely smaller than the current Nissan 350Z/G37 and that it was looking to be a hatchback styled chassis.

During Nissan’s GT2012 meeting held May 2008, a new side view image of the upcoming FR sports coupe due to go on sale in 2010 was briefly shown. The image reveals just enough information to give a good idea of what the final shape of the car will be and, going by similar images of the next generation Z12 Cube and Z34 Fairlady Z (370Z) which were also revealed at the meeting, Nissan isn’t going to let the new FR coupe loose without its own unique identity.

Mechanical specifications for the new sports coupe include a 2 liter inline 4 cylinder engine using Nissan’s VCR (Variable Compression Ratio) technology and Nissan's own VVEL system (similar to what is used in the VQ35HR and VQ37HR engines found in the 350Z/370Z/G37 Platforms.) Power is still rumored to be 250hp with 215lbs of torque to move the 2900lbs coupe around.

The FR sports coupe will position itself at the bottom of Nissan’s performance car tree, being the cheapest in price but offering a more sports orientated driving experience compared to the more expensive G37 Sports Coupe. Once the new entry level FR sports coupe is released, it will emphasize Nissan’s performance car range as one which is well defined and offers plenty of choices, which is in complete contrast to earlier on in the decade.

Nissan’s 2.0L FR sports coupe is still expected to sell at around 2,500,000 yen.

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