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And then there was the beginning ....

The history of the Silvia Coupe started as far back as from the mid 1960's with the entrance of Nissan Model CSP311. The model developed and begun after German designer Count Albrecht Graf Goertz signed on as a consultant with Nissan in 1963, staying on until 1965.

Goertz was trained as an engineer in Germany and in the 1950ís, he traveled to the United States where he worked for Studebaker on the design of the Studebaker Starliner. After the massive project had completed, he was to return to Germany where he was employed by BMW. There he was commissioned with the work of the gorgeous BMW 507 Convertible. Having accomplished much in BMW, he later moved on to Porsche where he was engaged as part of the design team working on the famous Porsche 911 Turbo.

Having acquired vast experience in designing coupe, his next career move saw him with Nissan as a development consultant. Albrecht Goertz was engaged primarily to help developed a 2000GT sports car in a joint venture between Nissan and Yamaha. However the project was scrapped after Yamaha's engine didn't live up to its expectations. Albeit his association with Nissan was brief, Albrecht Goertz did left behind a couple of important things for Nissan. The first was getting Nissan designers to build their cars using a full scale clay mock ups, and also to get them to think about designing in an international context rather than just for the domestic Japanese buyers. The second thing was his provision of guidance on the design the Nissan Silvia Coupe CSP311 1600 in 1964 that started what was to become a long history Silvia Coupes in the later years and the drift culture that embedded the sports car scene today.

According to Goertz, the Nissan Japanese designers saw the design process of the Nissan Silvia Coupe CSP311 as being an amalgamation of separate ideas. Goertz designed the car as a single entity that included many of his trademark features seen previously on cars like the BMW 507 Convertible, such as a long bonnet line that lunges forward with an open grille, large wheels and wheel arches and small, delicate bumper bars. The Nissan Silvia CSP311 was the first Japanese car designed using a full scale clay mock-up and was the showpiece of the Tokyo Auto show that year.

According to the Chief Designer, Mr. Ootake, the name "Silvia" came from a Greek Mythology and was the name of a beautiful Nymph. According to the Roman Mythology (which borrows from the Greek) Silvia was the mother of Romulus and Remus (By Mars) and was the daughter of King Numitor. Her uncle gave her to the goddess Vesta after birth.





CSP311 SILVIA (1964 ~ 1968 )
The design of the Nissan Silvia CSP311 was very roadster-like. It made its public debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in September of 1964 and the design immediately won great acclaim and the hearts of the masses. It went into production shortly in March of 1965. Nissan CSP311 Silvia was a completely hand built limited edition 2-seater coupe. It was built upon on the chassis of Datsun FairLady 1500 (SP310).

Designed by Kazuo Kimura, with assistance from Albrecht Goertz, the prototypes engine at the Tokyo Motor Show featured the Fairlady's 1500 engine. The actual production of this Silvia however, benefited from the 1595cc unit later used in the Fairlady 1600 (SP311), released in 1965. The bore size was 87.2mm and the stroke 66.8mm. It was fitted with two 38mm Hitachi SU carbs and a lightweight pressed steel exhaust manifold. It produced 96hp at 6000rpm and 103ft-lb of torque at 4000rpm. It was said to have a top speed of 165km\h.

Unfortunately the CSP311 was only built in small numbers (554 cars) due to its complexity of hand assembly. Since all but one prototype, were right hand drive and about 90% of the Silvia's were sold in Japan, there were none in USA or Europe and so its existence was unknown to almost any car enthusiasts.

The only left hand drive version was tested in the USA by Bob Sharp who described her as a 'nifty car'. However the Silvia was not sold in the USA because her interior cabin was considered too small for the Americans.

A small number of Silvias were used as Highway Patrol cars in Japan at that time as it was their fastest production car. The method of hand forming each body panel against a wooden jig and welding it to a FairLady chassis was a slow and laborious way of building these cars. It was definitely not the ideal way of mass production. The parts from any of two CSP311 were not interchangeable as they were each unique to each car. It was also one the most expensive car ever built by a Japanese manufacturer in 1965, costing 1,200,000 Yen which was 45% more than the FairLady Roadster it was based on. Needless to say, it was at a time when very few car enthusiasts in the rest of the world knew anything about the Japanese car industry.

After the production ended in 1968, the model name Silvia wasn't used until 1974 when another Silvia was introduced.





S10 SILVIA ( 1974 ~ 1979 )
The year 1974 saw Nissan restoring the heritage of Silvia with a new sports coupe. It was called the S10 and was introduced ironically as the original ďSilviaĀEversion sports car in Japan. The S10 in Japan was powered by a L18B engine rated at 90BHP.

Back then, the Nissan US (then known as Datsun) was pondering for a change in its outdated and yet established line of sports cars. The 280Z was their only sports coupe in America; however it grew heavy comparatively with other makes and models over the years and had a tough chance of meeting the ever tightening strict emissions standards with their OHC Inline 6 L28 engine. Datsun decided that something had to be done in order to save their market share in US.

Lucky in 1974, Japan had a sport coupe that was not only fuel efficient, but also cheap to produce and fun to drive. That coupe was known as the Silvia S10 which happened to be a new model in Japan that year. It was powered by a small version of the 280Z engine. This was undesirable as Datsun was trying to get away from this line of engine during when the oil crisis was escalating. A new Silvia had to be created; it would be one that was viable for the American market. In any case, some thing had to be done urgently in order to get a foothold in the American market early before the new design was conceived. And so the interim plan was to send the Silvia S10 over in 1977. However, instead of a L18B engine used for Japan, a larger L20B engine was used to power the S10 for the US market.

As Nissan had used engine sizes all through the Z line as their names (240Z was 2.4L, 280Z was 2.8L), they aptly named the car the 200SX. Many people actually became confused at this point and call the car the 200ZX, which it was not. The Z named cars were Nissan's "Best of the Best". As Nissan put it bluntly; naming it with the "... East letter in the alphabet for the last word in performance ... "

The 200SX, on the other hand, was not built as a supercar, but rather as something fun and reliable. That was why it received the 'S' in the naming structure which stands for 'Sport'. If you're wondering about the " X " that was introduced to the car naming structure in the late 70's; it was to signify that the car had luxury options and you can add those options to the car during the purchase.

The odd Datsun Silvia S10 was truly a weird looking car; a fact which left it with few devoters in those days. This was particularly true in the USA where the cars were fitted with federal safety bumpers which ruined the car's original lines.



S110 Coupe


S110 HatchBack

S110 SIIVIA ( 1979 ~ 1983 )
The S10 Nissan Silvia was replaced by the S110 in 1979. The S110 was sold both as a Silvia and a Gazelle. The Gazelle was a more luxury spec of the base model. The S110 this time round had a large choices of models and engines. The L series engine was featured in most models. The L20B, 1952cc 4-cylinder producing 89kW engine was exported to US as 200SX/S110. The new Z series engine, the Z18ET, with the T standing for Turbocharged, was featured in Silvia 1800 LSE-X(e-PS110). The engine made its appearance in a few Nissan models, most notably in the Turbo Silvia and Gazelle. This 1770cc engine generated a hot 135 horsepower at 6000 rpm.

The original coupe S110 Silvia was joined by a hatchback version in August 1979. Many countries only ever received this hatchback version of the S110 Silvia . The last version of the S110 was probably the best of the bunch. Launched in October 1981, it was called the 2000RS. The chassis was based on the S110 model. The 2000RS was powered by the potent FJ20E, a rally-bred DOHC 16V 2000cc engine generating a horsepower of 150BHP; capable of propelling the car to a top speed of 192km/h. The 2000RS was available in both Silvia and Gazelle bodies. In 1982-83 the S110 was furnished with other options such as a 4 wheel disc brakes and a H165 differential.




S12 Coupe


S12 HatchBack

S12 SILVIA ( 1983 ~ 1988 )
In 1983, Nissan S12 Silvia was launched. Once again it had both the Silvia and Gazelle version being released together. This new S12 was not only faster, but had more headroom, a more luxurious interior, a stiffer chassis and 'advanced anti-rust protection' as Nissan called it.

The 1980ís were the era of turbochargers and power craze, seen on everything from the Jaguar XJ220, the Ferrari F40 and other high-end super cars. So the S12 also had to have a turbocharged option as well. The all new FJ20 or FJ20DET ( T for turbo) 2L 16V 4 cylinder engines was introduced which endowed with a greater compression, more power and better fuel mileage from it's dual spark plug design. The S12 with the 2 litre engine was known as 200SX. Export models of the S12 had either the CA18E or the CA18DET. The CA18 was a 1.8L, 8V "twin plug" engines aptly named as 180SX. Among this entire engines group, the engine that everyone lusted after was the 1.8L Turbo. This turbocharged engine, although smaller, boasted 20 more horsepower than the basic 2.0L engine and used less gas than it's bigger 2.0L brother. The bulge in the bonnet shown in this photo was restricted to the four cylinder turbo versions.

From its introduction until production ended in 1987, the Nissan S12 Silvia received rave reviews and sold thousands of cars. In 1987, the US market calls for more drivability and laggy turbocharged engine was dropped. To replace it, the 200SX-SE was created with VG20 2.0 V6 engine, which pumped out more torque and bigger horsepower numbers to woo the potential buyers. Paradoxically however it wasnít much faster than its predecessor.




S13 Silvia Coupe


S13 180SX / 200SX HatchBack

S13 SILVIA ( 1989 ~ 1995 )
Of all the Silvias that Nissan conceived from the past to the future models pending to be launched, the S13 was probably the only model that was most controversial. It had the most number of variances in terms of engine option and chassis styles. Even after more than 10 years of its introduction, car enthusiasts around the globe are still trying to figure out how and why Nissan named this cult machine in various parts of the world. Here I shall attempt to shed some light on these issues.

Introduced in 1988, the S13 had no less than three body styles in the original form. There were the coupe version, hatchback and the convertible. The Japanese domestic cars were powered either by the CA18DE or the CA18DET engine. USA had the KA24DE engine. The KA24DE engine had 12 valves in 1989 & 16 valves version from 1991onwards. HICAS (4-wheel steering) was also available as an option on domestic and export models although there were restrictions in some trim levels. In Japan, trim levels were J's, Q's and K's. Export market cars had a pop-up headlights which was codenamed as either RS13 or as in the later years, RPS13 which was endowed with a SR20DET engine. These were also commonly known as 180SX in Australia and European countires and/or 200SX in Asia. The domestic Japanese models had fixed rectangular lights and known generally as "Silvia" in the country.

When a newer S14 was introduced, a 2Litre engine called the SR20DET was developed for it. Running along side with the production of the predecessor, the S13 also benefited itself with the SR20DET engine capable of higher horse power. This made the drifty car even more tail-happy. With the transplant of the SR20DET, Nissan once again renamed the RS13/RPS13 as PS13 Silvia ( rectangle headlights ) or as PS13 200SX ( with pop-up lights ) and continued to be sold in Japan until its production ended in 1995.


Chassis Numbering on S13's
89-91 Silvia: S13 (1.8)
91-93 Silvia PS13 (2.0)
Early 1.8 litre 180SX or 200SX: RS13
Later 2.0 litre 180SX or 200SX: RPS13
1995 onwards 2.0 litre 200SX: PS13 (production along side with S14)

***** Oddities: *****

"Sil-Eighty"



The "Sil-Eighty" or "SIL80" was a common conversion of the Nissan 180SX in Japan. The SIL80 consisted of a Nissan 180SX body with the Nissan Silvia S13 front, but with the rear end styling from the PS13 180SX. This is what one correspondent had to say about the Sil-Eighty:

"....in Japan, drivers kept smashing the front ends of their 180SXs into mountains or whatever when they were drifting.... simply put, the S13 Silvia front end was cheaper than a 180SX front so they put the Silvia fronts on as a temporary fix....."


This caused a craze in Japan and it was basically the look in Japan for young drivers. Nissan had been observing that many of their 180's have been going around with Silvia fronts, and (for an unknown reason) they built a hybrid and released it in 1994. This hybrid was known as the "SIL-EIGHTY", which was exterior-wise just a PS13 with a S13 front end. Changes went further than just the body chassis. There were improvements to the camshafts and the ECU, which gave roughly 16~18Kw more (not sure about how much more torque) than both the Silvia and 180SX. The suspension was also tweaked for drifting purposes.

Genuine Sil-Eighty's are snap-tail happy, given too much power thru a corner would resulted in a drift, or even a spinout if you try too hard... Nissan only made about 400 genuine Sil-Eighty and documented examples. Just about all were snapped up upon their release. Now at auctions they apparently go for as much as immaculate R32 skyline GT-Rs"

"One-Via"




Extending this idea to the next stage, one can take a 180SX nose, and put it onto an S13 Silvia. Apparently it's not that hard to do (if you have both). The result is what drivers called a "One-via".
Note that there is no factory-built car bearing this codename designation.


"Strawberry face Silvia"



With the introduction of the Silvia S15 in the later years, Silvia enthusiast had yet another creative combination for the S13. It resulted in the newest oddity: the SIL1580 (180SX with an S15 nose).

This is not a factory product, but kits are available from a number of Japanese styling houses such as TOP SECRET. Incidentally, the word "strawberry" comes from the fact that one - five is pronounce as "Ichi - Go" in Japanese which also means strawberry and "face" is the front of the car.


"S13 convertible"



There were also limited edition S13 convertibles, built around 1992 to 1994 (Convertible was the only body style available in 1994). A few hundred cars were built by the factory to use up the last lot of the S13 coupe chassis. All of the original convertibles produced by Nissan were painted in "Royal Blue". It was based on the fixed headlights models of the Silvia, rather than the chassis of 180SX/240SX (PS13) pop-ups headlights. There had been several conversions nevertheless. In the US, the 240SX S13 convertible could be found. The distinguish feature included the pop-up headlights, left-hand drive and a 240SX badge at the rear ( Picture above ).


**********************



S14 Coupe


S14a Coupe

S14 SILVIA ( 1993 ~ 1998 )
First launched in 1993, along side with the enduring S13, all chassis numbers were prefixed with an "S14" It was clothed in a new styling, a longer chassis and a pair of fixed headlights. Pop-up headlights disappeared in all markets. The new SR20DET engine also received Nissan's new variable valve timing. HICAS was not an option for export models, except the 240SX SE. This time round the S14 was produced only in coupe styling; no hatch, or convertible. Rear badges were highly polished and labeled on the right side on the rear. Japanese trim levels were J's, Q's & K's, similar to the S13 Silvia. Export models had two or three levels depending on the export destination. All except North America received the SR20DET. In Japan, Turbo cars had a 3-gauge cluster under the radio consisiting of an Oil Pressure, Boost and Voltage gauges. Export cars did not have this items as stock trim.

In 1995, the S14 received a headligh face lift. It was lossely known as S14a. The R33 look-alike headlights were discarded and replaced with a more aggressive looking headlight which tapered towards the center of the car.





S15 SILVIA ( 1999 ~ 2002 )
The latest and probably the last line of Silvia models was introduced on the 16th January 1999. Some suspension parts were derived from the R34 Skyline, and having an aluminum chassis reduced its overall weight. Considerable effort was focused on tightening up the body.

Two models were available: Spec-S and Spec-R. Power output of the updated SR20DET in Japan and NZ is around 186KW (250HP) for the manual and 164KW (220HP) for the Auto. Australian imported cars remained at 147KW. This time round a 6-speed manual transmission was coupled with the more powerful SR20DET on the turbo models. In Australia, manual versions came with the Helical LSD (similar to that of the R34 GT-R) and Autos retained the Viscous LSD. Other markets S15 Spec-S also received the viscous LD whilst the S15 Spec-R had the Helical. Australian models did not include the climate control air-conditioning, boost gauge and/or the rear wiper. Black was added in place of Shiraz in the Australian line-up. Yellow was introduced to the colour lineup in March 2001.




S15 "Varietta"
When the S15 was released in 1999, there was only a coupe version of it, but in the later unexpected move ( as usual ) by Nissan, it introduced the "Silvia Convertible" and beautifully named it as "Varietta", It was developed by Autech. Mechanically, the car uses the SR20DE engine with a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto transmission. The rear of the car was slightly longer than original S15 to accomodate the electronic convertible. The car was never officially exported outside Japan although I have seen at least one imported S15 convertible "Varietta" cruising around happily on the roads of Singapore.




The End of the Silvia pedigree ...
Sadly, after 27 years of battling generation, Nissan is finally calling it a day for the Silvia ancestors. It is giving way to the ever tightening emission regulations enforce around the world. The year 2002 saw the final production of S15 Silvia and with that, the demise of the legendary tail happy drift pedigree. There will never be a S16 Silvia any more to continue the ancestry. Oh! What bitter words are these ! ....What a pity!



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