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How the Nissan Silvia Became a Car World Classic

Updated on June 17, 2014

When Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) fans hear about the Nissan Silvia, what do you think comes to mind? The Nissan Silvia is a classic that has spanned from the 1960s all the way until the early 2000s, cementing its mark in the Japanese car industry. Its versatility allows it to be modified and customized to the driver's preference, making it the ultimate personalized ride. The Nissan Silvia is a long line of sport coupes based on the Nissan S platform and originally made its debut in 1964 at the Tokyo Motor Show. Over its lifespan, the Nissan Silvia undergone plenty of changes and upgrades and constantly evolving as a vehicle. Although, the Nissan Silvia is no longer in production, car enthusiasts all over the world still reminisce fondly of the Silvia because of the mark it has made in the Japanese car industry. It's not often that one would see a Silvia on the road today, but when they do appear on the road, they definitely bring back nostalgic memories of the nineties.

CSP311 (1963-1968):

In 1964, the Silvia name was introduced as a hand-built coupe inspired by the Fairlady convertible. There was only 554 units made, with every unit uniquely made with hand-formed body panels. The name Silvia was to be unused until 1974.

S10 (1975):

The S10 was built with many luxury features, but wasn't very popular in America. It was named the 200SX and had a "5 mph" bumper on the car. This coupled with the fact that Americans weren't ready for the idea of a Japanese sports car. Sales in Japan weren't that great either, as many Japanese preferred the Toyota Celica over the Silvia. The Silvia just had too many traditional lines than other vehicles and wasn't popular at all.

S110 (1979):

This Silvia version is unusual because it was supposed to feature a rotary engine; however, it was incredibly unreliable and production was stalled. It also shared the same chassis code as the doomed Mazda Cosmo, which also featured a rotary engine. After the S110 was released, it was shortly redesigned with piston engines replacing the rotary.

S12 (1983):

This series included pop-up headlamps and CA-series engine. In US and Canada, models were still known as 200SX even though the engine displacement varied anywhere between 1.8L to 3.0 liters. Both coupes and hatchbacks were also available.

S13 (1988):

This model was tremendously popular in Japan, although the name Silvia wasn't used on exported models anymore. European models were know called the 200SX and switched to re-lampable fixed headlights with projector optics as an added option. After the Silvia fastback was discontinued, the 180SX replaced it. There was a convertible version briefly offered, but it was unpopular because it was so expensive ($27,000 USD in 1988).

The S13 Silvia was discontinued after the 1993 model year for the S14 design; however, in 1998 the S13 Silvia was brought back to life again. The S13 Silvia used playing card faces to name the trim levels for the cars. The J trim (Jack) was the base level with a basic interior, the Q trim (Queen) is the mid-level trim, and the K trim (King) had turbo charged engines. The very top of the line was the Club Selection and Diamond Selection packages that came with bonuses like projector headlights, aluminum wheels, and a rear spoiler.

There is also a rare trim called the Silvia Almighty in 1992 that was a mid-range vehicle in naturally aspirated SR20DE.

S14 (1993):

The S14 Silvia was lower, wider, and shorter than the S13 with a new rounded styling that gave the illusion that it was larger than it actually was. The S14 Silvia was very popular in Japan, even though it wasn't that popular in exported countries. In 1997, a mild styling update included projector headlamps for all models and dark tinted tail lights.

S15 (1999):

The newest and last version of the Silvia had 250 hp with a turbocharger upgrade. The new S15 had some pretty aggressive styling, better chassis and suspension and a 6-speed manual transmission. The S15 had an effective helical limited slip unit. There were two models of the S15 Silvia, the Spec-S as the non turbo and the Spec-R as the turbo version. There were also various upgrades and packages involved. Autech offered a special version of the S15 that was modeled after the Ferrari 456, called style A. The convertible version of the S15 was called the Varietta with a folding retractable hardtop. Silvias are also very popular in the world of car modification because of their versatility.

Car enthusiasts could have added all sorts of modifications to upgrade their Silvia, like LED lights, LED Daytime Running Lights, body kits, and all sorts of add-ons to make their Silvia unique. The Silvia was practically perfect for anyone who dabbles in the world of DIY and loves to create personalized vehicles, as the Silvia could be manufactured into a form of self-expression.

However, the Nissan Silvia officially ended production in 2002 because of Nissan's efforts to reduce all of the platforms and models of its vehicles. Today, Nissan only has the FM Platform that manifests itself in vehicles that include the Fairlady Z (370Z) and the Infiniti G. The Nissan Silvia definitely had a great run, starting as an unpopular underdog to something of a classic. There is absolutely no doubt that this car has a rich history and will have its permanent place in the car world.


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    • ijdmtoy profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Many thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

    • mattdigiulio profile image


      4 years ago

      What a neat car, I knew little about. Thanks for the informative hub, on the great car that was living somewhat in the Skyline's shadow. Upvoted.


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