As far as coupes go, none has quite been as versatile as the Nissan Silvia. Its body styles varied from a 2-door coupe to a 4-door sedan, 2-door fastback, a convertible, and finally, a sports car. From its roots in the initial Datsun 180SX, underpinned by the Nissan Datsun CSP311 platform and powered by a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder R14 engine, to a 3.0-litre VG30E V6 engine on the Nissan S12, the Silvia has stood its ground against rivals like the Honda Prelude, Mazda MX-6, Toyota Celica, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Isuzu Impulse, and Honda Integra.
Datsun Coupe 1500
The Nissan Silvia debuted in 1964 as the Datsun Coupe 1500. It rolled out as a classy 2-door rear-wheel-drive coupe inspired by the Fairlady convertible model and the Lancia Fulvia coupe. It came with a 1.6-litre inline-four engine and twin SU carburettors that produced 71 kW. However, production stopped in 1968 with only 554 total units built.
S10 (1975 to 1983)
In 1975, the Silvia officially took hold with the release of the S10, a rear-wheel-drive car built on Nissan’s S platform. The S10 was curvier, and this characteristic set it apart from its rivals like Toyota and Mazda. Its engine was a 1.8-litre L18 inline-four engine which pushed power to the wheels through a 3-speed 3N71 automatic transmission. It also had newly-styled bumpers and featured leaf spring suspension.
Nissan brought out the newer S110 that came as a two-door hardtop coupe or a 3-door hatchback. Nissan had designed it to feature a rotary engine that later turned to be unreliable. Its design was similar to the Leopard sedan and coupe. The S10 got a redesign in the next release that came with a two series range and double-plug conventional piston engine system.
The new design saw brand new bumpers and a restyled front fascia. The S110 held up performance-wise with a varied range of engines in the subsequent years, with the permanent one being the DOHC FJ20 engine. Nissan allowed different designers to tweak the Silvia according to demands by consumers, which led to the development of the Australian Nissan Gazelle. Small upgrades, like updated grille designs and taillight lenses, differentiated these designs.
S12 (1983 to 1989) / Nissan Gazelle
In 1983 before Samsung's S12, Nissan launched its S12, which was a coupe and a hatchback. It came with different powertrains that included 1.8-litre CA18S/E/DE I4, 1.8-litre CA18ET/CA18DET turbo I4, 2.0-litre CA20E I4, 2.0-litre FJ20E I4, 2.0-litre FJ20ET I4 turbo, and 3.0-litre VG3OE V6 engines, all paired with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or 4-speed L4N71/E4N71 automatic transmission. The Australian S12, aka the Nissan Gazelle coupe or hatchback, arrived in October 1983 featuring a 2.0-litre SOHC CA20E engine coupled with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
It was offered in two trim levels – GL and SGL – which featured alloy wheels, mud flaps, power windows, variable intermittent wipers, armrest, carpet kick pads, air conditioning, power steering and power sunroof.
The new S13 rolled off the dock in the 1989 release as 2-door coupes or 2-door convertibles, and later, as 2-door fastbacks. All three were available in either CA18DE or CA18DET engine but which were replaced by SR20DE and SR20DET after a while.
The S14 sprung to life in 1993 with a rounder and broader design model that made it appear bigger. It still featured the S platform and came in different engine, which used 2.0-litre SR20DET, 2.0-litre SR20DET inline-four, and 2.4-litre KA24DE inline-four engines. The striking features of the S14 were the projector lamps and the darker taillights.
S15 / Nissan 200SX
1994-2000 (Luxury, Sports, and Sports Ltd)
The S15 variant caught on in Australia from 1994 to 2003 and is now named the Nissan 200SX with its modern and aggressive styling, featuring large rear wing and valances/side skirts. The S15/200SX was released in the country in 1994 as a 2-door, 4-seat coupe with three trim levels, namely, the Luxury (base model), Sports, and Sports Limited. The base trim was fully equipped with the following:
Dual front airbags, ABS, air conditioning, alarm with remote anti-theft, alloy wheels, CD player, central locking with remote control, front fog lights, limited-slip-differential, leather steering wheel, power mirrors, power steering, power sunroof, power windows, radio cassette with six speakers, and a rear spoiler
Its power was generated by a 2.0-litre SR20DET 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (147 kW, 265 Nm) mated to a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual gearbox. This was a detuned version, since the Japanese-spec version produced as high as 184 kW of power and 275 Nm torque.
2001-2003 (Spec R, Spec S, and GT)
In 2001, new trim levels were offered, namely, Spec R, Spec R GT, Spec S, and Spec S GT. The Spec R trim’s standard equipment now included tilt & telescopic-adjustable steering wheel, brake assist engine immobiliser, and sports seats, while its GT counterpart added 16-inch alloy wheels, body kit, and leather trim.
The Spec R trim was available in Aisin Seiki 6-speed manual gearbox and 4-speed automatic transmission and strengthened chassis and suspension (superior bracing and anti-roll bars, helical limited-slip differential, and improved piston brake callipers similar to the ones seen on the Nissan 300ZX.
Like the Spec R, the Spec S trim was also available in 6-speed manual gearbox and 4-speed automatic transmission. The Spec S was built as a toned-down version of the Spec R in most markets. In Australia, however, it used the same chassis support structure and helical differential.
The GTs, which would be the last 200SX trims to be introduced, featured silver-chrome-finished wheels, updated rear wing, sports pedal, chrome-surround gear selector, and chrome interior door handles.
Possible Return of Nissan Silvia
There’s much speculation around the Silvia product line, especially with the preview of the Nissan Foria concept in 2011. It featured a new coupe design with rear suicide doors. Nissan has dropped hints that the release might feature an electric battery, but it is not official. However, we hope it will be able to hold its own against new coupe entries in the market like Ford’s Mustang, the Mazda MX-5, the Nissan 370Z, the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 86.
With the new Nissan Silvia possibly debuting soon, the old Nissan Silvias are still functional around up to this day. If you need parts to restore a decommissioned unit, Carpart.au.com is a must-visit website for you. It specialises in auto parts supply, and you may even source entire cars of every make and model. Check us out now!