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1989 Nissan Silvia K's Coupe (PS13) - Overloaded

When used-car shopping goes from GT-R to Levin to Silvia, life is good

Aaron Bonk
Apr 24, 2017
Photographer: Jofel Tolosa

For Eriel Ferrera, Nissan's R32 Skyline GT-R is one big, fat disappointment. Orders from the U.S. Navy that re-stationed him to Japan meant the all-wheel-drive '90s supercar he'd long idolized could now be his. But inflated prices and a car that didn't turn out to be as rare as he'd thought meant the R32 just wasn't for him.

1989 nissan silvia k coupe chargespeed rear quarter panels Photo 2/12   |   1989 Nissan Silvia K Coupe Chargespeed Rear Quarter Panels

Toyota's Levin was also on Ferrera's wish list, but near extinction of the little RWD compact resulted in going rates that were higher than just about any R32. Still, the search went on while Ferrera's criteria wavered little: Whatever it is he'd buy had to be unique. It also had to be at least a quarter-century old if it'd ever legally make its way Stateside following his deployment.

Another Honda was also out of the question—a brand Ferrera's been cozy with ever since he started driving—which led him to Nissan's PS13. It's no GT-R, but the top-of-the-rung K's model with its HICAS steering system and blacktop version of the already turbocharged SR20DET, it's no chump, either.

Nissan's S-chassis was new to Ferrera, but it wasn't a total mystery. He'd owned a 350Z at one point, which meant he knew his way around the brand enough to get started. "I had a lot of friends [who'd] owned S-chassis growing up," he says, "and [I'd] spent countless hours and long nights helping them work on their cars. I had a rough idea on [what it'd be like] to work on an S13."

1989 nissan silvia k coupe sr20det blacktop engine Photo 6/12   |   1989 Nissan Silvia K Coupe Sr20det Blacktop Engine

But Ferrera's stationed in Japan, which means garage space is limited and, besides, he was busy most of the time doing Navy things. All of which led him to N-Stage's Watanabe-san, a move that's proven to be among the smartest Ferrera's made as far as that Silvia of his goes. "Upon my first visit to the shop, I instantly trusted him," Ferrera says about the man and the workshop that's typically full of a handful of D1GP cars and, the day Ferrera first visited, famed driver NOB Taniguchi's own S15. As far as credentials go, that was enough.

This S13's nearly three decades old, which meant it wasn't some factory-preserved, unscathed specimen by the time Ferrera got hold of it. "When I purchased it, she had most of the engine modifications I wanted, but the car needed a lot of work," he says—work that he wanted to do, like bolting on new suspension and a Tomei exhaust as well as work he didn't want to do, like figuring out why the car's cooling fan relays kept blowing.

1989 nissan silvia k coupe nardi classic steering wheel Photo 7/12   |   1989 Nissan Silvia K Coupe Nardi Classic Steering Wheel

But all you care about are those engine mods this Silvia already had, like the Tomei turbo upgrade, intake manifold, and cams that, along with the car's A'PEXi Power FC, are good for 400 whp. It's nothing at all like the R32 he thought he wanted or the GS430 he'd owned just before all of this, and it was perfect.

For Ferrera, this S13 is just about the best car he never knew he even wanted. Once stationed overseas, his criteria for what sort of car he'd lay down the Yen for was simple: "I started to think of which cars I'd want to build that'd fall under the 25-year rule so I could bring one back to the States with me when I left Japan," he says. It's that sort of forward thinking that led to the idea of the R32, the Levin, and even a late-'80s Soarer with its 7M-GTE Supra engine that almost happened. And then practicality happened. "I had an epiphany," he says about just how unrealistic it'd be to own something like a Soarer a whole Pacific Ocean away from the nearest auto parts store that sells the sort of things he might need to keep it running. "I realized that I should buy an S13," he says. "They're extremely popular in Japan, I can source parts from Up Garage or Yahoo! Auctions easily while I'm here, and when I take her back to the States, I can source parts for her just as easily there."

1989 nissan silvia k coupe chargespeed front fender Photo 11/12   |   1989 Nissan Silvia K Coupe Chargespeed Front Fender

Nobody can accuse Ferrera of not making sense, and that sort of logic's revealed in just how purposefully modded this S13 is. Fortune Auto coilovers and brakes from a Z32 mean he didn't forget about things like turning and stopping before having the car resprayed with its Chargespeed fenders all around and Vertex aero. All told, it's exactly the sort of daily driver turned show car that Ferrera was gunning for, the latter of which will come to be once the it's delivered to the U.S. For now, though, Ferrera commutes to work and back in this S13 and with nary the hiccup this side of an ear-sensitive neighbor who didn't appreciate that Tomei exhaust of his. "My neighbor called the cops on me because he hated hearing my loud [exhaust] every morning, so I was forced to replace it for a much quieter canister," he says. As far as setbacks go, we've seen worse.

"This S13 was my first S-chassis," Ferrera says, "so working on her was definitely a learning process for me." And for Ferrera, this S13's no R32 GT-R, but 400 whp and a car that checks all the boxes off practically mean that couldn't matter any less.

1989 nissan silvia k coupe work meister s1 wheels Photo 12/12   |   1989 Nissan Silvia K Coupe Work Meister S1 Wheels
By Aaron Bonk
406 Articles
1989 Nissan Silvia K's Coupe (PS13) - Overloaded
Tuning Menu
Owner: Eriel Ferrera
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Occupation: U.S. Navy
Power: 400 whp
Engine: SR20DET black-top engine; Nismo engine mounts, 770cc injectors; Tomei Poncams, rocker arm stoppers, valvesprings, intake manifold, M8270 turbo, fuel pressure regulator, wire cover; metal head gasket; ARC oil pan; HPI front-mount intercooler; AEM fuel pump; Splitfire coil pack; Kakimoto Racing exhaust; HPI radiator and hoses; twin cooling fans; custom test pipe, aluminum radiator and power steering reservoirs
Drivetrain: Spec stage 3 clutch and flywheel
Engine Management: A'PEXi Power FC engine management
Footwork & Chassis: Fortune Auto coilovers; Swift springs; S14 front knuckles and lower control arms; custom tension rods
Brakes: OEM Z32 calipers
Wheels & Tires: 18x10.5" +5 front, 18x11 -10 rear Work Meister SP1 wheels; 225/35R18 front, 255/35R18 rear Federal 595 RS-RR tires; 5x114 conversion
Exterior: Vertex aero; Chargespeed front fenders, rear quarter-panels; East Bear mirrors; OEM R32 Skyline grille; D-Max carbon-fiber hood, wing, trunk spoiler; AeroCatch hood latches; D-Maz parking lights, LED taillights; custom skidplate; gunmetal bronze paint
Interior: Bride Zeta III seats; Nardi 330mm Classic steering wheel; NRG Innovations quick-release adapter and hub; Vertex shift knob; Broadway Optics mirror; custom checkerboard floor mats; Silvia instrument lights, digital climate control, heads-up display, digital cluster; Bride-upholstered glove box and armrest; Pioneer head unit, speakers; Kenwood amp
Thanks You: My wife, Ayumi Kaneko; my parents; my friends, Zee from All That Low, Watanabe-san from N-Stage, Kofta-san from Black Mamba, Ricky Parrish, Daniel Restrepo, Daniel Reyes, Turtle, Guillermo Rodriquez, and Jason Delgado

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