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1991 Nissan Silvia (S13) - Donor Car

When Paul Torony found the right donor car for a ten-second drivetrain, he had no idea it would change the shape of the entire build

Alex Grant
Jul 27, 2018
Photographer: Alastair Ritchie

Life hasn't always been kind to Nissan's S-Chassis. Sure, their mix of affordability and easy power gains have made them an icon for tuners the world over, but it's brought with it a dark side. Brushes with concrete walls, over-boosted engines, and a strong market for donor parts rubbing a little of that tuneability off and onto other cars. It's something this Silvia came very close to, briefly, before it became the 1,100hp, four-wheel drive record-setter you're looking at now.

1991 nissan silvia taillights Photo 2/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Taillights

"I didn't buy it because I was a Silvia nut," explains Paul Torony over the howling and banging of the Cootamundra airfield quarter mile strip not far behind us. "It was meant to be a donor car for my Datsun P510—something to run 10s on radial tires. But the goalposts have moved several times since."

No kidding. A rolling demo for Paul's shop—PJ's Quick Bits, in Sydney - the Silvia didn't just avoid being stripped for parts. This is the world's fastest SR20-powered S-chassis with a blistering 8.54 seconds at 164mph, with a stick shift and two-wheel drive, if you're wondering. A two-time Motive DVD Drag Battle winner capable of 10-second sprints on Cootamundra's untreated asphalt—the closest you'll find to on-road conditions—now chasing big-power GT-Rs with the help of two more driven wheels.

1991 nissan silvia SR22VET Photo 6/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia SR22VET

It's been a long process: "Back in 2000, I did a backyard SR swap into my Datsun P510 sedan," he tells me. "After the abuse it took from me street racing, I was an SR20 convert, so when I bought a much neater, ex-show car, P510, I wanted the same setup. I found a junky black drag Silvia on a Japanese auction site, with a distinctive T88 setup and OS Giken gearset, but I didn't have the funds.

1991 nissan silvia custom bodykit Photo 7/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Custom Bodykit

"Then, a year later, I saw an ad for what I thought was the same car—the spec had been copied from the auction site—but I was shocked when I saw the pictures and the car was white. The setup had been transferred into another shell. This time, I had the funds."

The Silvia's drag career in Japan meant it had landed in Australia with the right hardware in place to make 520whp, put down via a Z31 300ZX transmission and Techtom launch controller. The seller had gone through the effort of importing it, and swapped all of the good parts into a much cleaner Ivory White shell. Something ready to run 10s right off the shelf. Paul drafted in a friend—rotary drag guru Frank "Mr Heli" Cannistra—stuffed $26,000 into a money belt, and flew to Queensland to avoid missing out again.

1991 nissan silvia recaro SPG N seats Photo 11/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Recaro SPG N Seats

"It had BP100 race fuel in the tank, so we took turns thrashing it until that ran out then filled with 98-octane and turned the boost down for the 12-hour drive home," laughs Paul. "By the time we got home, I had fallen in love with it. There was no way I could pull that good a car apart, and it coped far better with the power than a P510 would. So I parted out my Datsun when I got back to Sydney... and here I am."

1991 nissan silvia enkei rpf1 wheels Photo 12/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Enkei Rpf1 Wheels

Not without a few challenges along the way, of course. The Silvia had been generally well built, but the 6,000 to 8,000rpm power band and triple-plate clutch meant it was prone to bogging down and difficult to drive, putting in a lackluster 14.0-second pass at 124mph on Paul's first run. Shorter gears and a twin-plate clutch brought that down to the mid 10s, but also showed some holes in the spec. What had been sold as a Tomei stroker engine turned out to have stock rods and a stock crank, and it failed completely the following year. This was an opportunity to start from scratch.

"I wanted more response,and was planning to get involved in circuit events, so the new SR20DET was loaded up with everything from the best Japanese brands and an HKS GT3037S turbo," he explains. "It made a lot less power—390whp at 10PSI less than the old engine - but had a huge power band. It ran an 11.0 at 131mph on 225 tyres, and that got me addicted to the strip again. So we stopped chasing response, and pushed for more power."

1991 nissan silvia taillights Photo 16/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Taillights

A bigger housing for the GT3037S brought times back into the tens, and a Garrett T04Z borrowed from Kyle at 6Boost offered 36PSI and its best pass yet; 9.6 seconds at 144mph. Fast enough to break the Australian record for a four-pot on radial tires. But the goalposts had moved once again.

1991 nissan silvia brick headlights Photo 17/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Brick Headlights

Paul lifts the hood over a familiar SR20 cam cover, now wedged in between the huge Precision 7675 Gen 2 turbo and boost pipework taking up pretty much all available space. Built by Advance Motor Mechanics in Sydney, it's a stroked 2.2L with a billet block and the later variable valve timing head, its thirst for fuel met by 12 injectors and Haltech management. It's all you need to make 1,100whp at 54PSI, says Paul, though also enough to make the Silvia dive for the barriers at 150mph. To keep it usable, it's running around 42PSI, pushing 950whp at a mind-bending 10,500rpm.

Which gives you some idea how hard it is to set good times at Coota: "It took six years to run a 10.90 here," says Paul. "We had 11.0 for years, then in 2010 we won outright, and in 2012 we won the rear drive class. But the bigger we went with the setup from that point, the slower the car became - we had all the power, but couldn't use it until the end of the track. So after a couple of mediocre results we've come back with a front diff."

1991 nissan silvia brick headlights Photo 21/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Brick Headlights

AWD was uncharted territory and the process of spending weekends in wrecking yards finding parts took place to bring an untested idea to life. There's a whole lot of GT-R underneath, including the OS Giken six-speed sequential transmission, front subframe, shafts and hubs, as well as the rear differential that came with the car in 2006. It's a complicated way to get GT-R traction without Godzilla's 150-200kg weight disadvantage. And it's made that excessive power figure a lot more useful, both on road and track.

1991 nissan silvia undercarriage Photo 22/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Undercarriage

"The best thing about this car is it can be used for everything; it runs eights on the strip, hooks on the street, I can take it to a circuit track day and hang with fast cars, I can drive it anywhere," he says. "It's been ongoing for nearly 12 years, I could have bought a house with the amount it's cost changing things and starting again during that time. I've had 12 turbos on this car since we started - not from blowing them up, just from our own R&D."

It sounds like there might be a few more turbo swaps in the pipeline before he's finished, too. There's a water-meth kit and dry 120hp dry-shot nitrous kit due to get plumbed in over the next few months, but after nearly 20 years it seems Paul's found the limits of the SR20. With a VR38 in the workshop and plans to hit 1,800bhp, life looks set to treat this S-chassis better than most.

1991 nissan silvia custom body kit Photo 35/44   |   1991 Nissan Silvia Custom Body Kit
By Alex Grant
19 Articles
1991 Nissan Silvia (S13) - Donor Car
Tuning Menu
Owner: Paul Torony
Hometown : Sydney, Australia
Occupation: Owner, PJ's Quick Bits
Engine: Four-cylinder SR22VET with custom billet block and adapter plate; BC 2.2-liter stroker crank, cam gears; ATI 7" drag harmonic balancer; Carrillo H-Beam rods; custom CP thick wall pistons and rings (10:1 compression ratio); P12 SR20VE NEO VVL head; low profile SR20DE rocker cover; Kelford 184X cams; Supertech +1mm intake and +2mm exhaust valves and springs; custom modified RB26 sump; 5" K&N filter and intake; Precision 7675 Gen 2 Sportsman turbo with 1.12 T4 divided housing; 6boost twin-scroll exhaust manifold; TiAL MVS 38mm wastegates (x2), 50mm Q blow-off valve; dual screamer pipes; 4" side pipe exhaust; 4" stainless side-exit dump; 2.5" rear muffler; custom Plazmaman plenum dome on Mazworx billet runners, 72mm throttle body, 3" intercooler piping, 4" tube and fin race intercooler; Mazworx fuel rails; Siemens 2,433cc primary injectors (x4); Bosch 1,150cc secondary injectors (x8); Pierburg and dual Bosch 044 main pumps; Walbro in-tank filling custom with 3-liter surge tank and 3-to-2 line splitter; Aeromotive fuel regulator; AEM Smart coils (x4); Top Gun leads; Taarks crank trigger and cam position sensor kit; Barnes external oil pump; Moroso oil accumulator; Earl's oil cooler; Davies-Craig electric water pump; Spal 16" 3,000cfm thermo fan with custom shroud; Koyo radiator with custom self bleeding swirl pot; Naprec crank and power steering pump pulleys; steel alternator pulley; Cusco engine mounts; trunk-mounted catch can system
Drivetrain: OS Giken OS-88 six-speed sequential gearbox with Option 1 ratios, lightweight flywheel, pressure plate and RC3 clutch; Cusco RS front limited-slip differential; modified GT-R front and rear driveshafts; R32 GT-R rear differential; custom 3.5" super heavy duty tail shaft; Tilton internal slave cylinder
Engine Management: Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, IQ3 display dash; AEM 4-channel wideband kit; Geartronics closed loop flat shift box
Footwork & Chassis: Cusco strut brace; GT-R front subframe and custom fabricated mounts and conversion mods; notched and reinforced front chassis rails; HSD Custom combination front shocks with 12K springs; Import Drag Solutions QA1 double adjustable rear drag shocks with 3K springs; HardRace adjustable rear lower control arms, traction rods; Cusco rear strut brace
Brakes: R33 GT-R Brembo front and rear calipers; DBA 5000 Series 324mm front, 4000 Series 296mm rear rotors; Project Mu HC+ 8000 pads
Wheels & Tires: Street: 18x9" Enkei RPF1 wheels; 245/35R18 Hankook Ventus TD tires; Drag: 16x8" R32 GT-R wheels; 255/50R16 M/T ET Street Radial SS tires
Exterior: Origin Type 2 hood; custom body kit and pods; Blitz slat grille; Brick headlights
Interior: six-point weld-in ANDRA-approved rollcage with bolt-in taxi bar and side intrusion; Recaro SPG-N seats; Simpson five-point race harnesses; Momo Monte Carlo steering wheel; KA Sensors flat shift gear knob; Haltech 12 position toggle launch switch; AEM wideband; custom wiring by George at Advance Motor Mechanics
Thanks you: George and Sam from Advance Motor Mechanics, Stix from Quickbitz for the late nights, EJ from Royal Purple Oils, Alex, Oyay, Matt and the team at Plazmaman Racing, Kyle from 6Boost Turbo Manifolds, Ben at Otomoto/OS Giken Australia, Tarrick at EFI Solutions, Scott and the team at Haltech ECU, Jack at Earls Performance Products for the hose fittings, Kevin and Kiel at Kelford Camshafts, Dustin and Brian at Brian Crower, Jon and David at Import Drag Solutions, Mark at Mazworx, GKTech, Tuffmounts, Turbosmart

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