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2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

How to Build the Ultimate Street Car Using Trusted Parts and Clean Styling

Benjamin Hunting
Oct 8, 2019
Photographer: Troy Barker

Looking back to the past doesn't always have to mean retreading over old ground. Sometimes, the path already taken offers inspiration that, when seen with experienced eyes, points us in an entirely new direction. Such was the case for Adelaide, Australia's Ben Newsome. A veteran of the Nissan world, he'd been on the sidelines of the car scene for many years when he felt the bug to return to a beloved build and create something fresh that would once again stoke the fires that had lain dormant inside of him for far too long. The end result? An '01 Nissan Silvia that is as much a tribute to a bygone era in JDM tuning as it is representative of Ben's renewed outlook on what was once an all-consuming passion.

2001 Nissan Silvia Front Bumper 05 Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

"I used to daily drive this particular car about 15 years ago," Ben explians. "I'd gotten into the S15 world just prior to picking up this one, after having been an old-school muscle fan my entire life. I thought a Nissan would be more practical for daily driving, and I could make decent power with it thanks to good aftermarket support. I'm a tinkerer, and it was a perfect match."

Ben says that while GT-Rs were common at that point in time in Australia, the S15 was much rarer, with only a handful in his area. Unfortunately, it still attracted an unwanted amount of attention from local law enforcement and kept him from truly building the car of his dreams.

2001 Nissan Silvia Engine Bay Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

"I was so disappointed in not being able to modify my car the way I wanted that I bought a second Silvia, somewhat wrecked, straight from Japan, and built it as a show car," he says. "It was a rotisserie project that would be tame by today's standards, but we did it JDM HKS-style: just flat white, rollcage, completely gutted. This was the total opposite of the 'sex-spec' Fast and Furious 'big-bling-and-airbrush' scene in Australia at the time, but we won a heap of awards with it and grabbed a ton of attention at the Sydney Auto Salon."

2001 Nissan Silvia Volk Racing TE37 Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

It was right around that wave of success in Sydney that Ben began to pull back from the tuning world and get more involved in his other interests. While he pursued music, his original S15—still painted Bayside Blue—sat neglected in his shed, where it would remain for nearly the next decade, until a chance encounter with one of his guitar students reminded him how much he missed it. "He had been talking about being in the scene himself, and I told him that it essentially used to be my life. When he didn't believe me, I showed him the car, and he told me it was a shame it was just sitting there like that—and he was right."

2001 Nissan Silvia Nardi Steering Wheel 01 Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

Thus began the process of resurrecting Ben's ride. It would take him down a very different road as compared to the vehicle's original build, and, of course, the second S15 he had put together as a show car. "By the time we started on this car in 2017, it felt fresh again to me, but my tastes had changed quite a lot by then. I just wanted to get it back on the road and enjoy driving it, but I can't be trusted to do that I suppose," he says laughing, "so it snowballed."

2001 Nissan Silvia Front Bumper 01 Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

Rather than put together the "ultimate show car" like he had done with his white S15, Ben set out to create his version of what the "ultimate street car" would look like. This would mean some very specific criteria for the overall build. "Most S15s these days are drifted and thrashed out, and look so sad," he laments. "I bought my first one brand-new and, having been an owner for so long, I wanted to capture that spirit of sort of clean, OEM-plus. Imagine if NISMO had made an S15, which it did, of course, but then someone took that car to a tuning house from the same period. That was the guiding theme and philosophy of the project."

2001 Nissan Silvia TE37 Wheel Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

In terms of practicalities, that meant the Silvia would receive a full dose of genuine JDM parts, including Tomei cams, springs, and rocker arm stoppers for the valvetrain; an A'PEXi head gasket; Naprec timing chain and cam cap studs; and an HKS GTIII-RS turbo. An HPI Evolve radiator and Blitz LM intercooler regulate temperatures under the hood, and a Yashio Factory ignition harness manages the ones and zeros. Matched with an Altrack manifold fed by ID 1050x injectors and a pair of AEM fuel pumps, the setup makes 415 hp at the wheels and a little more than 375 lb-ft of torque on E85. The impressive SR power is sent to the rear wheels via an ORC clutch, where it meets up with an OS Giken Super Lock limited-slip.

2001 Nissan Silvia Rear Bumper 01 Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

"I wanted the car to look subtle and conservative and maybe even stock-ish, to the point where you'd walk right by it without noticing the work I've put into it," Ben says. "The wheels and ride height are giveaways, sure, but the rest is very clean." To that end, the car sits on Aragosta coilovers and Whiteline adjustable sway bars, with a raft of Cusco and NISMO suspension components tying everything together. The can't-go-wrong TE37 wheels are shod with 18-inch Bridgestone tires at each corner, and the car wears a fully optioned factory aero setup with a carbon-fiber front splitter, side skirts, and rear pod extensions. From top to bottom, all the work on the car was done by Ben himself, including the Grigio Estoque paintjob, which he completed with the help of his two close friends, Nathan and Andy, at their project space.

2001 Nissan Silvia Bride Gias Seats Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

"It was important for me to use only high-quality parts throughout," he continues. "There's no replica stuff in this build. When I first started in the scene, it was JDM or nothing—reproduction parts simply weren't available. I wanted to keep that pure old-school feel, and it's there every time I drive the car. Almost every part, nut, and bolt is either from a tuning name I trust, or Nissan OEM from the ground up."

For Ben, the biggest reward has been driving something that was built, not bought, and the sense of accomplishment that goes with that. Unfortunately, in Australia's car-hostile climate, he's had to be very strategic about where and when he takes the car out for a spin, even with a build that's been designed to fly under the radar in terms of looks and performance.

2001 Nissan Silvia Rear Bumper 02 Photo 34/34   |   2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy

"You don't feel you own a car like this. It's like it owns you," he explains. "It's cool, but it's enslaving at the same time, because you worry everywhere you go. It's a bit disappointing, because I have to constantly watch out for the police, which are extremely strict with modified vehicles here. Although I debuted the car at a show, I mostly avoid meets because I have too much to lose. All it takes is someone doing something stupid, and the hammer falls on everyone attending, which could take me off the road for good. It's a risk that balances the work I have in this car, which I would hope any officer would see wasn't built for hooning and respect the philosophy I've followed with it."

By Benjamin Hunting
27 Articles
2001 Nissan Silvia (S15) - The Philosophy
Tuning Menu
Owner: Ben Newsome
Hometown: Adelaide, Australia
Occupation: Tech Lead
Instagram: @benfulcongregation
Power: 415 whp; 376 lb-ft of torque
Engine: CP 9.1:1 pistons; Manley rods; Tomei Poncams, valvesprings, retainers, rocket arm stoppers; A'PEXi head gasket; Naprec timing chain, cam cap studs; ARP head studs; Mazworx main studs; ATI harmonic balancer; GReddy pulley kit, extended sump; HKS GTIII-RS turbine, Super Power Flow filter; Yashio Factory Super Carbon Suction kit, Super Silent titanium exhaust, ignition harness; Altrack Type S4 manifold; Parts Shop MAX Cobra front pipe; HPI Evolve radiator; Blitz LM intercooler; Garage Mak silicone hoses; Ignition Projects coil packs; Injector Dynamics 1050x injectors, F750 fuel filter; Taarks fuel rail; Turbosmart FPR1200 regulator; dual AEM E85 fuel pumps; FPG billet fuel hat and dual pump hanger
Drivetrain: ORC 400 series clutch; OS Giken Super Lock limited-slip differential
Engine Management: Haltech Elite 1500
Footwork & Chassis: Aragosta Type-S coilovers; Whiteline adjustable front and rear sway bars; GP Sports tie rods and ends; Cusco tension rods, toe rods, traction rods, camber arms; NISMO Power Brace, front and rear lower control arms, steering rack bushes, subframe bushes, diff bushes, rear knuckle bushes; Voodoo13 eccentric lockout kit
Brakes: DBA T3 4000 series rotors; R33 GTS-T calipers; QFM HPX pads; Goodridge braided lines
Wheels & Tires: 18x9.5 +12 front, 18x10.5 +15 rear Volk Racing TE37 wheels; 225/35R18 front, 245/35R18 rear Bridgestone S001 tires
Exterior: Fully optioned factory aero; carbon-fiber front splitter, side skirts, and rear pod extensions; "Grigio Estoque" paint
Interior: Bride Gias seats; door cards and rear seat trimmed in Bride fabric; Nardi steering wheel; Vertex leather shift and handbrake boots; Haltech IQ3 dash
Thanks: My partner Erin for her support in everything I do; the dream team; Nathan and Andy for the paintwork and going above and beyond in their help with the rest of the build; Troy for the stunning photography; Matt at Glasurit; Decs and Gav at Garage7 for the tuning; George and Theo at GT Autosound; Advance Motor Mechanics for the long engine build

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