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1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

Sebastien Craig’s S13 Silvia is the definition of “clean.”

Nate Hassler
Jun 29, 2012
Modp 1207 01+1989 nissan silvia+cover Photo 1/7   |   1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

I’m sure that everyone reading this magazine can remember when they first began thinking of cars as more than a way to simply get from point A to point B. I’m also sure everyone reading this can remember the first time they saw a car and thought to themselves, I must own that car. For most folks, seeing a car you’re sure is the right choice for you does not mean you’ll end up with that particular car; maybe you’ll get a different year, or a different color, or even a different trim. Sebastien Craig, though, he’s different. He is one of the rare few who actually end up in possession of the exact car with which they first fell in love.

Modp 1207 03+1989 nissan silvia+drift Photo 2/7   |   1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

As a young lad growing up in the ’90s, Sebastien got his introduction to the world of motoring in a fashion with which we’re familiar: His old man owned a Mustang Mach 1 that had always sat in the garage. After years of begging and pestering his dad to take the ’Stang for a spin, Sebastien finally got the ride that would change his life.

“When I was 10, I was [suddenly] interested in that dusty car in the garage,” Sebastien recalls. “Every summer I wanted my father to take me for a ride in the car. When he finally did, I loved the feeling of a fast car! Ever since that first ride, cars became my passion. I bought every car magazine I could, and I was trying to learn as much as I could about cars.” It was that dedication from the very beginning that gave Sebastien the drive to work hard and do what he had to do to make sure he got himself a proper car when the time was right. Not too long after his summer cruise with dear old Dad, Sebastien was drawn away from American muscle and into the world of Japanese sports cars.

Modp 1207 04+1989 nissan silvia+smoke Photo 3/7   |   1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

“One day I was watching car videos and a came across my first drift video,” Sebastien says. “It was a close drift tandem of two S13s in Japan, and I remember asking myself how it was possible to do this. I went to my first drift event in 2004 (I couldn’t sleep the night before) at the age of 16. I knew that what I wanted was a 240SX and that I needed to drift it. I did my research [and found out that] those cars had started to become popular in North America, but few had nicely done engine swaps (at that time).”

Now before you get all up in a fuss, Sebastien’s first car was not this immaculate two-tone Silvia you see before you. No, instead it was a hand-me-down Triumph TR7, a car that had only one good design feature according to Sebastien. “This was the first time I could practice, drifting even if [the car] had only 88 hp and was not so pretty. At least it was rear-wheel drive!”

Modp 1207 06+1989 nissan silvia+full view Photo 4/7   |   1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

After searching long and hard for a clean 240, Sebastien eventually became frustrated by the general rough condition in which he was finding the 240s in his area. Because Sebastien is a Canadian (French Canadian from Quebec to be exact, problème?), he decided to instead look to the motherland for inspiration. He came across a mint-condition CA18DET-powered S13 Silvia on a shipment that was already en route to Canada, he immediately knew the car had to be his. After seeing the car at a local drag event a few weeks later, Sebastien tracked down the importer and signed his life away. Not literally, but you get the point.

Modp 1207 05+1989 nissan silvia+interior Photo 5/7   |   1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

Sebastien spent the next few years slowly modifying the S13 as his need for speed continued to grow. The CA18DET is long gone, and in its place resides a nicely built S15 SR20DET. Boost is produced by a Precision 5557 turbocharger, supported by a slew of nice parts (including a custom exhaust manifold and downpipe). An AEM EMS V2 performs engine-management duties, and the setup was good for a hefty 373 hp. Sebastien tells us it should be pushing the 400 mark. Sebastien has spent a fair amount of time working through his suspension; after a long period of running on a less-than-ideal set of mismatched coilovers, he now rolls on PBM coilovers supported by TEIN tension rods and Megan toe and rear upper control arms.

The interior is subtle and to the point. A pair of S15 front and rear seats are small changes that only a true S-chassis fan would even notice. Because the car is an actual JDM Silvia, there is none of the usual retrofitted (and sadly oftentimes hacked) custom work to make this car righthand drive. The exterior is very laid back as well, with a factory OEM style rather than the more outlandish drifting kits Sebastien is not fond of. A USDM 240SX front lip and the “GT-R”–style grille replaces the (in our opinion) much-worse-looking standard-issue Silvia front grille.

Modp 1207 07+1989 nissan silvia+rear view Photo 6/7   |   1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

The factory two-tone paint remains, and the way it looks is actually pretty cool. Two-tone paint is extremely hard to pull off, but this S13 can do it. It’s one of the few Japanese cars of the era that still looks nice today with the neomodern, retro, late-’80s paint theme. The biggest visual modification on Sebastien’s car is the wheels—CCW Classics. Sized at 18x9.5 +10mm in front and 18x10.5 +22 in the back, these beauties complement the rest of the car quite nicely.

At the end of the day, what Sebastien has here isn’t really crazy or off the wall. It’s an incredibly clean car, built the right way, and by a person who knows what he wants. Sebastien has done the vast majority of the work on this car himself, and he loves wrenching so much that it’s actually his day job. We hope Sebastien continues to build his Silvia how he wants and continues to drive it hard. Because in his words, “In the end, it’s the heart and time you put into your project cars that make them special and beautiful.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Modp 1207 08+1989 nissan silvia+engine Photo 7/7   |   1989 Nissan Silvia - Love At First Sight

Specs & Details
'89 Nissan Silvia
Engine Nissan SR20DET turbocharged inline-four
Engine Modifications JE 86.5mm pistons; Eagle rods; ARP main & head studs; O-ringed block; balanced and blueprinted; BC springs & retainers, 264 cams; custom exhaust manifold & 2.5’’ downpipe; Precision 5557 0.63AR turbocharger; Turbonetics 45mm wastegate; Fujitsubo after-cat exhaust; GReddy intake manifold; Nismo 740cc injectors, engine mount; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump;
Engine Management AEM EMS V2, IAT sensor, boost solenoid; MSD 3-bar map
Drivetrain SPEC lightweight flywheel; Bully Stage 2 clutch; Nismo 2-way differential w/ 4.30:1 final drive, transmission mount
Suspension PBM coilovers; TEIN tension rods; Megan toe-arms, rear upper control arms; Full energy suspension bushing kit
Interior S15 seats (f/r) HKS boost gauge; Sony radio; drift handbrake button; Taylor aluminum battery relocation box
Exterior GTR grille; ’89-’90 240SX front lip: Canadian 240SX side skirts; smoked taillights
Wheels, Tires & Brakes CCW Classic wheels 18x9.5 inch +10mm (f) 18x10.5 inch +22mm (r); Falken FK452 tires 225/40R18 (f) 235/40R18 (r); 300ZX aluminum front calipers; Brembo discs; Hawk HP+ pads; DOT 4 fluid
Special Thanks All my friends and family!

By Nate Hassler
179 Articles

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