Imagine a dream world where cars roll off the factory assembly line blessed with an unholy potential for drifting, thanks to a 247hp version of Nissans legendary SR20DET engine and a hefty helping of rear-wheel drive. Well, thats no fantasyland, you fool, thats Japan, and the car in question is the Nissan S15 Silvia. Just think, if you lived there right now, youd be reading a copy of Option 2, and the 2.0L turbocharged Silvia would be your reality. Instead, you get Super Street and your grandmas 127hp Civic with the bobbing-headed Buddha on the dash. Sucker!
But now youre thinking, Well, Nissan sells cars in America, so there must be an equivalent, right? Wrong again, fool! The previous incarnation of the S15, the appropriately named S14, did have an American brother in the Nissan 240SXbut comparatively, it was a runt: crappy KA24DE motor and 155 hp. When Nissan unveiled the S15 in Japan in 1999, they did not release an American equivalent. So, there you have itonce again, your automotive dream of awesome Japanese iron goes unfulfilled.
But it doesnt have to be that way. You see, you can build your own S15and then some (or you can just take a cue from the S15s dead-on styling and apply the look to any make or model of car). The aftermarket parts and the performance machinery are there, you just need to go get them. Were talking about as near the real deal S15 as you can get without importing one from Japan (which, by the way, would set you back at least $40,000).
Any Nissan from 89 to 98 can be converted to a faux-Silvia (also check out Mod Squad in this issue for a closer look at this model). Well show you what parts FNG Ricky Chu used to perform the transformation on his 95 240SX.
In its current form, you could expect to get about 300 hp out of Rickys Silvia with higher boost, with a max of 350 hp with proper tuning. All parts are either from Japanese aftermarket suppliers that also operate in the U.S., or from American companies who import the products from Japan and sell them here.
Now, dont get us wrong, we realize this isnt a cheap proposition: a used SR20DET engine alone can cost $7,000, depending on its year and condition. But, hey, even thats in keeping with Japanese tuning tradition. Because the buildups can be so expensive, the major tuner shops in Japan actually provide loans and help finance parts so that their customers can afford to turn their rides into the super machines the country has become famous for. At the very least we suggest you learn from the two shining principles of Japanese tuning styleand powerand consider these elements when creating your own dream ride.