Ultimate Nissan Silvia S16 Guide – News, Rumors & Specs

author avatarJoe Terrell
18th March, 2020
Filed under Car Guides

Nissan’s S-Chassis could quite possibly be the best drift platform ever produced and JDM enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting the S16 for over twenty years. Could the wait almost be over?

red concept nissan silvia s16

Here, you can click on a particular section within this article, otherwise, scroll down as take an in-depth look at the Nissan Silvia S16!


Introduction

As you’ve probably guessed, we’re huge fans of the S-Chassis here at Drifted. With the final S15’s rolling off Nissan’s production line almost twenty years ago, many have given up hope on a return for the all-time legendary drifting platform.

With the 25-year U.S. import ban for the S15 fast approaching in 2024, could we potentially see a brand-new S16 shake up the U.S. market before the S15 finally becomes legal?

Recent years have thrown several surprises into the mix when it comes to manufacturers relaunching their classic JDM lineups. Right now, I don’t think there’s much question that Toyota sits at the forefront of this.

Okay, so perhaps they didn’t hit the nail on the head with the Supra. However, awkward German influences aside, it’s still fantastic to see them relaunching their previous legends, and we have to learn to accept that technology has evolved immensely over the years.

Perhaps the GT86 is a better example to give a glimpse of the potential with what could be possible with the Nissan Silvia S16.

If Nissan manages to pull a lightweight, RWD modern-day chassis to compete with the GT86/BRZ out of the bag then precedes to strap a reasonably-priced turbo powerplant under the hood.

camo s15 silvia idc

If Nissan were able to pull this off, it would undoubtedly leave the tuning world rejoicing at what could be the game-changing, reasonably-priced, turbocharged drift chassis that the modern-day market is so desperately calling out for.

However, as Toyota continues to focus on new experiments, Nissan has continued to work on the incredible VR38DETT-powered GT-R, and also with refining the VQ37VHR-powered Nissan 370Z.

Both cars received a fantastic initial reaction, yet they’ve been kicking around for some time now, and Nissan hasn’t shaken up the market since.

Despite all the new builds, chassis, and modern technology, the S13/S14, and S15, 180SX/200SX and 240SX’s continue to prove themselves across the world at the very highest level of competition, confirming that this is undoubtedly one of, if not THE, the ultimate drift chassis’ of all time.

With this in mind, the modern-day could be the perfect time for the Nissan Silvia S16 to re-enter the market and simply blow away the competition once again.

Before we dive into what the future potentially has in store for the Nissan Silvia S16, enjoy this great video from Cars Evolution, as they take an in-depth look into the evolution and history of the Nissan Silvia, from the 1965 CSP311, right the way through to the most recent classic, the S15:

Nissan Silvia History

Life started a little differently to how we know it with the Silvia family, and it all began with a meticulously perfected hand-built coupe, which was based on the Fairlady convertible and released at the Tokyo Motor Show September 1964.

The earliest model was named the Datsun 1500 and created by German designer Albrecht Graf von Schlitz genannt von Goertz von Wrisberg (good luck with pronouncing that one to your buddies!) This later went on to be renamed the Silvia CSP311, and from here, a legend was born.

Nissan Silvia CSP311/Datsun 1600 Coupe (1965-1968)

Powered by a simple 96hp 1.6L Nissan R-series engine, this original build featured twin SU Carburetors.

With just 554 hand-crafted cars produced between its 1965-1968 lifespan, Nissan would then cease Silvia production temporarily until 1974. With low sales numbers and challenging construction methods, the price tag would be almost twice as much as the next model in Nissan’s lineup.

There are just 59 examples of the CSP311 existing outside of Japan, making for an extraordinary sight if you’re ever lucky enough to stumble across one!

Nissan Silvia S10 (1975-1979)

The S10 was later launched in 1975 and would be the first-ever Silvia to be mass-produced. Built on their all-new ‘S platform,’ this compact, rear-wheel-drive sports car featured a 1.8L L18 inline-4 engine for the JDM market.

For the North American market, they fitted a 2.0L L20B engine and renamed it the Datsun 200SX.

The drivetrain was shared with the legendary Datsun 510, but featured leaf springs in the rear, unlike the uprated independent suspension found on the 510.

Nissan Silvia S110 (1979-1983)

Once again badged as the Datsun 200SX for the North American market, the S110 was known as the Datsun Sakura (Japanese for cherry blossom) in Mexico.

The original plans for the S110 were that it would feature Nissan’s very own rotary engine. Unfortunately, they failed to produce a reliable enough unit to be fit for mass production, so they opted for numerous engine choices, with the most sought after being a turbocharged Z18ET engine for the JDM market.

For the North American market, the most impressive variation to hit the production lines featured a 2.2L Z22E engine, which was capable of producing 103hp.

Nissan went on to also rebadge the S110 as the ‘Gazelle’ so that Nissan’s various Japanese dealership networks could carry their specific variants. This exclusive model featured minor cosmetic changes from the S110, such as the grille and headlights.

Nissan Silvia 240RS (1983-1985)

With a 2.4L DOHC FJ24 engine, this unique car was created for Nissan to take on the World Rally Championship. They would eventually go on to take a second-place finish in the 1983 New Zealand Rally.

We love the look of this boxy classic, which certainly looked the part against the competition in its era!

Nissan Silvia S12 (1983-1989)

Produced from 1983 with a ‘Mark II’ exterior revision in 1986, the S12 sold in both coupe and hatchback variants.

The S12 would again feature several engine choices depend on the production year and geolocation, and it would also host the CA18 engines for the very first time. Other variants shared the V6 engine, which also featured in the 300ZX.

Similarly to the S110, the S12 was also badged as both a Silvia and a Gazelle in Japan. However, the S12 was available as either a coupe or hatchback, where the S12 Gazelle was simply a hatchback.

The R.S. model featured the 2.0L DOHC FJ20E and the RS-X, a turbocharged equivalent, FJ20ET.

In 1987, with Nissan discontinuing the F.J. engine, they would later replace it with the CA18DET, which featured dual cams and a larger turbo.

JDM spec Gazelle’s came with fancy optional extras such as voice command and a variety of engine choices.

For the North American market, the S12 would become the “200SX”.

For the X.E. model, it featured a 2.0L SOHC N/A CA20E engine with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto.

The hatchback model received the same engine, and also the 1.8L CA18ET. In 1987, Nissan would discontinue the turbo model for the S.E. model, which had the VG30E 3.0L V6 engine, which was capable of producing 160hp and 174 ft/lb torque, which also featured in the non-turbo 300ZX.

Later revisions would see an additional 5hp for the 1988 S.E. model, eventually producing 165hp.

For the European Market, the S12 became the ‘Silvia,’ except in Sweden, which referred to it as a 180ZX. The reason for this was to avoid giving the car the same name as the Queen of Sweden. They used the ZX name after discontinuing the 300ZX in the country.

The hatchback variant was the only option available in Europe and featured the 1.8L SOHC turbo CA18ET engine. Very few models received the 2.0L DOHC FJ20E, initially designed for the 240RS rally car, under bored from 2.4L to 2.0L.

Australia also received its own Gazelle model, available in both coupe and hatchback with the CA20E engine.

In 1986, the S12 received a facelift with some minor changes, mostly to the exterior of the car.

Nissan Silvia S13 180SX/200SX/240SX (1989-1994)

nissan silvia ps13 camo

The S13 certainly needs no introduction, and it was arguably the first ‘real’ Silvia, although I’m sure that many S12 owners will argue otherwise! In our mind, the S12 was a cool car in its own right, but the S13 just had that extra touch of something special.

Initially released in 1989, the S13 immediately went on to win the Japanese Car of the Year Award.

Rebadged for most markets, it would become the 200SX in Europe and the 240SX in the U.S.

While the Silvia featured fixed headlights, the hatchback 180SX featured much-loved pop-up headlights.

The S13 was one of the first cars to integrate Nissan’s new multi-link rear suspension, which had previously previewed in their concepts over the years. Some models featured the HICAS four-wheel steering system, and a viscous-type limited-slip differential was also featured.

Under the hood were either CA18DE or CA18DET engines from the S12, with an intercooler added to the CA18DET for slight power gains. For the 1991 model year, the legendary SR20DE and SR20DET engines were introduced, completely changing the game once again.

The downside of the SR integration was that they switched from optional two-tone to single color paint-jobs.

s13 vs s14 tandem battle

For the U.S. market, the S13 was replaced after the 1994 model year by the S14, but it lived on in Japan until 1998 with the introduction of the significant 180SX Type-X Aero.

Later, tuning houses such as Kids Heart would feature a 180SX body with a Silvia front end, known as the Sileighty, which would then become a frequently copied and popular conversion for extra scene points!

As well as the Sileighty, the Onevia was also born, which used a 180SX front end and a Silvia rear.

That wasn’t all, Autech also decided there needed to be more variety and released a convertible S13 to the market, which later went on to sell 600 models, all of which featured a *sigh* 4-speed automatic transmission.

The S13 was extremely popular, and what we class as the birth of the legendary S-chassis as we know it today. Many owners still believe that it’s still the best drift chassis money can buy, and we took a look at this in our 7 Reasons The Nissan S13 Is The Best Drift Car guide.

Nissan Silvia S14 200SX/240SX (1993-1998)

nissan 240sx s14 drifting

Following the enormous success of the S13, Nissan debuted the S14 at the end of 1993. This updated model was lower, wider, and heavier than its predecessor.

With wheelbase and track both increased over the previous generation, it allowed for slightly improved handling. On the flip side, this would, however, mean that the width dimension exceeded Japan’s strict legislation, meaning that it would get forced out of the essential compact class tax bracket.

The S14 Silvia K’s had a freshly updated SR20DET, which integrated Nissan’s N-VCT variable cam timing and a T28 turbocharger.

During the 1996 model year, the S14A, or Kouki, replaced the older Zenki. The newly-released Kouki featured a more aggressive-looking front-end and tinted taillights. The Kouki was sold as a second-generation 240SX in North America from 1995 to 1998, with a non-turbo KA24DE engine.

Despite the issues with the Japanese tax bracket, and many enthusiasts feeling that the S14 had become a little ‘chubby’ in comparison to its older brother, it was still a popular success across the world.

With the negative feedback undoubtedly resting in the mind of Nissan’s development team, the final generation of the S-Chassis family would take some reconsideration, as Nissan began the final plans for the soon-to-be-launched S15.

Nissan Silvia S15 200SX (1999-2002)

gulf nissan silvia s15 drifting

Born in 1999, the S15 boasted an impressive 247bhp 6,400rpm with 203 ft/lb torque from the most potent inline-four SR20DET to date.

The increased power was mostly down to the ball-bearing upgrade in the turbocharger, as well as engine management tweaks. An SR20DE model was also introduced, with just 163hp.

With a completely revamped design, the S15 certainly stood out among its older relatives and featured aggressive styling to match the trends at the time, and we think that it did a pretty good job of surpassing them!

With Nissan forced to re-consider the Japanese tax width issues from the S14, the body dimensions were reduced, which once again returned it to compact class and undoubtedly helped their Japanese sales.

This model was only sold in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, but was available to ship to most other countries, except for the U.S.

The Australian (ADM) cars were slightly detuned and featured some rather less desirable body modifications to comply with local laws, such as a rear-bumper foglight.

Nissan S16 Engine & Powertrain

We’re pretty confident that the glory days of the SR20DET leaving Nissan factories are well and truly over, but that certainly doesn’t mean that Nissan will be planning to pull a dull engine out of the bag for the Silvia S16.

180sx sr20det engine bay

There’s no question that emissions are going to play a huge role with what Nissan decides to roll with for the S16. But, before you start whining about Greta ruining your fun, let’s take a moment to remember that the current Nismo GT-R is producing 600hp the moment it leaves the factory!

There’s no doubt that even Nissan isn’t crazy enough to install the VR38DETT into a RWD chassis, sadly.

Still, with the Nismo 370Z currently providing 350 horsepower, and the soon-to-be-launched Nissan 400Z potentially pushing out over 400hp, there are certainly some great options in the modern market.

There’s no secret that Nissan has put a significant amount of research into producing the world’s first variable compression turbo engine recently after twenty years of intense research.

Assuming Nissan is keen to stick with the original inline-four, 2.0-liter engines that the JDM S-Chassis’ left the factory with, then a high-performance equivalent could make for the perfect combination to launch the S16 to the world.

sr20det top mount turbo kit

With the current VC-Turbo engine in the Altima producing 248 horsepower at 273 lb/ft torque, it’s certainly no slouch. However, the current engine is more emissions focused than performance orientated.

With some performance tweaks, we think that there could be potential to tweak engines within Nissan’s current lineup to provide an excellent powerplant for the S16.

When it comes to the transmission, all we know is that we desperately hope that the stick-shift will remain. Drifting with flappy paddles is far from ideal.

We’ve witnessed many automatic variants in the past S-Chassis, which have been rather disastrous. However, gearboxes have progressed a lot since then, but we’d still much rather stick with the plain and straightforward manual shifters that we know and love. Flappy paddles and drifting? Please, no!

If you love your JDM engines, make sure you check out this article, as we put one of Nissan’s most impressive engines, the RB26, head-to-head with Toyota’s infamous 2JZ-GTE!

Nissan Silvia S16 Platform

It’s difficult to tell which platform the Silvia S16 is likely to be based upon, but it’s certainly got the rumor mill talking!

There’s no question that the 370Z is the most similar chassis in the Nissan lineup, and it’s already received quite a bit of success in the drifting world.

However, with more buzz than ever about the 400Z, could there already be a real game-changer in the works? With strong rumors talking about more than 400-horsepower, it could potentially lay the perfect foundations for an S16 arrival!

low brain drifters silvia ps13

Given the size, and lack of seats, with the Fairlady family, it’s extremely unlikely. If anything, a highly-modified Altima/Sentra platform is looking like a more likely candidate unless they decide to build something fresh entirely from the ground up, which would be the perfect solution.

We would also have no complaints at all if they decided to re-use ideas from the GT-R platform!

Whatever Nissan decides, what we do know is that it’s vitally important that it retains the fundamental aspects of being lightweight, with incredible handling, 50:50 weight distribution, and extremely tail-happy!

Nissan S16 Exterior Design

With such a huge gap since the S15, it’s going to be fascinating to see which route Nissan decides to go down for the S16.

nissan silvia s16 concept

In recent years, Nissan has frequently opted for the “V-motion”-style front grille, which has become increasingly common and even looks to be one of the main external features in the upcoming 400Z designs.

We’re hoping to see a chunky, aggressive, naturally-wide stance with either included or optional OEM aero upgrades. It’s safe to say that most modern cars are taking the ‘safer’ approach to their designs, but we would love to see Nissan do something insane to mark the long-awaited return of the S16!

If they can somehow create something even more visually stunning than the S15, then Nissan will be onto an instant winner!

Nissan S16 Interior

Although the S15’s interior improved substantially from its older siblings, there’s no question that technology inside the cabins of modern-day cars is significantly different from what Nissan released in the late ’90s!

Expect plenty of technology and gadgets (but hopefully not too many driving aids!) Much like what we’ve already seen within the latest GT-R’s and 370Z’s on the market.

Although the S15 featured a rear bench, the middle seat was non-functional, and they instead adopted an early version of the 2+2 layout with sunken seats, which is one of the main aspects that sets it apart from the 370Z/400Z.

We’re hoping that we’ll have that natural sports car feel return the second we sit in the driving seat, with a low-down bucket seat friendly modern, yet pleasant cabin.

If you’re reading this, Nissan, then don’t spend too much time on the interior, as it’ll just be more for us to strip down when we inevitably fit our roll cages!

Nissan S16 Price

Although the Nissan Silvia S16 is yet to be confirmed, we would expect prices to be in a similar region to some of the other cars in Nissan’s current line—up, such as the 370Z.

With a base price of around USD 30,000 on the 370Z, the Nissan Silvia S16 may well be cheaper depending on exactly what features they decide to opt for further down the line.

With the Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ being the most prominent rivals, they may want to aim even lower, since their base model has a price tag of just $27,000.

However, if Nissan manages to fulfill the dream of many enthusiasts by going down the turbocharged route, it would certainly put them into a category of their own, and also justify an increased price tag.

If they decide to produce a NISMO variant within the lineup for the first time, then this would be expected to be priced at around USD 40,000-50,000, but it would certainly be incredible to have a NISMO S16!

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why the Nissan Silvia S16 has been the subject of such strong rumors over the years.

It’s now been over thirty years since Nissan initially launched the S13 240SX, and that’s still conquering podiums across the drifting world today.

Since then, the S-Chassis has always been one of the most refined platforms straight out of the showroom.

shiny red s14 240sx

With some simple tweaks and upgrades, you’ll be able to produce a drift or track car which is more than capable of causing some real upsets against its far more expensive and technologically-advanced modern rivals.

With James Deane currently proving himself in Europe and the U.S., there’s a reason that the undisputed present World Champion of drifting opts for an S14 in Europe (or the Middle East) and an S15 when he competes with team-mate Piotr Wiecek in Formula Drift.

As Japanese drifting legend Daigo Saito throws a seemingly-unlimited budget at a brand-new Toyota-backed A90 Supra and GT86/BRZ build for 2021, we’re still willing to put our money on James Deane to prove once again that the S15 Silvia reigns supreme in the 2020 Formula Drift series.

If the S16 ever surfaces and manages to see the light of day, we sincerely hope that Nissan will be able to continue its legacy within the drifting world by creating yet another incredible platform for drifters and tuners to build on.

With the relaunch of several models within Toyota’s lineup, and with popular alternatives such as the Mazda Miata continuing production through to the present day, it’s a huge shame that Nissan hasn’t already provided the Silvia family the younger brother it much deserves.

With the Nissan Silvia S16 rumors still flooding the internet, there’s still hope that we’ll perhaps get to witness the launch of the brand new S-Chassis soon.

When Nissan finally decides to re-ignite the fire on the subject, you’ll undoubtedly want to head back to Drifted to check out all of the latest information, as we’ll be sure to keep you all updated on the latest news!

Additional Content

Are you keen to get behind the wheel of a Nissan Silvia? You’ll want to check out these free online games in the Drifted Arcade!

Thank you for reading our Nissan Silvia S16 guide!

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author avatar Written by Joe Terrell Drifted.com founder, motoring journalist and all-round car enthusiast. Read more about Joe and the Drifted team on our about us page.

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