1988 S13 Silvia

1988 S13 Silvia 

In late 1988 the Silvia received a complete redesign. Again, two body styles were offered in the new series – a notchback coupe and a slippery hatchback with pop-up headlights (badged in Japan as Silvia and 180SX respectively). The S13 chassis incorporates MacPherson front struts and a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension while top-line models are typically equipped with HICAS-II rear-wheel-steer.

Visually, the S13 is much more modern than the previous model – it is well proportioned and the uncluttered styling wins plenty of admirers. Under the bonnet, the S13 debuted with the DOHC 1.8 litre CA-series engine that was phased in with the S12. The base model Silvia was available with a naturally aspirated CA18DE that produced a mild 97kW – this engine was found in Js and Qs models. More desirable is the turbocharged CA18DET making 130kW at 6400 rpm and 225Nm at 4000 rpm – as fitted to the top-line Silvia Ks and standard in the 180SX. The turbocharged engine employs a Garrett-based T25 turbocharger, a small air-to-air intercooler (mounted inside the passenger side front guard), direct-fire ignition and an 8.5:1 static compression ratio. Both naturally aspirated and turbo versions could be bought with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto transmission. Turbocharged 5-speed versions were the quickest of the range and can accelerate to 100 km/h in the low/mid 7 second bracket – the sub-1200kg kerb mass playing an important part in the Silvia’s overall performance. S13s exported to the States were equipped with a relatively large capacity 2.4 litre SOHC (KA24E) engine.

These were badged as 240SXs. With a strong spread of torque, these were flexible on-road performers but with only around 100kW, they weren’t particularly fast. Inside, the S13 Silvia and 180SX has poor space – especially in the rear seat. Standard features on turbo models include power windows and mirrors, climate control, a leather wheel and map lights. A digital head-up speed display and sunroof are fitted to top-line versions. The Nissan S13 range was updated in 1991.

The most important change was the abandonment of the CA18 twin-cam engine in favour of a larger capacity 2.0 litre engine – the all-new SR20. With a naturally aspirated version of the SR20 (SR20DE), the base spec Silvia Js and Qs now pushed 112kW. And the top-line Silvia Ks and 180SX? Well, the turbocharged ‘red rocker cover’ version of the SR20DET stomps out 150kW at 6000 rpm and 275Nm at 4000 rpm. This provides a power to weight ratio right up there with the fastest Silvia model. As part of the ’91 upgrade, the front brakes of turbocharged S13s were enlarged, interior trim material and the steering wheel were changed, the alloy wheels were restyled and there were a few other minor alterations. US-spec 240SXs were also now available with a DOHC version of the 2.4 litre engine – the KA24DE.

Production of the Silva ended in around 1993 but the hatchback 180SX continued until 1999. From 1994, the 180SX’s SR20 turbo engine swapped from a red rocker cover to the black rocker cover version with no effect on power. A convertible version was also introduced in this year – only a few hundred examples were built. The limited edition Sil80 (essentially a 180SX fitted with a Silvia nose) was factory manufactured between 1994 and 1996.

The Sil80 was inspired by drift enthusiasts who, having crashed the front of their 180SX, found it cheaper to fit a Silvia nose. Factory Sil80s are also fitted with ‘drift spec’ suspension – an unusual move for a major car manufacturer! After 1996, 180SXs were fitted with round taillights, new wheels and few other minor mods.

The turbo version was released in Type R and Type X versions while a pair of naturally aspirated models was also introduced to the Japanese market.

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