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Sunny Silvia

As if a convertible S13 Silvia isn't individual enough, this one's got a full S15 nose job plus an eye-catching yellow body and interior theme!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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So you reckon your Silvia is unique just because it's a Japanese import? Maybe you've bolted on a set of rims and a body kit and thought yours must be the only one like it in Australia? Well, sorry, S13s have been flooding into Australia for years now and they're now the official dime-a-dozen import. If you want to be individual don't buy a Silvia!

Well, not unless it's a soft-top version that's barely recognisable as a Silvia...

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This Japanese market Nissan Silvia - imported by Sydney's AutoStyle - is highly individualised and has the good looks that would have it taking home several tonnes of gold from car shows. What you see here is one of the very limited production S13 Silvia convertibles spat out by Nissan Japan; apparently, the convertible was built only during 1989. These convertible models are slightly heavier than their hardtop counterparts (presumably due to increased chassis stiffening) and incorporate an electrically operated fabric hood, which - unfortunately - gobbles up a fair portion of usable boost space. This is easily forgiven, though, as the Silvia is transformed from a slightly awkward looking notchback into a well-proportioned cruise-mobile.

But that drop-top is just half of this car's appeal...

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Domenic from AutoStyle explains that, since most of the mods were done in Japan, it's hard to pin down who did what and what exactly was done. As far as we can tell, however, the car has been treated to a full S15 nose update by a Japanese workshop called "Strawberry Face". Uh, yeah, right... The conversion includes genuine S15 headlights, modified front guards, a custom bonnet (which is heavily fluted) and a deep front 'bar spoiler. From there, the ground effects run around to side skirts and rear bumper extensions. And the rear wing? Well, there is none; not unless it blew off as Domenic was racing to make it to our photo shoot!

The paint is another guaranteed attention getter. It's impossible for us to find out the details of the colour, but we can tell you it's definitely not factory. But you already guessed that.

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S13 gurus may have picked something fishy about the wheels; they're five stud. This makes sense when Domenic explains how he ripped off the original 4-stud hubs and brakes and upgraded to the larger versions as found in later S13s. Domenic obviously also has good choice in rims, selecting tasty 18-inch Alstadt replicas to fill out the guards. The all-important road contact patches are the responsibility of Falken rubbers measuring 225/40 at the front and 235/40 at the rear.

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Much improved handling and aesthetics come compliments of a set of Cusco coil-over struts - featuring adjustable ride height and damping forces - that had been bolted in during the car's life in Japan. Even in standard form, the turbo Silvia is a pretty decent handler; responsive and nicely balanced with on-demand power oversteer.

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Onboard you'll find all the trimmings associated with early S13s - a well laid out dash with a 180 km/h speedo and 7000rpm redlined tacho, central locking, air conditioning (well, actually, climate control on this car), power steering, power mirrors and power windows (front and rear).

When it first landed on Australian shores, though, this car's interior was looking a bit ratty - fair enough given it's endured over ten years of wear and tear. This has been well and truly fixed by AutoStyle's in-house interior trimmer, who's whipped up this sensational colour-coded leather cabin. Quality leather has been carefully applied to the door trims, glovebox and seats. And note that the front seats have also been cut into sections and had extra side bolstering added; a very nice job indeed.

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Aside from its upper-crust interior coverings you'll also find a Kenwood CD/tuner head unit, 6 x 9 door speakers, 6-inch deck speakers and a turbo timer; that last item is essential because the last thing you want is smoke from a dead turbo wafting back into the cabin as you cruise along top down.

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Thankfully, there's no need to pardon a lack of kilowatts simply because the roof comes down; that's an excuse too many rag top owners cling to. Under that custom bonnet resides the original JDM CA18DET - in other words, a CA-series 1.8-litre four with a twin-cam, 16-valve head, EFI and an air-to-air intercooled turbo. In standard form, the CA18DET is a renowned sweet revver capable of 130kW at 6500 rpm and 225Nm at 4000 rpm. Zero to 100 km/h acceleration hovers somewhere around the 7/8-second bracket depending on the choice of driveline - this one's an auto.

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Since Domenic's added a 3 ½-inch Tanabe Medallion exhaust (beginning at the rear of the turbo), a HKS pod filter and a pneumatic wastegate bleed (for up to 13 psi boost), there's now even more go; more than enough to put a permanent wave in your hair.

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So where might the wind blow this pretty S13 from hereon? Well, Domenic is in the business of selling cars so if someone's interested it can be theirs; just so long as you have $28,900 to spare. Be quick though, coz we hear there's a bloke talking about snapping it up and dropping in a SR20DET that's currently making 240kW at the wheels in another vehicle...

Boy, this car just keeps getting better with age!


0414 444 930

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