The S15 200SX is largely seen as a thrash car these days, but we wouldn’t be
surprised if they become a collectable classic. A machine we’ll look back
on and gasp in awe at.
Well, if this happens, Queenslander Robert Costanzo is sitting pretty.
His detailed-to-the-max GT-spec S15 - one of the last manufactured – rates right
up there for desirability and collectability.
Robert purchased the car brand new about 2 years ago when he heard the last
of the S15s were on their way. There was simply no more time to delay – sure,
Robert had big plans for his Suzuki Swift GTi, but it was more of a long-term
project. Robert needed a speed fix – and now!
But don’t think it was bought on impulse – Robert had bought the personalised
number plates (MR S15) a full year before acquiring the car!
The S15 GT Special Edition was the perfect indulgence. In case you aren't aware, the GT-spec S15 boasts a leather-lined cabin, chrome interior details, polished wheels and a Japanese high-rise rear wing. Oh, and of course there's the GT badge - which everyone seems to think was pulled off a Skyline... Robert's GT Special Edition is based on the Spec S platform.
With its SR20DET engine generating 147kW (the same since the S14 was
introduced in the early/mid ‘90s) the 200SX is a very well rounded performance
package. As is often the case, however, the Australian market version is a
detuned from Japanese specs – and it kinda feels like somebody has stuffed a
cork up its bum...
Robert isn’t interested in analysing dyno graphs to see who has 0.5kW more
than the next person, but he knew he wanted more performance. And that’s when he
arrived at Motson’s Turbo and Suspension in Brisbane. Motson’s are one of
turbocharging pioneers and know more than enough about tweaking a factory
turbocar. They were also a great place for Robert to source the parts he needed
and for dyno testing.
Not wanting anything crazy, Robert went for a set of GFB lightweight pulleys
to help improve engine response. A gruntier feel also comes from the fitment of
a slightly larger throttle body, which was sourced from a Nissan RB-series
engine and required some minor mods to fit.
The engine’s breathing and overall efficiency was then helped along with
fitment of a Blitz pod air filter and a free-flow exhaust. Robert did the
exhaust system himself, using a 3 inch Catco cat converter and a custom TIG’d
The factory intercooler has been ditched, making space for a Blitz
front-mount kit. Robert installed the new ‘cooler and opted to replace the turbo
to core plumbing with larger diameter stainless. This helps reduce pressure loss
and looks schmick. A Blitz blow-off valve is also incorporated in the
intercooler plumbing. Note that the pipe from the core to the throttle body
requires a hole through the factory battery tray and fitment of a compact
battery. Robert uses an Odyssey dry cell battery.
Note the level of detailing under the bonnet. The stainless pipes look great,
as do the red hoses, red and chrome-look convoluted tubing and polished
At this stage, Robert is happy to drive the car with only these basic mods.
But just because they’re basic, it doesn’t mean they’re no big deal – at the
wheels power has climbed from 109kW (stock) to 145kW. That’s a 33 percent gain,
along with improved response and fuel economy! Boost pressure hovers around
standard at about 8 psi so the Blitz intercooler is having a pretty easy
Whiteline suspension have been underneath 200SX for more hours than they’d
care to mention and they’ve come away with one very important point – the wheel
alignment angles in these cars is critical. Robert’s car employs a Whiteline
castor and camber kit, plus front and rear swaybars and firmer bushes. A
Whiteline front strut brace is also installed. The 200SX’s tendency to burn the
inside edge of the rear tyres on take-off is reduced thanks to a firmer set of
Tein adjustable coil-overs.
The difference in handling? Well, Robert describes it as “chalk and
“It feels a lot firmer and more stable on the road.”
Full credit goes to Robert for giving the car a tasteful aesthetic lift and
for keeping it so damn immaculate. The rims are polished 19 x 7.5 inch
Trafficstars teamed with 235/45 Falken GRBs, but Robert is quick to point out
bigger and better boots are on their way. The ride height is set a couple of
inches lower than stock thanks to the Teins.
The body is a tasteful combination of OE and aftermarket styling. The rear
wing is standard GT fare, the side skirts were an option and the front and rear
bibs are Trust. It all fits together beautifully – nothing stands out as over
the top. Robert also goes to the lengths of detailing the brake calipers,
chroming the rear swaybar and pampering the paint. No photos can do this car
justice – you need to see yourself reflecting back in the paintwork to
Inside, the cosy cabin is given a boost thanks to a Veilside 6 speed gear
knob and an Autometer boost gauge nestled into the driver’s air vent. And, yep, the perforated leather seats are standard GT-spec. At the time
of photography, the car had only 8400km on the odo - this will be a collectable
one day, remember.
Of course there have been a few dramas – like the suspension took five months to
arrive, the wheels took four months and the front splitter took nine months – but Robert is more
than happy with the car. Still, there’s no holding him back from the
yet-to-be-fitted big turbo, custom manifold and bigger injectors.
We’re sure Robert will still manage to maintain the essence and
collectability of the original vehicle. He’ll just happen to have about double
the power output!