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Sweet Sil80

A top looking Nissan Sil80 with plenty of good bits - and perhaps a whole lot more to come!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • S13 Silvia nose on a Nissan 180SX
  • Attractive orange metallic paint
  • Skyline rear-end
  • Bolt-on mods taking the factory management and fuel system to its limit
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The name John Di Mauro might ring a bell with regular readers. We’ve previously featured John’s modified Nissan R32 Skyline GTSt Type M - see Tweaked Type M. Well, as mentioned in that article, his plan was to sell the R32 and focus on building a killer S13 "Sil80" (a 180SX with a Silvia nose).

And that’s what you see here.

John says the mechanicals of his Sil80 are yet to be taken to the next level but, even as is, we reckon it’s one of the best all-round S13s in Australia. No, it mightn’t have the kilowatt count of many others, but it's one damn' attractive all-rounders. Something you can drive every day and go racing in.

Click for larger image

The motivation to build a Sil80 came about by circumstance. John had already purchased a Nissan 180SX 2.0 litre turbo automatic that had received a bump in the front. The initial plan was to bolt on a Nissan S15 front-end but John wasn’t too rapt in having to use fibreglass guards. So the tried and proven Sil80 conversion it was. John says it’s an extremely easy swap, requiring only some modification of the headlight wiring. Note that John also went for the square style Silvia headlights rather than the projector style versions (which look pretty ugly in our book).

Aside from the Silvia nose, the only other body mods to the car are rolled rear guards, deletion of the factory rear spoiler (and the holes welded) and a 2 slat Nismo grille. You might also notice the fitment of a naturally aspirated Silvia front bumper – the atmo bar looks cleaner than the turbo versions because it doesn’t have a cooping aperture and grille to feed the intercooler. Who needs the factory intercooler feed when you’re running a big front-mount?

Click for larger image

The de-spoilered and smooth looking body has recently been treated to an eye-catching paint job. The colour is loosely based on Mazda Tangerine Dream and, believe it or not, the spray job was done in a back shed. It’s a great result.

Click for larger image

John knows all about Nissan reliability and power-up mods, so he jumped straight into tweaking the factory 2.0 litre turbo (SR20DET) engine. Intake airflow is released with a K&N pod filter mounted on the factory airflow meter and a Hybrid type intercooler – John says it’s a pretty cheap intercooler but it works very well. Its sheer size and thermal mass can’t be denied. A TurboSmart Type 2 blow-off valve is also fitted on the return pipe to the engine – and note that the neat looking intercooler piping was done at home.

Click for larger image

The turbocharger is a modified version of a Japanese-spec S14a 200SX/Siilvia turbocharger. A GReddy Profec B controller moves the wastegate flap to prevent the engine boosting to more than 10 psi. Mounting the turbocharger is a stainless steel exhaust manifold, which should give improved response and flow compared to the standard part. Exhaust gasses then flow through a 3 inch turbo-back mandrel bent system.

Click for larger image

Engine management and the fuel system are standard - for now. These are the factors that are holding back the power output to a relatively mild 162kW at the wheels (on a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno). Still, this 30+ percent power increase over stock comes with factory idle quality, cold-start characteristics and all of those other driveability niceties.

Backing the bolt-on equipped 2.0 litre turbo engine is a Japanese-spec S14a 5-speed gearbox, which replaces the original auto. Torque is channelled through a ‘600hp’ brass-button clutch. And, at the rear, you’ll find the fruit of Nissan’s wonderful parts interchangability...

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Gone is the standard 2.0 litre auto’s R180 diff and in its place is a R32 Skyline R200 viscous LSD combined with 180SX 5 bolt driveshafts. John has also made the switch from 4 to 5 stud rims through use of a Cusco 5 stud adapter/spacer at the front and installing R32 Skyline hubs and modified 180SX discs at the rear. The rims currently in service had previously been fitted to John’s R32 Skyline – white Enkei 17s wearing meaty 235/45 tyres.

Handling of the rear-wheel-drive coupe is tightened thanks to Tein coil-overs and adjustable camber tops, Cuscoupper rear suspension mounts and a front strut brace. The brakes are standard, but note that the 2.0 litre version of the 180SX already has decent size calipers and discs.

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Indoors, there’s the stock trim with a few go-fast additions. There’s a drift button on the handbrake lever, an aluminium gear knob, 30 psi AutoMeter boost gauge and a Blitz turbo timer that (literally!) talks in Japanese - the ultimate car park attraction! The 180’s cargo area is home for an Odyssey battery, gold-plated fuse holder and high quality cables. These provide a clean power feed to a JVC MP3 head unit with Pioneer 6 inch 2-ways in the doors, a 1000W amp and 12 inch sub.

Click for larger image

At the time of writing, John had arrived at a cross-road on where to take the Sil80 from here.

John has recently taken possession of a 10 second Silvia which has arrived fresh from Japan. It’s a machine crammed full of the good stuff – a stroker kit, T88 34D turbo, big cams, an R33 gearbox and a whole lot more. John will probably look at getting this beast registered and, if not, he’ll be slotting the 10 second engine into his sweet Sil80.

Either way, you won’t be seeing John being left behind at the lights!

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