W hen Nissan’s 200SX arrived here in 1994 its simplicity of purpose reminded those with decent memories of the much admired 240Z.
The S14 shape originated in 1993 and was sold with 2.0-litre turbocharged and 2.4-litre non-turbo engines in various markets. Transmission choices were four-speed automatic or five-speed manual.
The design was designated a ‘2+2’ but sitting in the back was impossible for most fully-grown humans. The SR20DT engine seen in Australia with its 16-valve head and single turbocharger was durable and understressed, delivering 147kW at 6400rpm. Some owners add a larger turbocharger and exhaust, unleashing considerably more power.
Cars sold into Australia came in three trim levels; Limited, Sports and Luxury. The Luxury came standard with automatic transmission and dual air-bags which were options on lower-spec cars.
When the S15 version arrived in 1999 the three trim levels became two – designated Spec S and Spec R. Six-speed manual transmission standard with the four-speed automatic available on both models.
Base-level Spec S cars sold new in Australia for $39,990, with automatic Spec Rs at a still-reasonable $45,990. To those was added a short-lived GT version that came with standard leather trim and was available briefly during 2002.
Specification levels were high, with both ‘R’ and ‘S’ versions delivering standard air-conditioning, ABS brakes, dual air-bags, a CD player and the usual power-operated inclusions. Stepping up to a Spec R added a CD stacker, power sunroof, the body-kit and rear spoiler.
S15 coupes were the last Silvia-derived cars made by Nissan. Their availability was limited to Australia and New Zealand and the Japanese domestic market.
However, demand in other parts of the world for these historically-significant cars has seen popularity grow. Their competence in ‘drift’ competition – as detailed by the numerous Internet video clips – helps to keep used values strong.
In addition to Australian-delivered cars, S15s with Silvia badging are available at the ‘grey’ end of the sporty coupe market. These came with a more extensive body-kit than ‘official’ arrivals and the possibility of a non-turbo version of the SR20DE engine.
Almost all of the S14s in our market have seen their 20th birthdays and S15s aren’t far behind.
Early cars can be found in decent order at under $10,000 but switching to the visually different S15 brings an accompanying leap in average values. Some cars offered in early 2018 were tagged at up to $40,000, however $20-25,000 seems enough to lock down a fine example of Nissan’s final Silvia derivative.
Non-standard body kits brighten the conservative exterior and are often accompanied by larger-diameter wheels. Providing the reduction in sidewall height isn’t too extreme, ride quality won’t be absolutely destroyed and some extra rubber on the road isn’t a bad thing.
Larger turbochargers with accompanying intercooler are popular too and power gains can be significant. However, every extra kilowatt delivered has an effect on engine and transmission longevity, so don’t expect a car pushing 250kW or more to be tractable or cheap to maintain.
If an S15 is offered for sale with sketchy or zero service history, don't touch it, no matter how low the asking price may seem. Insurance costs can be significant too, especially for younger buyers.
Crash damage is always an issue with performance cars and these Nissans aren’t immune. Panels need to be inspected for correct alignment, then from above and below look for kinks or repairs to the chassis rails and suspension The boot floor can collect water due to a damaged seal. Long doors will inevitably droop with age and use. Used panels including doors and boot lids are still easy to find and prices asked recently have ranged from $150300 per item. Stone damaged headlamps and fog lights are costly to replace; new halogen headlamp units usually around $600 per pair.
The 2.0-litre Nissan engine is durable and cars that have been properly serviced will exceed 200,000 kilometres without needing any internals replaced. Oil changes every 5000 kilometres or six months are recommended to prevent upper-engine sludge and turbo problems. Any hint of exhaust smoke – blue for engine wear, white signifying a turbo seal leak – is cause to find another car. Upper engine clatter can indicate problems with the Variable Cam Timing actuator. Misfiring is most likely a coil pack which are best replaced in sets at $600. Clutch shudder is a symptom of abuse but uprated clutch components are freely available. Slow upshifts or noise from the auto 'box are more serious and costly to rectify.
Brakes in S14 and S15 cars were found wanting and a lot in the used market will be running different pads and rotors. Look for disc scoring but don’t dismiss a car with brake problems as replacement costs aren’t too scary. Rear wheel camber needs to be correctly set to maximize cornering balance and delay tyre wear. Worn rear bushes can cause mid-bend lurching. Standard shock absorbers would all have been replaced by now and perhaps be ready to go again. Cars showing more than 100,000km should come with receipts for some front-end maintenance including new strut inserts.
Seat bolsters wear and high-kilometre cars may need some retrimming. Ensure that the sunroof (where fitted)operates smoothly and shows no signs of water entry through damaged seals. Check air-conditioner efficiency to ensure air is cold and not just cool. Imported cars seem to suffer more from plastic deterioration than locals, so look for dash cracking, discolored consoles and controls that are beginning to disintegrate. Power windows will quite likely suffer from sticky or nonfunctioning switches but replacements are available. The air-conditioning needs careful checking and even if it’s working be prepared for $1500 in maintenance.
NUMBER BUILT: N/A
BODY: all steel, integrated body/chassis two-door coupe
ENGINE: 1998cc in-line four cylinder with overhead camshafts, fuel injection, most with turbocharger
POWER & TORQUE: 147kW @ 6400rpm, 265Nm @ 4800rpm (S14) PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h – 7.0 seconds, 0-400 metres 14.1 seconds (6-speed Type R)
TRANSMISSION: five or six-speed manual, four-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Independent with struts, coil springs and anti-roll bar (f). Independent with multi-link location, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar (r).
BRAKES: disc (f) disc (r) power assisted some with ABS
WHEELS & TYRES: 205/55/R16 radial