Nissan has a long running line of sports vehicles that and one of those that is based on the platform of the Nissan S is the Nissan Silvia. While many recent models have shared a chassis with some of the other vehicles that are produced by Nissan, such as the 200SX in Europe and the 240 SX in North America, the Silvia name is not interchangeable with these chassis codes.
The Nissan Silvia made its first public debut in September of 1964 at the Tokyo Motor Show. It was called the Datson Coupe 1500 at that time. The introductory version was a coup that was hand built and based on the concept of the Fairlady convertible. Albrecht Goertz gave styling input for the vehicle.
In the year 1968, production of the Datson Coupe was stopped after only 554 were constructed, most of these being made in 1965. Each of these vehicles was unique as the body panels were all formed by hand. Most of the vehicles would remain in Japan, but 49 of them were exported into Australia and 10 others were then sent to other countries. The low number of the vehicles constructed combined with how tedious these vehicles were to make, ensured that these cars were unique and therefor valuable. The purchase price for these vehicles was almost twice as much as the other models that were in the Nissan lineup at the time. Once production was ceased for these vehicles, the name Silvia would not be used again by Nissan until the year 1974.
The first of the mass produced Silvia’s using the S platform was the S10. The S10 was a sporty vehicle that was compact and had rear wheel drive. The S10 had less of the traditional lines that are offered by some of the rivals of the company such as Mazda and Toyota. For this reason, it was not as popular with most consumers in most markets.
In Japan, the S10 had a L 18 14 engine that was shared with the Bluebird 180B. It was at this time that the emission control technology, NAPS was first introduced. In North America a version that incorporated a larger displacement L20B started being offered. This was the same that was used in the Skyline and the Bluebird. In North America this version was given the 5 mph bumpers and called the Datsun 200SX. Both the Datsun 200SX and the S10 Silvia got their base from the Datsun Sunny Coupe. The success of these vehicles was limited and most buyers preferred the Celica.
There were several special editions offered throughout the years. In Europe a version of the S12 was manufactured and then sold as the Silvia Grand Prix. This vehicle had its basis using the Mark 1 chassis and was powered using the FJ20E and featured a fiberglass body with special edition wheels.
In Motorsports, the S series is popular as a drift car, especially the S13 through the S15 cars. The Silvia has seen much success in the sport with 7 D1 grand prix championships. There were 5 drivers that used the S15 model from 2001 through 2011.
Silvia’s have also been raced in the Grand Touring car championships that take place in Japan. During the late 1980s the Group B was band and both the S10 and the S12 versions of the Silvia saw a bit of success in rallying, mostly for endurance rallies. When the S13s were produced, one make was offered in Japan. During the 1990s, the S13s were successfully raced in IMSA GTU classes.