The original Silvia
The Nissan Silvia CSP311 made its public debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in September 1964 as the "Datsun Coupe 1500". The introductory model was a hand-built coupe based on the Fairlady convertible, styled with input from Count Albrecht Goertz. The CSP311 was powered by the 96 hp 1.6 L Nissan R series engine. The engine was equipped with twin SU carburetors. Production ceased in 1968 after a mere 554 were made (mainly in 1965), every one unique with hand-formed body panels. Most of the cars remained in Japan; however, 49 examples were exported to Australia and another 10 went to other countries. The low production numbers and tedious method of construction assured each car was unique and valuable; this is reflected by the car's purchase price of almost twice as much as the next model in the manufacturer's lineup at the time. After production ceased in 1968, the name Silvia would not grace another Nissan until 1974.
The S10 was the first Silvia built on the S platform. This was "Nissan's compact, rear-wheel-drive, sporty car platform".
The S10 featured more "traditional" lines than similar offerings from rivals Toyota and Mazda and was summarily less popular with consumers in most markets. In Japan it was fitted with an L18 I4 engine, which it shared with the Datsun 610/Bluebird 180B. In the North American market a version incorporating the larger-displacement L20B was offered as the 200B of the same series Bluebird. This model was affixed with the mandated 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumpers and badged as the Datsun 200SX. The S10 Silvia and Datsun 200SX were based on the B210. Its success in both markets was limited, most buyers opting for the Celica over what was considered the more mundane S-Chassis. The car had the same drivetrain as the cult-classic 510, but with cart springs in the rear rather than the 510's IRS. Its appearance seems to be influenced by the 1970–1975 Citroën SM. Rear view
This iteration of the Silvia (sold in United States and Canada as the Datsun 200SX and in Mexico as the Datsun Sakura), available as a 2-door hardtop coupe and a 3-door hatchback, was uniquely progressive in that it was originally intended to feature a rotary engine, designed and built by Nissan. The resulting unit was fairly unreliable, and forestalled production. Coincidentally, it shared a chassis code with the also ill-fated Mazda Cosmo, first Japanese production car to feature a rotary engine. The car was redesigned shortly after it was released and the Wankel power plant was replaced by a line of conventional piston engines based on the new Z-series engine. These included the Z20 and the turbocharged and fuel-injected Z18ET, although the latter of the two was only available to the Japanese domestic market. In USA/Canada the 200SX had the Z20E with H165 rear axle from 1979 to 1981. From 1982 to 1983, it had a Z22E engine with H190 rear axle. Vehicles with engines over 2000cc are still considered "compact" vehicles under Japanese regulations regarding engine size.
This generation saw the introduction of the Nissan 240RS (BS110), a coupe fitted with the 2.4-liter DOHC FJ24 engine. The 240RS was built between 1983 and 1985, its production extending the end of the S110 itself. The resulting monster became Nissan's official rally car in the World Rally Championship from 1983 to 1985, and finished 2nd in the 1983 New Zealand Rally.
The S12 was produced from 1984 to 1988, with revisions to the exterior trim in 1987 (referred to as "Mark II"). It was sold in three configurations—a coupe (often called a "notchback"), a hatchback, and a widebody chassis called grandprix (only 50 units made worldwide).
A number of different engines were equipped in the S12 chassis, depending on production year and more specifically on the geographic market. These engines borrowed from previous designs, or in some cases, inspired future engine platforms (with the exception of the FJ series, which was designed solely with Rally competition in mind). For instance, the CA series initially borrowed design cues from the NAP-Z series. The CA18DET's DOHC head design was similar to that utilized in the later "RB" engine series, the inline-six engine that powered the Skyline GT-Rs. The VG30 V6 engine was also used, the VG is the predecessor to Nissans VQ Engine.
The S12 chassis in North America was badged "200SX". The Coupe was available with a 2.0 L SOHC engine (CA20E), while the fastback received both the 2.0 L SOHC engine, and a 1.8 L SOHC Turbo (non-intercooled) engine (CA18ET). For 1987 in the United States, Nissan discontinued putting the 1.8 Turbo into the fastback, and created the "SE" model which had the 3.0L SOHC V6 engine (VG30E), generating 160 hp (120 kW) and 174 lb·ft (236 N·m) of torque. This was the same engine offered in the non-turbo 300ZX for that generation. For 1988 the "SE" model received a 5 hp (3.7 kW) gain from using the later "W" series (VG30E) with a total output of 165 hp (123 kW) while torque remains the same at 174. The 200SX was replaced with the S13 Nissan 240SX in 1989.
After the sudden demise of Group B from World rally Championship, Nissan had to quickly find a car to replace the 240RS. The North American 1987 200SX SE V6 was chosen and competed in 1986-89 as a 200SX. Nissan's creation and choice of this car ensured they could sell 5000 cars required for WRC Homologation. The USA market being only one large enough to sell 5000 cars to a single specification. This also implies that they hadn't sold 5000 Japanese market Silvia RS-X with FJ20ET and were unlikely to sell enough with CA18DET, while the CA18ET can't have been considered adequate. The V6 was a very unusual choice as the WRC was dominated by 4-cylinder 2.0 L turbocharged engines, although for similar reasons Toyota entered WRC with the 6-cylinder Supra at the same time. The 200SX achieved a 1st place in the 1988 Ivory Coast rally and 2nd place 2 years running in the very arduous East African Safari Rally 1988 and East African Safari Rally 1989. It only competed for a few events in championship, mainly in the events that had a reputation for destroying cars where winning was by attrition. It didn't compete in the northern Europe events that didn't pummel the car but were won on driver skill and lost by accident.
The S12 chassis in Europe was badged Silvia, and was available in the hatchback and the grandprix configuration. The difference between the hatchback and the grandprix were the widebody, different wheels, and minor interior differences. The engine available was the same 1.8L SOHC Turbo (CA18ET) used in North America, and in some areas the 2.0 L DOHC "FJ" engine (FJ20E). The "FJ" engine series was originally designed for the 240RS rallycar as a 2.4 L carbeurated system (FJ24), and was underbored to 2.0 L. It also saw use in the "DR30" Nissan Skyline chassis, in both turbocharged and naturally aspirated versions.
One exception for the Silvia badging was in Sweden, where the car was named the Nissan 180ZX instead.
The S12 chassis in Australia was badged as a Gazelle. The Gazelle was available in both the coupe and hatchback. It was equipped with the same 2.0 L SOHC engine (CA20E) found elsewhere in the world.
The S12 chassis in Japan was badged as both a Silvia and a Gazelle. The Gazelle was produced so that Nissan's different dealership networks in Japan could all carry the Silvia. There are minor cosmetic differences. Both the S110 and S12 Silvias have a Gazelle counterpart. The S12 Silvia in Japan was available in a hatchback as a basic model only, but the S12 Gazelle in Japan was strictly a hatchback, available in regular, RS and RS-X variants, as was the Silvia notchback. The RS was equipped with the 2.0 L DOHC "FJ" engine(FJ20E), while the RS-X was equipped with the same engine in a turbocharged version (FJ20ET). In 1987 Nissan discontinued the FJ Series engine in the S12 and installed the updated version of the older CA, with dual cams and a bigger turbocharger—the CA18DET.
The S12 chassis in 1984–86 is referred to as "Mark I", with "Mark II" as a revision in 1987. Below lists the description of both.
The first trim of the S12 chassis. Bumpers featured matte-finish raised surfaces, and sides featured half-inch rubstripping. Cars featured a honeycomb radiator grille, and long cornerlights. The 1984 Turbo came with a "TURBO" monogrammed hood bulge accent. The 1984–85 could be had with a foam rubber deck spoiler. In 1986 the foam rubber deck spoiler was changed for a fiberglass version with an integrated third brake light. Some hatchbacks and all Turbo models came with ground effects—a combination of plastic mudflaps and accommodating foam rubber sideskirts, as well as a foam rubber lower deflection lip.
In 1987, the bumpers were updated, and the matte finished surfaces were eliminated for a more uniform surface. Rubstripping was increased to 2-inch height w/ scribe detailing. The honeycomb radiator grille was replaced with a slatted version that spanned the entire front end (previous was shorter), and cornerlights were shortened. The "SE" model and the Turbo (Canada, Europe) came with new ground fiberglass ground effects and mudflaps, painted in the color of the car, and a new and more pronounced lower deflection lip in the front. "SE" model also received a new hood bulge design to accommodate clearance for the 3.0 L V6. Optional rear mudflap accents were available.