Sold worldwide, the Nissan Silvia is best appreciated in it’s homeland. It is there, in the Japanese market, where Nissan has provided a 247 horsepower Silvia called the Spec-R.
To understand this 1999 Silvia Spec-R, it is important to look at the previous six generations that came before it. The Silvia range started in 1964 with the CSP311, a twin passenger coupe hand-built upon a modified Fairlady 240Z chassis. Since the bodywork was far more pedestrian than the 240Z, and performance was somewhat lacking, sales of the first generation Silvia finished at just over 500 examples..
Not until the third generation, known as the S10, did the Silvia get a foothold in the markets. Also known as the Gazelle, or 180SX for hatchback versions, this S10 sold well in Japan and abroad.
From generation three forward, the Silvia evolved with engine and styling updates: by 1983, the S12 Silvia set the standard for sports coupes in Japan by having the FJ20DET 190 horsepower engine. The following S13 generation came equipped with Nissan’s HICAS four wheel steering which greatly increased the level of technology for all Silvias thereafter.
The final edition of the Silvia, the S15 was, for most parts of the world, a styling upgrade. However, in Japan, the Silvia was offered in two distinct packages: the performance orientated Spec-R and the slightly more subdued Spec-S which is similar to what shipped for export.
Among the Spec-R cars, Nissan offered several packages including the V-package, Class-B, Style-A and an Autech-produced Varietta folding hard top convertible based on the Spec-S. With the amount of versions available, S15 owners were motivated to modify their cars. Finding a showroom stock Silvia Spec-R is no easy task.
When developing the S15, Nissan wanted to increase the performance for competition in the Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC). Lessons learnt with the Skyline GT-R were carried over into all models of the S15 Silvia. For instance, both cars share some aluminum suspension components and differentials. Additionally, the body and particularly the underbody were strengthened for rigidity in much the same manner as the Skyline GT-R: Front crossbar, rear floor stays, a trunk bar and a rear crossbars were added.
Alongside the Skyline, the NISMO S15s competed in the GT300 Class of the JGTC. With several key victories attained in their class, Takeshi Tsuchiya and Yuji Ide proved the Silvia as a successful racecar. After Nissan boosted the image of their S15 Silvia in JGTC, it became one of the most sought after of all the evolutions.