How the Nissan Silvia (240SX) went from humble coupe to drift king - Hagerty Media (2023)

If you are at all familiar with drifting or have seen any of theFast and Furious movies, you’ve heard of the Nissan Silvia—or, as it’s known in North America, the 240SX. Although it’s probably most famous as a drift car, the Silvia was never marketed to the drift community while in production. Nissan conceived the car as a modest, sensible two-door for the lower end of the market, but tuners were drawn to the Silvia’s lightweight, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and accessible price.

The first-generation (S10) Nissan Silvia debuted in 1975. (We are not counting the ultra-limited production, hand-built Datsun 1600 Silvia from the mid-1960s.) As was common at the time, North America received a larger and more powerful 2.0-liter inline-four engine compared to the 1.8-liter offered in Japan. Unfortunately, this would be the end of America’s claim to the more powerful Silvia.

The S10 Silvia was not a huge success; most buyers at the time opted instead for theCelica. The S110 Silvia generation that followed, produced from 1979 to 1983, and was originally designed to have a Wankel rotary engine but instead got the same 2.0-liter L20B inline-four as the S10. It later received the 103-horsepower twin-plug 2.2-liter Z22E inline-four.

(Video) Nissan 240SX S13 - From Stock to Competition Drift Car | RadVentures

How the Nissan Silvia (240SX) went from humble coupe to drift king - Hagerty Media (1)

Early Silvias are decent cars but were never embraced by the tuner community. The S12 generation (known as the 200SX in North America), built from 1983 to 1988, is when the Silvia finally got the power it deserved. The most powerful engine initially offered in the S12 was the 133-hp, turbocharged 1.8-liter CA18ET inline-four. In 1987, the four-banger was outmatched by a 160-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 (shared with the Z31-generation 300ZX). The following year, the V-6 got a 5-hp boost but was still weaker than the best Silvia engine from Japan—the 187-hp, turbocharged dual-cam FJ20ET inline-four.

The Silvia generations most popular in North America are the S13 and S14 generations. Hereafter, we will refer to the car as the 240SX, as it was badged in the U.S. market to reflect its 2.4-liter engine.

The S13-genNissan 240SX, built from 1989 to 1994 as a coupe or hatchback, is where the Silvia’s reputation as a drift dynamo originates. In the early days of drifting, the lightweight (2700-pound), front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout of the S13—combined with an ideal 55/45 front-rear weight distribution—helped it become the most popular starting point for a drift build. Over 25 years later, the S13 is still one of the most popular drift cars.

The S13 received major updates from the S12, mostly to improve the handling, including a MacPherson strut front suspension and Nissan’s first multi-link rear suspension. Four-wheel disc brakes were standard, while ABS and a limited-slip differential were optional (although they were standard in other markets). The only engine offered in North America was the single-overhead-cam, naturally aspirated 2.4-liter KA24E inline-four, which produced 140 hp. In 1991, the S13 was given a mid-model refresh which included a few cosmetic changes and new cylinder head for the KA24E, resulting in the KA24DE which provided dual overhead cams and an extra valve per cylinder, bringing the total to four. Four-wheel steering arrived in 1991, a feature that debuted on the R31 Nissan Skyline. Even with the upgrades, the KA24DE only had 155 hp, which was much less than offered in other markets. American 240SX buyers missed out on the legendary, 202-horse, turbocharged and intercooled SR20DET inline-four. But, at least we got pop-up headlights—the Japanese S13 Silvia only had fixed headlights.

How the Nissan Silvia (240SX) went from humble coupe to drift king - Hagerty Media (2)
How the Nissan Silvia (240SX) went from humble coupe to drift king - Hagerty Media (3)

In 1995, Nissan released the S14-generation 240SX, which was completely redesigned and shared almost no parts with the S13. As if finally yielding to the drift crowd, Nissan lowered the S14, widened the track and added two inches to the wheelbase, while slightly shortening the overall length. To improve weight distribution, the fuel tank was moved from under the trunk to behind the rear seats, in front of the rear suspension. The S14 lost the pop-up headlights and cup holders, for some reason, but retained the KA24DE engine. To compound America’s jealousy of the JDM version, the SR20DET in Japan’s S14 Silvia was given a bigger turbo, resulting in 217 hp.

The S14 received a mid-model aesthetic refresh in 1997 to make the car look more aggressive. 1996 and earlier cars are referred to as Zenki S14 with cars after the refresh referred to as Kouki S14. (Zenki and Kouki mean “prior” and “latter,” respectively.) In the late 1990s, 240SX sales suffered as more practical SUVs began to dominate the market. 1999 was the last year the 240SX was sold in America, as production ended in July 1998. The Silvia lived on for one more generation in Japan with the S15, but we won’t be able to import them until 2024.

How the Nissan Silvia (240SX) went from humble coupe to drift king - Hagerty Media (4)
How the Nissan Silvia (240SX) went from humble coupe to drift king - Hagerty Media (5)

Because the KA24 in the North American 240SX was very, very underpowered, it’s common for owners to heavily modify their cars. Engine swaps are one of the quickest ways to give the 240SX the power it so desperately lacked. It’s common to swap in the SR20DET that was given to the Japanese Silvia, restoring all balance to the universe. If you want to tip the scales in your favor and don’t mind the extra cost, RB engines from the Nissan Skyline with close to 300 hp would be a great choice. If you’re on a budget and want to keep the original engine, many turbo kits are offered, which pair very well with the large cylinder size and iron block of the KA24DE.

To give you an idea of how common it is the modify the 240SX, 52 percent of Hagerty insurance quotes for the S13 and 64 percent for the S14 are flagged as modified. For comparison, only 19 percent of S12 quotes are flagged as modified.

Since the 240SX is so commonly modified, if you are in the market for one, be prepared to pay the “drift tax.” It’s very difficult to find unmodified/uncrashed cars for sale and when you do, they are very expensive. If you manage to find one, make sure to look for rust, especially by the rear spoiler, trunk, wheel wells, and frame rails. It’s very common for S13s to have had their frame rails repaired due to rust. If this is the case, make sure you know what you’re looking at—or even better, see if the owner has receipts for the work. You don’t want the back end to fall off while you’re heading sideways into a turn. Also, S13 coupes offered an early heads-up display which will most likely be broken on any cars currently for sale.

Unmodified 240SX cars are quoted at a median value of $7750 for the S13 and $9000 for the S14, but it’s very common to see them sell for more. Earlier this year, a 1993 240SX with only 26,000 miles sold for $20,000 on Bring a Trailer. If you do buy one, there will continue to be a large pool of buyers down the road. Using insurance quotes as a sign of interest, people in their 20s and 30s are by far the largest group of potential buyers. Millennials account for 74 percent of S13 quotes and 69 percent of S14 quotes, with a combined average age of 33 years old.

How the Nissan Silvia (240SX) went from humble coupe to drift king - Hagerty Media (6)

Whatever direction you go for the 240SX/Silvia of your dreams, you will be in good company. Aftermarket support is abundant, and the culture surrounding these Japanese gems is alive and well.


How much is a Hagerty 240SX worth? ›

Unmodified 240SX cars are quoted at a median value of $7750 for the S13 and $9000 for the S14, but it's very common to see them sell for more.

Why are 240SX good for drifting? ›

Based on the same principles – front engine and rear wheel drive configuration, affordable price, lightness, simple mechanics, and balanced weight distribution, the Nissan 240SX also brings easier power upgrades to the table, which are very important in the drifting sphere.

What Nissan model car did the Nissan 240SX replace? ›

The Nissan 240SX is a sports compact car that was introduced to the North American market by Nissan in 1989 for the 1990 model year. It replaced the outgoing 200SX (S12) model. Most of the 240SXs were equipped with the 2.4-liter inline 4 engine (KA24E from 1989 to 1990 and KA24DE from 1990 to 1998).

What is so special about 240SX? ›

The Nissan 240SX is one of the most reliable compact sports cars of the 90s. It comes with extremely simple mechanics and bulletproof engines. This can prove useful, especially for first-time builders who require more reliability than power and complexity.

How many miles can I drive with Hagerty? ›

Please review specific vehicle guidelines for this information. Mileage of 3,500 or less is generally consistent with operating vehicles that have collectible value. Mileage up to 7,500 may be considered.

How much are 240SX worth today? ›

A: The average price of a Nissan 240SX - S13 is $15,612. Q: What years was the Nissan 240SX - S13 sold?

What is the coolest drift car? ›

Our pick of the best cars for drifting are:
  • Toyota GR86.
  • Mazda MX-5.
  • BMW M3 Competition.
  • Nissan 350Z.
  • Alpine A110.
  • Vauxhall Monaro VXR.
  • Ford Focus RS.
  • Porsche Cayman.
May 11, 2022

Does drifting damage my car? ›

If you want to know how drifting affects a car's tires, all you have to do is look at the track –it's coated in rubber. Drifting destroys tires and shortens the life span of tires to an afternoon. If it's a hobby you want to pursue, then find a good place to buy tires for cheap, like RNR Tire Express.

Are 240SX rare? ›

This particular body style 240SX is slowly becoming a rare species—there aren't a whole lot of them left, they're usually pretty beat up, and amateur drift enthusiasts have turned a good number of them into missile cars.

What does 240SX stand for? ›

The 180sx was named for its 1.8L CA18DET engine, and the 240sx was named for its 2.4L KA24E engine. After that, even though there were changes to the engine stats (see further below for more on that), the names had stuck so they kept them.

Is the 240SX a drift car? ›

The S13 Silvia is a JDM icon but, in America, it's the 240SX. The sports car proved to be a great tuner, drift car, or even a fun real-wheel-drive daily driver.

What is a 240SX called in Japan? ›

The Nissan 240SX is a sports car, build between 1989 and 1999. This car is called Silvia in Japan (a small blue bird in Japan).

What is the fastest 240SX? ›

Nevertheless with a one time 235 MPH top speed run, this Nissan 240SX is most definitely the world's fastest S13.

How many types of 240SX are there? ›

In the United States, two generations of the 240SX were made. The S13 was in production from 1988 to 1994. Meanwhile, the S14 model was available from 1994-1998. Nissan also made the Silvia and 180SX cars for the Japanese markets, and the 200SX for the European market.

What happens to your car after 200000 miles? ›

Although it may have been well maintained, the purchase of a vehicle with over 200,000 miles on the odometer might lead to significant maintenance costs. At this point, the car is likely nearing the end of its useful life, and you may soon need to either invest a significant sum in repairs or replace it entirely.

Can you drive a car past 200k miles? ›

A conventional car can last for 200,000 miles. Some well-maintained car models will reach 300,000 or more miles total. The average passenger car age is currently around 12 years in the United States. Choosing a well-built make and model can help extend your car's longevity.

How long do cars last after 200000 miles? ›

In general, most modern cars can cross 200,000 miles without any major issues, provided the vehicle is being well-maintained. Considering that an average person drives 10,000-20,000 miles per year, this will account for roughly 15 years of service.

How much does it cost to repair a 240SX? ›

The estimated cost to maintain and repair a Nissan 240SX ranges from $95 to $2261, with an average of $288.

What is the most expensive 240SX sold? ›

Q: What was the most expensive Nissan 240SX - S14 ever sold? A: The top sale price was $25,000 for a 1998 Nissan 240SX SE 5-Speed on January 05 2021.

Will the 240SX come back? ›

Nissan is reportedly bringing back the Silvia, otherwise known as the 200SX and 240SX in the US. According to Japan's Best Car with information coming from unnamed sources, the Japanese automaker is resurrecting the nameplate under a "Pure EV Silvia Revival" project.

Which car is the king of drift? ›

If there's one car that immediately springs to mind when talking about the “Drift King” Keiichi Tsuchiya, it would have to be Toyota AE86.

What is the easiest car to drift? ›

Here are the five best drift cars for beginners:
  • Mazda MX-5. Of course, there was going to be an MX-5 on our list! ...
  • Nissan 350Z. Nissan's muscular V6 coupé is something of a bargain these days. ...
  • Toyota Z30 Soarer. ...
  • Nissan S14/S14A 200SX.

What Nissan is best for drifting? ›

Best Affordable Cars For Drifting
  • Nissan 240SX. The Nissan 240SX is undeniably the absolute best beginner car for drifting. ...
  • Nissan 300ZX. The 300ZX is a financial step above the 240SX, but the benefit from the step up is exponential. ...
  • Nissan 350Z/370Z. The 370Z is the best drifting car to date to come from Nissan.
Jan 30, 2017

What is the longest drift in a car? ›

The longest drift in an electric car on a wet surface measures 43.646 km (27.12 miles) and was achieved by Zhiji motors Technology Company Ltd.

What gear is best for drifting? ›

When learning to drift, our advice is to approach a tight 30mph turn in second gear at about 3000rpm – this will give you a decent amount of torque to keep the rear wheels spinning once you've induced oversteer.

Is it OK to drift in an automatic car? ›

Can you drift with an automatic car? Yes. Any car can drift, as long as the physical needs are met. The driver must put the car in a state where the wheels turn faster than the traction can keep up, thus propelling the car sideways.

What makes a drift car fast? ›

The key attributes of a good drift car remain, in that front engine with rear-wheel drive is the only way, by using the weight transfer of the engine over the nose compared to mid or rear-engined cars that can't change direction as quickly.

How much HP do you need for drifting? ›

Rogers says to learn/just go out for fun, you only need between 100-150hp, but that number goes up significantly in the pro-am ranks to roughly 500 to 600hp, and pro cars range from 800 to 1,200 at the rear wheels.

Which is better S13 or S14? ›

With a lighter chassis, the S13 is going to need less power to extract the same performance as the heavier S14. However, the S14's revised geometry and tougher chassis do make a solid performance boost. In terms of outright performance, there really isn't a lot in it.

What car looks like 240SX? ›

Ford Thunderbird / Nissan 240SX

One of the clearest examples of this can be seen when comparing the 1992-1997 Ford Thunderbird to the 1994-1998 Nissan 240SX.

Why do some 240SX look different? ›

The reason there's two different 96' 240sx in the game is simply because in the US, that body style was called the 240sx in both cases, just the first one was made from 89-93, and the second from 95-98, and the game is for the American market.

What does SX mean in a car? ›

EX or SXT usually indicates extra or standard extra trim, a mid-range upgrade package. SE, SX, SRT, and GT are common abbreviations for sport and performance packages, referring to sport edition, sport crossover, street and racing technology, and Gran Turismo.

Why is a Nissan called Silvia? ›

Versions of the Silvia have been marketed as the 200SX or 240SX for export, with some export versions being sold under the Datsun brand. The name "Silvia" is derived from Sylvia, the name of the nymph who served Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt and chastity.

What does ZX mean in Nissan? ›

here LX variant is the base variant, only base features on this model cars. VX variant has some more luxury items like power window, fog lamps etc. and the ZX variant is the top end variant in that corresponding model. It comes with almost all features that was offered by the manufacturer.

Do drift cars have toe? ›

Toe on the front wheels is down mostly to driver feel. Some drivers prefer a neutral set up with zero toe and others prefer a set up with some toe out, up to 1mm toe out per front wheel (2mm overall). At the rear the toe is often set to toe in.

What car is Tokyo Drift? ›

Han used the Mazda RX-7 in the movie. The Japanese automotive aftermarket company, Veilside, made a custom body kit in bright orange to give the vehicle a street-racing look. The RX-7 originally came in red color.

Do Teslas drift? ›

However, as it seems, the car is well capable of drifting, but its yoke is making things difficult.

What does Nissan mean in Japan? ›

What does the word Nissan mean in Japanese? Nissan / 日産 Nissan's name is pretty straightforward. The kanji 日 means “sun,” but is also the first character in what the Japanese people call their county, Nihon/日本. Combine that with san, meaning “production,” and Nissan's name essentially works out to “Japanese-made.

What is the rarest S15? ›

Variettas are the rarest S15 variant; only 1,143 were ever produced.

What is Nissan called in Japan? ›

Primarily dealing in foundries and auto parts, Nihon Sangyo debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange by its ticker name NISSAN in 1933. Nissan expanded beyond its Japanese roots from there, and officially came to the U.S. as Datsun in 1958.

What is the fastest radical car? ›

The RXC Spyder is Radical's flagship racing car for the gentleman driver. With a top speed of 180mph and 650bhp the RXC Spyder does 0-60 in 2.7 seconds.

What is the fastest Nissan ever? ›

As Nissan's fastest car, the 2021 GT-R NISMO does not disappoint. The quick acceleration from 0-60 in roughly 2.9 seconds, the fact that you can feel the power under your feet, and the ability to tame all of that power make the NISMO a fun sports car to drive.

What is the World's Fastest Nissan? ›

You'll find staggering performance in the Nissan GT-R Nismo, which is the fastest Nissan car currently available. The three-door coupe uses a 3.8-liter V6 bi-turbo engine. With it, it boasts a top speed of 196 mph and accelerates to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds.

Is a 240SX the same as a Silvia? ›

If you are at all familiar with drifting or have seen any of the Fast and Furious movies, you've heard of the Nissan Silvia—or, as it's known in North America, the 240SX. Although it's probably most famous as a drift car, the Silvia was never marketed to the drift community while in production.

How much should I pay for an S13? ›

A: The average price of a Silvia - S13 is $15,809. Have another FAQ about the Nissan Silvia - S13?

What is the rarest S13? ›

The rarest option is not surprisingly the Kagoshima Specification (Volcanic Ash Countermeasure Options - Exterior Chrome Coating Moldings + Larger Washer Reservoir Size + Larger Wipers). There was only 14 S13 Silvias with this option.

How much is a 1998 240SX worth? ›

1998 Nissan 240SX Value - $258-$2,286 | Edmunds.

How do I find the value of my antique car? ›

You can determine the value of your classic car by getting an appraisal that reviews current and historical asking prices. Classic car valuation tools can also provide a range of prices that your vehicle may fall into.

How much is a 1996 Nissan 240SX worth? ›

The value of a used 1996 Nissan 240SX ranges from $180 to $1,731, based on vehicle condition, mileage, and options.

Is there a Kelley Blue Book for classic cars? ›

Kelley Blue Book currently offers values for 21 years of cars and trucks – plus motorcycles and ATVs – on the internet. Unfortunately, values for older and collector cars are not available on at this time.

Why is it called 240SX? ›

The 180sx was named for its 1.8L CA18DET engine, and the 240sx was named for its 2.4L KA24E engine. After that, even though there were changes to the engine stats (see further below for more on that), the names had stuck so they kept them.

What is a Nissan 240SX called in Japan? ›

The Nissan 240SX is a sports car, build between 1989 and 1999. This car is called Silvia in Japan (a small blue bird in Japan).

Will classic cars go up in value? ›

Most cars lose value immediately after they are driven off of the dealer lot, but classic cars gain in value over time, due to rarity, performance, or special attributes.

What decreases the value of a classic car? ›

What decreases the value of a classic car? If your classic car was modified to your unique preferences and these alterations stray from the original specs, then this will lower the value of your classic car. You'll see a higher value if your car is fully restored, versus partially restored.

Is a classic car worth more with original paint? ›

Changing your car's color

The rarer the car is, the more important it is to keep the original color when you restore it. This will affect its value. A car in a unique color may catch your eye, but if it isn't true to colors available at that time the car was built, it may diminish the car's resale value.

How much does a rocket bunny kit cost for 240SX? ›

Pandem Aero - Mustang - Now Accepting 1st Pre-orders!
Rocket Bunny 180SX Aero (V2) - Nissan 240SX / 180SX (RPS13) - Full Kit in stock.
Part NumberDescriptionPrice
17020382Front Canards (only)$ 375.00
9 more rows

What is the most accurate car value? ›

The Kelley Blue Book—and its equally popular website—is one of the most trusted guides for automobile pricing, used by those who are buying or selling cars. Kelley assesses the following values: private party value, trade-in value, suggested retail value, and certified pre-owned (CPO) value.

Are 20 year old cars classics? ›

For insurance and registration purposes, the age of a classic car, in most cases, is at least 20 years old but not more than 40 years old. If you are going to register it (and insure it) as a classic, it should have been kept to its original design and specifications.

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