1983 S12 Silvia
The S12 Silvia saw a flurry of Nissan engineering development. Three very different engine families were incorporated into the S12 – the CA-series 4-cylinder, FJ-series 4-cylinder and, believe it or not, a VG-series V6. The 300ZX-type 3.0 litre V6 (VG30E) goes into history books as the biggest engine ever crammed into a Silvia. This big-banger generates around 120kW and is a close match for the torque output of the turbocharged 4-cylinders. Outright performance is also close behind. Note that the V6-powered S12 wasn’t released until 1987 – and it could be bought only in America. Other engines of interest are the turbocharged 2.0 litre FJ20DET and 1.8 litre CA18DET.
The FJ20DET pumps out a strong 150kW while the smaller CA18 DOHC turbo manages around 110kW. Neither engine uses an intercooler. With a 5-speed manual gearbox, these cars are easily capable of accelerating to 100 km/h in the 7s. In Japan, the S12 Silvia was available with the full range of CA and FJ-series engines while the American market S12 (badged 200SX) got the 3.0 litre V6, SOHC CA18 turbo and naturally aspirated CA20.
The same CA20 was offered in Australia in the Gazelle. The S12 was a good, solid rear-wheel-drive design that was built on the platform of the previous model. Note that low-spec versions were initially released with a traditional live axle rear, while performance versions and all later models feature an independent set-up. The styling is conservative with two body styles on offer – the notchback coupe and hatchback. Turbocharged versions can be identified by a large bonnet bulge/vent. Oh, and this is the era when Nissan started playing around with gizmos such as digital voice commands, auto rain-sensing wipers and digital head-up speed displays.