Nissan S12
aka Nissan Silvia
Production 1984-1988
Class {{{Class}}}
Body Style 2-door coupe

3-door hatchback

Length 1984-86: 4,430 mm (174.4 in)

1987-88: 4,460 mm (175.6 in)

Width 1984-86: 1,660 mm (65.4 in)

1987-88: 1,669 mm (65.7 in)

Height 1984-86: 1,330 mm (52.4 in)

1987-88: 1,280 mm (50.4 in)

Wheelbase 2,425 mm (95.5 in)
Weight 1,170 kg (2,580 lb)
Transmission 5-speed manual

4-speed L4N71/E4N71 automatic

Engine 1.8 L CA18S/E/DE I4

1.8 L CA18ET/CA18DET turbo I4

2.0 L CA20E I4

2.0 L FJ20E I4

2.0 L FJ20ET I4 turbo

3.0 L VG30E V6

Power {{{Power}}}
Similar Nissan Stanza
Designer {{{Designer}}}

The S12 was produced from August 1983 to 1988, with revisions to the exterior trim in 1986 (referred to as "Mark II"). It was sold in two configurations—a coupe (often called a "notchback" due to the side profile view of its rear window section) and a hatchback version.

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 Nissan Skylines. The 87-88 SE V6 S12 was equipped with a 3.0 SOHC V6 engine also shared by the 300ZX (Z31) of the same vintage;

Japan Edit

As with the S110, the S12 chassis in Japan was badged as both a Silvia and a Gazelle. The S12 Silvia in Japan was available in a hatchback as a basic model only, or as a coupé (notchback) in base, RS, and RS-X trims and exclusive to Nissan Prince Store Japanese dealerships as a junior companion to the Nissan Skyline. The S12 Gazelle was strictly a hatchback, available in regular, RS and RS-X variants and exclusive to Nissan Bluebird Store locations as a junior companion to the Fairlady ZX. The RS was equipped with the 2.0L 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 replaced it with the CA18DET (with dual cams and a bigger turbocharger—the CA18DET. Japanese spec Gazelle models came with many options like voice command, fog lights and options for a variety of different motors (FJ20E, FJ20ET, CA18DE, CA18E, CA18DET.). The RS-X model also came with different factory alloy wheels. When the S13 Silvia was introduced in 1988 in Japan, the Gazelle nameplate was replaced with the Nissan 180SX as a junior companion to the 300ZX, although in Australia there would not be a replacement until the introduction of the Silvia-based Nissan 200SX in 1995.

North America Edit

The S12 Silvia brand in North America was badged as a "200SX". For fear that the North American market would not be as profitable as other markets throughout; without any major innovations, Nissan Executives only scheduled the manufacturing of 5k of each trim package/engine options in the final 2 years before the halt of US production. Leaving the final year of the S12 1988. The S12 "XE" was strictly a coupe or a "notchback", and was only available with a 2.0L SOHC, non-turbo engine and made available with either a 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic gearbox. (CA20E) The hatchback received both the 2.0L SOHC engine, and a 1.8L SOHC Turbo (non-intercooled) engine (CA18ET). For 1987 in the United States, Nissan discontinued the Turbo model and created the "SE" model which had a 3.0L SOHC V6 engine (VG30E), generating 160 hp (120 kW) and 174 lbf·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 revisions of the VG30E with a total output of 165 hp (123 kW) while torque remained the same at 174 lbf·ft (236 N·m).

Europe Edit

The S12 chassis in Europe was badged as a "Silvia", with notable exception of Sweden where it was sold as a "180ZX". This is a curiosity because "ZX" is traditionally associated with the Nissan Z platform. The European S12 was available only in the hatchback configuration, with the same 1.8L SOHC Turbo (CA18ET) used in North America, and in some areas the 2.0L DOHC "FJ" engine (FJ20E). The "FJ" engine series was originally designed for the 240RS rally race car as a 2.4L carburated system (FJ24), and was underbored to 2.0L. It also saw use in the "DR30" Nissan Skyline chassis, in both turbocharged and naturally aspirated versions.

Australia Edit

The S12 chassis in Australia, released in October 1983, was badged as a Gazelle. The Australian Gazelle was available in both hatchback and coupe variants. It was equipped with the same 2.0-liter SOHC CA20E engine found elsewhere producing 78 kW (105 hp) at 5,200 rpm, and 160 N·m (120 lb·ft) of torque at 3,200 rpm. This engine was mated to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic.

According to the May 1984 brochure, the coupe added: alloy wheels, mudflaps, electric windows/mirrors/antenna, a six speaker sound system (over four), time delay interior lighting, variable intermittent wipers, an armrest, carpet kickpads, and cloth headlining/sunvisors/door trims (over vinyl). An option pack for the coupe added air conditioning, power steering, and power sunroof. The hatchback's option pack added air conditioning, power steering, and power sunroof.

By the time of the August 1985 brochure, the coupe's option pack had been deleted, but the standard SGL coupe added power steering and a manual sunroof (a power sunroof was no longer offered). Air conditioning remained as an option, while power steering was added to the hatchback's option pack. The alloy wheel design was also changed.

The facelifted "Mark II" models were released to Australia in circa 1986.

Revisions Edit

The S12 chassis in 1984-86 is referred to as "Mark I", with "Mark II" as a revision in '87. Below lists the description of both.

-Mark I Edit

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 corner lights. The RS-X trim in Japan and Europe received a hood bulge accent to accommodate the oversized dimensions of the FJ20E/ET engine, and featured a faux front vent with monogram (either FJ20, DOHC, or TURBO); In North America, the 1984 Turbo came with a "TURBO" monogrammed hood bulge accent, although all subsequent North American Mark I hoods were flat regardless of trim. In some markets, the 1984 and 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, as did the RS-X coupes These had a combination of plastic mudflaps (monogrammed as either "NISSAN", or "SILVIA" in applicable markets) and accommodating foam rubber sideskirts, as well as a foam rubber lower deflection lip. 1984 year foam rubber sideskirts featured the "NISSAN" monogram.

Mark II Edit

In 1986, 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 fiberglass ground effects and mudflaps, painted in the color of the car, and a new and more pronounced lower deflection lip in the front. All Mark II S12's received a new reverse-cowl hood bulge design to accommodate clearance for the 3.0L V6. Optional rear mudflap accents were available.

Drivetrain Edit

Engine Edit

CA18ET CA18DET CA20E FJ20E FJ20ET VG30E (North America)
Aspiration Single turbo Single turbo Natural Natural Single turbo Natural
Valvetrain SOHC 8-valve DOHC 16-valve SOHC 8-valve DOHC 16-valve SOHC 12-valve
Cylinders 4 6
Displacement 1809 cc 1974 cc 1990 cc 2960 cc
Max Power 120 hp at 5200 rpm (North America)
122 PS (90 kW) catalyst and Dual Ignition (Europe)
135 PS (99 kW) Dual Ignition (Europe)
169 hp at 6400 rpm 102 hp (76 kW) at 5200 rpm (North America)
78 kW (106 PS; 105 hp) at 5200 rpm (Australia, Dual Ignition)
145 PS (107 kW) at 6400 rpm (Germany) 190 PS (140 kW) at 6500 rpm 160 hp (119 kW) at 5200 rpm (1987) 165 hp (123 kW) at 5200 rpm (1988)
Max Torque 134ftlb (181.7Nm) at 3200 rpm 156ftlb (211.6Nm) at 4000 rpm 116ftlb (157.3Nm) at 3200 rpm
160 N·m (118 lb·ft) at 3200 rpm
175 N·m (129 lb·ft) at 4800 rpm 173ftlb (234.6Nm) at 4800 rpm 174ftlb (235.9Nm) at 4000 rpm
Drivetrain Rear-wheel drive
Transmission 4-speed automatic / 5-speed manual

Special Editions Edit

In Europe, a limited-run (~50 units?) version of the S12 was produced and sold as the "Silvia Grand Prix" model. Based on a Mark I chassis, it was powered by the FJ20E (with a few known to be sold with the CA18ET), and featured molded-in fiberglass wide body fenders, sideskirts and quarter sections and special edition wheels.

The widebody exterior grabs design cues from popular European rally car platforms of the time (e.g. Audi Quattro, BMW M3 Sport Evolution, Renault 5 Turbo 2, etc.), although Nissan's choice of the FJ20E over the FJ20ET suggests this was more of a "rally inspired" car rather than a serious performance trim. The Silvia Grand Prix holds the distinction as the rarest incarnation of the S12, and is generally considered something of a collector's item. The Mark II revision of the S12 chassis marked the end of the Silvia Grand Prix.

Motorsports Edit

The elimination of Group B from the World Rally Championship signified the end of Nissan's FJ24-powered 240RS. The FJ20ET-powered Silvia RS-X of 1986 would have been Nissan's first choice, however there was an insufficient number of that exact trim sold in Japan to meet the WRC's Homologation requirements (minimum 5000 units). 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 S12 "SE" trim's V6 held the only real appeal to the North American market, allowing Nissan to sell right at 5000 cars to a single specification. The V6 was a very unusual choice as the WRC was dominated by 4-cylinder 2.0 L turbocharged engines, although it is interesting to note that for similar reasons Toyota entered WRC with the 6-cylinder Supra at the same time. The 200SX achieved a first place in the 1988 Ivory coast rally and second place for two years running in the very challenging Safari Rally 1988 and Safari Rally 1989

-Silvia Super Silhouette (1983-1984?) S110/S12

One of the most famous and iconic S12 was not specifically that of the S12 chassis but a mesh of the S110 and S12. A part of both NIssan’s racing heritage and Tomei’s history, this Super Silhouette is indeed one of a kind and although not specifically an S12, it is very much a part of the S12 chassis history.

Specifications Edit

Overall length / width / height
Tread (front/rear)
Curb weight
LZ20B (4-cyl. in line, DOHC), 2,082cc
Engine Max. power
Over 419kW (570PS)/7,600rpm
Engine Max. torque
Over 539Nm (55.0kgm)/6,400rpm
B& B triple plate
Doug Nash 5-speed
Lockheed 4-pod(front & rear)
Tires (front, rear)
Note:Competition car Group 5 specifications (*As measured)

This is the machine driven by K. Hoshino at the Fuji Super Silhouette races (held between 1979 and 1984). Super Silhouette cars looked like production cars outside, but sported Formula car engineering inside. In accordance with international Group 5 regulations, the engine was the same twin-carb LZ20B (570PS) used in the Skyline Super Silhouette.

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