Japanese manufacturers are sadistic. It's as simple as that. The japanese market gets the good stuff and we always get teased. Case in point-the Nissan 240SX. We get the handling prowess and body shape of the JDM Nissan Silvia, but under the hood lies the innocuous KA24DE engine, generating an anemic 155 hp, while the Silvia flexes 217 beefy turbo hp from the delectable SR20DET in '95 vintage S14 trim. The bottom line: We get rocked by 62 hp; not to mention the loss of potential.
The big get even? The SR20DET swaps into the 240 with ease and the hearty four-banger loves aftermarket attention. Jonathan Yeh of Chino, Calif. wanted to invigorate his 1995 Nissan 240SX with the famed swap. The big challenge is wiring. A quick way around this is buying a complete Silvia front clip, which includes ECU, harness and some key body parts to complete the Silvia transformation outside of the engine bay.
Yeh, who went the engine-only route, enlisted SP Engineering to install an S13-spec SR20DET. The engine dropped right in with the help of Nismo S14 solid engine mounts. The wiring nightmare was sorted out with a Japanese service manual and trial-and-error, but everything in the car works as it should. The swap was performed in early 2000 and Yeh was content running the stock SR20DET with its T25 turbo at an elevated boost of 14 psi (stock is 10 psi).
In early 2002, the call for more power echoed and Yeh was ready to step past stock. SP Engineering technicians Rex Kieu and Jason Reinholdt pulled the engine and fitted the bottom end with goods from GReddy. A set of 1mm oversized pistons with a boost-friendly 8.5:1 compression ratio were joined by forged GReddy GRex series rods and rod bolts. A tricky aspect of the swap can be clearance under the car so SP installed a GReddy oil pan, which has a lower profile than the stocker. With the engine out, the cylinder head was given a splash of attention. GReddy springs were swapped in for increased revving ability and a set of GReddy 264-degree cams went in to maximize power at elevated engine speeds. A pair of adjustable cam gears is on-call to fine-tune the power curve.
The hard parts on the SR20DET were fortified to support the extra pressure created by a wicked GReddy T78 turbo upgrade. On this 2.0-liter, a T78 represents an inter-dimensional leap from the small, stock T25. The big hairdryer is mounted on a GReddy manifold and charge air is chilled by a GReddy R-SPL intercooler tucked seductively behind the Bomex front spoiler.
To support the added boost on the fuel side of the equation, SP installed a high-flow HKS fuel pump, SARD regulator and Nismo 660cc injectors. Fuel and ignition events are controlled by a ROM-tuned stock Silvia ECU. SP Engineering's Shawn Wang, formerly of G-Force fame, was in charge of programming the ECU to idle and make power with the bigger injectors and the SR20's dramatically increased air volume.
The T78-pressurized, fully built SR20DET was ROM-tuned on SP's dyno. In accordance with the ROM tuning, an HKS VPC and EVC IV were used to pump the power to the wheels. A shakedown run at 0.9 Bar netted 335 hp; that's a pretty good place to start. A sticky wastegate kept boost levels down, but once fixed, pressure was raised to 1.3 Bar. The stout SR20DET responded with a tally of 410.1 whp.
Now that the 240 now has the soul of a Silvia, what about the faade? Sure, swapping Silvia emblems a la the JDM craze is easy (and expensive) but you get a stock-looking car. Yeh went the J-Spec route and added a Silvia body kit from Bomex. The bodylines of the 240 and the Silvia are identical, so the Japan-market Bomex front clip, side skirts, grille and rear fascia fit perfectly. To push styling one step further, Yeh added a Bomex hood spoiler and trick Bomex mirrors. The spoiler mounts on the leading edge of the hood and adds a one-off flair to the car while side mirrors tuck close to the body. The Bomex body armor was expertly installed and sprayed with eye-catching Volvo saffron paint by 20/20 Autobody in City of Industry, Calif.
Suspension mods were limited but effective. Koni adjustable shocks and Sheep Dog springs, Nismo strut tower bars and Cusco anti-roll bars smooth the road and counter the g-forces during spirited driving. Rolling stock consists of Kinesis K20 aluminum and Falken ZE-502 performance rubber. At the nose, 17x9 K20s are joined by 235/45R-17s while the rear set-up runs 17x10 rims are wrapped with 255/40R-17s.
It's always wise to be able to get out of trouble quicker than you get into it. Yeh addressed this axiom with 300ZX Twin-Turbo stopping power. The front brake conversion uses the 300ZX hub/rotor assembly and caliper. SP custom-mounted the calipers and fabricated stainless-steel braided lines to complete the operation.
Yeh bought this car brand new in 1995, so he knows better than anyone how dramatically the performance of the Nissan has evolved. Going from 144 hp at the flywheel to 410 at the drive wheels must be a mind-altering experience indeed. There's one problem. We hear the Nissan is driven two to three times a week. Jonathan, there are seven days in a week-use them...
|SILVIA METAMORPHOSIS CONVERSION TABLE |
|S-Factor ||Japan Engines ||USA Cars ||USA Engines |
|S13 ||1991-1998 ||1989-1994 ||1989-90 KA24E; 1991-up KA24DE |
|S14 ||1994-1998 ||1995-1998 ||KA24DE |
|S15 ||1999-2001 ||n/a ||n/a |