The S14 Silvia Is a JDM Icon—Here Are 5 Things to Know About It

Nissan’s Silvia is one of the most popular and recognized cars in JDM culture. Produced from 1965 to 2002, it was sold worldwide under different names, including the 240SX in the states. But the ones made in Japan with unique styling and specific JDM engines have the most significant cult following. 

The most popular version of the Silvia is the S14. Produced from 1993 to 1998, there are many reasons why it remains so popular, including these five things to know. 

The S14 Silvia is lightweight and drift-happy 

2 Nissan S14 Silvia racing on a track.
Silvia S14 | Getty Images

The formula for a good drift car includes a lightweight body, manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive. The S14 Silvia checks all those boxes, which means it doesn’t need much power to slide around—just quick reflexes and a little finesse. 

With the SR20DE motor, it’s willing to kick its tail out. But with a few mods and a little extra power, the Silvia willingly transforms into a feral drift missile. 

The S14 Silvia is a classic 90’s JDM icon 

Whether you’re a fan of Radwood cars or JDM vehicles, the U.S. spec Nissan 240SX has a lot of credibility in both camps. But it’s the JDM Nissan Silvia that really stands out. 

The Nissan Silvia received a facelift in 1996 that gave it more aggressive styling, including a revised front end with projector headlamps. Models in all global regions got the revised styling, but the JDM version of the car kicked it up a notch. 

Another thing that makes the JDM S14 Silvia stand out is the SR20DET motor. While U.S. cars received a 2.4-liter four-cylinder capable of producing 160 hp, Japan got the turbocharged SR20DE. Stock, this engine put out between 217 hp and 247 hp but could handle more.  

The S14 Silvia is highly tunable  

Two things that help a car gain cult status are its ability to be performance-tuned and the level of aftermarket support. Multiple companies make all kinds of performance parts for the Silvia, including brakes, engine kits, suspension upgrades, and more.   

The engine is easy to modify and tune for more power. Or you can swap it with another engine. The S14’s engine bay is accommodating and can handle almost anything, including Nissan’s VQ V6 engines, the 2JZ engine from the Toyota Supra, or even a GM LS V8. 

The S14 Silvia is easy to customize

According to Hotcars, the S14 Silvia is also easy to customize. There are so many ways to change the look of the Silvia, including swapping out the wheels, changing the lights, bumpers, or even the hood. Inside there’s no shortage of parts, including racing seats, a racing wheel, and revising the trim. 

The stock Silvia has a clean, timeless look. It’s very much a car from the 1990s, but it doesn’t look dated or old. With just a few tasteful mods, you can bring it into the 21st century or create something wild and unusual. 

You can now import an S14 Silvia to the U.S. 

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Best of all, you can now legally import an S14 Nissan Silvia to the U.S. Thanks to a law allowing people to import cars over 25 years old. You can buy and ship a Silvia from Japan or anywhere else and have it dropped off on our shores. 

If you decide to import your own Silvia, it’s best to work with a reputable JDM importer. For a fee, they can help you find, buy, and transport the car you want to the U.S. More importantly, they can help with the paperwork necessary to import and register your car.  

Another option is to buy a car that has already been imported from a dealer specializing in JDM imports. While it may be tempting to click and buy the car you want from an auction site, you’ll want to make sure the car is legal to register in the U.S. Otherwise, securing the necessary paperwork can be a nightmare of red tape that ties your car up for months.