Nissan Silvia S13 Tuning

"Tuning guide to the most effective Nissan Silvia S13 modifications."

We saw the first S13 Silvias hitting the streets in 1989 winning car of the year in Japan, it quickly became very popular, and did much to establish the reputation of Nissan for making sports cars.

In other regions the S13 was badged as the 180SX 200SX and 240SX just to cause confusion! The pop up headlights are peculiar to this model but we have seen an S13 front end on the S14 and S15.

We review and look at Silvia S13 tuning and provide tips on the optimum modifications. Nissan Silvia S13 make for  really good project cars and with the right modified tuning mods you can certainly enhance your driving enjoyment.

The Silvia S13 is a awesome tuning project to carry out. Plan ahead and research Silvia S13 tuning to spare yourself making the usual expensive mistakes we frequently .

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

 

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for car enthusiasts first priority in your Silvia S13 tuning project.

The standard brakes prove to be pretty capable but with a set of good fast road pads you dramatically reduce your stopping distance and increase car safety.

Upgrading to larger vented disks and a 6 pot caliper will really enable you to stop almost dead from any speed in next to no time.

Suspension mods are many and varied. The 180sx is popular for drifting although as a result of this a lot of 180's have parts and even body panels from the S14 and S15 fitted to them.

Good suspension tweaks that dramatically improve handling for the Silvia S13 include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe in or out on the front wheels. Toe in for stability, or Toe out to improve cornering. It would also pay to improve the brakes, by adding larger discs and or higher friction pads..

Drop the car by as much as 30mm - 37 mm. and fit motorsport grade stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Turning our attention to the Silvia S13's engine we need to get a bit more power out of the top end.

With the right choice of mods you can turn your Silvia S13 into a really fun car, potentially beating more powerful cars on the track.

Sadly with smaller engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

S13 Power mods.

The following performance modifications are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you begin. The 180SX is a brilliant fun sports coupe from Nissan and also makes a practical daily run around.

Engine choices ranged from 1.8 to 2.0 but we've provided more detailed guides to tuning these.

Getting the right  mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 motor sport mods just don't work well on the road hard to control in slow traffic.

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Best mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Suspension upgrade (drop 30mm - 37 mm.), Alloy wheels, Remap, Lighter flywheel, Sports exhaust, Panel air filter.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam, high flow fuel injector.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam, Sports gearbox, Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves).

You should keep as much low end torque as possible and aim to get a wide power band across the rev range rather than a narrow top end power hike.

Other Silvia Mods

The whole point of our pointers is to give a little insight into the world of modding performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your car tuning project, the best tuning modifications and all aspects of modding cars.

One of the most cost effective mechanical uprated upgrades you can do to your NASP engine is to fit a fast road cam .

The exhaust and intake valve durations play a big role in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU to fully realise your gains.

Don't forget to pay attention to the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Frequently power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after sports kits are done can usually be traced to timing or fuelling issues. Improved injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Silvia S13's uprated injectors.

Silvia S13 Mods for heavily tuned projects.

Airflow through the head can be dramatically increased with some professional flowed (porting and polishing). These should match and be setup to take into account any other engine mods.

Your clutch can seriously let you down if it starts to complain and the standard clutches are only ever good for power gains of up to 40%. Fit a sports clutch to avoid power losses through the transmission. The best mods in our opinion for your Silvia S13 are remaps, sports camshafts and induction improvements.

The single turbo 1.8 engine still manages to put out 173 which actually compares favourable to modern cars and with its light weight and rear wheel drive makes it into a fun track day car.

A turbo swap or even a hybrid turbo is an option for those wanting to get larger power gains.

The standard block can reportedly handle power gains up to 250bhp with more on offer if you are prepared to do some strengthening mods. Either remap the engine or fit a boost controller to fully realise the power you have on offer.

NASP engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give big power gains and fully release the potential power of the engine.

Silvia Remapping

Some of our members recommended the following aftermarket ECU's from their projects. You'll generally find harnesses available now for most of the aftermarket ECU options for these engines.

  • LINK G4X
  • Megasquirt
  • Apexi
  • Syvecs
  • Haltech Elite 1000/1500
  • IMPUL Hi Power

An aftermarket ECU is harder to setup and requires some specialist knowledge of your engine and parts you've fitted, but gives better performance and helps you optimize the timing and fuelling to a fine degree of accuracy - we suggest you go for the Link G4+ (or a G4 with an external knock control unit) or the better but more expensive Syvecs ECU (the upgraded data logging feature is extremely useful)

We've also seen some tuners playing with twincharged applications and making some seriously high power hikes.

Adding forced induction will see massive power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. Superchargers are usually easier to add than turbos. It is difficult to map fuelling with a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed.

The nice steady boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them more straightforward to map. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the compression ratio of the engine .

S13 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Contrary to popular belief there is usually a small power gain obtained by fitting an induction kit, they only become beneficial and are recommended after you boost the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope!

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a performance panel filter should suffice for most applications. TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Sports exhausts generally help improve air flow through the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too wide or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 1.5 to around 2.5 inches to maximise flow rates, and this should take into account the amount of air your engine is moving.

Note that the biggest restriction, if there is one on these is in the headers and particularly around the catalysts, so if you can legally fit a faster flowing cat, or test pipe this is where you should focus.

A full exhaust system adds little to the overall power, UNLESS the car is restricted, and that only typically happens when you add a lot of power.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

The benefits of alloys include reducing your unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. Get a good directional tread pattern tire to improve your handling and help improve traction on your Silvia S13. We'd like to point out although they can look cool on the Silvia S13 big alloy wheels will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

With this in mind we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 17 inches, although we know some of our members have gone larger than this with no problems.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Silvia S13 options in more detail with our Silvia S13 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Nissan tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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