Nissan Silvia 200SX Profile

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Nissan Silvia 200SX General Information

Following the beautiful Silvia 240RS, Nissan launched the next generation Silvia into the next generation of rallying. And the Silvia 200SX was yet another really beautiful looking machine, albeit this time in a 3-door liftback-coupé shape rather than the 240RS' 2-door sporty saloon layout. The 200SX was yet another conventional front engine, RWD layout. The big difference was the engine. However strange this may seem, the move from a 2.4 4-cylinder to a 3.0 V6 meant a severe increase in weight, not at all in power!

Another strange note at this point may be that the 200SX was one example of Nissan not always being logical with these names. The 240RS referred to a 2.4 engine, as did several previous cars as i.e. 240Z & 260Z. But the 200SX was available with either a 1.8 turbo or a 3.0 V6 and nothing really justifying the “200” name. Actually at first this car was available with a 2.0 4-cylinder, but this was a dull engine compared to the 1.8 turbo and the 3.0 V6, and from 1987 the 2.0 was discontinued in the 200SX. Meanwhile the 3.0 V6 was mainly sold in USA, generally in road car sales the 1.8 turbo was by far the biggest success. Still, even 1.8 turbos and 3.0 V6s were always called the 200SX, making this add on name pointless. In line with that it is equally as strange that Nissan didn’t rally the 1.8 turbo version. The 1.8 turbo was not only the most successful version in Silvia sales of that generation, but it was lighter and with more torque. On the other hand, the V6 had a sound that somehow suited this rally car and made the comparison to Toyota’s African specialist Supra more tempting.

It does seem very tempting to compare the Silvia 200SX to the Toyota Supra, at least for both cars debuted on the Safari 1987. They also are of similar configuration as huge 3.0 RWD liftbacks. Huge is maybe too strong a word for the Silvia. In contrast to the Supra in-line 6-cylinder, the Silvia has a V6 or a 4-cylinder engine, meaning it didn't need as long a bonnet as the Supra did. It also isn't that much longer than the Silvia 240RS. The Silvia range really are beautiful cars, if the square 240RS or the 200SX combining a flat pop up headlights front with a big, straight tailgate. Actually the 200SX was also available on the road as a 2-door proper boot coupé, but that design didn't gel at all with the flat front and thanks god Nissan choose to only rally the beautiful liftback.

Sure enough, Nissan soon discovered that even in the early groupA days, this car was unsuitable for sprint rallies. The 1987 starts at the Acropolis and Olympus rallies stayed the exception. Nissan soon tried another attempt at the Hong Kong - Beijing Rally, but all their cars failed to finish. In general, reliability seemed to be not as good as you would have expected from the former Safari masters. The serviceability of the car however was nothing short of stunning, though persistent rear damper and differential failures also made sure the mechanics stayed well trained for this task.

Today's East African Safari Classic organiser Mike Kirkland once told us (and many others, his favourite story it seems) that on Safari emergency road side service with the Silvia 200SX, after something like 5 minutes of hectic Japanese talking it became quiet around the car and he shouted: "Are they going to change that bloody rear axle or not?" - and the reply he got was: "They have, they are waiting for you to carry on driving!"

The most important events for Nissan where the African ones anyway. The car debuted in the Safari 1987, just as the comparable Toyota Supra did. However, while the Supra only seemed to be competitive in its first year, 1987, the Nissan Silvia 200SX performance was very disappointing. In contrary to the Supra, the Silvia 200SX however had it's definite highlight in 1988. What many people regard as a classic "drive of his life", former Silvia 240RS regular Mike Kirkland surprisingly bullied Massimo Biasion's Lancia all the distance on the 1988 Safari and eventually Kirkland and Nissan were only 12 minutes short of victory – which is like 12 seconds on a European rally. In the same year Alain Ambrosino won the Bandama with the 200SX. In 1989 Kirkland repeated his 2nd place in the Safari Rally, albeit by a larger gap. Still stunning. The Toyota Supra was always the more powerful car in this comparison, already in 1987, and then they came with a turbo version with again massively more power. For the Nissan Silvia 200SX the debut year seemed to be a big disappointment in performance, but even though the car stayed unchanged, it seemed to suddenly come good the following years. Maybe it was luck, maybe the Silvia was the simpler car, but in this tempting comparison it just seems one of the big mysteries of this sport, how despite a far more promising debut plus a big power increase for the Toyota Supra, the Nissan Silvia 200SX eventually became the more successful car.

I mean you can check the results below. It really is an example of a mystery making this sport so fascinating. In the Safari 1987 debut the Supra was leading while the Silvia 200SXs were struggling to get into the top10 even before they hit mechanical troubles. In the end the best 200SX came 8th. In Safari 1988 the Supra now was the much more powerful turbo version while the Silvia was unchanged, yet Kirkland was fighting for victory, Silvia 200SXs came 2nd & 3rd overall, the best Supra was 4th, 50 minutes down on the best Silvia. Safari 1989 saw a near perfect repeat, the best Silvia 2nd again, again 50 minutes ahead of the best Supra in 4th. In all 3 examples the best Silvia at the finish was that of Kirkland with the fastest Supra in 1987 & 1989 being driven by Waldegaard, so it wasn't because of the drivers either. Try to explain!

Another note may be that Nissan had a rather exciting driver line up with this car. Alain Ambrosino, Shekhar Mehta and Mike Kirkland were already in the Silvia 240RS. But how did they get the idea of employing Italian young talent Andrea Zanussi? Yes the cooker and washing machine Zanussi. Zanussi was a really fast and hot blooded driver who should have deserved a great career, strange he was so often invited to marathons and Africa (in 1987 he was also starting for the Peugeot Dakar/raid team). Then tempting Per Eklund away from Toyota/Subaru and Mikael Ericsson from Lancia, even if latter only for a one-off start.

By late 1989 Nissan ended the 200SX program and it was the last time we saw the outfit operating as a Japanese works team "Nismo", when for the Sunny program the responsibilities were carried over to NME (Nissan Motorsports Europe) in Didcot, England.
 

Nissan Silvia 200SX Related Content


Nissan Silvia 200SX Evolutions

 
 
Model & Evo. (Activity)
 
BHP@
RPM
Torque
(Nm)@
RPM
Length
Width
Height
Weight
(Kg/BPM
Ratio)
 
Trans.
(W'base)
Nissan Silvia 200SX _ (87-89) 260/7500 295/5200 4460.1670.1330 1250 (4.8) RWD (2425)

Random Nissan Silvia 200SX Photos

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Nissan Silvia 200SX Results

This is an unofficial Car Results list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego hh:mm:ss
10th. 1990 WRC Acropolis Rally P. Moschoutis . "Sassalos" #27 [UNKNOWN] 9:02:05
2nd. 1989 WRC Safari Rally M. Kirkland R. Nixon #7 [UNKNOWN] 8:16:11
6th. 1989 WRC Safari Rally V. Preston Jnr. J. Lyall #25 [UNKNOWN] 10:35:21
2nd. 1988 WRC Safari Rally M. Kirkland R. Nixon #18 [UNKNOWN] 3:03:57
3rd. 1988 WRC Safari Rally P. Eklund D. Whittock #14 [UNKNOWN] 3:38:26
7th. 1988 WRC Acropolis Rally . "Stratissino" C. Fertakis #17 [UNKNOWN] 7:42:38
9th. 1988 WRC Acropolis Rally F. Roothaert C. Wauters #25 [UNKNOWN] 8:05:25
1st. 1988 WRC Bandama Rallye A. Ambrosino D. le Saux #3 [UNKNOWN] 3:34:51
8th. 1987 WRC Safari Rally M. Kirkland R. Nixon #18 [UNKNOWN] 7:14:04
12th. 1987 WRC Safari Rally J. Shah A. Khan #17 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
11th. 1987 WRC Acropolis Rally . "Stratissino" T. Pavli #18 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
10th. 1987 WRC Acropolis Rally M. Kirkland R. Nixon #16 [UNKNOWN] 8:07:46
9th. 1987 WRC USA Olympus Rally P. Eklund D. Whittock #11 [UNKNOWN] 6:25:03
8th. 1987 WRC USA Olympus Rally S. Mehta R. Combes #9 [UNKNOWN] 6:24:46
2nd. 1987 WRC Bandama Rallye S. Mehta R. Combes #10 [UNKNOWN] 1:09:18

Nissan Silvia 200SX Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 1990 WRC Safari Rally J. Shah L. Drews #22 [UNKNOWN] SS7 suspension
Ret. 1990 WRC Safari Rally V. Preston Jnr. J. Lyall #11 [UNKNOWN] SS21 suspension
Ret. 1989 WRC Bandama Rallye A. Ambrosino D. le Saux #1 [UNKNOWN] SS22 crash
Ret. 1989 WRC Safari Rally P. Eklund D. Whittock #1 [UNKNOWN] SS45 gearbox
Ret. 1988 WRC Rally New Zealand P. Davidson M. Carmichael #14 [UNKNOWN] SS5 steering
Ret. 1988 WRC Safari Rally J. Shah A. Khan #27 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1988 WRC Safari Rally W. Stiller H. Schuller #29 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1988 WRC Safari Rally A. Patel D. Kandola #21 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1988 WRC Safari Rally A. Ambrosino D. le Saux #16 [UNKNOWN] SS27 withdrawn
Ret. 1987 WRC Bandama Rallye A. Ambrosino D. le Saux #6 [UNKNOWN] SS18 engine
Ret. 1987 WRC Bandama Rallye M. Kirkland R. Nixon #9 [UNKNOWN] SS18 engine
Ret. 1987 WRC Rally New Zealand P. Davidson M. Carmichael #10 [UNKNOWN] SS31 electrics
Ret. 1987 WRC USA Olympus Rally M. Ericsson C. Billstam #7 [UNKNOWN] SS7 engine
Ret. 1987 WRC Acropolis Rally S. Mehta Y. Mehta #11 [UNKNOWN] SS10 suspension
Ret. 1987 WRC Acropolis Rally A. Zanussi M. Doughty #14 [UNKNOWN] SS13 gearbox
Ret. 1987 WRC Safari Rally S. Mehta R. Combes #12 [UNKNOWN] SS6 suspension
Ret. 1987 WRC Safari Rally A. Zanussi P. Amati #14 [UNKNOWN] SS56 suspension