Staff Projects: Seven Years in the Making
The year was 2012, I was a 19-year old college student with a lot of free time and no consistent source of income. So what’s the most mature decision I could make to make my time worthwhile? Purchase a money pit that would leave me broke for the rest of my life. At that point in time, I have perhaps made the best and worst decision of my life - which was purchase this 2000 Nissan Silvia S15.
*Pardon the old photos, we weren’t Street63 yet back then.
It’s not like I actually planned to purchase it either. Prior to owning one, I never really knew much about the S15 (or any previous S-Chassis) and it wasn’t even a car that I’ve been dreaming about since it came out in 1999. So what made me suddenly want to own one of these? Impulse. I vaguely remember browsing Sulit (now known as OLX) looking at ‘sports’ cars suggested by my friends. And among all the Evos, STIs, and RX8s (imagine how broke I would be if I got one)*, this Silver S15 got my attention. *Very. - Au
From the moment I opened up the ad, I knew that the S15 had everything an immature teenager wanted in a car - the lack of 2 additional doors, impractical ride height, an insanely loud exhaust, terrible gas mileage, and a long list of things that can go wrong if you’re an idiot. Among all of these factors, the S15 being pristine and well-maintained by its previous owner was actually a plus for me.
I found myself checking out the car with some friends in some subdivision near Commonwealth a few days after seeing the ad. I must say that the car was as good in person as it was in the photos. We then took it out for a test drive and checked all of the parts to make sure nothing was broken.
Less than a couple months later, I was a proud owner of a 4-wheeled, but 2-doored, money pit.
The first order of business was to make it “my own” - so I decided to change the color to battleship gray, replace the front bumper, and ditch those Wedsport wheels (which were leaking air non-stop) for a set of Rota P45s. I also added a half cage “just in case”.
I would then spend the rest of 2013 using the S15 as my daily driver. I would take it to drifting practices, night runs with my friends, and basically everywhere I needed to go. I just had so much fun with the car that I didn’t enjoy bringing out our “normal” cars just because they weren’t exciting enough.
Unfortunately, these immature decisions took their toll on my engine. The SR20 started to lose compression and we uncovered a long list of problems that had to be addressed in order to make it run again.
This would be the beginning of the 3 longest years of my S15’s life.
The years 2014 to 2016 would be spent looking for parts to bring my S15 back to life - and even better than ever. The first thing I did was get rid of its original engine and replace it with a completely built SR20DET put together by Autoplus (spec sheet at the bottom).
Having a fully built engine also set off a chain reaction which meant I had to buy even more parts to make it run - one of those parts is this Haltech Platinum 1000 Standalone ECU.
I also replaced those Rota P45s and got myself a set of Gram Lights 57Ds which I eventually repainted from bright pink (original color, don’t judge) to silver.
January of 2017 has arrived and the time has come to put everything together. The guys from DMFDrift did their best to mount the new engine, radiator, intercooler piping, exhaust manifold, and external wastegate in the proper positions. At this point in time I still had a few small parts missing in order to make it run, so kudos to them for finding those parts in the shortest possible time.
I also had the brake lines, breather lines, etc. re-routed to get rid of the clutter near the top of the firewall. Meanwhile, the guys from Haltech Philippines did an amazing job of wiring the standalone ECU and trying to hide as much of the wires for a semi-wire tucked look.
After a month of installing and fabricating all the parts, it’s finally the moment I have waited more than 3 years for - to hear it start again and eventually take it out for a test drive.
I won’t lie - the car was gone for so long that I was actually thinking of just selling the car and settling for a modern, yet somewhat fun, daily car. But the short first drive from the shop to the nearby gas station made me so happy to drive it again that I forgot about all the other options.
On Valentine’s Day of 2017, it was the first time my S15 has gone back home under its own power in quite a few years. This also marked the beginning of my 1,000km break-in period.
Once I completed the break-in period, all I had left to do was get the car tuned. The car now makes 310whp and 270 torque - not bad for an SR20 running just 1 bar of boost on a small (almost stock-sized) turbo.
With all of the building and tuning over and done with, all I needed to do now is enjoy the car once again. I no longer use it as my daily (as it only gets used once every few weeks nowadays), but I definitely enjoy every chance I get to take it out.
Fast forward to February of 2019, two years have passed since it got resurrected and I have not encountered a single problem. The car has been very good to me (and my wallet) - and I plan to keep it that way. So for this year, I have decided to give my car a “refresh” alongside the car’s scheduled maintenance to make sure the car remains roadworthy and functional.
The goal of this “refresh” is to take apart as much parts as I could, inspect every single item (especially the suspension components), address the little problems, and clean/repaint some of the items that have had their fair share of use over my last 7 years of ownership.
The first step was to remove some parts off the car. Pro tip: put the parts in labelled ziplock bags so you know where it came from when it’s time to put it back together.
The next step was to repaint the old and dirty brackets, impact beam, and brake dust shields.
I don’t usually take off the wheels of my car, so this was the perfect time for me to clean the suspension and wheel well to get rid of years worth of trapped dirt.
Other parts like the headlights and the exhaust were also taken out of the car to be cleaned and make them look brand new again.
The wheels, valve cover, strut bar, wiper cowl, and brake calipers have been removed and sent to my paint shop for a new coat of paint.
Silvia owners also know that the wiring in the wheel well isn’t really ideal for running wide tires and low ride heights, so I had an electrician check the condition of the wires and make a custom aluminum fender liner to make sure that my tires don’t eat up the wires in the future.
Lastly, I just had to change all the fluids in the car to make sure everything is well lubricated.
After a little attention to detail and some love, I ended up with something like this:
If there’s one thing my car has taught me over the 7 years of ownership, it’s that having a car like this is not cheap nor easy to own. Having a car that’s older than some of my colleagues here at Street63 means that I’ll definitely have my fair share of problems along the way, but that’s just how it is with a car that’s almost old enough to drink alcohol in the United States. Do I regret making this purchase? Hell no. Would I choose a life of debt with this car over driving a normal car? Any damn day.
Special thanks to DMFDrift, Autoplus, and Haltech Philippines for making sure that my car is always performing at its best.
Words by Jaime Miguel Echavez
2000 Nissan Silvia (S15) Spec-R
- SR20DET built by Autoplus/Installed by DMFDrift
- Haltech Platinum 1000 standalone ECU
- AEM 320lph fuel pump
- SARD fuel regulator
- GReddy Fuel Rail
- SARD 1000cc fuel injectors
- Brian Crower BC0206 Stage 3 Camshafts (272/272)
- Brian Crower BC0200 valve springs and titanium retainers
- Tomei cam gear (exhaust side)
- Greddy rocker arm stoppers
- Nismo oil cap
- Wiseco pistons
- Eagle connecting rods
- Darton sleeves
- ACL con-rod bearings
- ACL main bearings
- ARC oil pan
- GReddy Water Pump pulley
- ATI Super Damper Harmonic crank pulley
- GReddy intake manifold
- GReddy front mount intercooler
- GReddy blow off valve
- Oversized throttle body
- HKS air filter
- Custom fabricated hi-rise exhaust manifold
- Power Enterprise turbine
- TIAL external wastegate
- Custom fabricated screamer pipe
- Kakimoto Racing full exhaust
- Mishimoto 2-row radiator
- Custom fabricated oil catch can
- Steel braided breather hoses
- Nissan 5-speed manual transmission conversion (from 6-speed)
- OS Giken Short Shifter
- ACT NS1-HDSS clutch/pressure plate or ORC Twin Plate Racing Clutch
- Nismo 2-way LSD
- Change color to Battleship Gray
- Vertex front bumper
- D-Max side markers
- Ganador side mirrors
- OEM Spec-R side skirts (plastic)
- OEM rear pods (plastic)
- Momo steering wheel
- Tomei Duracon shiftknob
- GReddy gauges (water temp/oil temp/oil pressure)
- D-Max handbrake button
- Apexi Turbo Timer
- Nissan S15 GT Pedal Kit
- Gram Lights 57D *18 x 9.5 +12 (front and rear)
- West Lake Sport RS *265/35/18 (front and rear)
- Kyoei valvestems
- Nismo Lugnuts
- HKS Hipermax coilovers
- Cusco caster arm
- Hardrace rear camber arm
- Hardrace aluminum collar bushings
- Project Mu brake pads (front and rear)
- Runstop slotted rotors (front)
- Brembo rotors (rear)