There was a period around the year 2000 which, for many of us here in Ireland, defined what car culture would look like for the next 20 years.
I can’t speak for what it might have been like wherever you were back then, but the influx of Japanese performance and sports cars into Ireland in the early 2000s was a defining time. I’ve written about this subject previously, but it essentially comes down to the fact that our tax system was kinder towards low-capacity cars and, like Japan, we drive on the left side of the road in right-hand drive vehicles.
It’s worth remembering that the early ’00s was pre-social media, and the internet was still developing in Ireland. I think that most of us here would have been introduced to Japanese car culture through bootleg Video Options DVDs or tuner-type magazines.
Max Power’s seminal Beasts from the East video was one that stands out, and in particular, that tunnel run with Smoky Nagata.
In Ireland, drifting arrived not long after, and along with it a tidal wave of Japanese cars, most of which we had never seen before. It was one thing for the likes of stock Type Rs to land here, but it was a whole new experience to see already-modified examples rolling off ships and onto our streets.
These tuned JDM cars provided a blueprint for how to authentically style Japanese performance vehicles.
Irish JDM car culture has absolutely latched onto this particular era of Japanese car culture ever since. You will get the rare person who might try to adopt the more contemporary styles coming out of Japan, but the vast majority still prefer this arguably simpler period.
Josh Greene’s Nissan Silvia S15 is a prime example of something that looks like it has just been driven off a RORO (roll-on, roll-off) cargo ship in 2003.
While it might appear as a time traveler, it wasn’t all that long ago that this was a lightly-modified Spec R in factory Nissan Pewter.
Now, it’s a car that strikes the balance between form and function pretty well, another attribute of the early-2000s imports which we seem to have adopted here.
The exterior is a mix of Msports (front bumper, +25mm front fenders) and Vertex Lang (skirts and rear bumper), painted in a custom color by Flipsideauto, which shifts from orange to red to gold depending on the light. As a neat detail, the insides of the headlight housings have been painted with leftover (engine bay) paint from Neil Sheehan’s Juicebox AE86 restoration.
The addition of a Varis Hyper narrow carbon wing, Voltex rear Kevlar canards paired with carbon front bumper winglets, along with DMAX headlight lenses and Sonar tail lights pretty much complete the period-correct look.
SSR Type C RS wheels in 18×9.5-inches +22 are fitted in a square setup.
Suspension-wise, the S15 uses HSD coilovers and Driftworks GeoMaster 2 hubs along with adjustable LCAs and tension rods. Brakes, front and rear, are from an R33 Skyline, while chassis strengthening comes in the form of Cusco front and c-pillar braces.
Before we get to the business end of things, we’re going to take a quick run through of the cabin. A full-interior street car feels like something of a rarity these days, but again is in keeping with the style of the time. A Juran bucket seat with an RYO 4-point harness for the driver is paired with a Recaro SR recliner sourced from a DC2 Integra Type R for the passenger.
A red suede Nardi Personal wheel and Nismo shifter are Josh’s primary points of contact with the vehicle, while an APEXi AVC-R and Innovate AFR gauge allow boost control and air/fuel ratio monitoring respectively.
The party piece of the equation lies beneath the vented bonnet. Those who know will always appreciate a good SR20DET, and this one’s an absolute peach.
Making an honest 360hp, the 2.0-liter engine has been outfitted with Wossner forged pistons, Manley forged connecting rods, and Tomei Poncams with adjustable cam gears.
The turbocharger is a mash up of parts; a Garrett GT2871R core has been mated with a GT3071R compressor housing and TiAL .64A/R exhaust housing as Josh wanted a 4-inch inlet with a v-band clamp on the exhaust housing, an option which Garrett doesn’t currently provide.
A TiAL 38mm wastegate has also been used, along with a Speedtek high-mount, GReddy-style exhaust manifold.
A Tomei oil take-off plate, GReddy oil filter relocation kit and GReddy oil cooler are all part of the engine’s oil management, while cooling is taken care of with a Mishimoto 80mm radiator and 100mm intercooler with GReddy intercooler piping. The engine has been converted to take VAG coil packs, while management comes via an ECUMaster Classic.
You might also notice that the front wheel tubs have been moved 30mm forward in order to accommodate the larger wheel and tire combination.
Transferring the engine’s power to the ground is an OS Giken STR twin-plate clutch, a factory Nissan 6-speed gearbox and Nismo 1.5-way LSD.
It might be missing the wide-body excess and overtly aggressive aero that has dominated Japanese car styling in recent years, but this is a respectable throwback to a time responsible for creating so many Japanese car enthusiasts the world over.
It’s also an approach which, in my opinion, works with the S15’s best features, rather than against them.
That the car is box-fresh and is already being driven in a manner that might make some wince, is the icing on the proverbial vending-machine-supplied cake.
So while you might not get it, you might now have an appreciation why so many will.