1984 Nissan Silvia Review

1984 Nissan Silvia ZX Turbo T72 CA18ET 1.8 turbo from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1984
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission CA18ET 1.8 turbo Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Dealer Service marks 2 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.4 / 10
Distance when acquired72000 miles
Most recent distance89000 miles
Previous carNissan Silvia

Summary:

A seriously underrated sports coupe

Faults:

Really not much at all in 7 years of ownership.

I replaced the Turbo last year, mainly due to a lack of performance that nobody could put right, luckily it worked and was the source of the problems.

I have had problems getting decent performance out of the engine since I bought the car, and suffered with a 0-60 time of 9.5 seconds on a good day.

The main dealer was completely useless, and just told me to live with it, 5 other places failed to fix the problems, but she finally goes like she is supposed to.

In trying to solve the erratic performance, I have replaced the O2 sensor (with a better one), EFI water temp sensor, distributor (8 plugs on 4 cylinder engine), both coils, both power transistors/ignitors, ECU and rewired much of the EFI Harness.

The remote fuel flap release cable has broken, and is a nightmare to replace, so have made a release in the boot instead.

Valve stem seals replaced (Was burning lots of oil and blowing out lots of blue smoke, replaced the seals without removing the head and now burns absolutely no oil and no smoke! Common on CA engines with age)

Drivers door stay made cracking noises when opening or closing the door, easily fixed with a nut and bolt to replace the worn rivet.

Digital clock often resets when turning the ignition off.

The drivers seat is pretty worn.

Other than that, no problems.

General Comments:

As I stated above I had problems from day one with the performance of the car (I did buy it cheap for that reason though), it would never pull cleanly when trying to accelerate hard and would occasionally backfire.

The main dealer was no help at all and said it is reliable so live with it, other EFI specialists were unable to track down the cause of the problem, but finally turned out to be a small crack in the turbo's wastegate flap, which intermittently leaked, making the boost go crazy with spikes and dips. If your turbo makes a defined whine which quietens down when the engine warms up, you likely have the same problem! Mine sounded like a police siren when getting on and off the throttle with a cold engine!

The upside of the performance problems is that I had to learn how the Nissan ECCS system works in order to fix it myself, I am confident that I will be able to fix anything else that might go wrong with it.

Since getting the performance right, I have put on a 2.5 inch single box performance exhaust which helped the engine breathe immensely, the stock design is a joke!

I also put on a Blitz stainless steel air filter which sounds so very cool! Buy one for a ST185 Toyota Celica GT4 and it's a very simple mod to get it to fit, and sounds so much meatier than paper or foam filters.

The boost is currently stock, but suspect that the new turbo has an uprated actuator fitted as the stock boost gauge reads max and the 0-60 time has dropped to a little under 6 seconds. (The actuator is hooked up and working, but need an accurate boost gauge to see where its opening. I suspect it's a 10psi unit though)

I plan to fit a front mounted intercooler soon so that I can safely turn up the boost without risking detonation, the appropriate gauges will also be fitted at the same time.

I also fitted iridium plugs, and despite the stories I have heard, I have had no problems with them at all in 10,000 miles. There is a definite difference in engine response over standard copper plugs.

Despite the performance issues, the Silvia has been 100% reliable, always starts first touch and has never broken down.

Nothing has broken mechanically on the car, which is pretty impressive considering it's age.

The ride and handling are fairly good stock, but would benefit from uprated springs and dampers which I plan on fitting soon.

It can be a handful in the wet, but the 195/50/15 tires I fitted have helped immensely with rear end traction, and has actually made the speedometer accurate!

My car is an imported model originally sold in the USA, and has a digital dash, talking computer, electric windows, power mirrors, fuel computer, ice cold air conditioning, factory tinted windows, cruise control and a factory fitted alarm with built in immobilisor.

Due to it spending most of its life in Nevada, there is absolutely no rust on the body, and the original sealing wax is still visible underneath, so hopefully will be many years before I have any rust issues with her.

Fuel economy is quite good, a recent motorway trip returned an average of 40.5MPG mostly sticking to the speed limits, town driving is a worse at an average of about 25MPG.

The brakes are superb and nicely weighted, its surprising how quickly this car will come to stop, even without ABS!

The steering is also nicely weighted and responsive, the feedback is better than other cars of the same era I have driven.

For a car that will be 20 years old this June, it is a testament to Nissan on their build quality. Everything still works as it did new.

The rear wheel drive combined with a turbocharger makes this car a very fun car to drive. The only downside is getting back into a regular family car, the last time I did that I nearly wrote it off going round a corner!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th April, 2004

Average review marks: 7.4 / 10, based on 1 review