Remembering Japanese cars from the past

Popular Bosozoku cars: Nissan Silvia S110

It was inevitable: one of the Silvias had to feature sooner or later! This week we feature the Nissan Silvia S110, the car that became famous through Kazuyoshi Hoshino during the Super Silhouette Formula till the cars appearance changed to the newer Silvia S12 bodyshape. This car inspired many Silvia S110 owners to convert it into a Grancha style lookalike!

Nissan Silvia S110 Zokusha

This one is a very very accurate copy of that S110:
immitation of Hoshino's Grancha Silvia Turbo
immitation of Hoshino’s Grancha Silvia Turbo

And this one a bit less accurate:
Less acurate immitation of Hoshino's Grancha Silvia Turbo
Less acurate immitation of Hoshino’s Grancha Silvia Turbo

And it is even not the hatchback!
Less acurate immitation of Hoshino's Grancha Silvia Turbo
Less acurate immitation of Hoshino’s Grancha Silvia Turbo

And this pimped out shakotan styled Silvia S110 doesn’t look too good either:
shakotan styled Nissan Gazelle S110
shakotan styled Nissan Gazelle S110

But that’s a matter of taste of course… ;)

Factory stock Nissan Gazelle S110
Factory stock Nissan Gazelle S110

Nissan Silvia history

The predecessor of the Nissan S110 was the ill fated S10: a “traditional” looking sports coupe with a not too hot engine. It was a big failure in Japan and got easily outsold by the Toyota Celica (and the Carina hardtop coupe) and Mazda RX5/RX3. Nissan decided to make the S110 the best car ever! Nissan saw the immense popularity of the rotary Mazdas and thought a rotary engine would be the solution. They forgot that Mazda already had 15 years of experience in rotary engines and Nissan’s attempt was a big failure: it proved to be very unreliable. Nissan decided to release the car with the new Z engine instead to get the production started.

Factory stock Nissan Gazelle S110
Factory stock Nissan Gazelle S110

The Silvia and Gazelle twins

There are actually two cars with the S110 chassis number: the Gazelle and the Silvia. The Gazelle had a rectangular grille, just as high as the headlights, while the Silvia has a slightly narrowed grille. The Gazelle/Silvia were produced that all Nissan dealerships could carry the S110. The Gazelle was only sold in Japanes and Australia while the Silvia got exported to Europe and the US (as the 200sx).

Nissan Silvia and Gazelle engines

The Z engine featured a 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 liter displacement. The S110 really got its excitement after the introduction of the FJ20E with its facelifted RS model: the DOHC 4 valve EFI 2 liter engine produced 150HP. It featured a big port with dual valve springs and a wide angle bucket on shim valvetrain (only found on the Nissan S20 engine before) and was essentially a blueprint for the later RB and CA engines!

Factory stock Nissan Gazelle S110
Factory stock Nissan Gazelle S110

Nissan Silvia and Gazelle interior

The interior was basically an incarnation on the space age designed interior of the Silvia S10. It had a wide console stretching over the transmission tunnel. The material was, like every other late 70s/early 80s car, basic plastic in a two tone scheme.

Rally pedigree

Outside Japan the Nissan Silvia S110 also had a strong rallying following: a UK company called Blydenstein created a homologated version of the DatsunNissan Silvia S110 with a FJ24 engine: basically a FJ20E with increased displacement and a carburetor stuck on it. It dominated the British rally scene in the early 80s till it was outlawed by the Group B regulations.

Nissan 240RS: Nissan Silvia S110 with FJ24
Nissan 240RS: Nissan Silvia S110 with FJ24

In march 1983 the Silvia S110 got succeeded by the Nissan S12 in Japan. It wasn’t until 1984 that the S12 was available in other countries.

My take on the Nissan Silvia and Gazelle

I understand why the Nissan Silvia/Gazelle S110 is a very popular bosozoku style car: everyone wants to share a bit of that Hoshino spirit! Even though I prefer the later S12 styling more, I think the car itself is a very beautifully styled sports coupe! I would drive one any day! :)

[I posted this article earlier this week on]


  1. kyteler

    You’ll find after a bit of a squint at the later Silvia Super Silhouette car, that it is in fact still the S110 body-shape but with an S12 Nose-piece.

    I’m also fairly certain the 240RS was known as a Nissan 240RS (BS110) and not a Datsun 240RS.

  2. banpei

    You are right about the Datsun designation: I totally forgot about the branding not being Dastun like all other Nissans were called in the early 80s. To quote myself from one of the other blogpostings: All BS110 240RS rallycars originally were made by Blydenstein in the UK, so the car is not a factory produced rallycar, but they were produced on behalf of Nissan: that’s why they were badged Nissan and not Datsun.

    You are partly right about Hoshino’s Silvia S12 still being a S110 during the Super Silhouette Formula: it switched over to the new styling both front and rear end (including the new taillights as well):
    The Super Silhouette Formula cars were a tubular chassis with only the driver section being an aluminum monocoque design and a body of FRP. In other words: it was easy to switch the body itself to the S12 design but quite impossible to change the structure of the car somewhere mid season, hence the back looks like a stretched version of the S12 shape at the rear end.

  3. kyteler

    It’s almost sad that it’s not redesigned for the S12 chassis. Head-lamps and Tail-lamps do not an S12 make though. A standard S110 Hatch is a curious looking beast, I wouldn’t call them pretty by any means. The Silhouette car went a long way in helping the looks department. I guess a matched wide-body and fitting dished rims will do that to any car though. ;)

    For anyone else interested, it’s the rear window and bodyline that gives away it’s still the S110.

    0:46 on the YouTube Video banpei shared in his comment with
    0:38 on this clip

    Sweet car irrespective of the front on it (+ rear lamps) and sweet blog too man, I take a peek at this most everyday, even have it on my little blogroll list on mine to share the enjoyment. Keep it up man.

  4. banpei

    Thanks for the compliment and blogroll! :)
    I just started reading yours and I immediately added yours to my blogroll as well! Got to do a lot of catching up next days!

  5. ahmad

    Hi im looking for this tipe of car parts like tail lights and many others can u help me?

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