When Mel Taylor wanted to improve her drifting skills, she saw a moderate level of boost and a tuned Nisan PS13 Silvia as the way to go. But as her back catalogue of builds demonstrates, it’s easy to get carried away and accidentally turn your toy into a show-stopper…
For all its merits, social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to human interaction. Specifically (and without wanting to sound like we’re a bunch of old farts), when it comes to politeness; there was a time, back in the ’90s and into the ’00s, when your means of keeping up with modern car culture was to go to car meets and to read magazines.
Thankfully that’s still largely the case, as it keeps us in a job, but the immediacy of social media means that the pace of automotive fashion has accelerated. And more significantly, it’s never been easier to slate someone’s ride: the perceived anonymity of the internet means that it takes a second to post up a snarky comment before moving on, not considering the dagger you’ve plunged through the owner’s heart. ‘Those wheels look shit, lol’. A savage snapshot and a rapid departure. Would you say that to someone’s face at a car show? You’d certainly think twice about it.
Thank goodness, then, for characters like Mel Taylor. The owner of this PS13 Silvia, she represents all that’s good and positive in the modern modding scene, waving two fingers at the haters with a big smile on her face, before pouncing for the horizon in a maelstrom of tyre smoke and turbo whistle. Who cares what the naysayers are moaning about? When you’re building a car, you only need to please one person, and that – of course – is yourself.
Character is key here. You see, there are two principal types of people in the scene: drivers, and posers. We’re not knocking the posers of course, there’s a lot to be said for taking pride in craft for craft’s sake, as long as everyone keeps a beady eye on the true nature of art: that a work of art can only be considered authentic if it serves no other purpose than to be itself. For the real drivers, however, looks aren’t enough – strong spec needs to bolster ever-improving skillsets to constantly remind us what this is all about. Fast cars, driven fast. It’s what we live for.
“This car already has a huge following, and has had incredible feedback,” Mel grins, rightly proud of her devastatingly effective creation. “All three of my cars – this one, my S15, and my 106 – show a huge part of my life and who I am; I feel they reflect the f**k-you attitude I have after years of bad opinions and being slated because I dared to chase my dream. I continue to push myself to the next level, and each year I go up another step.”
There you go. A mission statement. And the quality of the cars really does back up the swagger.
The tale begins way back in 2008, when Mel purchased her first car, a Peugeot 106 named Maggie. She still owns it today, in fact, although it’s rather different now to how it was in the era of Mika and Ashes to Ashes – imagine a fusion of Euro-look and track car with a stance bias and a sprinkle of retro.
“I came across the opportunity to buy my first turbo petrol car just last year – my Rocket Bunny Nissan Silvia S15, ‘Bear’,” says Mel. “After spending six months building Bear I spoke with Ant – the seller, sprayer, and bodyshop owner – about the dusty PS13 that was sat in the corner of the shop… the same corner I happened to find Bear in the previous year! After agreeing on a price, the deal was struck and the deposit paid; I named her ‘Safi’ after a Japanese lucky charm, as she was definitely that to me.”
For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of 1990s Nissan model codes, PS13 is the chassis code for the Silvias built between 1991-93 which had SR20DE(T) engines. If you want to get especially nerdy, the PS13 was available in three levels – Js, Qs and Ks. For the significance of those letters, picture a deck of cards! Js and Qs had the non-turbo SR20DE, while the full-fat Ks, like Mel’s car here, came with the feisty turbocharged SR20DET.
Somewhat serendipitously, Safi and Bear were imported into the UK together, so the fact that Mel was able to keep them together made the purchase all the more special. But there was far more to this acquisition than mere sentimentality and posing rights… “I’ve recently become interested in the drift scene, after becoming fascinated by the BDC,” Mel explains, “and knowing Ant so well, who imported the Silvias, and also competes in the BDC, it sparked an interest in me.”
Mel wasn’t planning on going off half-cocked and all-guns-blazing, however; she appreciated the importance of learning how to drift properly before just piling in and smashing things up. “I had an E36 1.8 8v which I initially learned my basics of drifting in – you know, the typical streeto and roundabouts,” she continues. “But after realising that the car was underpowered and was stopping me progressing further, it was time to level up to the boosted life, which also helped me make the decision to buy the PS13. In my own opinion, even though I already owned the S15 which is extremely modified, I wasn’t ready for the car yet. I needed a medium level of power so I could learn how to exploit it, and with the PS13 being almost stock I felt it was a good way to progress and make me ready for the more powerful S15.”
A very sensible approach, we have to applaud her for that. This explains why we find this car in a comparatively mild state of tune, the SR20DET running uprated cams, fuelling, and induction, as well as a bigger turbo and intercooler. That said, ‘mild’ is relative, and 280bhp is still more than enough for mischief! In a car so light and agile, this makes it a little rocketship.
It also needs to be pointed out that, while this car was initially bought as a learning tool, Mel has got more than a little carried away with the details. “When I found her she was just a dusty heap of nothing in the corner, desperate to be rescued,” she recalls. Looking at the Silvia today, the transformation is remarkable: we’re talking wide Origin wings and overfenders, most of the DMAX catalogue, and custom mint pastel paint with a hypnotically swirling arrow motif over the top. Always keeping a focus on what the car was actually for, of course, Mel added in the brakes from an R33-generation Skyline along with a Wilwood hydraulic handbrake; there’s also a Skyline LSD and a Driftworks lock kit to get everything in the chassis working in harmony. 326 Power coilovers offer huge adjustability, and the car’s currently running -6 degrees of camber at the front. Competition-wise, this is all ticking a lot of boxes.
“Drifting and gymkhana is something I plan on having plenty of fun with in 2018,” says Mel, “with regular visits to Santa Pod to take part in the Fueltopia Barrel Sprint and gymkhana in-between shows.” And you can be damn sure she’ll be doing it all with a smile on her face. There may well be people on the sidelines fiddling about with their phones, making derisory comments about her wheels or her mint green paint or her drifting prowess, but Mel just doesn’t care. She’s in this for the joy of driving, and that’s just the way it should be.
Origin fibreglass 100mm overfenders and 100mm wings, DMAX fibreglass side-skirts, roof spoiler and front and rear bumpers, Origin boot spoiler, clear brick-style headlights, tinted amber corners, tinted rear lights, carbon fibre fuel cap and B-pillars, custom pastel mint paint, custom No2TheSame livery
SR20DET, T28R turbo, Tomei PonCams, Walbro fuel pump, HKS air filter, Bosch fuel filter, A’PEXi front-mount intercooler, custom straight-pipe shotgun exhaust
Power: approx. 280bhp
8.5×18” (front) and 9.5×18” (rear) Wolfrace Shark wheels, 225/40 tyres, 326 Power coilovers, camber-adjustable top mounts, -6 degrees front camber, Driftworks Geo2 lock kit, extended custom tie rods, R33 Skyline front and rear brakes, R33 Skyline LSD, Skyline front and rear hubs, Hel braided brake lines, Wilwood hydraulic handbrake
Bride Low Max seats, purple Luke harnesses, OMP steering wheel, S15 rear interior, painted surrounds, HKS turbo timer, Outlaw gearknob, double-DIN stereo
“Thanks to Ant and Graham Mortley at AGM, Paul Howard at JDM Garage, Dan and Harley at Shedwerx, Ash Vernals at BearCarCare, Adam and Donna at StrictlyStatic, Jay Cannon at The Cannon Run, my partner Ashley James, and my best friends Sally Abbott and Rob Sharkey”