It’s not the beautiful, bright-orange Lambo paint or Rocket Bunny curves that’ll stick in your mind after seeing Elliott Brown’s tuned Nissan S15 Silvia. It’s the unusual fact it’s not purely set up for drifting that’ll leaveyou most surprised…
Did you know that Frisbees originally came about by people throwing around empty pie containers from the Frisbie Pie Company over in the States? Sometimes, the hugely popular products in our lives become well known for an entirely different reason to that originally intended.
In the car world, Nissan’s mighty S-chassis bloodline has become perhaps the most famous example of this unexpected fame at work. You see, when the humble S10 Silvia was launched in the mid-seventies as the firm’s affordable RWD sports GT car, no one could’ve predicted this coupé’s younger siblings would go on to create arguably the most popular string of drift base cars on the entire planet for the following few decades.
And although it may seem like pretty much every S13, S14 and S15 version of the car you see nowadays has been modified with going sideways firmly at the forefront of its owner’s mind, people like young CNC breakdown engineer Elliott here are out to prove that these machines can still cut it as extremely rewarding driver’s cars when set up to do so. Combined with the fact his own S15’s sporting that outrageously memorable bodywork, too, this is not a car you’ll be forgetting in a hurry…
Elliott’s previous couple of cars before this beast serve as our first clue he’s a fan of keeping on the straight and narrow when searching for his driving thrills. “My last two cars were an Evo VIII and an Impreza STI hatchback,” he reveals, listing two of the most celebrated fast-road slayers of recent years and hinting at his evidently fi ne taste in motors. “The Scooby was fully forged and running 440bhp, too.”
Despite this, the hunt for an S15 began a year or so ago. He commenced the search for a base car that in his eyes offered up slightly more fun-factor from the word go. “I’d always liked the S15 Silvia, but never really knew much about how to import them,” he confesses. Of course, these things had proven their worth to him at local drift events. But it was the fiery beasts that he’d witnessed competing in Japanese race series like the JGTC and Super GT that really got Elliott’s pulse racing the most (search for ‘Under Suzuki Tsukuba lap record’ on YouTube for the sort of motivation we’re talking about here).
With the help of friend Chris at the local Big Bear Kustoms garage, Elliott was hooked up with this particular S15 Spec-R that was up for sale out in Japan at the time. Already sporting a lairy orange paintjob and that all-important genuine Rocket Bunny wide-body kit, it looked like a great base for Elliott to apply more practical motorsport-inspired touches to over time.
“When the car eventually arrived in late 2016, it wasn’t to the standard I was hoping it to be,” Elliott sadly explains – unfortunately a common problem when trying to buy a car several thousand miles away. “The paintwork was very bad, and the kit didn’t fi t very well.” Remember, this wasn’t set to be any old drift thrasher, but a well-maintained sports car that would need to be finished to only the highest of standards. Meaning these were problems that needed rectifying as soon as possible.
Despite these minor setbacks, the car’s lightweight, rear-drive credentials certainly lived up to Elliott’s expectations. “It’s currently running much less power than my Subaru had, but is much more fun and scary already!” he grins. Rocking around 300bhp with mainly breathing tweaks to that infamous boosted SR20 lump, along with an aggressive two-way Nismo LSD out back, he confirms it’s already the recipe for all sorts of thrills when given the heavy-right-foot treatment.
As the ultimate bedding-in process, the car was driven up the country to undertake Scotland’s infamous North Coast 500 scenic driving route – the UK’s answer to Route 66 – shortly after Elliott picked it up. “It was essentially three days of honing and the car performed excellently. It’s where I really began to discover what amazing drivers’ machines Silvias really are,” he admits, spurred on to take his pride and joy to the next stage from this eye-opening trip.
Back on home soil, it was time to give the ropey bodywork a full overhaul. Big Bear Kustoms was tasked with removing the bodykit, trimming down the car’s arches further and then putting it all back in place – this time with the show-favourite exposed rivets being thrown into the mix.
At the same time, the car’s questionably-applied Lexus Lava Orange Hue was swapped up for an even brighter Lamborghini colour scheme. Romantically titled Arancio Argos Orange, its three-stage pearl effect means it looks increasingly epic the more sunlight that’s shone on it – you’ve really gotta see it in the flesh! “We finished the paintwork at midnight the day before Japfest at Silverstone,” Elliott laughs. “We made it, but I managed to crack my splitter on the way there from where the car sits so low.”
Filling up those huge arches are the WORK Meister rims which came over with the car from the Land of the Rising Sun – finished up in contrasting anodised black and looking the mutt’s nuts for it, too. These are shod in super sticky Michelin rubber which ensures Elliott’s got enough grip on the rear wheels to throw as much power as he wishes through them when the car is tuned up in the future. “The next engine mod will be a bigger turbo,” he confirms power hikes are already very much in the pipeline.
The chassis is another area that may take the typical wide-body S15 owner by surprise. There’s no trick air-suspension setup here to complement the Rocket Bunny silhouette – instead it’s a functional static drop on some adjustable coilovers, along with a host of other suspension tweaks, which provide all the lows. These bits will be fettled gradually over time to help provide Elliott with a useable fast-road setup that will work alongside the strong drivetrain and those big brakes from a 350Z to create an all-round weapon.
Elliott’s journey with his unique piece of JDM history may have only just begun. But he’s clearly already on a well-thought-out path to success with this tasty Nissan. You probably won’t be seeing it getting smashed to bits up at Driftland any time soon, but that certainly doesn’t mean he’s not using it to its full potential. Stay tuned for plenty more of this striking creation on the show field and the race track in the not-to-distant future…
TECH SPEC: NISSAN S15
Full re-spray in Lamborghini Arancio Argos threestage pearl paint; 6666 Customs decals; full Rocket Bunny wide-body aero kit (comprising riveted-on wider front and rear wings, front and rear bumpers featuring custom rear diffuser and ducktail rear spoiler); Garage Mak carbon fi bre vented bonnet; carbon fi bre F1-style wing mirrors; LED tail lights.
2.0-litre 16v DOHC turbocharged SR20DET fourcylinder; APEXi induction kit; Trust suction pipe and intercooler; Tomei exhaust manifold, turbo elbow and titanium exhaust system; GP Sport sports cat; Nismo two-way LSD.
10x18in (front) and 11.5x18in (rear) WORK Meister M1 three-piece split rims in anodised black; 245/35×18 Michelin Pilot Super Sport (front) and 285/30×18 Michelin Pilot Cup 2 (rear) tyres; adjustable coilovers; 25mm front arm extension; Cusco tension rod and upper arms; hydraulic steering rack; Nissan 350Z Brembo brake conversion (front and rear).
OEM seats; MOMO snap-off leather steering wheel; dash-mounted Defi gauges (water and oil temperature).
Thanks to Chris Pegler from Big Bear Kustoms; Lewis Bryant for helping me out with all of my mechanical work; Steve from SR Autobodies for sorting my wing and my girlfriend Phoebe Bushnell for always telling me to make the car even crazier.
Words Sam Preston Photography Chris Wallbank