We all have that one friend who has given an affectionate pet name, usually female, to his car. Perhaps you are that one. Hollywood has no shortage of examples. Who could forget 1974’s Gone in 60 Seconds, when car thieves assigned each vehicular mark a woman’s name to use in code, or Christine, the demonic ’58 Plymouth Fury of the eponymous book and movie. But when it comes to manufacturers actually assigning a girl’s name to an entire model line, that’s unheard of in the States.
Not so in Japan. A whole harem of female names appear in the lineups of our favorite marques from across the Pacific. One of the most recognizable is the Nissan Silvia, made famous by its drift-worthy US counterpart, the 240SX. Of course, the name Silvia first appeared on the production version of Nissan’s 1964 show car, the 1500 Coupe. The hardtop coupe was based on the Datsun Roadster platform and shared its 1600cc, 90hp engine. Only 554 were made.
In 1975, the name was revived in earnest on the S10 coupe, an exotically-styled two-door hardtop that screams retro-futurism today. It shared a 105hp L18 four-cylinder with the Bluebird, but received a 2.0L engine in the US and the 200SX name.
Since then, a steady progression of Silvias/SXs have followed. The S10 was succeeded by the more conventional-looking S110, the angular S12 stuffed with 1980s electronic wizardry, and the drift machines – the S13, S14 and Japan-only S15 (Edit: Australia got the S15 also. Lucky blokes!). The long-lived S-series was one of the most prolific low-cost FR platforms in the world, but ceased further development after the S15. This was due to Carlos Ghosn’s dramatic cost-cutting measures, which culled many a platform with the goal of making the FM shared by the 350Z and Infiniti G35 Nissan’s lone sports car chassis. With the death of the S-series, the Silvia name went with it.
However, recent rumors have suggested that an inexpensive FR revival may be in the works at Nissan, though there’s no word whether the Silvia name will rise again.