Nissan re-imagines the original Silvia as an electric coupe

Nissan has released an illustration re-interpreting the original Silvia as an electric coupe. The rendering comes from the imagination of Matthew Weaver, vice president of Nissan Design Europe. Weaver was asked to come up with an electric car based on a car from Nissan’s history, and chose the 1965 CSP311 as his inspiration.

Debuting at the 1964 Tokyo Motor Show, the first car to bear the Silvia name was based on the Datsun Fairlady 1600 Roadster. Nissan designer Kazuo Kimura penned a fixed-head body over the roadster chassis, creating an elegant hand-built personal coupe using existing (and race-proven) running gear. Only 554 examples were made between 1965 and 1968, making it one of the rarest Nissans ever produced.

“The Silvia was ahead of its time, in a very quiet, understated way. It has aged very well and would still have its place on the roads today,” Weaver said of his choice. “By re-designing this car for the future, we wanted to pay homage to that heritage.”

Weaver began by accentuating the crease that flows around the entire car, forming the leading edge of its prow and flowing into the trailing edge of its trunk. However, to fit modern-sized wheels and exaggerate his presence Weaver enlarged the wheel arches, using the character line to form their upper edges. Modern lighting allows thin tailights that follow the fold.

Up front, a new graphic with flat-topped quad headlamps flanking a slit-mask grille evokes the Silvia’s classic face. “Because an electric powertrain has far lower cooling requirements, so there is no need for a grille where radiators are traditionally located,” Weaver explained.

“The key components of an electric vehicle are quite different and they can be packaged differently, compared to an internal combustion engine car,” he added. “Consequently, the Silvia we’ve re-imagined here would have a larger interior than its exterior dimensions would suggest.”

The electric Silvia is purely a “what if” at the moment, unlikely to even make it to the concept car stage. For now, it remains an illustration. However, the original was a stunning design and we think Weaver’s idea is deserving of deeper consideration. Cars like this would certainly make the inevitable electric future a bit more interesting.

Image: Nissan/Matthew Weaver

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9 Responses to Nissan re-imagines the original Silvia as an electric coupe

  1. Ian N says:

    Agree with your sentiments, Ben (and Nissan’s – hopefully!).

  2. dankan says:

    The want is very high for this. It’s a great idea and exactly what Nissan should be looking at as halo car material. The Nissan Ariya may be the more important car for the bottom line, but if you want people getting excited and coming to showrooms to look at it, you need something special to get attention. This electric Silvia would do that.

  3. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Now this is moving forward. This is a beautiful interpretation of the original in a way I think the new Z only approached. I think the A Pillar is one of the most difficult component to pull off in the Airbag age. Many have tried the wrap around windshield that ignores the A Pillar (like Lotus). It’s unsettling to me. It’s a car, not a plane (Airbus is now doing the blacked out windshield thing & I think it’s ugly & contrived). This, while still blacked out, gives a nod to the A Pillar with a concerted crease carrying the roofline down to the front fender. I’m a sucker for the really thin A Pillars of the ’60’s. It’s still a fresh, honest, clean look. (I would tone down the wheels) Yes, I’m gushing over this one! I want to see it in silver next to the original. Bravo, Matthew Weaver!!!

  4. MikeRL411 says:

    Nissan, please do it !!!!

  5. Joe Lee says:

    Hmmm, it looks like a stylized Camaro to me…?

  6. Scotty G says:

    It would be interesting to hear what Bryan Thompson has to say about this concept. The original design almost makes me weep it’s so gorgeous.

  7. Tom Westmacott says:

    The original Silvia is a lovely piece of design, and a good source of inspiration – Nissan last went back to the well just over 30 years ago for the ‘Art Force’ Silvia S13, and it became a hugely popular revival of the Silvia brand.

    I like the *idea* of this car, but the execution isn’t quite there, for me. The glasshouse is a jumble of angles where the original is a balanced and legible trapezium. The wheels are ludicrously large, not just impractical but look silly on a small coupe. Relatedly, covering the front wheels Disco Volante-style isn’t compatible with the tight steering lock that’s a Silvia core value.

    An electric Silvia isn’t heresy to me – they’ve not really been known for their engines’ character, but their robust torque, so a rear-drive or 4WD EV could work well. One interesting question is whether sporting EVs will eschew the ubiquitous ‘skateboard’ architecture in favour of seating the occupants lower, hopefully Nissan is considering this for a future EV coupe like this.

    Given the contrast between Nissan’s Leafy leadership and their failure to build on their early success, to the point the 400Z isn’t coming to Europe, it would be a great time to plan something like this, perhaps with two Leaf motors and a 60-70kWh battery. If they can keep the cross-section down, as Silvias have traditionally, that’ll help motorway range too.

    So I’m not totally sold on this particular execution, but love the idea and hope it leads to something soon from Nissan!

  8. Speedie says:

    I will be one of the dissenting opinions. The original was a cohesive design where the greenhouse, front grille and side profile all worked as one. The new design takes the key styling points but completely loses the cohesiveness. For example the revision looks like the top half is joined to the bottom. This may be intentional but makes my point about the lack of oneness the original had. While I love a good retro design I think Nissan should focus on designs that are forward looking, which is exactly what the original Silvia was all about.

  9. Land Ark says:

    The “modern sized wheels” and black A pillar are enough to turn me off. To me it looks like Chip Foose got a hold of a vintage Silvia in 2003 and this was the result.

    And it’s hard for me to get excited about any Nissan revival since I’m still waiting for my IDX. Of course this is more likely to see the light of day since it no doubt would be priced as a premium car, where the IDX was intended to be affordable.

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