QotW: Which S13 would you get, Silvia or 180SX?

Silvia. 180SX. Which is the better design from the Nissan draft table? Before you post, no, we’re not talking about a Sil-Eighty or the USDM 240SX sedan/hatch designs. We’re comparing only the pure breeds:

Which S13 would you get, Silvia or 180SX?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Do you prefer stock or aftermarket wheels?

Last week, it seems there is some appreciation for a good set of original wheels. That said, the aftermarket scene, especially the vintage era rims made for JNCs, hold most of our audience captive. Nigel comes out of the gate with what nearly all of us think of when we imagine a good looking JNC with a nice pair of shoes, to take Speedie‘s analogy, with Wats.

Jim Simspson reminds us that, unlike bolt-on fender flares cavernous enough to house a small village, wheels can be swapped out without damaging a car. So why not experiment?

All that said, when thinking of a good wheel, stock or aftermarket, we cannot ignore the empty pit in our wallet left from the latest trip to the repair shop to keep our JNC on the streets. For many of us, new wheels would nearly double the value of the car. Han Zhang put it simply:

I keep them (wheels) stock because any worthwhile aftermarkets would cost more than my JNC.

Omedetou! Your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop.

JNC Decal smash

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29 Responses to QotW: Which S13 would you get, Silvia or 180SX?

  1. Antti K says:

    I really like the fastback S13, 200SX or 180SX. It’s one of the best-looking cars of its time. But still, I’d really rather have a pristine, two-tone Silvia with the original hubcaps – just because it looks so delicate.

  2. dbdr says:

    They’re the same to me, but what annoys me is when Americans call the liftback S13 (along with many other liftbacks) a hatchback. Liftbacks are NOT hathbacks. You can call them liftback coupés or 3-door coupés all you want, but not hatchbacks. Please learn the difference.

    • ahja says:

      Spare us. “Liftback” is not commonly used in American English, colloquially or even in sales literature and only rarely in automotive journalism (where it usually serves to make the writer seem like a wannabe-foreign douche. Whining about this regional nomenclature is as dumb as an American telling you “its not a wing, its a fender, learn the difference, hurr durr.”

  3. Banpei says:

    The underpinnings of the two are (mostly) the same if you compare them within the same engine and trim level, so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. In my opinion the lines of the 180SX have been designed as a pure sports car, while the Silvia has been designed more like a grand tourer. But the 180SX attracts more attention in both positive (people drooling over it) and negative ways (cops), which basically means, unless you drive it sideways, you will never be able to drive it leisurely and remaining incognito. So it’s definitely the Silvia S13 for me!

    Oddly enough you could make the same analogy between the Levin and Trueno AE86. Owning a Trueno myself doesn’t really help me with making my point above. 😉

  4. J.A.C.K says:

    ooooh, gimme dat 180sx! pop-up headlights and fast back body bring me all the way back to the nostalgia of my high school years. while the Silvia is a dope name for a model of car, the 180sx exudes what sportiness should sound like. lol.

  5. Jim Simpson says:

    Personally I think the S13 is the prettier car

  6. BlitzPig says:

    Silvia, all day, every day.

    The 180SX is fine, until you turn the lights on. Silvia is pretty either way, and isn’t that the kind of girl you really want?

  7. Ashley McBride says:

    I’m on my 9th S13 now. The current project is going to be done as period correct as possible. Silvia front end on a coupe, as God intended.

    Have to go with Silvia in my personal favorite color scheme of seafoam green two tone.

  8. Mr. Bill says:

    I have always preferred the Silvia to the 180sx. The design has more balance, the chassis is stronger in my opinion, and all the junk in that trunk is well separated from the presentable living quarters. Cars with female names also lend themselves to more witty quips. I’ll spare you the graphic examples…

  9. Tom Westmacott says:

    A sibling spat, is it?

    Silvia: “I was here first”
    180: “But *my* customers lobbied Nissan to keep me in production for another five years after *you* were replaced”
    Silvia: “Well anyway, I’m the pure original design, you’re just a compromised derivative”
    Silvia: “I’m named after a beautiful woman”
    180: “I’m named for a cool skateboarding trick”
    Silvia: “Skateboard? You fatty, you’re a good 50kg more than me on the scales”
    180: “Hah, my sleek fastback will swallow a mountain bike whole”
    Silvia: “My two-door shell is more rigid than your floppy hatchback”
    180: “But my teardrop shape is more aerodynamic”
    Silvia: “You have boring trim levels like S and X, I’m an original with my pack of cards model designations”
    180: “Yeah, but I never had to suffer the normally aspirated CA18DE. 135bhp… call yourself a sports car?”
    Silvia: “I’ll have you know that Lime Green Two Tone is officially the best paint job ever bestowed on a car by any factory, anywhere”
    180: “Two tone paint?? Come off it grandpa. My blackout B-pillars and full-width tail reflector are the cutting-edge late-eighties look”
    Silvia: “Talking of reflectors, my reflector front-end is distinctive and unmistakable, unlike your generically rounded front bumper – your face is barely distinguishable from any other nineties coupe”
    180: “Actually my original look is the split vent that pays homage to the legendary Bizzarrini 5300”
    Silvia: “Pays homage to the nose of a farmyard pig, more like! Oink, oink, it’s ton-katsu for dinner!”
    180: “I was good-looking enough to be sold in all world markets, while your saloon nose wasn’t fit for export”
    Silvia: “But that just means that now I’m the exotic JDM ride that all the cool kids want, while you’re the common-as-muck drift slut”

    Nissan Shacho: “Calm down children, the Finance Director and I love both of you very much.”

  10. Cho says:

    S13,that classic coupe shape that is missing nowadays. Hell,Nissan need to make it now,they don’t have any cool for the average guy. Datsun/Nissan had cars in the past fun,performance for the everyday guy at price point that allow us to have some fun. Stop with CUV,econoboxes without any fun to drive that Nissan had. IDX(RWD),s13,s14,s15(RWD) hell 4 with turbo or even a hybrid. just build them.

  11. Cesariojpn says:

    The obvious answer, is the Sileighty. The car rocked by my girls in Impact Blue.


  12. Bryan Pichardo says:

    Two tone silvia with the HUD

    if i want a hatchback (FuStBuCk) i get the much better looking Z32

  13. LB1 says:

    I answered this question back in 1991, when I bought my 240SX coupe brand new, which was the closest we could get to a Silvia coupe.

  14. Michael says:

    180SX or Silvia……………? Tuff question!

    Honest answer (nowadays anyway!) would be whichever one you find in the best, & straightest condition.

    I love drift, but it has a LOT to answer for with regards to these cars. But I guess drift & the S-chassis go hand-in-hand & solidify/strengthen the legend for both.

    I really wonder, as a percentage of total production, how many cars are still on the road & living. How many cars did the drift Gods sacrifice…..?

    I owned a 1991 180SX (early model, but one of the first production batch of red top SR20DET), loved it & had it for 11 years.

    Was my first REAL Japanese performance car & I will always remember it fondly.

  15. ahja says:

    240SXs with the a fixed headlight swap (aka Silvias) are the better looking design and very nice. But the hatch is the one I always dream about when I imagine having a 240SX project car. One of those unrealized high school fantasies. Like S14s are a timeless design that will always age well, while S13s, and especially the hatch, looked dated and entry-level-used-car status only a few years from when they were new. That imprinted on my low-money high school brain and I have recurring dreams about 240 hatch projects as a result.

  16. Ant says:

    Well I ain’t gonna beat Tom’s comment further up for this QotW, so I’ll be boring and instead just say 180SX.

    I’ve got little emotional attachment to the boxy Silvia as that shape was never sold in the UK. But the 180SX was (as the 200SX, with the CA18DET), and a neigbour owned one when I was a kid. Always liked them since, and it’s probably one of the most attractive Japanese cars of the 1990s too.

  17. ra21benj says:

    180SX based on looks. Love the pop-up lights and the hatchback rear.

    I was very close to getting a 240SX hatchback after seeing Teruaki Itai’s 2001-spec Ricoh Racing 180SX:

  18. Bryan says:

    To quote Regular Car Reviews…


    (Yes, I know it’s from the Miata video)

    To be honest, I’ve always hated notchbacks. Give me the liftback and more sleek nose of the 180SX any day.

  19. Jayrdee says:

    Sil-Eighty is the only way

  20. nlpnt says:

    180 for me.

  21. Scotty G says:

    Dang, I never thought I’d see the day when the JNC website had comments even close to the rest of the gutterball internet. I assumed that we were all above that sort of keyboard courage and/or those questionable comments. I guess nothing is sacred anymore.

  22. Kristian says:

    180sx hands down

    I’ll try to leave out the bias as much as possible, due to owning a fastback

    The Silvia seems like the much better candidate.. lighter, more rigid chassis, lack of possible headlight malfunctions/motor bar replacement, yet the 180 is still the better option in my opinion.

    While the Silvia has a tad more racing pedigree, the main reason why the 180 always wins is practicality. The larger storage area of the hatch offers greater visibility, lower drag coefficient, and better weight distribution (although the weight of the glass is high, the tradeoff is subjective). I can comfortably fit a Silvia front end in my fastback.. could a Silvia comfortably fit a 180 front end in it?

    While the pop up headlights can be annoying when they break, they’re still popup headlights.

    In stock form, the 180 still screams sportscar to those oblivious to its origins. The Silvia on the other hand can pass for a DA integra or prelude.

    There’s a reason Nissan kept selling 180’s even alongside the s14 Silvia. It just has that charm.

  23. Andre says:


    But in all seriousness, 180SX hands down. After all, it’s the poster child for Japanese car life as we know it.

  24. TSLegendary says:

    Owned my very own Silvia S13 and my best bud has had his 180 for over 12 years, it goes like this.

    The Silvia is wine, while the 180SX is Saki. Both will get the job done but one just gets better with age.

    Simply put.

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