The sexy Nissan
Fans regard it as a classic, writesGRAHAMSMITH
MOST of us are familiar with HSV and FPV, the performance arms of Holden and Ford, but how many of us have heard of Nissan’s Special Vehicles Division? If you haven’t you’re probably in the majority, because few would remember the similar operation Nissan set up in the late 1980s to breathe fire into the brand.
The idea for SVD came from Paul Beranger, then Nissan’s head of marketing and product planning, but better known now as head designer at Toyota.
Nissan was a contender in touring car racing and Beranger reasoned it would help sell Skylines if the company could make a more direct connection between its track success and its run-of-the-mill models.
Beranger’s idea was to build a run of limited-edition sporty models to boost the Skyline’s image. the front stabiliser bar, and modified the front cross-member to allow for increased negative camber.
The front brakes were also upgraded and the proportioning valve spring was altered to change the point it was triggered.
Finally the car was fitted with an alarm to keep it safe and sound.
A second version was released in 1989 and most rate it the most desirable. It was beacon red, and with its white alloy wheels it stood out . . . like a beacon.
The engine output was boosted to 140kW at 5600 revs and 270Nm at 4400 revs courtesy of a revised camshaft, a chip, stainless-steel extractors, a 2.5-inch exhaust system, and a ported cylinder head.
This time Nissan offered the choice of a four-speed auto or the five-speed manual.
When pressed the Silhouette GTS would race to 100km/h in 9.3sec and cover the standing 400m sprint in 16.6sec. Its top speed was 220km/h.
Had Nissan not pulled the pin on local production, there would have been a third Silhouette GTS. It would have been white and gold and been powered by the turbocharged version of the six-cylinder engine that Holden used in the VL Commodore.