It’s not often we’re told over the phone that an R32 GT-R road car simply wasn’t enough, but that’s exactly what account manager Latisha Louise told us when we asked her why she purchased her Nissan Silvia S14 facelift project. A car enthusiast to rival any bloke, Latisha has owned imports since she was allowed to drive on the streets of her home town of Christchurch. Eventually, she desperately wanted to get out on the racetrack, so her beloved R32 GT-R was sold, and Latisha welcomed the purchase of an ex Drift South competition car.
“I stripped it the day I bought it,” Latisha told us after we asked how long it took to start modifying it. “I couldn’t drive it looking like that; it had to be changed immediately.”
We saw photos, and, yes, the S14 was not a looker by any means when Latisha purchased it, but the aluminum and steel bones were solid. First, the interior was stripped and cleaned, and off came the replica turbo, both areas in need of a serious revamp. As the S14 was to be used for circuit work, and the odd drift day in the future, Latisha knew some serious support would be needed in the cabin. An FIA-rated Sparco circuit seat was sourced from the North Island, and an NRG steering wheel was sourced to add a touch of colour to the cabin.
The S14 came fitted with a homologated eight-point roll cage, so all Latisha had to do now was add her own flare. Yes, that’s right, hot pink was chosen for the roll cage, and painted by Blake Harpur at Cany Customs. The interior was painted gloss black, to tie in with the exterior guise Latisha would soon tackle.
With Latisha planning to run a wide wheel combo, the factory S14 guards would no longer cut the mustard. Origin Labo 45mm widebody guards were bolted onto the S14 body up front, and a massive 50mm Origin Labo widebody guard set was installed on the rear. For a well-rounded street look, the remaining GT wing was soon removed in favour of a factory S14 facelift wing. A Vertex-style front kit and Final Konnexion–style side skirts and rear bumper have been chosen as sacrificial ornaments that may soon find themselves scraping walls, and banging doors.
Cany Customs came to the party again for the exterior respray, as most of the panels and bumpers had been replaced with aftermarket items. Silver wasn’t the most exciting colour, so a black base coat with sparkle overlay was chosen, with oodles of clear coat giving a show-depth finish.
Latisha’s wheel of choice was a Work Emotion D9R in gloss white, measuring 18-x10.5- inches each corner.
At this stage, the Silvia wears 265/35R18 Nankang NS2R semi-slicks all round, as it’s only used for circuit duties, but it will be shod in something a touch more affordable come drift time. Kei Office coilovers — produced and tested by Keiichi Tsuchiya — and the Cusco two-way LSD give Latisha confidence with throttle control.
Purchasing a car with a built engine can go two ways: explode due to the previous owner skimping on components, or endure the test of time and copious amounts of limiter bashing. Thankfully, the previous owner of Latisha’s S14 had the engine built properly.
“All I’ve done is replace the turbo on the engine and have it retuned. The previous owner used high-quality components in the build, so that was all I wanted to do, for peace of mind,” Latisha told NZ Performance Car. CP oversized and forged pistons, ARP head studs, ACL bearings, heavy-duty valve springs, and a rebuilt bottom and top end make for a reliable SR20. The newly installed Master Power 474 turbo provides enough air flow for 239kW (321hp) at the wheels on pump gas.
“The turbo is definitely too small for this engine,” Latisha continued. “It will get something bigger in the future, but I’m loving the instant boost response this particular turbo is giving me.” The combination has been chipped and tuned by NZEFI on pump gas, which has given a great base to improve on.
Latisha would like to try a drift school. “I will probably do the next one that comes up. They come up every second month, and events like Street Meat are good to learn at, too,” she said.
As Latisha told us she had recently purchased an S15 Spec R as a road car, we’re damn certain that this road-legal warrior will soon become dedicated for the track, and who would blame Latisha? As we all know, slinging it sideways, burning rubber, and banging doors is pretty damn exciting — Latisha is sure to get hooked.
1997 Nissan Silvia (S14)
- Model: SR20DET, 2000cc, four-cylinder
- Block: CP 0.5mm oversized forged pistons, ARP main studs, ACL bearings, polished crank, stripped and clean block, baffled sump
- Head: ARP head studs, heavy-duty valve springs, Cometic head gasket
- Intake: A’PEXi air filter, Z32 air-flow meter
- Turbo: Master Power R474
- Wastegate: 38mm TiAL
- BOV: Blitz
- Fuel: Walbro in-tank lift pump, Bosch 044 feed pump, two-litre surge tank, 555cc WRX STI injectors
- Ignition: Factory
- Exhaust: Three-inch mild steel exhaust, twin resonators
- Cooling: 60mm alloy radiator, Davies Craig 12-inch fan, customer intercooler piping, front-mounted intercooler
- ECU: Chipped factory ECU
- Other: One-litre oil catch can
- Gearbox: Rebuilt factory five-speed
- Clutch: Three-puck heavy duty
- Flywheel: Lightened
- Diff: Cusco two-way
- Struts: (F) Kei Office coilovers (R) HKS Hipermax coilovers
- Brakes: (F) R33 four-pot calipers (R) R33 twin-pot calipers
- Other: Chromoly rear camber and toe arms, Megan Racing front caster arms
- Wheels: 18x10.5-inch (+15) Work Emotion D9R, 25mm spacers
- Tyres: 265/35R18 Nankang NS2-R
- Paint: Black with secret sparkle, by Cany Customs
- Enhancements: Origin Labo 45mm front fenders, Origin Labo 50mm rear fenders, Vertex-style front bumper, Final Konnexion–style side skirts and rear bumper, Luxury Sports roof spoiler, factory S14 wing
- Seats: Sparco Circuit driver’s seat (FIA), KW passenger seat, Silvester five-point harnesses
- Steering wheel: NRG
- Instrumentation: Defi water and boost gauges, Autometer mechanical oil-pressure gauge
- Other: Eight-point roll cage painted metallic pink, Nismo gear knob
- Power: 239kW (320hp) at the wheels
Driver/owner: Latisha Louise
Build time: 5 months
Length of ownership: 5 months
Thanks: Thanks to Dan for helping me in the garage most nights and every weekend, Blake at Cany Customs for the paint job, and anyone else who got me parts for the car — thank you heaps!
This article was originally published in NZ Performance Car Issue No. 228. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: