Welcome to Part I of my saga as I transform my Nissan Silvia S15 (Pearl) to revision 3.0.
Bear in mind this article was completed in December 2015 but never saw the internet as I was too deep into my build.
So here is where it all started, you will have rewind your mindset back a year…
With the array of new performance cars hitting the market equipped with all the bells and whistles, there’s no question that our beloved JDM imports are being left behind to fade into the dust.
So when is it the right time to call it a day, sell up and move on?
When I first bought Pearl back in 2012 I couldn’t have been more ecstatic, with her stunning blend of looks, performance and value I knew she would make an amazing weekend/trackday car. Just how crazy I went with mods was always up in the air as it was strongly tied to how long I planned to be with my darling Silvia.
You see, in the back of my mind I always knew that someday not so far away, my bank account would let me upgrade to my ultimate car: the BNR34 GTR.
The BNR34 is no doubt the ultimate machine most JDM enthusiasts aspire to own and in my opinion, unmatched in the pre 2003 JDM import scene. Between the two cars, the GTR will always be the weapon of choice if money was no objection. And that herein lies the problem otherwise we’d all be rocking in the infamous Godzilla – the cost.
Finding a clean example will now set you back more than $55K which is a massive jump from an S15 which range from $12-20K – definitely not cheap for a 14 to 16 year old car.
But as circumstances and finances change (or the missus finally gives in to your whining and pleading), the reality of affording one can be within grasp … This was the case for me not so long ago towards the end of 2015.
After the initial excitement at the possibility of owning Godzilla, the realism soon dawned on me: there are faster and newer cars out there (an R34 in stock form isn’t by any means quick, still impressed me though when I drove one in Japan). Then to make it satisfactory for basic track and weekend duties, I’d need to plough in another $20K or so.
Now I’m not exactly a high roller (or an investment banker) so $75K+ for a GTR with basic bolt ons that could be chopped by a modern family car (or even a Honda) could be slightly disheartening.
It was a time to seriously look at other options.
2015 and 2016 was a great time to buy a performance car with new models being released and older ones becoming very affordable.
At the time, the new Ford Focus RS and Ecoboost Mustangs were just around the corner whilst the new Civic Type-R (which will never see Aussie shores) had already shown on test tracks around the world the mighty prowess that is turbo VTEC. As appealing as the two hatches may be, I’m impatient and frankly who buys brand new?
So what did that leave me with?
For my taste and requirements, the only contenders left were the WRX/STi, Golf R, Evo X, and the Focus ST (BNR32 and 33 are a tad old for my liking and the 370Z too fat . And not a fleeting thought was given to the Toyobaru).
All four models sport newer technology such as direct injection, DSG, twin scroll, torque vectoring, launch control, ESC and EBD leaving my poor Silvia and her beating SR20DET looking horribly outdated.
Hovering around the 30K used price mark these are all damn great cars, not to mention ‘newish’.
Having sat in Buzz’s 2013 Focus ST with a Cobb Accessport Stage 1 tune, the performance of the modern day engine really opened my eyes (goes even harder now with Stage 2 reflash, exhaust and front mount).
Let’s start off with the ever popular burble of the WRX.
Having owned a 2000 GC8 model with modest power several years ago, owning another Subie wasn’t appealing in the slightest even if the new models did finally receive a decent interior and a new FA20T engine.
I’m so glad Subaru finally decided to reinvent the whole car this time around with the new engine and gearbox as it’s definitely proven popular going by how many we now see on the road.
The Golf R, it’s hard to fault this hot hatch. Blistering quick DSG paired with AWD and a zippy engine stitched onto some luxury should make this an ideal choice. Not to mention if upgraded with an APR tune and accessories these become a low 11 second weapon.
But alas, I’m not after an all rounder and I couldn’t give a damn about luxury. The looks don’t do anything for me too. Furthermore, I like having a plethora of (JDM) aftermarket part manufacturers at my disposal… who doesn’t like being spoilt for choice?
Next is the Focus ST. Yes it’s FWD. Yes it’s a Ford. But whatever preconceived notions you have about this car wait until you actually sit in one let alone drive it.
After spending a bit of time in this car on the street and track it really is a solid performer with plenty of potential. It’s no wonder this car is vastly popular in the states.
With just a simple Cobb Accessport reflash, the factory K03 Borg Warner turbo matched with Ecoboost impressively hauls this hatch violently from a dig… Imagine what it can do with more bolt on mods.
For the same amount of money though, a Golf R albeit a few years older would be a much better choice. And to be frank (whoever he is), the interior and exterior of the Ford doesn’t excite me.
And this leaves til last the venerable Evo X. It’s new, it’s JDM, it’s quick and it can be stick shift. I had the pleasure of driving one around for a week in stock MR form and performance wise it’s what you expect, it goes hard anywhere… around corners, in a straight, stationary, in reverse you name it… but you already knew that.
Piloting an Evo X with just some sticky tyres, there’s no question about smashing PB’s and making Nissan’s weep.
So why didn’t I sell Pearl and move onto the next logical step for S-Chassis owners?
Well it just didn’t feel right and quite simply, felt dull. You know I’m all about them “FEELZ”.
So like a pair of shoes, one size does not fit all as was the case here.
If I was a sensible person, logic dictates that I buy an Evo X and win at life despite my reservations.
The logical choice however, is not always the right choice.
I believe the right choice is your own personal choice backed up by your own sane, emotional and far fetched reasons; it doesn’t need to make too much sense to anyone else but yourself.
As the pros and cons of the different cars kept circling around in my head for weeks on end, I never forgot about my aging S-chassis and the simple joy of the drive everytime.
On one ordinary Saturday afternoon, I sat outside sipping my coffee looking at Pearl as she rested underneath my carport oblivious to my intentions. I just stared and stared and stared… and soon realised I was mindlessly telling myself “I should do this” and “imagine this”.
And in that moment I experienced a profound sense of clarity.
When I bought Pearl more than 3 years ago I had an undeclared silent mission I kept to myself… I wanted to make a competitive time attack car. Far fetched as it may well be, this still resonates deep inside me… This is my mission.
Disillusioned by the end goal, I was too busy looking so far ahead not realising where I currently stood.
Pearl is running wonderfully, looking the part and she makes me grin sheepishly whenever I mash the throttle (with an ordinary 223kW). She is going to need some massive work and money to get her to the next level but that did not deter me at all. The S-chassis aftermarket is still truly alive and thriving so the choice of upgrades are plenty to sate my appetite.
The choice was made.
Despite the undeniable appeal of going down the sensible path, sometimes emotion simply overpowers logic. Like mine, your decision doesn’t have to make much sense to anyone else. As long as you can envisage how it will be that’s where it’ll go.
And that my fellow car enthusiast, is what I believe drives us to do what we do.
Some of the best things we do in life are based off pure emotion.
For me and Pearl this was a freakishly exciting time, nothing is a more welcome worse distraction than planning and buying car parts… I’m sure you know what I mean!
So watch this space as Pearl finally ascends to the next level! Bring on that #modlust and hello to #club300
Get ready for Part II when I slowly fade back into the present and detail on the joys experienced throughout Pearl’s build.