Dreaded Fist writes about Nissans and about modifying cars for high performance.
In the land of automotive conversions, the S15 Silvia front-end conversion is certainly one of the most popular. Fitting an S15 front end to a Nissan S13 or S14 240SX/Silvia/180SX is a relatively simple task, especially when done with as many OEM parts as possible.
If you plan on using all OEM parts, some modifications will need to be made to the fenders, as OEM S15 fenders will not swap on to an S13 or S14 body. The aftermarket, recognizing a need for a bolt -n S15 style fender, has made many different styles available, all of which are suitable for directly fitting onto an S13 or S14 chassis with little to no modifications. Generally speaking, nearly all aftermarket S15 conversion body panels will require some modifications, as very few aftermarket body part manufacturers can produce a part as accurately as an OEM. Some parts will fit better than others. Don't assume that because a Japanese-made fender costs $600 per side, that it'll fit perfectly, because nine times out of ten, it won't.
Why Bother With an S15 Conversion?
To many, the S13 and S14 240SX/Silvia/180SX are looking a bit dated, and to others, it's a matter of taste. There's no doubt that the S15 has some very, very sexy headlights. Certainly much better than the popups of the 180SX/240SX. The S13 Silvia's brick style headlights are a popular conversion for non-Japanese market S13's, as they suit the body much better than the popup style headlights. I'm going to go ahead and recommend that you not do an S15 conversion to a S13 Silvia/240sx coupe. The headlights don't match the car at all and it always ends up looking terrible, reguardless of quality and fitment of parts used.
The S15 Silvia front end looks fantastic on a 180SX/240SX fastback, as well as any S14 model, as the front end suits the bodystyles of those vehicles. 240s, Silvias, 180SXs, etc, etc, etc, are all looking a bit dated. The S15 still has a fresh look to it, and doesn't scream "1980s" the way the the 180sx/240sx popup headlights do. In addition to this, the S15 front end has a huge variety of aftermarket fenders, bumpers, splitters, ducts, and other misc. aero stuff to stick onto it that gives it a very GT-car style look.
In this author's opinion, the S15 front end looks "ill" on an S14 240SX/Silvia. It gives the car an incredible sports-car look, getting rid of the bland 95-96 style Toyota-look headlights. Look at that S14 above—streetcar, drift car, race car, it doesn't matter, it's a fantastic-looking front end.
There's no doubt involved here, the S15 Silvia is by far the sportiest looking of the models. Unfortinutely for North American 240SX guys, the 240 simply didn't sell well enough to justify bringing the S15 over. As a result, the S15 front end conversion is the closest most will ever get to owning an S15 in North America. Sure, there's a handful of examples in both the United States and Canada, but very few of them are legitimate. Most were imported through loopholes, smuggled in, or brought in as parts and reassembled.
The s15 conversion can be done in various ways, read on to find out how.
S15 Conversions on the Cheap
An S15 conversion can be done on the cheap, costing in at less than $1,000 if you shop around enough for all the parts required. Of course, the cheaper you go, the more work you're going to have to do to make it all fit properly. Don't expect to bolt it all together and have perfect fitment and panel gaps. Unless you're a skilled body man, you're going to spend more than you'd like at a bodyshop, getting everything modified to fit properly. In the end, it might be cheaper to spend more on the conversion parts in order to spend less in the bodyshop later.
Aftermarket S15-conversion specific body panels are available from tons of different US manufacturers. Companies like Raceon USA offer all the parts required for the S15 conversion; however, their reputation for fitment is abysmal. Expect wavy fiberglass work, and abysmal fitment.
The trick to finding the right company to buy from is simple: If the company's website has no pictures of their actual product, but instead uses pictures from other sites, or pictures from other manufacturers, don't buy from them. If they're not willing to show you pictures of their actual product, then their actual product is garbage.
S15 Conversions for Big $$$
When it comes to the S15 conversion, you're going to want to use OEM parts. Sure, you can save money and use poorly made aftermarket fiberglass panels, but you're going to end up spending just as much, if not more, than you would with OEM parts thanks to all the parts requiring modifications.
OEM fits best, even for conversions. The fenders will of course require modifications, but you won't have to deal with shoddy fiberglass work, or fiberglass so thin that it bends and creaks when you touch it. The absolute route to go is as follows:
- OEM S15 Silvia fenders (require modifications to fit S13/14 body)
- OEM S15 hood (requires S15 fenders, S15 bumper/grill, and possibly new hood latch)
- OEM S15 front bumper (will fit properly with S15 bumper support/rebar, when used with S15 fenders and hood, will fit beautifully)
- OEM S15 rad support
- OEM S15 bumper rebar (maybe)
- OEM S15 headlights (HID or non, HID's cost about $1,000 per side)
Using all brand new OEM parts will get expensive really, really fast. If at all possible, find used OEM body panels, such as those that you would find on an S15 front clip. If you're lucky, your front clip might come with the intact dash too. If you're truly mad, you'll attempt a right-hand-drive conversion. Why? Who knows, my regular car is right-hand-drive and I live in a left-hand-drive country. It's fun at first, but it gets old when people never stop looking at you!
Don't even ask about the S15 rear-end conversion!
Yes, the S15 rear end conversion is possible, and it has been done. You'll need S15 rear quarter's, glass, rear bumper, trunk, you name it, you'll need it. And nothing will be bolt on. You'll be paying a monstrous amount of cash to a bodyshop to make it all fit. Labor will probably cost more than all the parts.
It's been done-Yes. But no, it wasn't cheap, yes, it took forever and cost tons of money. Try scanning around on the various 240sx forums online, I know of one user who did do the conversion. It looked fantastic and almost (almost!) made his s13 fastback look like an S15. Rear end? S15. Front? S15. Side? Didn't work.
I'd give you the pictures of the conversion, except I can't find them. I guess they've disapeared, in order to allow the continuation of the "yes, the S15 rear end is easy!" myth. Don't try, and if you do, may God help you.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.