If three’s a crowd, six is just a goddam piston party! Steve Kerr shows us his six-deep Silvia stack — you think you can top this?
Words: René Vermeer Photos: Duncan Rourke
There’s no denying that the Nissan Silvia is one of the most, if not the most, popular chassis to modify in New Zealand and around the Japanese tuning scene world. Seeing that there are so many unique styles and modifying disciplines out there, how do you choose a path to go down? Sure, you could build a drift set-up, a low-and-slow cruiser, an engine-converted MIG-welded monster, or perhaps you’re interested in driving down the rigorous restoration route — with the S-chassis line-up, your options are almost unlimited. However, what if you can’t choose? Well, we’ll tell you exactly what a young gentleman who goes by the name of Steve Kerr did, and that was to build the goddam lot — Silvia stackin’ harder than anyone in New Zealand.
With a family not into cars at all, Steve’s passion for them, and in particular the S-chassis platform, came during high school from a good friend, Nik. In Steve’s impressionable teenage years, the SR20DE-powered ‘super-tidy’ factory Aero S15 provided a thrill and experience that would shape his automotive interest for good; Silvias, namely S15s, were the platform Steve just had to own and modify.
Skip ahead a few years and Steve has now owned 22 S15s — a number most performance car importers these days would struggle to comprehend. His first, though, had to be special, and two years after his mates had their first cars, Steve was still stashing cash under the mattress for the day that special Silvia arose. When it did, he just knew, as he tells us, what would happen.
“I had my heart set on an S15 as my first car, but my father was super strict and the car had to tick all the right boxes: low kms, manual, and completely factory. I think he chose all of these things knowing I wouldn’t find an example that would impress him.”
Not too long after, a completely factory 200SX S15 in red popped up, with only 50,000kms — blowing the dad-set ticked boxes out of the water. Better yet, it was a mere $14,000 — an amount unfathomable today. As with the first-car experiences of most of us, this Silvia taught Steve a great deal: doing skids in front of high-school girls for attention can lead to getting pulled over by the authorities, and sliding around on the street can result in a complete write-off — which is what ended up happening.
However, Steve’s love for the S-chassis was stronger than ever and would lead him into a severe Silvia spiral, an EVILSX cover car, a love for drifting, and so much more.
V8 S14 Drift Car
When you have owned pretty much only Silvias in your lifetime, you’re going to know your way around a burnout or two, but progressing to the sport of drifting and legitimizing that skill is something new entirely. To do that, you’re going to need a special machine. Although most Silvias are fairly capable in that chosen discipline, Steve wanted more. After taking part in his first drift day in an S14 he acquired, he was hooked.
“Sadly, the SR plus-T decided to catch fire on the next track day, and I nearly lost the entire car. We went through eight fire extinguishers and finally put the thing out,” Steve tells us.
At the time of the event, with the sad-looking SR on the trailer, it was a perceived semi-affordable fix — or so Steve thought — being that it was a humble plus-T SR20 engine.
“A full bolt-in V8 engine package popped up for $8000. It seemed like a good deal. When it turned up, I realized everything had been done to a terrible standard. I ended up leaving it to sit for a few months with a lack of modification,” Steve explained, unenthused. With an engine-less drift car in the stables and a bung V8 engine conversion sitting in another shed, nothing happened — that was until Steve’s good friend Hayden started to brew up some curiously crafty, devious ideas.
“You should twin-turbo it,” he said.
That night, Steve purchased everything needed for a turbo conversion, complete with flipped headers and twin GT30 turbochargers — enough potential sauce to jazz up your auntie’s stir-fry.
“Jono Woods from Woods Motorsport spent the next couple of months knocking out all of the fabrication work at night. During this time, I made some connections with the boys at Aeroflow and Nitrous Express,” Steve tells us — knowing this would have saved him some hearty bills.
With twin Turbosmart Pro-gates bouncing the boost control party, a plethora of 1000cc Bosch injectors providing the liquor, and a Maxx ECU running the light show, it was time for the car to make its way down to Steve’s preferred tuner: Chris at Prestige Tuning.
It’s almost insulting how easily LS1 engines can make power. Sure, no replacement for displacement and all that, but how does 500kW to the rear tyres sound on a mere 10psi of boost pressure? It sounds like the end-all party animal to us, with busloads more party-crashing power left to go. The power — or, in this case, the torque — is sent to the rear wheels via the truck-like Tremec T56 gearbox, Xtreme twin-plate clutch, lightened chromoly flywheel, and outward to the sacrificial axles through a Nismo two-way LSD.
Something you will soon learn about Steve – if you haven’t already – is that anything he gets his mittens on has to look good, and this drift-ready machine was no exception. TSD Performance coilovers with custom springs wind the chassis down low, over uber-low offset Work VS-KF wheels. The arches, and front and rear ground clearance, have been taken care of with an Origin Labo Race Line body kit with matching carbon-fibre bonnet — all finished in a custom Decrastrip wrap, completing the professional, comp-like appearance Steve was hunting for.
We’d love to say that Steve is finished and out drifting with this build, but with Covid shutting plenty of events down, there was no better time to upgrade the S14 further. The next time you see this machine, the ECU will have been upgraded and a sequential transmission fitted. Oh, and once E85, more boost, and nitrous are introduced, you better believe power figures will climb once again, turning this V8 Silvia into one of the angriest around.
Nissan Silvia (S14)
This particular yellow Nissan Silvia S14 is one some of you clever humans out there may recognize. Yes, that’s right, it’s the slammed machine originally built by stance lord Jared Croft.
“Jared spent months piecing this car together after setting to work on his vision. Jono was sent down to Christchurch, where the car was, and carried out all the metalwork, including the new steel guards, super-tucked exhaust, and the lifted engine and chassis rails,” Steve says.
With being low the name of the game from the outset, Jared had the car built to be able to drive just 10mm off the ground. Unfortunately, though, he had to sell the S14 and initially he was going to part it out. Music to Steve’s ears, he promptly purchased the Silvia and it was delivered via trailer to Wellington, boned out on a set of steelies. A few tweaks later, and the S14 is now running an SR20DE+T engine with 202kW at the wheels and Steve’s favourite wheel of all time: the Work VS-VF. With the plan being to take this Silvia to numerous events in the near future, we can’t wait to see it during a cruise session.
The Colour Show
All right, so we know Steve has a serious Silvia problem, having owned a small nation’s share of them, so what does that mean for him now? Cars come and go, sure, but what else does Steve have tucked away in the shed?
“Weirdly, I nowadays get offered cars to buy from my friends and followers on social media. I think it’s because I’m pretty straight to the point; if I’m keen, I’ll buy it that day sorta thing,” Steve explains.
So, what does that look like in reality? Enter the Silvia stack, a collection of Silvias so rad that if you found your way into Steve’s storage you would think you had stumbled upon a Silvia club members’ day. Including his drift car, Steve has seven Silvias, with varying levels of modification. One thing is consistent, though: every single one is in impeccable order, yielding ultra-low TSD Performance coilovers, riding low on genuine wheels. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Nissan Silvia (S14 Boss)
After having his eye on this particular Pandem Boss–kitted Nissan Silvia S14 for some time, Steve got the chance to obtain possession. With the V8 conversion going on with his drift car, the initial plan was to pinch a few things off this car, swap the fronts around, and flick it off. Like a few of Steve’s projects, it got pushed to the side — this time for four months. Upon the Government’s announcement of Covid-19 and our level four nationwide lockdown, Steve made a quick decision to rush up to Linkup Paints to choose a colour.
“I never had orange in mind for this build,” he reveals, “but a little peer pressure from Kerry saw orange being chosen. I actually asked for a base coat orange, but Shannon from Linkup Paints surprised me with a custom gold pearl she mixed up — something to which photos can’t do justice.”
Over the four-week lockdown period, Steve spent his time sanding and prepping the body for paint, trying to get the body as straight as possible.
“We wrapped the whole shed in plastic and started painting. This gave me a new appreciation for car painters,” he says.
The finished product is an SR20DET-powered cruiser, with a face like no other — a true classic Datsun throwback with one-of-a-kind wheels purchased from Mad Mike Whiddett.
Nissan Silvia (S15)
Nissan Silvia (S15 RB26)
“Bring back early-2000s show cars,” Steve says to us, as his plans for this RB26-swapped Nissan Silvia S15 are just that. Bright paint, big wheels, and a crazy interior will see this Silvia stand out, even from his own collection.
Like most of Steve’s finds, this was through Facebook, but he initially ended up missing out on the deal — a friend by the name of Shaun ended up purchasing the car instead. However, six months later, Steve managed to purchase it — happy, knowing the supposed rebuild was indeed legit and it would prove to be a solid platform for modification.
Although the RB26 is currently packing only 220kW at the tyres, Steve’s plan down the track is to make use of the rebuilt bottom end and add a much larger turbo — with a 500kW power goal.
“I’ve built a few S15s now, so I figured I would do everything I regretted not doing on the last few toys and make it the best one yet. It’s going to be hard to find a perfect mix between grip and style,” Steve continues. “This has to be my favourite S15 build to date and one I don’t plan on parting with anytime soon.”
Nissan Silvia (200SX)
We’ve all got that high-school car crush. It goes without saying that some of our chosen poster cars are more exotic than others, and for Steve this exact Nissan 200SX is that car — a red, boy racer, sports car he used to walk past after finishing his day at high school. Going forward four years, Steve was nearing the age of obtainium, so promptly left a note in the owner’s letterbox, asking if he would part ways with it.
“I thought I must have spooked him, as I didn’t see the car for another five years!”
Amidst our new Covid world, Steve noticed that it popped up on Trade Me. He rang the owner, they met up, and Steve ended up driving it home that evening. He also found out that the owner wasn’t spooked by Steve’s letterbox offer but instead just moved house — one block over — and wasn’t ready to sell. The second the 200SX drove into the shed, work began and it now looks much classier in S15 AJ4 red hue, with a D-Max front bumper and Origin side skirts and rear bumper — and, of course, lowered on TSD Performance coilovers with Work Emotion D9Rs.
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 287