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Forget the R34: The Nissan Silvia S15 Is Now Legal to Import Stateside

R34 GT-Rs are so expensive that it's hard to care. So, let's focus on another, more attainable JDM Nissan instead.
1999 Nissan Silvia Spec-R Aero in yellow

A new year means a new crop of Japanese domestic market cars are legal to import, and every spotlight is trained on the R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R. But as iconic as it may be, the R34 GT-R is so rare and pricey that it may as well be an animal in the zoo—look, but don’t touch. Well, hop off the hype train, because there’s another, more accessible JDM Nissan that’s also now legal to import: the last-gen Silvia, the S15.

The S15 was the final iteration of Nissan’s S-chassis, one of the most widely beloved rear-wheel-drive sports car platforms in history. From our 240SX to the original Silvia and 180SX, these cars were ubiquitous in every discipline of motorsport, from drifting to drag and road racing. Think of them as the Toyota GR86s of their day, except you could get a turbo engine in them.

In the S15, that took the form of the 2.0-liter SR20DET four-cylinder, which in the S15 gained a more responsive ball-bearing turbo. It reportedly generated 247 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque, which it sent to the rear axle through a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. There was also a naturally aspirated version that used a five-speed manual instead of the six-speed, but those aren’t the ones people will snap up first.

The turbo cars you want will be designated Spec-R, and were available with a factory aero kit (simply called “Aero”) or HICAS four-wheel steering. On a small number of cars, these were paired together, though they’ll be tricky to find and expensive if you do.

That’s because S15s are pricey for S-chassis, being the shortest-lived of all generations. Nissan only produced 43,147 before production terminated in August 2002 according to GT-R Registry, of which only 645 have the 4WS—though it seems close to half were turbo cars. Because of how import laws work, you’ll only be able to bring in cars that are 25 years old to the month, so not just any 1999 car is legal right now. If you want one, now’s the time to ring an importer, because the good ones will go fast.

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