The Toyota Supra, Nissan GT-R/Skyline and Mazda RX-7 are all JDM legends. Today, they’re also the go-to cars in the drift racing community — but have you ever wondered what the great-great grandad of those sliding machines is? You have to go back as far as 1975 for the answer, the year the legendary Silvia S10 was launched. It laid the foundations for tyre-shredding hoonery all over the world, and that trend continued with the S13, S14 and S15 successors.
The Silvia CSP311 made its debut in 1964 at the Tokyo Motor Show and it blew enthusiasts away with its gorgeous aesthetics. Albrecht ‘BMW 503 and 507’ Goertz lent a hand with the styling and it had a 1.6-litre inline four with twin carburettors. Mated to a four-speed manual, just 600 were built (completely by hand) and after production ended in 1968 a replacement wasn’t planned until Toyota found success with the Celica. Nissan wanted a rival in this niche budget sports coupé segment so it revived the Silvia nameplate for the S10 built on the new S-platform.
The Seventies had already proved a fruitful period for the carmaker what with the new Z car and beloved 510 — but due to the S10’s polarising looks it took some time to leave its mark. It featured a live axle leaf spring rear suspension and MacPherson struts up front, was more spacious and bulkier than the predecessor and was powered by a 1.8 litre fuel-injected four-pot (it got a 2.0-litre motor in the US where the car was called the 200SX). It was offered with a choice of a three-speed automatic or a five-speed manual and although it performed well enough (which isn’t saying much; this was the performance-starved Seventies after all...) it was its styling that got the most attention. With its cut-off wheel arches, wrap around taillights and huge “A” shaped C-pillars, it sure was unique. It was popular on the domestic front and proved a big hit on foreign shores too; landing in the US at the height of the oil crisis when Japanese cars with their tiny engines were being snapped up, it sold like the proverbial hot cakes.
It barely had 100bhp but that didn’t stop actor Paul Newman from driving an IMSA B-production 200SX in 1977 for Bob Sharp Racing. He later ditched the S10 for a 280Z and Nissan dumped it too and launched the new and improved S110 in 1979.
If you happen to find one today in good condition, which would be near impossible as only around 150,000 were built, Dh30,000 is all it’ll take to make it yours.