The Life and Death of my s13 Silvia
I was driving along the back roads of Windsor when I first felt it. A kind of softness in rear end. Now you'd be forgiven for thinking I'm talking about feeling up a passenger, but no this was a floaty feeling in the back end of my 1984 Holden Camira. As I turned the next corner i noticed the rear of the car start to swing out in a strange manner (no not in a good way) that didn’t feel unlike steering a boat, so I applied the brakes which went all the way to the floor. Pulling up the handbrake felt like I shaking the hand of a zombie and did nothing more than waste a few more valuable seconds which I desperately needed at 80km/hour.
When I crashed into the ditch it was about as controlled as it could be for a car with no brakes and only three wheels. Somehow, and I'm still not sure how, my Camiras rear right wheel had completely sheared itself off at the hub. I stood on the side of the road for a moment with a look on my face not dis-similar to when someone tells you that the pie you’re eating has pubes in it. Or that the reason the Honda Civic you just bought smells like genitals is because its full of hair and bodily fluids. A kind of unbelievable disgust sums it up, and that’s a good description for a three-wheeled Camira. Well any Camira actually.
I left my car on the side of the road and two hours later got a phone call from a random old fella. "yeah mate are you missing a yellow car?"
"Well no I'm not missing it, its crashed on the side of the road" I replied. "How did you get my phone number?"
The creaky voice replied “I’ve got your business card”.
It turned out that after leaving my three-wheeler Camira on a back street of Windsor someone had broken into it, stolen the stereo, smashed the windows and then got my 1000 new business cars and flung them across the road into the wind. Taking a stereo is one thing. But smashing the windows and destroying my business cards… Why? Possibly the pain of trying to save up for that final star of their Southern Cross tattoo was all too much and led to their Camira destroying rage. Either that or they themselves had previously owned a Camira and knew that being the worst car ever built, that it should be punished.
The local mechanics said it would be $2000 to fix, and being that the car was only worth $2.80 ($2 of fuel and an 80 cent Cannibal Corpse cassette) I finally decided that I needed to get another car. I spent a few months rolling in my mums VL Commodore which did not pull any chicks at all even though a guy on Church Street Parramatta said thats the only reason he drove one. Ironically he was single. Anyway, a friend told me about this car called an S13. I'd never heard of it but then I saw a photo of one and decided that I must have one. So I continued my work as an erotic dancer to save the money (not really) but I was doing live sound at a dubious venue...
I found a perfect S13 Queen (or Q Series) non-turbo in Castle Hill for $9500. Black and manual, the only suitable combination for a metal head. The deal was done and I didn't even modify it. Why not? Because it was already the best car in the world as far as I was concerned and utterly perfect in every way.
I went and picked up my girlfriend who thought I must have either won lotto and hired a super car. You see thats the thing with imports. The general public have no idea how cheap our cars really are - well relatively speaking. I heard a story about a guy with an MR2 who managed to convince his girlfriend that his Toyota was a Ferrari for over six months! I guess a lot of people just assume they are exotic and incredibly awesome, and I guess they're right! (side note – I only ever drove an MR2 once and it was horrible. It could have been due to the custom yellow interior and skull shaped fiberglass speaker enclosures that filled the cabin but I'm not sure)
One day I left the Silvia at my friends house up the road. He was a mechanic and helped me on the weekends and I was learning the basics of changing oil and other useful bits and pieces. Well when I say he helped me, I was just a little metal head and he kinda did it all and I learnt by doing menial tasks like handing him things and holding tools for him. I guess it was good training for working with Marty.
Later that day there came word that a fire had broken out. A lightening strike had started a massive fire, and my car was completely incinerated. I couldn't believe it. That night on Channel 10 news I saw a very creative camera man getting a vertical tilt shot of a helicopter dropping water onto the charred shell of my S13. It was a great camera shot and I took note of it for when I decided to become a camera man in later years and even tried using it on a shoot for artificial insemination of pigs in central South Australia a few years later.
I was allowed to go up there 24 hours later to inspect the damage and to “retrieve any belongings from the vehicle” the cop had said.
In a very darkly comical statement, right next to my Silvia was an old Mitsubishi Colt that had somehow managed to dodge the fires and was fine! Absolutly perfect. Every ugly panel of it. I could almost feel the Misubishi badge laughing at me and I’ve hated them ever since. The Silvia on the other hand was a different story. There was nothing left. The rims had melted. The glass had melted. Even the Engine now just read "NISSA" as the "N" had melted off.
I was amazed that the factory spoiler was still intact. Well, until I touched it and then it just fell apart under my fingers but it had managed to retain its shape. I'd lost my stereo, my skateboard, some new clothes in the boot and a Pantera CD but I can only be so thankful that it was fully insured.
It took a week or two to get a cheque from Just Car and that means it was time to buy something else. Marty and I have always had a strong philosophy that when something breaks, or needs to be replaced it has to be done better. That way the effort would worth it. If a turbo blows, we replace it with a bigger one! That’s the MCM ethos.
So how was I going to do better than my awesome S13 when after my excess I had less money? There was only one way. It was time to import a car from Japan. I’d never done it before but hey it can't be that hard right? Wrong! I decided on a black 180SX which would become my first seriously fast car. Importing a car was an educational and frustrating experience, and the 180SX was a great car that went through a lot of mods, and a lot of pain on the street (that’s a story for another time).
But even though the 180 was faster, newer and basically better in every way, I’d still choose a non turbo S13 Silvia hands down as my favourite Nissan of all time. It may sound strange but you need to remember that a car is nothing by itself. It’s true merit and value is how it makes you feel. And driving a Nissan S13 Queen made me feel like I was King of the world!
This article originally appeared in the MCM Magazine. You can check it out, plus hundreds of other articles written by Marty, Moog and the MCM Community here: http://mightycarmods.com/collections/magazine/products/magazine-multipack
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