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The History of the Nissan 240SX & A Love Affair

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The Nissan 240SX: History & Love Affair

Back in 1998, I was two years fresh out of high school, working full time and going to school full time.  Like all guys around this age, I wanted a nice ride and the Hyundai Scoupe wasn't cutting it.  So, I was off car shopping for the first time in my life.  Little did I know,  I was about to roll the wheels on one of the Nissan's best kept secrets and propel myself into a new universe.  The universe of the Nissan 240SX, it's history and import performance tuning & enthusiasts.  This is the story of the American Nissan 240SX and a love affair.

As a loyal Circuit City employee, I embarked to purchase a new/used car at the Circuit City owned Carmax.  I walked onto that lot with a easy stroll and sunny skies behind me.  Being a single guy in college, I had my sights on a fast car, but

240sx Factory Service Manuals (FSM)

I could never foresee the love affair that was about to take place and transform my experience of cars altogether.  The Nissan 240SX was no where on my radar when I first went car shopping, in fact I had never even heard of it.  The first weekend I had the car, I was led to the land of performance tuning by a friend.  The internet was a clunky place to dwell in the time of "dial up", however I found a few tidbits of 240SX performance parts.  From what I can remember, that included an aero kit.  Not long after, the automotive performance magazines were buzzing about the SR swap that could be done on the 240SX.  The 240SX soon started popping all over the tuner market.  I can still remember the first days of and when Enjuku Racing "made" their first 240SX parts  for sale.

The import tuner industry was in full swing in the U.S. and reached a peak when the movie The Fast and the Furious hit theaters in 1999.  The movie featured a Nissan 240SX driven by Michelle Rodriquez.  The movie brought many people to the tuning industry, however there was some fall out.  I was no longer able to drive my car without being spotted by the police!  At this time, I had a rear spoiler, Enkei RSE rims, Injen cold air intake, Apexi N1 cat back exhaust, ACT six puck clutch, and many more mods.  My car was loud and easy to see, thus resulting in many harassing tickets from the police, which some I beat and a few I could not!  However there was also the motivation to drive fast from time to time, or whenever I didn't think the police were around.  One 180 degree e-brake slide and 40mph over the speed limit later, I was in the back of a police car after being told to "throw my keys out the window" by officer friendly, whom actually was friendly.  Four months later my 240SX and I parted ways after a five year relationship.  We had seen enough action together and she (my 240SX) hopefully went on to the SR swap that it's new owner was promising.  I was tired of the harassment and expense of owning two cars.  However, the Nissan 240SX has remained a favorite and is even reappearing on my car radar.

The history of the Nissan 240SX is not heroic or by any means seen as a true legend, however it remains and will continue to endure the test of time.  Here's the history of the 240SX:

Nissan rolled the first 240SX off its assembly line in 1989, and ended production of this magnificent machine on July 23, 1998. During that time frame, Nissan produced over two million 240's for the American market. In classic Nissan fashion, there are two separate generations for the 240, thus creating many names that car enthusiasts choose to use for this particular vehicle.

The 240SX has been called the S13, S14, Silvia (the Japanese market name), S, 180SX (Japanese market) and the 200SX (the European and Australian markets), but the American 240SX is not quite the same as the other S Platforms. Although it is related, there were differences in important areas, such as engines and front body design. With the similarities, American 240 owners are a distinct and individual group that idolizes their cars for the things that they can do.



Nissan produced the first generation 240SX (aka S13) from 1989 to 1994. The S13 showed us three separate models, the coupe, the fastback (truly a hatchback) and the convertible. The middle period of the first generation, also known as the Chuki, saw a few minor body changes to the SX. For example, Nissan gave it a newer, more modern-looking front bumper. However, enthusiasts were more excited about the 15 hp boost that came with the new DOHC engine upgrade. Even with the engine upgrade in the middle period, critics said that the 240SX was under-powered for its size, forcing many tuners and drifters to special order the Japanese model engines.

In 1992, Nissan produced its "American Only Market" convertible, but took it completely out of the market after 1994. Only 8,320 convertibles were produced by Nissan for the SX. In fact, in 1994, the only 240SX available in the United States was the Convertible Special Edition.


Second generation
S14 (1995–1998)

  • Production 1995–1998
  • Body style(s) 2-door coupe
  • Engine(s) 2.4 L KA24DE I4
  • Wheelbase 2525 mm (99.4 in)
  • Length 4498 mm (177.0 in)
  • Width 1727 mm (68.0 in)
  • Height 1288 mm (50.7 in)
  • Curb weight 1253 kg (2762 lb)

The second generation 240SX (aka S14) was created from 1995 to 1998, with most of the contrast to the S13 coming in the form of body differences. Nissan replaced the fastback and convertible, with SE and LE versions of the coupe. The major differences from the first generation were predominately in the body design making it look more like its Japanese market counterpart. However, Nissan did give the newer 240 a two inch wider wheel base and a stiffer suspension.


Nissan owners are true automotive enthusiasts, and they are absolutely loyal to the Nissan market. These same enthusiasts have their own groups...some are tuners, some are ricers and others are drifters. The modifications these enthusiasts do to the 240SX often times depend on what group they are in. Specifically, tuners are more into a "show car" look, therefore their modifications will be along the lines of vertical doors, dash trim kits, neon and carbon fiber parts.


On the other hand, drifters are in a different world from tuners. While they love and respect their 240SX just a much as a tuner, they demand a lot more from the SX than their tuner counterparts. Their modifications often entail engine and performance upgrades that are done in an effort to make drifting easier. Other customizations, such as installing a limited slip differential or coilovers for the suspension, are also utilized by drifters to get a more exhilarating drift experience out of their 240SX. In the unfortunate event of damage to the 240 during drifting, replacing body kits and intercoolers may be necessary. While some modifications are a result of damage, others are directly related to the sport of drifting causing certain stress to be placed on the 240SX. SX owners often find themselves replacing clutches and tires, as I did too! Serious drifters will tell you; however, they do not mind doing these modifications. The thrill of the sport, the recognition from their peers and the prizes involved make these customizations a "necessary evil".

Regardless of what group an enthusiasts fits into, they both have to find a place that they trust to buy aftermarket parts and accessories for their "baby". While there are huge companies out there that have some custom parts and accessories for the 240, most of them are not solely dedicated to the SX, nor do they carry everything a tuner or drifter could dream of. But there is a little piece of paradise, just over the horizon.


The 240SX is a two-door compact car that was introduced to the North American market by Nissan in 1988 for the following model year. It replaced the outgoing 200SX (S12) model. All versions of the 240SX were equipped with the 2.4-liter inline 4 engine (KA24E from 1989–1990 and KA24DE from 1991–1998). Two distinct generations of the 240SX, the S13 (1989–1994) and the S14 (1995–1998), were produced based on the Nissan S platform. The 240SX is closely related to other S platform based vehicles, such as the Japanese-market Silvia and 180SX, and the European-market 200SX.

The first generation of the 240SX can be divided into two distinct versions. Each of these variants came in two distinct body styles: hatchback, which was offered in both base and SE trim, and coupe, which was offered in base, LE and SE trim levels. Both styles shared the same front bodywork as the Japanese-market Nissan 180SX, featuring the sloping front with retracting headlights. This bodywork distinguishes the coupe model from its Japanese-market counterpart, the Silvia, which featured fixed headlights. Both styles in all markets share the same chassis, and with few exceptions, most components and features are identical.

1989 and 1990 model years are powered by a naturally aspirated 140 horsepower (100 kW) 2.4l SOHC KA24E engine with 3 valves per cylinder (instead of the turbo-charged and inter-cooled 1.8-liter DOHC CA18DET offered in Japan and Europe). Four-wheel disc brakes were standard, with antilock brakes available as an option on the SE. Both models were offered with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. "Coupes" offered a Heads-up display (HUD) with a digital speedometer as part of the optional Power Convenience Group. Nissan 240SX convertible

1992 Nissan 240SX S13The 240SX received some updates in 1991. This gave the car an overhaul that included a minor update of the exterior and a new cylinder head. The front bumper was updated and a new "LE" hatchback trim package was added that included leather interior. The SOHC KA24E was replaced by the DOHC KA24DE, now with 4 valves per cylinder, rated at 155 horsepower (116 kW) and 160 foot-pounds (220 N·m). An optional sports package including ABS, a limited slip differential, and Nissan's HICAS four wheel steering was now available on hatchback models. In 1992, a convertible was added to the lineup and was exclusive to the North American market. These vehicles began life in Japan as coupes and were later modified in the California facilities of American Specialty Cars (ASC).  For the 1994 model year, the only available 240SX was a Special Edition convertible equipped with an automatic transmission.

The S13 was known for sharp steering and handling (thanks to front MacPherson struts and a rear multilink suspension) and relatively light weight (2700 lb) but was regarded in the automotive press as being underpowered. The Nissan KA24E engine, while durable, was a heavy iron-block unit that produced meager power for its relatively large size. It was only modestly improved by the introduction of the DOHC version in 1991. These engines are the primary difference between the North American 240SX and the world-market Silvia/180SX/200SX. Other differences include a standard limited slip differential on overseas and Canadian models, available digital climate control in Japan, and manual seat belts standard in Japan and Canada vs. automatic restraint seatbelts in America.

1995 Nissan 240SX The 240SX was completely redesigned in the spring of 1994 as a 1995 model. The hatchback and convertible body styles were eliminated, leaving only the coupe. The wheelbase of the car grew 2 inches and the track width was also increased, while the overall length of the vehicle was slightly shorter than the previous generation. The curb weight of the vehicle decreased by about 80 pounds relative to the previous car. Dual air bags were added and the automatic seatbelts were replaced with common manual type. The pop-up headlights were removed in favor of fixed lamps. Though the general layout remained the same, almost all parts were redesigned to the extent that very few parts are interchangeable. The chassis was changed slightly to increase stiffness (Nissan claimed 50% torsional, 100% bending rigidity increase) and utilized higher rear strut mounts. The fuel tank, previously located at the rear end under the trunk floor, now sat in front of the rear suspension and behind the rear seats.

The base model had 4 lug 15-inch wheels, a softer suspension, no rear sway bar, and no remote trunk opening option. SE and LE models came equipped with 16-inch, 5-lug alloy wheels, a stiffer suspension versus the base model, and a rear sway bar. The LE was basically an upgraded SE model, equipped with leather seats, keyless entry, an antitheft system, and a CD player. Antilock brakes and a viscous limited-slip differential could be had as an optional package to both base and SE/LE models. S14 "Kouki"

1998 Nissan 240SX In 1997 the 240SX received minor updates. Changes were primarily aesthetic, including new projector headlights, front bumper, hood, fenders and revised taillights and center panel. Side skirts became standard on the SE and LE trim level. 1998 marked the end of production for the Nissan 240SX, with no further variations released in America.

Every 240SX was built in Kyūshū, Japan. The last 240SX rolled off the assembly line on July 23, 1998.

Automatic models featured Nissan's "DUET-EA" system, an electronic link between the engine control module (ECM) and the transmission designed to facilitate smoother, more controlled shifts. Many users have been known to circumvent this system however in favor of a more "sports car" feeling to the ride, similar to that of an aggressively shifted manual transmission. This modification was done by simply unplugging the transmission pressure sensor located on the US driver side in the engine bay.

Despite the Nissan 240SX being laid in Nissan's past, it still thrives in the tuning and drifting world as one of the all time best sports cars ever made by Nissan and it will continue to do so well into the future.  It will continue to live on in my memories of a young man finding his way in the world.


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