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Underrated Lookers: The ’95-’96 Nissan 240SX

October 31, 2011 by Matt

Nissan 240SX 1995 1996 S14 Silvia Stock OEM Unmodified Red

I include this one less for its oversaturated popularity nowadays, where the car has effectively become the Honda Civic of the drift crowd, but more for the fact that during its original model run, it was widely considered to be a snoozer of a design.

Popularly known in tuning circles as the S14 (Nissan’s internal model code), its manufacturer took the tired wannabe-sports-car shape of its precessor the S13 and “Skyline-ized” it, injecting a considerable amount of ’95-’98 R33 Skyline GT-R, which some consider to be the most graceful incarnation of that legendary car. Never imported to the US, the Skyline wasn’t widely known, and thus the S14 redesign left many enthusiasts scratching their heads, wondering why Nissan had excised all the “wedge” out of the profile in favor of a handsome, upscale—but still sporty—look.

Nissan 240SX 1995 1996 S14 Silvia Stock OEM Unmodified Green Blue Turquoise

I should specify that my admiration for the styling only extends through the ’96 model year. Nissan refreshed the 240SX for ’97, and in the process made the bizarre “change for change’s sake” decision to torture the headlight and grille area of the fascia, completely jerking it out of conformity with the rest of the car’s proportions. Mercifully, the tweaked S14 was only with us for one year after that; it departed our shores after ’98.

For those two shining years, though, Nissan had a crisp, tidy-looking coupe in their lineup. It’s a shame that in the ensuing decade and a half, the 240SX became a poster car for the drift and Japanese tuner community, and finding an unmolested example is far and away the exception rather than the rule. Searching for pictures for this article, for instance, took me much longer than it usually does simply because every image I found depicted an S14 with some combination of hideous body kit, sketchy wheels and aircraft wing spoiler, festooned with graphics and logos. The picture above was the most stock rear view I could find, and even it features an ill-fitting, ugly aftermarket muffler. For those who appreciate the finesse of the OEM car’s design, we can only hope, as with the FD RX-7, that the tuner wolves move on to fresh meat—a more recent model—and leave whatever remains of the stock S14 240SX population alone.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series featuring cars whose design I find appealing, in contrast to mainstream opinion. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Aesthetics, Nissan, Underrated Lookers

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