March 3, 2020, by Doug Breithaupt
The Nissan Silvia has always played third fiddle to the Z Cars and Skyline or GT/R models. Now that Hot Wheels is close to exhausting all the low hanging fruit in the Japanese/JDM vehicle orchard, the Silvia has become the ripe for picking.
Hot Wheels has not neglected the Silvia in the past. This might get confusing. You see, Nissan has given the Silvia different names for different generations and for different international markets. You might find it as a Silvia or as a 200SX, 180SX, 240SX, Gazelle or a variety of other names. In Sweden, the Silvia name was not used because it was the queen’s name! The history of the Silvia dates from 1964 to 2002 and from the CSP311 to the S15. That history is easy to find and I’ll let you dig further if you are interested. My purpose here is to review the Silvia models in small-scale.
With eight Silvia-based models now available from Hot Wheels, every generation except the second generation S10 is represented. Four of these models have been introduced since 2017. The earliest, a S110 Nissan 200SX was produced in 1981. There were few Japanese cars from Hot Wheels in this era, but they clearly recognized the growing popularity of sporty models like the 200SX that offered value, quality, performance and economy. The second Silvia is an S12 model introduced in 1986 for the ‘Flip-Outs’ series. It is clearly identified as a 200SX in the painted graphics but not on the base. It can be a challenge to find one of these in decent shape as they were designed to be crashed into a wall and then flipped via a spring-loaded base extension. This model was never used in any other series. The Crack-ups series from 1985-86 also offered a generic casting often identified as a 200SX but I have not included it here. It took 20 years for the next Silvia to appear in 2006: it is a chop-top drift racer version of the Silvia S15 and represents a real race car from Japan. In 2015, the 1996 Nissan 180SX Type X was offered and the positive response from collectors to this S13 has led to the four new Silvia models since 2017.
The most exciting new Silvia model may be the CSP311. This represents the original Silvia introduced in 1964 as the Datsun Coupe 1500. The design was done with help from Count Albrecht Goertz who is also credited with the BMW 507 and Toyota 2000GT. The CSP311’s appearance is considered similar to the Lancia Fulvia Coupe. The resemblance of the CSP311 and Lancia Fulvia can be see by comparing models from Konami and Hot Wheels to several Fulvia examples from Playart.
Only 554 CSP311 Silvia models were built, mostly in 1965. The example from Hot Wheels is quite good, right down to the correct color. I like the white-wall tires, but the wheels are not very close to those actually used.
A comparison with the same model from Konami in slightly smaller scale shows how the correct wheels should look. The Konami is much more delicate and not designed for any play while the example from Hot Wheels is still a toy car, albeit a very nice collector version.
Please understand, I think Hot Wheels deserves considerable credit for offering this Silvia model. Recognition of the need for these classic cars in small-scale is truly appreciated and Hot Wheels and Mattel deserve our thanks.
Three other Silvia models have joined the Hot Wheels line in the past three years. They represent the S13, S14 and S15 generations and all are closely based on the actual production cars. The S13 is new for 2020 and represents the notchback model. The S14 has 2018 on the base and this is the second Fast & Furious release. The S15 is dated 2017 but is my first example and provides a stock counterpoint to the S15 racer from 2006.
Tomica has also produced a variety of Nissan Silvia models. My Tomica collection is far from and will never be complete, but I do have some examples. The S12 castings are of particular interest as at the time, Tomica was active in the North American market and offered both Silvia and 200SX graphics on their models. In 1986 the S12 was offered as an RS-X Turbo with an altered design. Tomica offered the RS-X model. The S13 Silvia was produced by Tomica and was also included in a 1998 boxed set for the Initial D franchise.
Other toy car makers have provided a mix of Nissan Silvia models over the years. Yat Ming did two generations, the S12 2000 ZSE-X and S13 Fastback. Jada also offered a drift version of the S13 Fastback. Joy Ride is not as well known, but they produced a drift version of the S15. Finally, CM of Japan did an impressive model of the S12 240RS Rally car in authentic livery. This is not really a toy car as it is quite delicate and represents the 1983 entry for the Rallye Monte Carlo. CM models are excellent and they offered many interesting rally cars like this one.
I still need to add a Silvia S10 to my collection in order to have all the generations included. It would not be a surprise to see one from a Hot Wheels in the near future. Tomica has produced the S10, but I have yet to find one for a reasonable price. I have included an image of one that is currently for sale online.