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Is this a 4-Door S13 Silvia? Not Your Usual Nissan Build...

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So you probably clicked on this thread, scratching your head :wtf:, thinking,

"What in the world do you mean a 4-Door S13?"
"Who in their right mind would ruin a Silvia by adding an extra set of doors?"
"What are you smoking bro?"

Well, fear not... I didn't buy an S13 and ruin it by adding extra doors... INSTEAD... I picked up something rather hard to find Stateside.

Before I get into what I got, let me give you a brief backstory...

So, I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia about 1 year ago to teach and have enjoyed every minute of it.  The car scene out here is crazy!  You have everything from S15 Silvias, R34 GTR Skylines, and every other JDM Fan Boy's wet dream could imagine.  When I first moved here, I was geeking out like anyone else would probably do.  It made me miss my JDM S2000 I had when I was living in Panama City, Panama previous to this.  I started attending local meets, then car shows, and started meeting the locals... but there was one chassis in particular that caught my eye that I had never really known much about until now.

That chassis is none other than the A31 Nissan Cefiro...

Now, if you're like me before I moved here, you might be thinking, what the heck does a Nissan Cefiro have to do with being a 4-Door S13 Silvia?  Well, I'll answer that for ya.

The 1988-1994 Nissan Cefiro shares the SAME suspension setup as the S13 chassis.  I mean, it's practically identical!  All of the suspension arms are interchangeable, the differentials are identical, aftermarket strut tower bars are interchangeable, hell, even the subframes are the same in the rear!  

What's really cool about it is that whatever you can do from the S14->S13, like the 5 lug swap, will ALSO swap over.  Z32/R32 Brakes swap... almost anything you can imagine will swap over.  Now, don't get me wrong, there are of course some differences, such as the drivetrain, motor, exhaust, etc. but essentially, it's basically a 4-door Nissan Silvia.

In Japan, and other eastern Asian countries, the Cefiro actually comes standard with the SAME engine as the R32 Nissan Skyline GTS-T... the RB20DET.  A lot of the same engine components are interchangeable with the R32 as well as the chassis itself so things like seat rails to even the dashboard will swap over into the Cefiro (with some minor tweaks).  

Ok ok... enough of the history lesson of what a Cefiro is... this isn't Wikipedia, it's a build thread so let's show the damn car already!

Fast-forward to May of this year from when I moved to Malaysia 11 months ago, I picked up this lovely specimen of a Nissan Cefiro.  It's a 1991... BUT... and this is a big BUT... it's not the cool RB20DET drift machine... instead it's Grandpa's grocery getting n/a RB20E... that's right... no turbo... no 5-speed... :wan:

The good news is... it's not all beat to hell, it's COMPLETELY stock, and it's basically  screaming for a complete makeover.  The bad news... well, the engine has seen better days.  Let's start off this build story with some photos of when I picked her up...


To when I got her home...


As you can see from some of the photos, the body is in great shape.  The wheels are rather 'meh' but will be changed in due time when my 5-lug swap comes in.  The motor runs, but runs like crap.  Granted, I've already been tinkering with this car for the last month and a bit since I bought it so it's been cleaned up a bit.

First thing I did was rip out the old spark plugs to see if I wasn't getting spark.  This is how each of them looked when I pulled them out of the motor:

Cylinder 1:
Cylinder 2:
Cylinder 3:
Cylinder 4:
Cylinder 5:
Cylinder 6:

They looked pretty fouled up and smelled badly of gasoline.  I've heard that's not so uncommon with the RB motors with the blow by issues they have but I still felt it better to swap them out along with a new set of spark plug wires (since the RB20E runs off of a distributor and now coil packs.

I ended up replacing them with a set of NGK Copper Plugs (Part # BCPR5ES-11) and a set of NGK Spark Plug Wires (Part # RC-NX81A).  


I ended up going with copper plugs as they were a lot cheaper and good for up to 20,000km which I don't plan on putting on this motor anyway before I swap it out.  I figured while I was at it, I'd swap in a new PIT WORK Nissan Fuel Filter too (Part # AY505-NS004).

That seemed to help out a bit.  The car was able to turn over but the idle now was pretty high after it warmed up but I figured I'd tackle that one later.  I took advantage and took the Cefiro out for a quick photo session with my buddy Dev's Cefiro too:


Fast forward a week later and the alternator decided to take a crap on me.  In all honesty, it was something Dev and I suspected was wrong with my Cefiro from the get go.  We were diagnosing potential issues that could have been wrong with the car and when we were checking the voltage on the fuel pump, we noticed it wasn't getting enough juice.  We figured it was down to either a bad pump, bad wiring, or a bad alternator.  However, the battery was replaced by the previous owner in February so I didn't think it was that.  

Luckily, my buddy Dev has an RB25DET ser. 2 motor in his Cefiro and a spare RB25DET sitting in his garage.  We hypothesized that the alternators SHOULD be interchangeable since the blocks are basically identical being RB motors...


We took a look at the part numbers and the RB25DET ser. 2 one comes up as: 23100-59S01


and the RB20E one is:


Sure enough, the bolt patterns are identical and the connectors as well.  Everything was all plug and play.  However, I did have to pick up a slightly larger accessory belt as the pulley is just a tad bigger on the RB25 alternator.  A nice little upgrade too as the RB25 is quite beefy next to the RB20E one.  Once we got it on, the car cranked right up, still had the high idle issue but it was certainly better than before.

The car was finally driving comfortably.  I felt confident that it was ready to hit the streets.  So, in the mean time, I had been looking into alternative dashboards for the Cefiro.  Since mine has a nice crack on the top, much like where the S13 ones crack on the instrument cluster hood, I figured it was time to see what else was out there.  Here in Malaysia, it's quite common for owners to swap in R32 dashes or R33 dashes.  With the R32 ones, they pretty much bolt up no problem and almost all of the accessories are plug and play.  However, I'm not a fan of how the door cards line up with it.  For the R33 dashes, the owners tend to go that route since it makes the RB25 swap wiring pretty much plug and play but again, it doesn't line up too well with the door cards.  Now, I could have gone the route of getting another Cefiro one but they're really hard to find in good shape here.  So... I stumbled across a dash swap set for sale locally here that I HAVE seen done twice... Once online in New Zealand and another local guy here.

In the end, I ended up electing this swap as I actually am quite pleased with how well it lines up with the door cards:


This particular set came off of an NA 5-Speed S15 front clip.  It came with most everything I will need to make the swap.  From what I read from the guy in NZ who did the swap, it only requires a bit of trimming around the pillars in order for it to fit so fingers crossed!  I still need to give it a good scrubbing as it's been sitting for who knows how long.  It's not in perfect condition but for now, it'll work.  I can always replace some of the scratched pieces later with newer ones.

Fast forward to where we are now.  The car was driving nicely for a few days until out of nowhere, it started to bog really badly and lose power.  I first noticed it on the incline of my parking garage.  It's not the gas level as I had filled the tank a few days prior to the bogging issues.  It's not the MAF (not that I think) as I also replaced it with one the previous owner gave me.  I also used MAF cleaner on it to clean it out before I swapped it over.  

This leads me to my previous thought before I changed the alternator.  Either the wiring is bad or the pump is bad.  So, I went ahead and pulled the pump.  I fully expected to find the dirtiest fuel pump ever.  To my surprise, I found out that it was already changed with an aftermarket Bosch fuel pump.  I compared it to the OEM one that I bought when I initially thought it was the pump to compare the size difference:


As you can see, the pump is quite a bit smaller but probably flows better than the OEM one.  In fact, I was checking some other threads on S13/S14 owners that hard wire their aftermarket pumps because the wiring just can't maintain the constant amount of voltage required to power those pumps.  THAT could be why my voltage was off when I checked it initially... well that and the crappy alternator it had.  I'm thinking the guy put in an aftermarket pump because it was readily available but the wiring isn't able to maintain the constant power it needs to power it.  

As it sits right now, the pump is about ready to get swapped in.  I just purchased everything I need to hard wire the fuel pump to a separate relay.  I'll be swapping it in on Sunday so if all goes well... the Cefiro should be alive and running!

Stay tuned for an update!!

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If anyone wants to see the build take place, I do have a YouTube channel where I am documenting the build, plus life in general over here in Malaysia.  You can see the Skyline meets I've attended, drift events, etc.


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A couple days ago, my buddy and I swapped in the new OEM Nissan fuel pump to replace that tiny Bosch one that it had.  I know high flow pumps, like Walboro, tend to be smaller and flow higher but man, this thing looks like it was made for a smaller car.  Honestly, the more I did into the car, I'm finding so many Jerry-rigged things with this car it's unbelievable.  Let me start off by showing the size of the pumps side by side off of the sending unit to give you some perspective:


That is crazy!  It's so tiny.  So I gathered up some of the materials I'd be using to change it out and throw it onto the fuel sending unit.  Not pictured are the new OEM clamps.


So, I threw the fuel pump into the car and my buddy and I hardwired it up to a relay that's connected to the battery.  The fuel pump now runs like a champ!  BUT... there's still a bad misfire going on with the motor.  I just can't seem to win!  Now, as you know, I changed the spark plugs, the spark plug wires, and I even messed around with the timing a bit which seemed to help the idling problem it had but it's still misfiring.  The only thing left I could think of was maybe the distributor cap and rotor.  I went ahead and removed it and to my surprise... this is what I saw:


That cap and rotor look DONE!  Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if that thing hadn't been changed once in its lifetime.  That rotor especially looks so corroded and worn down that I'm surprised it even starts!  I quickly went ahead and ordered a new OEM set from Nissan to replace them.  Now, it's just the waiting game.

Edited by DJ8684

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I vlogged the whole thing if you want to check out the video:



Edited by DJ8684

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I vlogged the whole thing if you want to check out the video:


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Just a quick update on the engine.  I ordered a new distributor cap and rotor for the Cefiro along with an inner gasket seal.  Here are the parts I ordered:




Something to take note that I wasn't sure of when I ordered them... the rotor and the distributor cap came with new hardware which was nice.  I had ordered a 'screw kit' that came with all the bolts for the distributor setup separately which turned out to be an unnecessary purchase but ah well... more screws for the misc. collection.  I took some side by side comparison shots to show you how important it is to keep up on basic maintenance.  Clearly, the previous owner hadn't changed these parts in God knows how long.  Check em out:












If you look at the contact points on the old distributor, they were shaved down by at least a cm or 2 which would easily explain some of the misfiring problems. 

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So, I threw the cap and rotor into the car.  Here are some pics of that process.  Just a couple notes, the car does have some nasty oil leakage.  You can see it on the valve cover.  I wanted to pressure wash the motor and degrease the hell out of it but I haven't had it running reliably enough to take it out of my parking garage to be able to do so.  Also, if you take note, there is also a broken clip going into the CAS. The previous owner thought it was a smart idea to just plug the pins into the connector.  Another possible issue that could be causing problems with the spark.  I did receive a new set of clips to change this connector and a couple other ones I found like this. 


Here is the car without its cap.  You can see the CAS there.  If you do this as well, I highly recommend getting that gasket in the parts pic I posted above.  Mine was as hard as a rock when I removed it. 




The new rotor:





And the new cap:






AND... after all that... the car still had a damn misfire.  It would still run roughly.  The idle was a bit better which was nice but it was still missing.  I then started thinking maybe vaccuum leak.  Found the PCV valve hose was completely cracked all the way through so I trimmed the piece that was broken and reattached the hose.  NOW, the car won't even crank over... WTF! 

So, at this point... I'm left with 2 options... Option A... keep throwing money at this worthless NA motor to try and hope for the best.... OR Option B... change the engine with a turbo one.  Granted, the motor I want to put in it is quite a bit more expensive over here in Malaysia and I may just have to wait to put that one in.  So.... I may just say F it and pick up an RB25 and install it.  It's quite a bit cheaper over here as lots of people import them and put them in their Cefiros and R32 Skyline GTS-Ts.  I was considering RB20 since it was more plug and play but literally a $100 more and I can get the RB25.  To me it just makes sense to put a cool motor into it rather than wasting money on parts that aren't doing the job.  What do you guys think?

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