Your Buddy's Shitty Nissan Used To Be As Fast As A Ferrari

The Nissan 240SX, when it was new, was faster from 0-60 than a Ferrari. Well, that's not quite true. There are two caveats, if you'll let me explain.

Nissan's sporty coupe of the late '80s/early '90s boom years is known by its hardcore fans as the S13. That was the company's internal designation for that generation of the Silvia, which was sold as the Silvia, the 180SX, the 200SX, and the 240SX.


We in America got that car as the 240SX. Its key feature (if you can call it that) was a 2.4 liter KA four cylinder with either a single overhead cam or two. This meant just 140 or 155 horsepower, respectively, even with all that displacement.

What other Nissans got the KA engine? Their trucks. Yeah, it wasn't exactly a sports car engine.

In Europe, the S13 debuted with just one engine: the CA18DET. It was just 1.8 liters, but it was turbocharged and intercooled, with four valves per cylinder compared to the early American's three. This added up to 171 horsepower, seen here in this under-the-hood shot.


There were other goodies that the Europeans got standard, like a better radiator and an oil cooler from NISMO.

All that meant CAR Magazine recorded the car sprinting to 60 miles an hour in 6.4 seconds. CAR got that number in a 1989 comparison test (read the whole thing here) that the 200SX won, the first victory for a Nissan in the publication's history.


In a little caption to a small photo, CAR pointed out that the "Nissan will top 140mph and outsprint a Ferrari Mondial to a mile a minute."

I double checked this. I can't say it's exactly true.


Let me start by explaining the detention note of a vehicle that was the Ferrari Mondial.

The Mondial was a mid engined four-seater grand tourer built in the '80s. It wasn't exactly Ferrari's most shining moment. Originally sold with a very weak 200-odd horsepower V8 carried over from the 308, the Mondial started out with an absolutely appalling 9.4 second 0-60 time. Ferrari actually worked the engine up to 3.2 liters and a claimed 270 horsepower by the time CAR got a hold of one in 1988 (read that whole review here).


That car managed to get from 0-60 as quickly as the Nissan at 6.4 seconds.

Then it burst an oil leak, sprayed itself all over the engine and rear window, and had to be retired before the review could be completed. But that's beside the point.


The main thing is that in the late '80s, you could get a Nissan that was as fast as a Ferrari.

And your buddy's rusty old 240SX is just an engine swap away from that kind of glory.


Photo Credits: Nissan, Ferrari

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