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Nissan 240SX

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Nissan 240SX
1990 240sx Quarter View.JPG
1990 Nissan 240SX XE Hatchback (S13) in the USA.
AssemblyJapan: Kanda, Fukuoka (Nissan Motor Kyūshū)
Body and chassis
ClassSports car
LayoutFR layout
PlatformNissan S platform
PredecessorNissan 200SX

The Nissan 240SX is a sports car that was introduced to the North American market by Nissan in 1989 for the following model year. It replaced the outgoing 200SX (S12) model. Most of the 240SX were equipped with the 2.4-liter inline 4 engine (KA24E from 1989 to 1990 and KA24DE from 1990 to 1998). The KA24E had a single overhead cam and KA24DE had dual overhead cams. Two distinct generations of the 240SX, the S13 (1989–1994) the S14 (1994-1998) 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. Although their names are similar, the 240SX is unrelated to the 240Z or the 280ZX.

Although long out of production, it is still popular in drifting and among tuners. However, due to the popularity of the S-chassis in drifting competitions, prices for vehicles and parts have skyrocketed, this is sometimes known as "drift tax". The Nissan 240SX is featured in numerous video games including Midnight Club and Forza Motorsport.

First generation (S13; 1989–1994)[edit]

First generation
Red 240SX II.jpg
The facelift model Nissan 240SX SE Hatchback (S13).
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
3-door hatchback
2-door convertible
  • 4-speed automatic
  • 5-speed manual
Wheelbase2,474 mm (97.4 in)
Length4,521 mm (178.0 in)
Width1,689 mm (66.5 in)
Height1,290 mm (50.8 in)
Curb weight1,224 kg (2,698 lb)

The very first generation of the 240SX can be divided into two distinct versions, both having the sporting advantage of rear wheel drive standard. Each of these variants came in two distinct body styles: hatchback, which was offered in both base and SE trim, LE trim, and coupe, which was offered in base, XE, LE and SE. Both styles shared the same front bodywork as the Japanese-market Nissan 180SX, featuring the sloping front with pop-up 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. The 240SX is a popular car in the sport of drifting due to its long wheelbase,[1] low cost, ample power, light weight, well balanced chassis and abundant aftermarket support.

1991 - 1993 Nissan 240SX photographed in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
1991-1993 240SX LE Coupe

1989 and 1990 models are powered by a naturally aspirated 140 hp (100 kW), 152 lb⋅ft (206 N⋅m) 2,389 cc (2.4 L; 145.8 cu in) SOHC KA24E engine with 3 valves per cylinder (instead of the turbo-charged and intercooled 1.8-liter DOHC CA18DET offered in Japan and Europe in the 180SX and Silvia). 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.

The 240SX received some updates in 1991. The matte silver, teardrop wheels were replaced by polished aluminium 7-spoke wheels that had better brake cooling properties but more drag. The nose was smoothed out by getting rid of the non-functional slots and gave back the aerodynamic efficiencies lost by the wheels. This gave the car an overhaul that included a minor update of the exterior and a new cylinder head. 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 bhp (157 PS; 116 kW) at 5,600 rpm and 160 lb⋅ft (217 N⋅m) at 4,400 rpm of torque. An optional sports package including ABS, a limited slip differential, and Nissan's HICAS four wheel steering was now available on hatchback models.

The facelift model Nissan 240SX SE Fastback (S13) in the USA.

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 engine, while durable and relatively torquey, was a heavy iron-block truck unit that produced meager power for its relatively large size. It was only modestly improved by the change to the DOHC version in 1991. Furthermore, despite the modest power output, relatively low vehicle weight, and good aerodynamics, gas mileage was mediocre. These engines are the primary difference between the North American 240SX and the world-market Silvia/180SX/200SX. The KA24DE did not come turbocharged while the SR20DET did. The U.S. version was regarded as a highly capable sports car that only needed a better engine. 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.


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).[2] For the 1994 model year, the only available 240SX was a Special Edition convertible equipped with an automatic transmission. The US 240SX convertible differed from the Japanese market version, in that the Japanese market model had a power top cover boot, whereas the US market model had manually installed boot cover once the top is down. It was also produced in Japan, rather than by ASC.

Nissan 240SX convertible in the USA.

Second generation (S14; 1994–1998)[edit]

Second generation
Nissan 240SX (S14)
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
Engine2.4 L KA24DE I4 (gasoline)
  • 4-speed automatic
  • 5-speed manual
Wheelbase2,525 mm (99.4 in)
Length4,498 mm (177.1 in)
Width1,727 mm (68.0 in)
Height1,288 mm (50.7 in)
Curb weight1,253 kg (2,762.4 lb)

The 240SX was released 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 in (51 mm) 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 increased by about 80 lb (36 kg) relative to the 1994 model.[3] 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. The cupholders were also removed in this model of the Nissan 240SX. 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)[citation needed] and utilized higher rear strut mounts. The fuel tank, previously located at the rear end under the trunk floor, now sits in front of the rear suspension and behind the rear seats.

The base model had 4-lug, 15-inch wheels, a softer suspension, and no rear sway bar. The base model had several options and features available to be fitted to the car such as leather seats, ABS, & a viscous limited-slip differential. SE and LE models came equipped with 5-lug, 16-inch alloy wheels, a stiffer suspension than the base model, and a rear sway bar. The LE was basically an upgraded SE model, but with more standard equipment such as 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.

The facelift model Nissan 240SX (S14).

In 1996, the 1997 model year 240SX received minor updates. The different looks of the S-Chassis are referred to as before change "Zenki" and after change "Kouki". Changes were mostly 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 North America. The later generation of the 240SX suffered in sales due to the competition from other car manufacturers and consumers at the time choosing more practical vehicles, such as SUVs. Every 240SX was built in Kyūshū, Japan. The last 240SX rolled off the assembly line on July 23, 1998.


Nissan 240SX IMSA GT racing car.

The IMSA GTU Nissan 240SX was originally piloted [see image] by vintage Datsun and Nissan racer Bob Leitzinger through the late 1980s and 1990s. It is currently owned and raced by Philip Mendelovitz. The tube chassis was custom built for IMSA GTU class racing. From Speedhunters: "The roofline and taillight lenses are some of the only parts this thing shares with a normal S13. [4]

The engine is Nissan's VG30 V6 typically found in the Nissan Z and D21 truck. It is naturally aspirated and dry sumped, and a United States engine builder who managed to help the single overhead cam V6 to make about 340 horsepower.

Chassis code LR-001, seen right, was entered in nearly 80 different events during its career, and it helped Nissan earn four-straight manufacturers championship wins between 1991 and 1994. (Speedhunters)

The engine tuning system utilizes a Sony Walkman to write engine performance metrics to tape. These tapes are fed to a special computer to change fueling, timing, and other tuning parameters.


The Nissan 240SX has been a popular choice in the drifting community. Although it was never marketed to the drifting community during its release, it was adopted in Japan during the golden age of drifting. It was chosen for its balanced weight distribution of 55/45 front to rear, and its overall lightweight RWD layout.

Some believe the Nissan 240SX to be a beginner drift car, with more power available in the other Nissan offerings. Currently, in the United States, the 240SX is a sought after collectors item.

Two 240SXs Drifting in Tandem


  1. ^ Silvestro, Brian (January 28, 2021). "1995 Nissan 240SX In-Period Video Review by MotorWeek". Road & Track. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  2. ^ "ASC, American Sunroof Corporation, ASC Custom Craft, Heinz C. Prechter, ASC Holdings, American Specialty Cars, ASC/McLaren -". Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  3. ^ "1995 Nissan 240SX Road Test: Performance, Engine, Transmission, Suspension, Brakes, and Handling". Archived from the original on 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  4. ^ Garrett, Mike. "Cool, S13 Bro: The IMSA GTU 240SX". Retrieved April 8, 2022.

Works cited[edit]

  • Evanow, Pete (11 October 2005). Z: 35 Years of Nissan's Sports Car. Motorbooks. ISBN 9780760321812.