S13 vs S14: Which One is Better and Why?

So, you want to get a 240SX, but don’t know what one to get? Maybe you are just interested in which one is a better car. Either way, both the S13 and S14 are great cars. Generally speaking, people beat on the S13 chassis more than the S14 chassis. You’ll see plenty of each at any drift event anywhere in the world. But, which one is actually better?

To determine which one might be better we’ll cover the chassis dynamics, looks, price, aftermarket, and factory performance. But, since most of us are on a budget the price will likely be one of the main deciding factors.

S13 vs S14: Chassis

The chassis is one of the most important parts of building a car, whether it be for track or street duty. The S13 chassis is lighter than the S14 chassis, but it’s also much weaker, making suspension tuning very difficult. The suspension geometry of the S13 is also much poorer than the geometry of the S14, making proper tuning even more difficult.

S13 weight: 2600-2700 lbs
S14 weight: 2800-2900 lbs

But, the S13 chassis is already setup for an R33 cross-member, making an RB swap very easy. It can be done on the S14 chassis, but it will require fabrication.

Also Read: 4 Reasons to Buy an S13 Coupe Today

Overall, the S14 chassis is much stiffer and better with its suspension geometry, making it very easy to learn how to drift on. But, the S13 is much lighter and smaller, so if you stiffen up the chassis it can actually be better than the S14 thanks to its weight advantage.

S14 vs S14: Looks

This is the most subjective part of the debate, as each person sees each car differently in their own eyes. Some people prefer the S14, some people prefer the S13, that’s just how it is.

S13vsS142

The S13 came in both a coupe and a hatchback. Some places overseas the S13 coupe was called the “Silvia” and came with an entirely different front clip. The flip-up headlights were replaced with long, horizontal, stationary headlights. The tail lights were also replaced with better-looking ones.

S13vsS143

The S14, however, only came in a coupe. Once again, some places overseas the S14 came with a different front end, and different tail lights. The overseas models had much sharper and more angular headlights, the tail lights were also changed.

Check Out: Why is 240SX Used For Drifting?

Like I said, everyone has different opinions, but I’ve got to say, the S14 Kouki is one incredible looking car. It could pass as a modern sports car no problem.

S13 vs S14: Factory Performance

The engine that you will find under the hood of an S13 or S14 will vary greatly depending on where you live. But here in the US both the S13 and the S14 came with the KA24DE. There is no real difference between the S13’s KA and the S14’s KA other than OBDII for the S14.

KA24 HP: 155hp

If you live outside the US, then the S13 and S14 available to you either has a CA18DET or an SR20DET. Both of which come with a turbocharger, putting them miles ahead of the KA24 despite their lack of displacement. Early models came with the CA18, and older models came with the SR20.

CA18 HP: 170hp
SR20 HP: 205hp

S13 vs S14: Aftermarket

If you plan on buying an S13 or S14, then you probably aren’t planning on keeping it stock. That is of course if you could even find a stock one. Whether you plan on building a street car, drift car, track car, or even a drag car, the aftermarket has parts available for it. However, things like track-focused suspension are kind of like a black art with the S13 and S14 chassis.

RELATED: 4 Things That Make the 2.5RS Awesome

Right off the bat, the S13 has a slight lead in regards to engine swaps. Both  the S13 and S14 chassis have swaps kits for the RB, JZ, UZ, SR, VH, VQ, and LS engine family. However, the S13’s chassis can easily accept the R33 cross member, making the RB series engine a direct bolt in option. The S14 requires an aftermarket swap kit to use an RB engine.

s13update

Other than that, both the S13 and S14 chassis have a plethora of aftermarket parts from body kits to suspension components. Prices for both remain nearly identical and likely will going into the future.

S14 vs S14: Price

This is where it gets kind of hairy. Both the S13 and S14 face the annoying “drift” tax. But both can vary in price greatly depending on the location and condition. I’ve seen a crappy S13 go for $3k and a nice one go for $3k, so prices aren’t all that consistent with these cars.

S13vsS145

But, even with the somewhat inconsistent pricing, there is a difference in price between the S13 and the S14 chassis. The S13 can go anywhere from $500 for a shell, up to $10k for a drift ready machine. But, generally speaking, a running and driving S13 will fetch about $2-4K depending on the condition.

S13vsS144

Also Read: 2JZ vs RB26: Which One is Actually Better?

Compare that to the S14 chassis which sells for a similar $500 for a shell, and $10k for a drift ready car. But, the average S14 will go for about $3k to $5k for a decent S14. Oh, and good luck finding either an S13 or S14 that hasn’t been modified and/or been beat on pretty hard.

S13 price: $2-4k
S14 price: $3-5k

Summary

Both the S13 and the S14 are typically used for the same thing, drifting. But, the S14 has a stiffer chassis and better suspension. This makes it a better platform to start with. If you like to tinker with suspension and chassis stuff an S13 is great, you’ll also save couple hundred pounds by picking the S13. You’ll also save a ton of money by choosing the S13.

I think the S14 is a better daily/weekend drifter, and the S13 is a better-dedicated drifter, solely for the reason that crashes happen a lot in drifting, and I would rather crash a $2k car than a $4k car.

Nissan S13: 4 Reasons Why it’s so Good at Drifting

It seems like every drift event that I attend, or watch online has loads of Nissan S13s. Especially grass roots events like Arizona’s “Drift N’ Drag”. Well, there are quite a few reasons why the S13 chassis is so commonly used in the drifting community, especially by beginners.

Additional 240SX Info on Wikipedia

In this short article we’ll cover why it’s so common in drifting, and why you might want one of your own.

1. S13 Price  

Buying an S13: Nissan made the S13 from 1989 to 1994, and offered a few body styles; a fastback, a coupe, and a convertible. They produced a lot of S13s, and sold them for cheap too. Because of this, prices for them have dropped down to ridiculously low prices. Nicer S13s can been bought for around $6,000, and beaters can be bought from $1,000.

Due to the rise of drifting, prices for S13s have gone up, especially for nicer ones. However, the popularity of drifting has also created a lot of S13s that are so beat down that they are only good for beating on the track, and are really cheap to buy.

Aftermarket Prices: This also applies to parts, since there’s a large demand for aftermarket parts for the S13, the prices for the parts have been driven down. Which means you can build one up for drifting on a pretty tight budget. Professional drifter, Chris Forsberg, bought and built an S13 240SX for $5,000 and took it to a local drift event.

Whether you’re on a $1,000 budget or a $10,000 budget, there is an S13 out there with your name on it. Now is the time to get one before prices rise even further. It’ll become a Miata situation, where all the good ones end up being turned into track cars, and all the crappy ones become expensive.

2. S13 Weight/Size

Weight: The S13 was a pretty lightweight car from the factory, it’s one of its naturally great attributes. It weighs in at about 2,700 lbs stock, with a little bit of weight reduction, it can weigh less than 2,500 lbs. 2,500 lbs is less than a modern Mini Cooper.

If you didn’t already know, lightweight cars are at a significant advantage when it comes to handling. The lower weight also allows for quicker side to side transitions while drifting.

post-4650-0-68370000-1319263290_thumb

Size: The S13 is a fairly small sports car, especially when compared to modern sports cars. This is really important especially when running tandem drifts with your friends. The S13 is really easy to place where you want.

RELATED: RB26 vs 2JZ: Which One is Actually Better?

The small size also makes it feel much faster than it really is. For example a Mini Cooper really isn’t fast at all, but it feels like it is. This isn’t at all important for drifting, but it does make the driving experience that much better.

The low weight and small size really help improve the driving experience of the S13 chassis. In 1990 Motortrend called the 240SX “one of the best handling cars on the road”. If that’s not a testament to how well it the S13 chassis handles, I don’t know what is.

3. S13 Chassis Dynamics

Wheelbase: Wheel base is one of the biggest factors of drifting. Short wheelbase vehicles can change directions, and initiate a drift very quickly. But, if it changes directions unexpectedly you have to be fast enough to react.

Long wheelbase vehicles are slow to change directions, making it sluggish to initiate a drift. But, the long wheelbase helps with mid drift stability, which is crucial for learning how to drift. S13s have a fairly long wheelbase, making it very forgiving and easy to learn on. But the wheelbase isn’t so long that it’s sluggish to change directions.

community_image_1411512862

Balance: From the factory, the S13 240SX is a very balanced sports car. Coming in at around a 55/45 weight distribution, it’s fairly balanced from front to rear. The dynamics of the chassis itself really caters to “spirited” driving.

RELATED: S13 vs S14: Which One is Actually Better?

The weight balance is also important for drifting. The further back the weight is the further back the rotation point is. For example, the 350Z’s rotation point is about where the center console would be on the interior. The good weight balance of the S13 chassis can help it transition easier mid drift.

These things arguably make the S13 chassis the best chassis to learn how to drift on. They also help make it a championship winning chassis, which is a further testament to its true capabilities.

4. S13 Modifications

Much like Foxbody Mustangs, the S13 chassis is kind of like a lego set, you can make anything you want out of them. Want a drift car? Maybe a street car? What about an autocross beast? You can do all of the above with ease with the S13 chassis.

Body: You have many options to choose from when modifying the body. You can start  with a coupe, fastback, or convertible. Kouki headlights/tailight, S13 front end, S14 front end, S15 front end, Silvia conversion. The ever popular body kit, maybe even a wide body kit if you’re crazy enough.

S13 Twin Turbo

Engines: There’s a host of engines that are nearly direct bolt in to choose from, the stock 240SX KA24DE is a reliable and simple little engine, but barely makes any power. A common swap is an SR20DET, out of the S13 from Japan and elsewhere, but lack of reliability can be a problem. Other engines such as the RB series, 1JZ, 2JZ, are pretty common too. Ultimately if you want big power and awesome reliability you can’t go wrong with a Chevy LS.

Also read: 5 Reasons Why Chevy LS Engines Are Awesome

Suspension: This is where most S13 owners spend their money. Coil overs can be bought for really cheap, and if you end up getting really serious with drifting you can buy a full wisefab kit for crazy amounts of steering angle.

With such a large aftermarket backing, the possibilities are endless when it comes to modifications, all the way down to gauge colors. I mean seriously, need an exhaust manifold and downpipe for your single turbo converted 1JZ swapped S13? Consider it done. That’s how insanely immense the S13 aftermarket is.

Summary

I think the reason that the Nissan S13 240SX is so popular for drifting is mostly because of its chassis dynamics. It’s a super easy car to learn to drift on because of its wheelbase, size, and balance. It also helps that they’re dirt cheap to buy, and modify.

Check out: How to Import a Car to the US

The S13 chassis also used by some of the most elite drifters in the world, it’s a championship winning chassis, which furthers proves that the S13 chassis is perfect for drifting.