S13 Silvia Front End Conversion
- Demon
version 1.0


For
S13 owners, one of the best front end conversions available is the S13 Silvia front end swap. This is mainly because it utilizes OEM components that give you the benefit of a superior fit and finish compared to most all aftermarket pieces. The S13 Silvia front end is also an interesting look because it is not seen too often in the United States, so it is definitely a sort of rarity. Some people usually decide to perform the S13 Silvia front end swap as a way of setting their car apart from other 240s, while in this case, it was simply as a means to fixing a front end that was damaged in an accident.

Following are several illustrated steps to aid you in performing your own front end conversion. It must be noted that this is not really a swap for the novice, even though most all of the components do swap over directly. There is still a fair amount of work involved, especially with the splicing of several wires to hook up some of the lights. This is also simple work, but should not be attempted by someone who has no knowledge of their vehicle's electrical system, or electrical systems in general.

This is what we are starting off with. The subject vehicle had been in a somewhat major front end accident, effectively destroying the front bumper, fenders, right headlight, and hood. The rope was used to hold the hood down so it could be driven over to my place.
You can see how much the hood had tented. This is with the hood pushed down and fastened with the rope.
Another shot of the side that took the brunt of the impact. One can tell from the extent of the exterior damage that there would be some surprises hiding under the hood.
And this is what was under the hood. The radiator brace was twisted and pushed back several inches. Not seen in the pic is the crumpling of the right inner fender sheetmetal. The red arrows are pointing to what I will be referring to as the vertical brackets from this point on. Also seen are the two top bolts that hold the vertical brackets to the radiator brace.
The very first step is the easiest: remove the hood. It is held on with four bolts. It is best to have at least one other person help you with the removal of the hood as it is not heavy, but quite large and cumbersome. Unplug the windshield washer hose from the hood before removing it completely.
Next, remove the headlight assemblies. There are two "hidden" bolts that can be reached easily if you remove the headlamps and look at the car head-on. Use a long extension. The bolts are shown by the red arrows.
With the headlight assemblies out of the way, you can remove the front bumper assembly. It is held on to the front of the fenders with a series of fasteners, and to the frame rails with a separate nut and bolt on each side. With all these removed, you can slide the bumper forward and off.
Now it's time to remove the fenders. There are a series of bolts along the top edge, several that can only be reached through the front door jamb, some more on the under-side, and a single one that is in the front-most point that will require some finesse to get to. Disassemble and remove the plastic inner fender liners along with the fenders. Also unplug the harness going to the signal light in the fender. Here's the now bare front end.
This isn't a recommended step but I felt it deserved a pic. To help initiate the pulling of the rad brace back into position, I used the hood "latch" rope tied to the back of another S13 and put the subject car into reverse. The rest of the body work was done with hammers and dollies. Note that the Silvia fender has already been installed (installation is the reverse of removal of the USDM fender).
no pic yet
Install the Silvia vertical brackets to the same three attachment points as the USDM vertical brackets (two bolts on top, and one on the bottom). And then install the Silvia bumper. The steel core unit is almost exactly identical to the USDM unit, so installation is, like with the fenders, the reverse of removal.
The front bumper signal lamps are similar in the USDM and JDM Silvia bumper. So you can remove the lamps along with holders and harness from your USDM bumper and screw it into the Silvia front lens assemblies.
The holders will screw right in place. And of course they'll also plug right in since they are your original USDM units.
You will have to locate the plugs that you removed from the side signal lights that were on the original USDM fenders, stretch them a bit by hand, and plug them right into the Silvia corner lamps. The second light in the corner lamps will be addressed later. Do not fully install/seat the corner lamps yet. Just let them hang around for now.
Now it's time to tackle the headlight wiring. You will hopefully have at least the plug section that's attached to the back of the Silvia headlight assemblies as seen in the pic (the plug connected to the three, colored wires). The female plug on the left is the USDM plug that attaches to the back of the sealed headlamps.
In almost all cases, the two plugs will mate together pefectly, and require just a little pulling back of the rubber flange to keep them snug. I have, however, come across at least one set of Silvia headlights that used a different plug, and in such cases (or if your headlight assemblies are missing the plugs), you will have to cut and splice the wires. There's only three, so it is a simple operation.
no pic yet
The headlight assemblies are attached on the outside to the fenders with two nuts, and on the inside with two bolts to the vertical brackets. This is where it is important to have the OEM brackets, or if those are unavailable, have VERY STURDY custom-made brackets. A flimsy bracket will allow the lights to sag, and shift, and creak over bumps, etc.
no pic yet
With the headlights firmly attached, you can return to the corner lamps. The front signal lights on the corner lamps will need to be spliced into another source since there is no provision for them. You can get creative with this and wire it either into the parking light (so that they'll come on with the parking lights), or turn signals (so that they'll flash with the signals), headlights, etc. To attach the corner lamps, put them near the position they are supposed to be resting in, and then give them a gentle tap, pushing them towards the back of the car. This will wedge the tab into the fender, and settle the metal ball-and-socket attachment between the corner lamp and headlight assemblies. A small phillips screw then holds the unit in place.
no pic yet
To attach the OEM Silvia grille, you will just need to insert the bottom plastic tabs into the corresponding holes on the headlight assemblies. Then push back to snap in the upper tabs also into the headlight assemblies, and you are done. The R32-style grille in this install was attached with nuts and bolts, as are most aftermarket Silvia grilles. Now you can finally reinstall the Silvia hood, and reattach the windshield washer hose. Adjust the hood as needed before tightening it all the way down.
You can now reinstall the miscellaneous items such as the plastic fender liners. To attach them to the "shorter" Silvia front bumper, you will have to remove the front-most part that is actually just held on with several metal staples. You can see the crescent-shaped front part to be removed in this pic.
Shot of the completed conversion, minus the grille.
And a side view of the complete swap. The car has the potential to look very OEM and low-key if you color-match all the panels to the rest of the car.
For the next several shots, the left-side fog light was not yet hooked up. But this is another light that will have to be spliced into an existing circuit, or on its own. Again, you can get creative with this light. It is suggested that you run it off its own circuit through a switch (one idea is to use the old switch that activated the pop-up headlight motors). In this pic the headlight switch is on the first click.
Here it is on the second click/headlight-on position.
And this is with the high-beams activated. The grille looks a little off because the right side of the car was still 1/4" from perfect. A frame puller would be the best tool to use to fix such forms of damage.

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