Expressive Engineering: The S14 Silvia V12
Keep Drifting Creative

At its core, the very embodiment of drifting is expression. It’s a style sport. Creativity, innovation and interpretation is encouraged, and boundaries are merely a loose guideline. Right?

It’s strange then that amongst the two distinct factions of the sport – let’s call them the purists and the professionals – drifting could be perceived to be contradictory to those core values. Purist voices reach a fever pitch whenever a drift weapon with an engine swap (cough, LS, cough) and excessive fender gap gain spotlight. For these guys, the approach is a non-negotiable tribute to the mother country of the sport.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (14)

At the competitive end, the ‘how to’ ethos is just as prescriptive. Big lock kits, generous suspension travel and distinctly non-pure powertrain swaps litter the top-tier grids globally. The pressure to perform homogenises the style and engineering, to a degree.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (10)

So when a pro-level drift car pitches caution to the wind in the name of putting on a show and throwing the engine-swap game a curve-ball, further investigation is warranted. Meet Jaron Olivecrona, one of D1NZ’s many personable characters, and his freshly minted V12. Oh, that engine, it’s got an S14 Silvia attached to it too.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (13)

While that sparkling lump of alloy featuring a rank of 12 trumpets is new, Jaron, nor the Nissan itself are fresh to destroying rear tyres.

It’s a motorsport obsession that begins with Olivecrona senior, Jaron’s father Kester. Kester’s a bit of a local legend in the club motorsport scene around the area, having an extensive history in both racing – including a rapid FD3S Mazda RX-7 – and motorsport fabrication. And while these attributes would later prove invaluable as the S14 build progressed, the hereditary love for all things four-wheeled and fast steered a 12-year-old Jaron towards the tarmac.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (1)

Focusing on picking off apexes while keeping the tires glued to the blacktop at the wheel of a KP Starlet didn’t last all that long however. Drifting was just emerging from its infancy in New Zealand, and amongst the smoke and screaming wastegates Jaron decided sliding was the future. Bring on the Silvia life.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (2)

The SR20DET didn’t last long either, replaced for D1NZ competition with a high-compression RB26DETT. The RB retained a 2.6-litre capacity, and of course that signature RB26 roar.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (11)

With circa 670kW (911hp) of tractable, responsive power to call on, it was no slouch, but after three or four seasons of the gruff straight-six, thinking caps turned to “doing something different.” Yeah, it sounds clichéd, but think back to those values intrinsic to the sport. Something flamboyant. Something completely at odds with everything else on the D1NZ grid, yet rooted in the very semantics of drifting.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (21)

Doubling down on the number of cylinders was the antidote. But even having had the opportunity to pursue 12 of the Prancing Horse’s finest, it wasn’t going to be a highly-strung, difficult-to-maintain example out of Europe. Things were going to stay loosely Japanese beneath the carbon hood, with 12-cylinders arranged in an all-alloy, 60-degree vee displacing 5.0-litres.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (23)

The Toyota 1GZ-FE provided the ideal base. Duly sourced, the tape measure claimed it’d fit in the S14 engine bay like it was made for it.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (4)

The big hurdle? The 1GZ-FE, for all intents and purposes, is a taxi engine designed for smooth, effortless low-RPM diplomacy in its native Toyota Century. The answer? A local race engine developer with considerable expertise in transforming the mundane into the epic.

Right Time, Right Place, Right Engine
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (36)

What’s great about being woven into the local motorsport community fabric is the contacts. Team Olivecrona needed an engine builder with experience, ambition, innovation and above all a willingness to try something a little left field. Enter Nelson Hartley, of Hartley Engines & Motorsport.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (17)

The Hartley name might as well be a metaphor for total motorsport immersion. Nelson’s father Bryan (himself a racer) founded the race-focused workshop, but also kick-started the motorsport careers of both his sons. Nelson found himself racing full-time soon after leaving school, running single-seaters and speedway before settling back to focus on creating solutions for the performance hungry.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (33)

The younger of the Hartley brothers, Brendan? Well, he became a factory Porsche driver, winning the WEC as well as Le Mans. Oh, and he’s just lined up for his first full Formula 1 season behind the wheel of a Toro Rosso STR13. Like I mentioned, the Hartleys and motorsport go together a bit like Forrest and Jenny. Or peas and… yeah, you know how it goes.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (34)

Anyway, I digress. Jaron’s requirement for a bit of extra pep from the lazy old 1GZ coincided with Nelson’s desire to develop an engine aimed at low volume production; think along the lines of boutique, small scale supercar customers. Jaron’s requirement presented the ideal opportunity, as well as a readymade proving ground in the shape of Kiwi drift competition.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (28)

The Hartley Motorsport process begins with a thorough reverse engineering exercise. Regardless of the base engine – “they’re all simply an air pump,” Nelson explains – every component is carefully analysed, CAD modelled, and assessed to determine where performance can be optimised.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (24)

In standard form, Nelson admits the Toyota V12 isn’t all that great from a performance perspective. While the compact nature and light weight is a positive, the cylinder heads as well as the cam arrangement present a distinct challenge. But this is why we’re blessed with CAD techniques, able to design and simulate theory before putting it into practice or sacrificing an expensive lump of billet.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (29)

Of course, it goes without saying that the top end of the V12 now features a heavily reworked, CNC-ported cylinder head. ‘Reworked’ is something of an understatement, with no component beneath the billet cam covers remaining factory. The valves, cams, lifters and cam gears are entirely custom, designed from scratch and engineered by Hartley. No, he’s not about to divulge all the vitals, but freely admits the 5.0-litre, 12-cylinder “air pump” is capable of shifting considerably more atmosphere into the suck, squeeze, bang, blow process.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (37)

While the top end of any engine is where the gains are realised, the custom work doesn’t end there. The crank remains standard Toyota fare for the time being – almost a byproduct of the engine’s proof-of-concept status – but the reciprocating bits are all bespoke to the engine. In fact, where the long block is concerned, the only other Toyota components are the bare block and head castings. Dry sump lubrication keeps the expensive bits where they should be, inside the block.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (32)

There’s really no better way to top off a brutal naturally aspirated build than with a set of individual throttle bodies. On the 1GZ, 12 billet alloy examples – again custom Hartley parts from base to trumpet – sit atop curved inlet runners. Never mind the throttle response afforded by a butterfly per cylinder. They just look so damn gorgeous.

The intake symmetry is echoed by the headers, the twisting mild-steel pipes an engineering feat conducted by Kester back in the garage at home. With diameter and pipe lengths to Hartley’s spec, there’s something like a month’s worth of after-hours time invested. Spent gases are directed into a stainless exhaust exiting with a trademark bark from the megaphone tip.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (57)

The net result is a creation named the Hartley V12. It’s not intended as a slight on the Toyota design, more a signifier of the development and engineering undertaken in the confines of the small Hartley workshop, screaming its intent with a note closer to 1970s Formula One car as opposed to a modern GT3 machine. The tone is guttural and throaty, but above all it’s unique.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (41)

Tuned via a Link Thunder ECU on their own engine dyno, Nelson emphasised the area under the curve is exactly where it needs to be for the intended purpose. A huge torque band, rev limit approaching 10,000rpm, responsive under foot. The sum of these is more than enough to bake a pair of sticky 265s and overcook them at any prod of the throttle, at any point in the rev range you care to name. Mission accomplished.

It’s A Jungle Out There
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (12)

It turns out that there’s more locally developed bits on the S14 too. So local, much of it was created in-house among the four walls of the Olivecrona family garage. By garage, I mean garage. We’re not talking a mega-buck workshop here, just a simple tin-clad shed where Kester and Jaron spin spanners, maintaining and developing new ideas.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (59)

Much of the composite work on the Silvia is a product of Kester’s good old fashioned Kiwi ‘can do’ attitude. The sharp-eyed among you have probably already identified the front bar as being an Origin Labo piece, but the remainder of the Silvia’s outfit is custom tailored.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (7)

The rear section is particularly interesting. Crafted from fibreglass, it’s a one-piece clamshell that begins at one B-pillar and arches around to the opposite. Deep vents moulded into the flanks scoop in fresh air and spit it out as tyre smoke via the floor-less rear and and portholes. Jaron reports it’s relatively effective at keeping the cabin clear of smoke, handy when knocking on the door of an adversary mid-chase.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (27)

There’s custom fibreglass side skirts and a bespoke carbon bonnet. It’s all covered in a vibrant livery from the pen of Andrew Stewart, the brains behind AWS Graphics and another Kiwi talent making a mark on the motorsport world with liveries adorning drift and race cars across the globe.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (16)

Integral to the rainforest theme is the addition of the huia bird graphic. For the unaware, the huia is native to New Zealand, deemed extinct circa early 20th century. It’s of particular significance to the Olivecrona clan, with Jaron’s grandfather Carl officially recorded as the last to sight the rare bird in 1947. A key reminder of the family equation in the Olivecrona operation.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (50)

It all hangs off home-built tubular front and rear ends, again fabricated by Kester’s hands. Naturally, it makes any repairs simpler when the inevitable hit is taken in the heat of competition.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (15)

A touch of VIP flair is brought to the party by big Weds Kranze Bazreia wheels in 18-inch, with Tri-Ace semi slicks providing forward motion despite the Hartley engine’s attempts to vaporise them.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (44)

Inside, an Olivecrona-sculpted carbon fibre dash replaces the staid grey plastic item. It’s race car simple. A Link data-logger dash unit takes stage front and centre offering all the vitals, visible behind a suede OMP wheel.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (46)

Banging gears is as simple as reaching for the load cell-equipped shifter of a TTi 5-speed sequential ‘box, in close proximity to the mandatory hydraulic handbrake lever. It’s all within comfortable reach of the Racetech seats – the constant of these two brands again being Kiwi designed and engineered.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (9)

Taking stock, that’s the crux of the story here. Yeah, it’s a Silvia with a V12 in it, merely the tip of the iceberg. The Olivecrona team have arguably taken the creative spirit of drifting, successfully assimilating it with the S14’s latest V12 incarnation.

Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (19)

Unspoken rules have simultaneously been cast aside and rigidly adhered to, the result being a machine they’re understandably proud of. It’s a showcase of the engineering prowess from a small town in middle of a country at the bottom of the earth, and one that’s currently being beaten on ruthlessly as the D1NZ season reaches its zenith in a couple of weeks.

The only thing left now? Sit back, crank the speakers up and indulge in the aural experience of the Hartley V12 being given a bootful by Jaron during shakedown; the clip above courtesy of Matla Media, another of the Olivecrona team’s dedicated partners.

Richard Opie
richy@speedhunters.com
Instagram: snoozinrichy

Cutting Room Floor
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (56)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (54)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (52)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (51)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (48)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (45)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (43)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (42)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (28)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (5)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (3)
Nissan Silvia Hartley V12 Olivecrona Speedhunters Richard Opie (58)
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47 comments

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1

That is absolutely f$&@ing ridiculous, but in all the right ways! Props to all the radical engineering throw at this build. And that exhaust crackle is perfection! <3

2

It is right? The best part I think, which I probably didn't emphasis well is the home built nature of much of this car. Yeah, the engine was handled by experts in their field but the rest of it is screwed together in Kester's small-town shed.

3

About halfway down the page I realize these are the same guys that make the Hartley V8, a 2.5-3.5 litre, 10,000+ rpm, 90 degree flat plane V8. These guys, absolutely fantastic work.
http://www.speedhunters.com/2015/01/kiwi-flavoured-lemon-jun-synergy-brz-v8/

4

Hartley V8s are from Hartley Enterprises in Milwaukee, USA. Synergy V8s like in the 86 are made by another New Zealand company. Hartley in NZ build 1uz and vk56 race engines

5

I just re-Google it.

This Hartley is "Hartley Engines and Motorsport"

6

So weirdly enough, we've got a couple of companies under the name "Hartley" doing rad things with engines. The guys building the V8s are a separate lot, not Nelson.

7

My error, my research was cursory at best and I couldn't imagine two Hartley engine magic shops, my apologies.

8

I have a high quality 60 second video of this car drifting and hitting the limiter at D1NZ Round 1 on my instagram, the sound is insane, it's honestly worth a look... @slow_32

9

I saw the dyno run on facebook, and it was jaw dropping! Never have anyone brought 1GZ into such insane amount of horsepower without any sort of forced induction, but then it was worked by Hartley, someone who did insane Hartley V8, so yeah...

10

Its been done. Check out the 1gz Supra Top Secret built in Japan. Its the same Supra Smokey Nagato took to the UK to set a top speed record and ended up getting arrested for it. Still though both are sick builds in different ways and shows just what a properly done 1gz can do.

11

2 things,

1. no one has ever made 1GZ with such insane amount of horsepower without any sort of forced induction before, both Top Secret & the IG guy "fastsupra1" achieve the horsepower with twin turbocharged

2. the Supra that Smokey Nagato brought to UK to set top speed record & ended up getting arrested was old RB or JZ powered unit; the V12 Supra went Nardo & failed to achieve the 400 km/h target (did 368 & overheating).

12

As I was told, not the same guys, just another set of engine wizard Hartleys.

13

I just notice that, and apparently this Hartley done racing engine before, so...

14

Good job guys! Wonderful! So far no hate on this car!

15

Maybe I'm doing something wrong?

16

love everything and my favourite wheels

17
Matthew Everingham

Best. Silvia. Ever.

18

"suck squeeze bang blow"
that's just good internet.

19

My dear lord does that engine sound fantastic. What a cool read!

20

Can you explain anymore how turbos work? I'm totally new to how an engine works. No idea how to setup a car.

21

Thanks bud, we always aim to bring you some good internet around these parts. Had to leave the vid until the end, otherwise imagine all the "but what does it sound like!??!?!!!?!?!" comments!

22

A build that's touching my deepest soul bits, a garage build with a unique engineered engine. Can't find any part of the story that can make anyone throw bad comments (but maybe jealous).

2 points out of curiosity:
1- after all the work involved in "re-building" the engine, any rough idea about the cost? Or at least price difference compared to the "prancing horse" engine prices since it was mentioned as the first "option".
2- the figures this engine can make at this "non-final" stage.

23

1 - it's not something I really ever discuss with anyone whose car I feature, unless it's voluntarily provided by the owner.
2 - Hartley have claimed 700-800hp from their V12 in it's current state - as someone else has said above, there's plans for a turbo version that will comfortably eclipse 1000hp. Maybe not in this car however!

24

I don't like to ask anything related to money even but it was mentioned that it's a "cheaper" engine and after all this work i was in doubt, but it's a minor point since the result is astonishing.
I would sacrifice these couple of 100s of HPs for keeping that amazing sound, 700-800 HP is not a shy number. But sure some will seek to awake these sleeping horses and care less for the music "it's an air pump in the end".

25

Future posts confirm just another dip shit.

26

I'm genuinely glad you guys do read the words :)

Anyway, a little background. Hartley (specifically, Nelson) had this idea of building a bespoke engine to cater for a boutique car builder market, like low volume supercars I guess. The Olivecrona team sort of struck up conversation, not knowing this, and the V12 plan was hatched. So the core cost of a 1GZ for this future purpose is relatively low, and they're relatively plentiful. So the whole exercise, from a Hartley point of view is a proof of concept situation, basically it's a prototype for future V12 supply to someone who'd like to buy a run.

27

A quick google and here are some specs of the v12 https://www.engineswapdepot.com/?p=21650&amp;

They are also develpoing a twin turbo v12 as well.

28

Taken straight off the Hartley Facebook page by the looks. When we spoke about it, Nelson and Jaron were both pretty clear the goal wasn't to make an outright number, but to maximise the useful area beneath the torque curve. The aim was instant response, obviously a by product of having a meaty gob of torque across the rev range.

29

Now that's some serious engineering! Regardless of where it competes it's a show-stopper both for it's sound, and most importantly it's performance. Amazing work, Hartley!

30
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Good Lord...

One thing I don't understand though, the engine looks so compact in here, but in Top Secret's infamous V12 Supra, the engine bay looks really cramped.

31

The relative simplicity of not having turbo pipe work and related junk littering the engine bay of the S14 I guess?

32

Richard, what's your dream 4 car garage. Mine is a R33, a FD3S, an Evo VII, and a 180sx.

33

Right now the dream is to actually have a garage to fit 4 cars in!

34

That's why its a DREAM!!!!! Anyway, you got a more realistic dream than I do. I'm only 14, yet I've been reading for almost 4 years now. You guys changed me from a US muscle guy to a JDM follower. All I can say is, keep doing what you're doing.

35

Richard,

Ace write up! Is the smaller lever to the outside of the shifter and brake balance bar adjuster or perhaps a sway bar adjuster?

36

That's the lever for engaging reverse on the TTi gearbox.

37
researchisyourfriend

the 1GZ is a neat motor, but it's also awful for performance without a ton of money... looks like these guys didnt mind the latter and ended up pushing past all the issues, which were more or less noted in the article.

terrible heads, cam positioning, the way the motor is run in dual banks factory, weak bottom end, and im probably forgetting something. find for a limousine and they run forever, but for power man are the odds stacked against it. Smokey Nagata has commented that he was disappointed in how theirs ended up despite all the time , energy, and resources.

38

Funny how people will still complain about LS motors despite everything you just said.

I'd be willing to bet if smokey had throw a twin turbo small block into a lot of the cars he tuned they would have gone faster...

39

I see a sequential gear shifter, a hydraulic hand brake, and what the hell is the other lever? An oh my Jesus handle for the passenger? Manual fire suppresion system lever? I don't get it.

40

I apologize for not reading the comments first. I see its for reverse gear now.

41

i am surprised no one has thrown one of those LS based v12s in a crazy build..it would be nice to see it in a hakusuka or a vintage Z just to piss of those purists

42

But surely the key is to be super pumped on your own creation before worrying about annoying purists?

43

A bonkers build, a cutting room floor, and a video! My favorite kind of Speedhunters feature.

44

You've got good taste, what can I say?

45

Bonkers and I love it. Was the redline/fuel cut RPM value mentioned?

46

Nvm I see 'approaching 10,000' WOW!

47

The team at BG Marketing are very proud that Jaron Olivecrona Drift chooses to race with TRIACE RACING KING semi slick tyres .... their superior compounding helps transfer all that HARTLEY V12 POWER onto the track with serious wet and dry grip. This DOT rated tyre is completely road legal, meeting the HIGHEST ETRMA standards and is suitable for the most serious of Drift car and can be bought retail by the performance enthusiast who wants the ability to drive to the race track and seriously thrash their "pride and joy" : be it a late model JDM inspired import, a Euro or a Muscle Car #triaceracingking tyres are the perfect choice.

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