With due respect to North America and the UK, Japan is the epicentre of car tuning culture. Sure, we’ve got some of the world’s finest specialists here, and the US workshops can seemingly give everything 1,000hp, nothing comes close to the diversity and expertise of the Japanese tuning market. In fact, the aftermarket is such a big deal, and has received global coverage thanks to games like Gran Turismo, that some workshops are just as well-known as the carmakers themselves.
Tommykaira, though, is one of the more niche tuners, probably because it never mass-produced performance parts to the same degree as HKS or Mine’s. But, if like me, you spent a large chunk of the late 1990s and early 2000s driving cars through joysticks and triggers, then you’ll probably be familiar with Tommykaira’s creations. These were mostly tuned versions of Japanese performance cars with garish body kits and the obligatory wing, as well as the British-built ZZ two-seater that served as Japan’s Lotus Elise.
So, hang on, what’s this? A Tommykaira tune that hasn’t been plastered with glitzy logos down the side? And that wing appears to be no more than six inches in height. A mere crease by Tommykaira standards. This right here is the M20Si and, given that the bodywork is incredibly tame by 90s standards, you can still see the car it’s based on – an S13 Nissan Silvia. It wasn’t intended to be a fire-breathing monster, either, with Tommykaira making a few small adjustments here and there that, ultimately, deliver a significant step over the base the base car. Marginal gains and all that.
As hinted at in the name, the engine used in the punchier 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four from the range-topping Silvia. As standard, the SR20DET engine developed 204hp, though the wizards at Tommykaira took that to 235hp on the M20Si. A, er, modest increase, though it’s believed that the updates resulted in a more urgent engine response. The exhaust has also been upgraded (obviously), engraved with the Tommykaira logo, the suspension stiffened and the brakes were beefed up to handle the extra 30hp. Other performance details are extremely hard to come by, however. The M20Si comes from a pre-internet era, with its history logged almost exclusively in car magazines. All of which are in Japanese.
Believe it or not, the aero package actually serves a purpose. Well, the wing does. This may be from the early 90s, but Tommykaira plonked a moveable rear wing that could be electronically controlled through the cockpit. There are three different stages, allowing you to increase rear downforce when battling it out with a bunch of souped-up hatchbacks on a Japanese touge. It’s said the reworked front bumper and skirts brought aerodynamic benefits, too, though probably not to the extent where you can drive the thing upside-down in a tunnel – the industry standard for measuring downforce, of course.
So, not a drastic change over the standard Silvia per se, but one that’s arguably more competent in a string of bends. But the big draw here is it’s extremely rare, so much so that there’s no official production numbers to go off. This one’s chassis number 41 and, given I had to dig down to the depths of the internet to find more details on the M20Si, it’s unlikely many more were made, let alone found their way over to the UK. The car here has covered just 45,000 miles, has a full-service history and the only tuning parts on it are stamped with the Tommykaria logo. And, for some diehard Japanese car lovers, it’ll be well worth the £44,995 asking price for the name alone.
SPECIFICATION | TOMMYKAIRA M20Si
Engine: 1,998 inline four-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 235@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 213@4,200rpm
Year registered: 1992
Recorded mileage: 45,000
Price new: 2,780,000 Yen (Japan)
Yours for: £44,995
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