The Top Ten Engines to Build...
The Top Ten Engines to build

7| Nissan SR20DET

A Drifter’s Best Friend…

Example of a the Nissan SR20 engine

Nissan’s SR20DET Engine holds the number seven spot on the Top 10 List. Nissan’s turbocharged SR20DET lived in the shadow of the B Series and the 4G63 during the heyday of import drag racing. Only available overseas, it wasn’t until the underground motorsport of drifting became more mainstream that enthusiast interest in the engine and the RWD chassis it was most often found in (Nissan’s Silvia and 180SX, the JDM sisters to the USDM 240SX) exploded. Almost overnight, used 240SX that were hardly worth the tires they rolled on became a hot commodity. Unfortunately, the US variant had the 155 bhp naturally-aspirated KA24 engine. The quick solution would be to drop in a JDM junkyard SR20 engine. The RWD SR20DET (a transverse AWD variant powered the Pulsar GTiR) featured an aluminum block and cylinder head. The rotating assembly has been shown to safely support 500 horsepower, needing only a head gasket and head studs to contain higher boost pressures. For additional horsepower, the block’s wide bore centers permitted bore increases (with sleeving) to increase displacement. Broad aftermarket support offered numerous solutions for practically every aspect of the engine from stroker crankshafts to solid lifter conversions. The later variants of the SR20 featured Nissan’s variable cam timing (VTC) on the intake camshaft. For even greater airflow in and out of the cylinders, tuners have adapted the FWD SR20VE cylinder head (with Nissan’s NEO VVL variable valve timing on both camshafts) to the RWD shortblock. This conversion has proven to deliver over 600 horsepower on a time attack prepped 240SX and 1,600 horsepower on a pro-class S15 drag car.


What’s Hot:Example of a the Nissan SR20 engine

• Factory turbocharger • Stock block setup capable of more than double factory horsepower • Tremendous aftermarket support even 10 years after production ceased • Lightweight • Square bore and stroke dimensions • Later models have Nissan’s variable timing control (VTC) • Wide bore centers permit larger bores (when sleeved) • Dual overhead camshaftsExample of a the Nissan SR20 engine • Coil-on-plug ignition

What’s Not:

• Aluminum block cannot be overbored safely more than 1mm, thus requiring sleeving • Valvetrain with hydraulic lifters tend to fling rocker arms at higher RPMs, requiring a solid lifter conversion • Runs hot at the track; benefits from improved cooling • Factory throttle body is very small


Manufacturer: Nissan
Years In Production: 1989-2002
Engine Code: SR20DET
Displacement (cc): 1,998cc
Bore & Stroke (mm): 86mm x 86mm
Peak Horsepower (@ RPM): 201-246 bhp
Peak Torque (@ RPM): 202-210 lb-ft
Block Material: Aluminum
Head Material: Aluminum
Compression Ratio: 8.5:1, 8.3:1 (Pulsar GTiR)
Camshafts: 246-degree (IN&EX)
Valves / Springs / Retainers: 16 Valves, Hydraulic Valve Lifters, VTC (S14,S15)
Throttle Body: Single, 4 ITB (Pulsar GTiR)
Fuel Injectors: Side Feed, High Impedence
370cc/min (S13, S14),
440 cc/min (RNN14),
480cc/min (S15)
Ignition System: Distributor, Coil-on-plug
Applications: 1989-1990 Nissan Bluebird (U12)
1991-1993 Nissan Bluebird (U13)
1994-1995 Nissan Bluebird (U13)
1990-1994 Nissan Pulsar GTiR (RNN14)
1994-1998 Nissan 180SX (S13)
1991-1994 Nissan Silvia (S13)
1995-1998 Nissan Silvia (S14)
1999-2002 Nissan Silvia (S15)

2 thoughts on “Top Ten Engines | Inside The Engines That Powered An Industry

  1. WelDun1 says:

    Definitely have to disagree with the list…

    1) 4G63T
    2) 2JZ-GTE
    3) RB26DETT (better as RB26DET)
    4) SR20DET
    5) 13B-REW
    6) EJ257
    7) VR38DETT
    8) B18C1/5 & B16A
    9) K series
    10) F20C & F22C

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