Japanese Tuner to Restart SR20DET Production

·3 min read
Photo credit: Nissan
Photo credit: Nissan

While it may not be as lusted-after as the all-mighty RB26DETT, Nissan’s SR20DET engine has become more than just your typical aftermarket sweetheart. The turbocharged four-cylinder has been a mainstay of the JDM engine swap scene for decades at this point, despite leaving production all the way back in 2003. Now though, the Japanese motorsports shop Mercury has penned a deal with Nissan to produce a limited run of brand-new SR20 engines. Here’s everything you need to know.

The SR20DET is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with dual overhead camshafts, electronic fuel injection, and a single turbocharger that debuted back in 1989. It wasn't the peak of Japanese engines, but it has become a real icon. A successor to the earlier FJ20, the SR20 built on the back of a real back-and-forth tech war with Toyota in the 1970s and '80s that made twin-cam and turbo layouts mainstream, offering what had been exotic tech in high volumes.

The motor would do service in a number of Nissan products over the years, though it is most known today for its role in the legendary S-platform models. Whether it be an S13, S14 or S15, it was the spritely SR20 that helped propel the cars to their current icon status. In its most aggressive state of factory tune, the SR20 was good for 247 hp, though tuners have proven that the motor can handle far more than that. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to find a modified SR20 with more than double that horsepower output today. Combined with its relatively compact size, and it's no surprise that the SR20 has remained such a popular choice in various motorsports series. To that end, the folks at Mercury are gearing up to help a few lucky motorsports customers continue to utilize the SR20 with this latest project involving Nissan.

Word of this continuation project was initially shared by Japanese D1 driver Sayaka Shimoda, who confirmed the project in a recent YouTube video. Shimoda is sponsored by Mercury, and was even joined by a company representative during the clip. The video itself is in Japanese of course, leaving us to translate as best as we can. What we can gather with some help from the internet is as follows: Mercury will build a limited run of around 30 SR20DETs, specifically tailored to mirror the S14 and S15 applications of the engine. Negotiations between the tuning shop and Nissan took more than two years, though Nissan will not be involved in the actual build process. Those duties will be off-loaded to a third-party, though it is unclear as to whether or not this group possess Nissan original molds. Regardless, the engines will each retail for around $9300, which seems like a screaming deal for this sort of undertaking. That said, it does appear that Mercury’s motorsports customers will get priority over your average JDM enthusiast. Considering how popular the S-platform remains in the world of racing, we expect those motors to be snapped up almost immediately. Customers can contact Mercury after 10:00 a.m. Tokyo time on September 26 to try and secure their own engine.

As the automotive industry at large moves away from internal combustion engines, a project of this sort is more intriguing than ever. Perhaps more automakers will be willing to work with the aftermarket to keep some of their greatest engines alive well into the future. I mean, who doesn’t want the chance to purchase a brand-new 2JZ or Colombo V-12 for their upcoming project?

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