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Mazdax605 PowerDork
8/21/20 2:40 p.m.

Hey guys, 


My son's friend needs to find his first car. He really wants a manual, but his mother is sorta iffy about it. I told him to wait until I get the 95 Infiniti G20 5-speed I found locally, but he's impatient. He found this, and wants me to go look at it with him. 


Spec-V yo!!


I really have no idea if this is a real Spec-V or even what that means. Can you guys tell me what to look at on this thing? 



93EXCivic MegaDork
8/21/20 2:55 p.m.

Aren't those the ones that like to suck the pre-cat into the engine and destroy it?

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/21/20 3:07 p.m.

I saw that one as well on FB Marketplace when I was panicking earlier this week about my Mazda 3's transmission. I've been looking for an excuse to buy one of these for years. laugh

The Spec V was a pretty potent sport compact in its day. I almost bought one new back around 2002. Should have a 6-speed manual and a LSD and if I remember correctly, a 2.5L 4 that makes about 175-180hp. They do have a tendency to suck the pre-cat into the engine, thus making things go explodey, but if that's been addressed, it should be fine. They also made a regular SE-R in that body style Sentra early on, with a 5-speed and the good ol' SR20. Those make less power but are probably more reliable.

I'd go check it out, make sure it's not knocking from pre-cat destruction, and if it's not rotted in half, put the stamp of approval on it.

pimpm3 (Forum Supporter)
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/21/20 3:08 p.m.

Looks like a spec V to me.  They like to eat the cats like you mentioned.  I figure its cat has been reamed out by now or replaced with a header.

They made an SE model with an SR20DE in the first few years of production, I would rather have one of those over the 2.5 in the spec V.  

pointofdeparture UltimaDork
8/21/20 3:12 p.m.
Tony Sestito said:

I saw that one as well on FB Marketplace when I was panicking earlier this week about my Mazda 3's transmission. I've been looking for an excuse to buy one of these for years. laugh

They also made a regular SE-R in that body style Sentra early on, with a 5-speed and the good ol' SR20. Those make less power but are probably more reliable.

That was actually just the Sentra SE. All SE-Rs had the QR25DE, but the Spec-V got you a 6-speed and LSD, along with 17" wheels and a few other things.

Otherwise yeah, they inhale the pre-cats and they rust, so if it checks out on those two fronts it's probably pretty decent.

CyberEric Dork
8/21/20 3:16 p.m.

Yeah I am more interested in the SE of that generation. I think it may even have a LSD. Very rare car from what I have seen.

I suppose if the cat thing had been addressed it could be a good car. I think there may be other issues, but I can’t remember for sure.

MrFancypants Reader
8/21/20 3:20 p.m.

If your friend is serious advise him to ask about the timing chain. Not a fun job.

93EXCivic said:

Aren't those the ones that like to suck the pre-cat into the engine and destroy it?

Yes! Run the other direction, unless you want to blow a bunch of money>

ProDarwin UltimaDork
8/21/20 3:25 p.m.

They inhale precats and screws from the butterflies in the intake manifold.  Both issues are fixable, permanently, but the fix for the first one means not passing emissions.  

They have an odd number of parts unique to SpecVs.  Like almost nothing in the engine bay swaps with a standard Sentra.  Even the evap system (at the back of the car) is largely different between the SpecV and standard.

As I mentioned in another, these cars are greater than the sum of their parts.

Driven5 UltraDork
8/21/20 3:40 p.m.

On the B15 (00-06) chassis, SE-R means 2.5L engine and Spec V means sport suspension and 6-speed manual that includes a helical LSD...As opposed to the viscous unit in the SR20 powered cars. Note that many (possibly even most?) B15 Sentras don't have ABS.

In addition to chunks of pre-cat breaking loose and getting sucked into the cylinders from the exhaust side, the dual stage manifold butterfly valve screws fall out and get sucked into the cylinders from the intake side. Both are relatively easily remedied.

I never really cared much for the 04-06 cars. The 02-03 Spec V was the same car but much better looking, and the 00-01 SE w/ performance pack was a little slower but more reliable and still better looking as well.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/21/20 3:41 p.m.

Bam! B15-chassis buyer guide right here on GRM.

Byrneon27 Reader
8/21/20 4:04 p.m.

I have one been rallyxing and using it as a generic motorsports machine for a couple of years. Paid about $300 with a burnt valve might have a couple grand in it now and it's surprisingly good. Rear suspension geometry is weird, the only available ECU tuning option is weirder (but the company is amazing) Totally great first project if not maybe a little speedy/ unpredictable at the limit for a new driver. QR isn't a sports car engine but very torquey and $200 at every Upull on earth. 

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
8/21/20 4:30 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Bam! B15-chassis buyer guide right here on GRM.

I knew we kept you around here for something. wink

CyberEric Dork
8/21/20 4:55 p.m.

Curious... can you easily remedy a pre-cat issue (header) and still pass emissions in California?

noddaz GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/21/20 5:16 p.m.

The pre cat issue has the pre cat coming apart and the bits are drawn back into the engine destroying the piston rings and bore.  The first question to ask is how many quarts of oil does it use in 1000 miles.  If their eyes get wide and they say "none" you know they are lying.  So then pull the dipstick yourself (if it isn't broken off) and check how low the oil is.  And here in the mid east coast you can't find a used 2.5 engine.  The demand was high and a lot of the used engines had bad cats too.

BTW, I have a piston from a bad warranty engine sitting next to me at work.  I use it as a paper weight.

Ok, I'll continue.

I started down the path of putting a QR25 in my challenge car, and ended up abandoning it. Here's what I found:

The single worst rod to stroke ratio of any production engine, ever. (if this is an exaggeration, it is only a slight one). The rods are long and weak in the extreme.

Yep, they inhale cats through the exhaust valves. This can be remedied with a CHEAP aftermarket header-wanna buy one, I have it brand new in the basement. You're out of luck in Cali on emissions, elsewhere, YRMV.

Pretty torquey-it was made for the Frontier and Altima.

There are very few surviving engines to be had,

Because of the engine mortality rate, transmissions are cheap. I think $235 or something for the 6 speed/torsen unit locally.

All that said, it is still a Nissan engine, and the main bearing girdle is impressive. Aluminum block and head with steel liners. A good engine can assuredly be built from it, but it will take money and effort. Any SE-R is a sweet ride when it's running.

Make mine one of these.



CyberEric Dork
8/21/20 6:46 p.m.

Sweeeeeeet! Always loved those.

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/21/20 7:48 p.m.

The engine wiring harnesses apparently vomit and computers die.  That's what happened to my 02 SE-R

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/21/20 8:12 p.m.

There's a spec-v parked in someone's yard that I pass regularly near here. Within a month of the first time I noticed it, it was run into something and had the front end smashed.

That was at least a year ago, and it's been sitting since.

Mazdax605 PowerDork
8/21/20 8:19 p.m.

What bothers me is that it dropped from $1500 to $1000 just a day or so ago. It has to have issues. 

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
8/21/20 9:54 p.m.

I've owned two.  The first one got a set of rings and a Chinese header.  It was the loaded up Brembo brake one, and I really liked it until somebody gave me a bunch of money that I liked better. 

The second one got an engine from an automatic equipped Altima, another Chinese header and it had the cheap brakes.  That one I drove into the side of an SUV one frosty morning...

I really enjoy driving the cars, but they are a bit of trouble if you are not up for some engine work.

If I was buying one, I'd leave the seller some ID and my car, tell him I'd be back in four hours, carefully check the oil, and hit the highway for a 250 mile test drive.  Check the oil again and make a purchase decision.  They don't really make much smoke, because they burn it evenly across all the holes.

MrFancypants Reader
8/21/20 9:57 p.m.

It's really sad that these cars just didn't hold up.  I had an '02 Spec V years ago and I enjoyed driving it, and the person I sold it to also really loved it.  If Nissan couldn't get such basic cars right no wonder the company isn't in a good place right now.

Driven5 UltraDork
8/22/20 1:20 a.m.

In reply to MrFancypants :

Up through 01, with the SR20, held up just fine.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/22/20 5:45 a.m.

What's the reality of swapping a V6 into one? There's one locally that's been listed for months at a grand - no engine, but supposedly already setup for a V6(VQ?).

JesseWolfe Reader
8/22/20 6:56 a.m.

I picked up an 03' from ProDarwin last year, for a Rallycross beater.  I've put about a 1000 miles on it, but unfortunately no racing miles yet.  I'll throw out some conjecture I haven't been able to prove out yet on engine reliability: get a balance shaft delete from 2JR, it's a giant egg beater in the oil pan, it froths the oil.  I've one one in the box ready to go in.

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