Jim Klein recently showed us a Jensen-Healey into which someone is planning, was planning, maybe only thought about or was actually just storing a Ford V6, and that got me thinking. What’s the most extreme engine swap you have seen, and what’s the most surprising?
My candidate for the most extreme is the Rover SD1 fitted with a V12 Rover Meteor tank engine, all 27 litres of it. Not so much a Rover 3500, more a Rover 27000.
The Meteor is a derivative of the Rolls-Royce Merlin, the engine of the Spitfire, Hurricane, Lancaster and P51 Mustang. Without the aircraft engine’s turbocharger, there’s something like 650bhp and 1500lbft of torque. The changes required to the Rover are best described as “extensive and very significant”, with the driver sitting close to the position of the rear seat than the front seat. 160 mph comes up at 2000 rpm. Sounds terrific as well
Obviously, not everyone’s choice, but I defy you to be unimpressed by the idea or the execution, even if there are some rough edges.
And where did the engine out of the Rover go? Well, there’s one in this Hyundai Stellar. (And yes,that is a McLaren7 20S from the McLaren press fleet parked by the portable toilets.)
And both are road legal and properly registered.
But what’s your favourite engine or most extreme swap?
Don’t know if I would call it extreme or not, but I did see at my local self service wrecking yard a late ’70s Jaguar sedan with a 429/460 Ford swapped in. I also understand said Ford also fits in older Mercedes SL’s like it was made for it. Highly disappointed no engine shot of the Rover in the Hyundai
Search HubNut on YouTube. He featured that Hyundai a few weeks ago.
Try this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifKoJkWObIY
Favorite: I’ll have to go with the LSx. Yes, I know it’s a boring, cliché answer, but the sheer aftermarket support for the thing means you can never go wrong with it. Seriously, I don’t know of another engine with anything close to the support the LSx has.
Runner-up: Mercedes OM606 turbodiesel into a Jeep. I don’t think the OM606 gets enough respect because it came in the W210, not exactly the greatest Mercedes of all time.
Love the tank engine swap. I like seeing huge engines swapped in old cars (Brutus Bomber) and I’m a big fan of a Detroit diesel swapped anything. The sounds are glorious.
I saw this Mercedes Benz with a very tidy Ford V-8 swap earlier this year. It must be an interesting combination.
This is the car. Note the 351 badge.
I’m a volunteer there at W.O.S. You never know whats going to show up at the Cars & Coffee
Marvin Baumann is a well-known name in Ford 8N circles, having done numerous engine swaps into the tractors. The wildest 8N he did was a helicopter turbine swap: http://marvinbaumann.com/typhoon2.html
There’s also a turbine-powered New Beetle: http://www.ronpatrickstuff.com/
Ed, after giving it much thought, yours wins!
One of the more odd ones I remember seeing was in Honda S2000 swapped into a Jeep YJ. Seemed a mis-match and waste of both engine and Jeep.
I like the Honda K-series engines into Fiat X1/9 and Miata engines into one of the British roadsters (Spitfire, MG B, etc). Added power and reliability without throwing off the balance of the car.
Not a one off, and not necessarily extreme by today’s standards, but back in my home town of Rockville Centre NY there was Bill Frick motors. In the early to mid 1950s Bill Frick built Studiallacs, Studebaker Starliners with Cadillac engines (along with modest other enhancements to running gear and brakes).
I have vague memories of the name Frick on a building on the south side of Sunrise Highway when I rode my bike around there, but he was gone by the time I was able to appreciate what he was doing.
So, if not an extreme swap, at least a lot of them.
The Studillac was fairly famous too with a mention in one of the Ian Fleming novels – Diamonds Are Forever if I’m not mistaken.
Hands down… THIS, and I’ve even driven something that has this engine (or one similar), albeit at about 2,000 feet above ground level. Since it’s air-cooled, I think the back two jugs would have a problem after a few miles. 😉
Here’s the vehicle I got to ‘drive’ with a 7 cylinder engine like that. Air cooling was not a problem in this application.
Wonder if he has to “pull it through” a few times to clear the oil out of the bottom cylinders before starting?!
When I arrived at Zero-Whiskey-Three (Hartford County Airport) to go up in this Stearman, the owner/pilot was getting ready to do the preflight. I arrived early so that I could watch. The last thing he did before pulling it out of the hangar (with a Cub Cadet tractor of all things) was spin the prop by hand 14 times… A full revolution for each cylinder. When I asked what he was doing, that was his exact explanation.
What an amazing ride. I got about 35 minutes of stick time (from the front hole, so I couldn’t log it). Flying a Cessna 172 after that was kind of anticlimactic.
I’ve ridden in a couple Stearmans as well as a Waco. Got some stick time in a T6 Texan that a friend owned. I was skidding all over the place when I made my first turn – he quickly came on the intercom to tell me, “This ain’t no Cessna, Boy – you gotta use the rudder!” (c:
Indeed Ed. It’s funny, when I went up with this guy, we were using a mirror mounted up under the wing and sign language to communicate. In the preflight briefing as he called it, he said, “When I wiggle the stick back and forth and you look up in the mirror and see my hands up like this (he held his hands up to show they weren’t on the stick), that means it’s YOUR airplane. Just keep your feet off of the rudder pedals.”
I then asked him, “How am I supposed to coordinate my turns without the rudder pedals?”
He said, “Since you just asked the right question, I’ll make an exception in your case and let you use them.”
I mean, the plane may’ve been built in 1943, but it still came with a turn coordinator. The direction indicator was weird though. It looked more like something you’d see on a boat rather than in a airplane.
He referred to it as a “Whiskey Compass” and provided an interesting story to with it. ;o)
ANDS = Accelerate North, Decelerate South
My CFI was a B-17 A&P during WWII and was a certified curmudgeon, too! He taught me how to use the primitive GPS in the Skyhawk, but would frequently ask me to show him *exactly* where we were on the chart without electronic aids.
Theres a very old racecar in NZ caled the crop duster, Tiger Moth engine around the wrong way and upside down in a race car
More realistic than the above example was a ‘29 Ford Model A with a 302 (pictured below… sorry, I never got a shot of the engine); and a very well done Porsche 944 with a 350 (SBC) under the hood. Sorry no picture of that one, but seeing it in person a few years back, it looked like it came from the factory that way. It was that good.
“it looked like it came from the factory that way. It was that good.”
Exactly what I look for in an engine swap- The engine should provide improved performance and reliability, without affecting the overall vehicle balance. I’ll sacrifice some dynamic balance in the name of horsepower, but today you can easily find an engine that significantly upgrades power while fitting in the available space.
+1. My favorite in this regard is a 2.8L V6 in a Chevette. Everyone likes to stuff a SBC in there, but the small V6 would seem to be the perfect balance of power-to-weight ratio. I never quite grasped why GM didn’t do this from the factory (they actually built a couple of prototypes) but I guess it was just good ole convservative GM figuring no one would want a muscle-Chevette.
Can’t say I’m a fan of that Rover- When choosing an engine (or transmission) for a swap, fitting into the existing structure should be a primary consideration.
Given this engine swap renders the driver’s door useless, it’s an exercise in excess, rather than an engineered improvement. Still, that under-hood shot looks pretty impressive.
It’s one thing to buy an Audi A8 with a 4.2 V8 and swap the motor into an RWD-converted VW Lupo, but another to take the Lupo’s 1.2 TDI engine and put it into the Audi. Some German actually did it.
Just to finish it off, he then bought another 1.2 TDI Lupo and removed the 3rd cylinder, making its motor a 0.8 TDI.
There’s also this Dutch guy, who had a ’49 James Young body for a Bentley. He wanted to use it for banger racing (Yes, I know it’s worth a lot, he probably also knows, but loves to banger race rare stuff), but since he had no running gear, he used something else – a Range Rover Classic chassis.
The most extreme one I’ve ever seen is Jay Eitel’s swap of a Jaguar V-12 into a Corvair. The amount of work and fabrication he put into it is nothing short of mind-boggling.
BuzzDog, I’m not a GM/Corvair guy, but I took a good while with that link and enjoyed every bit. First-rate engineering in every way. Highly recommended, CC-ers!
How about a zepplin engine in a wood frame…. hot rodding is apparently timeless!
Zeppelin engine… I guess that thing can be heard over the hills and far away.
On a more serious note, what, exactly, is this thing?
Not an uncommon engine swap back in the day…
How about the 54 Plymouth “Sniper?” A V-10 Viper engine nestled in the engine bay that once held the flathead 6. Other than the engine, the car appears to be an extremely nice mild custom.
These are my favourites, oil spitting flame belching mechanical monsters.
A Tesla powered Honda Accord – the backyard hot rod of the future
I like the engine swaps where a large and powerful engine is installed in the most innocent looking or smallest/lightest package. There’s nothing like having the monster inside wake up upon demand and surprising everyone.
In one of my dad’s old 1950s-vintage Hot Rod magazines (or was it Car Craft?) I remembered a feature about a guy in Pomona, CA who installed a souped up Cadillac engine into a Henry J. It was a major underhood modification, of course. The car was kept completely stock appearance and the only tip off of something lurking under the hood was dual exhaust pipes and 15″ rear slicks. The power-to-weight ratio must have been amazing. I still remember the funny comment in the article: “Nobody will blame you for backing out when this innocent looking Henry J challenges you on the strip.” Also remembered the comment that when the car is not being raced, the guy’s wife is afraid to go near it.
The other extreme engine swaps I like are aircraft engines, i.e., Rolls Royce Merlins, installed in cars. Going 160 mph at only 2000 rpm is amazing.
Way beyond a RAM with a 6.7 liter Cummins, this “wide-body” Chevy pickup with a Scania V8.
Bah. An extra 7.5liters of displacement and two more cylinders and it only manages a paltry 106 lb ft more torque than the RAM. 🙂
In Australia we have a tradition of swapping the ‘Barra’ Ford 24 valve DOHC six, with or without turbo, into just about anything, but my favourite so far this month would be this FC Holden with a twin turbo Nissan Skyline engine.
A fellow in the Greater Toronto Area dropped a 500 cubic inch Cadillac engine into a Pontiac Phoenix (the RWD version). The installation looked so good that it looked like it came from the factory with it. Very underrated engine IMHO.
I’ll say up front that I’m not a fan of engine swaps in general and extreme engine swaps in particular. For me, the engine that the car came with is usually as interesting as the car itself. That’s why I like old cars in the first place. If the swap is done to keep an old car on the road and in practical use, that’s one thing. An aircraft engine in a compact car is just needless showmanship in my eyes. Swapping in an engine that was a contemporary option like a V8 instead of a six, in a Mustang for example, is understandable. If I could have swapped the fuel injected 302 with AOD from my ’96 Explorer into my ’70 Mustang coupe I would have been rewarded with a delightful automobile.
As a kid in the 70’s I poured over Hot Rod magazine and specials like the Petersen’s “Complete book of engine swapping”. ( I managed to find another copy at a swap meet). My favorite here was swapping an Olds 455 FWD power unit into the back of a Porsche 912! It turned it into a mid engined super car.
That’s a very cool SD1.
It would be even better if the Meteor were replaced by a Merlin. With some clever engineering, I am sure the supercharger can be made to fit.
Ive seen pics of thar Rover online what a weapon also online is a Rotorua hotrodder building a 32 Ford with supercharged Merlin, its in and runs (sounds awesome) but no transmission hooked up yet, Favourite thougn is a little Hillman Husky rego plate Baddog with a Simca/Ford flathead V8, just a tidy 55 Husky when its switched off and the bonnet shut you;d never know the engineering thats under there, cant load photos anymore unfortunately
Why not 2?
A VW lupo with an Audi V8 swapped in.
And the reverse. The engine donor Audi A8 received the 1.2l TDI from the Lupo
I expect an important issue in an unusual engine swap is what to do about the transmission.
If you keep the stock tranny, you have to measure and machine an adapter plate with high precision to get the shafts lined up right. (I know there are off-the-shelf adapters for common swaps.)
Or is it more common to swap the transmission as well (if it fits under the pan), mate it to the driveshaft and get its shift linkage connected somehow?
FWD swaps must be extra tricky.
People have been swapping engines into the classic mini for decades now, but there are definitely challenges. Basically it’s a matter of getting it in the right place and then fabricating driveshafts, but there are often geometry challenges.
There’s also a tradition of swapping in motorbike engines – you can buy the subframe to fit a 1000cc Yamaha R1 off the shelf. Saves a lot of weight and adds a lot of horsepower. Reverse gear is a problem though.
A friend swapped in a Porsche 911 engine into a VW Beetle (the rear engine aircooled version) and kept the stock transmission. I don’t recall whether it was a direct fit or he had to fabricate a adapter. Anyway, he had a real bomb for a while until the Porsche engine tore up the VW transmission. Eventually found a 911 transmission and installed it. Everything fine thereafter.
Lesson learned: consider the engine + transmission as a unit:
There is a Cub Cadet lawn tractor with a Garrett GTP-30-67 gas turbine repower running around here.
It’s true: mixing radial and bias ply on your Plymouth is dangerous. 🙂
Wonder if a (Gnome) Rotary engine would work?
The coolest local ones here seem to be in Austin cars—one guy had somehow got a 50’s Olds Rocket to fit in a tiny Austin. Another guy put a supercharged Thunderbird Super Coupe engine into his Austin…..really cool build where it looked like a fairly stock Austin on the outside. He said that he ran the 1/4 mile in the high 12’s, and I believe it……the car weighed just over 2000 lbs, as opposed to the around 4000 lb weight in the Super Coupes, so you’re doubling the power to weight ratio.
“Legal and properly registered”
I remember the British car mags from when I lived in England 20 years ago, and as a Dane I was shocked at what you’re allowed to do. In Denmark you have extremely little room to move. If you swap the engine, you still can’t exceed stock power by more than 20% which kind of ruins the point of swapping an engine. And you may still be subject to new registration so that if your vehicle is deemed to have transformed to a more desirable model after the swap, you may have to pay another registration tax – and in Denmark that is up often 180 percent.
One thing I learned back 20 years ago in England was that every single car model in Britain has had a Rover (Buick) V8 swapped in. So I really appreciate that that is exactly what was yanked out on the SD1. An ironic swap if you will.
I confess I have a weakness to monster engine swaps done on highway trucks before big power diesel, when if you needed to go over 300 hp you had to look outside the envelope, and Ray Ogg’s KW is probably one of the maddest. If you think this is a DD 12V71, look again (not that it would have been possible barring time travel in 51, but…). This is a V12 Hall-Scott Invader of about 2100 ci and possibly 600-700 hp. Ogg used to deliver fuel in Northern CA and wanted to safely overtake some pesky Greyhound coaches on the hills, so he went to KW and asked them to make the truck, and they happily obliged. Nowadays trucks with that sort of hp are not unknown, but in the late 40s early 50s a powerful truck would have had maybe 250, so you can imagine what a wild ride it was. Unfortunately it burnt to the ground a few years later, but the thought of recreating it is fascinating.
Now that may have been a match for Dennis Weaver’s Valiant up the mountain grades.
Empty definitely. The Peterbilt in the film, nope.
Although I didn’t actually see it, I once read about a guy who swapped in a Jaguar 4.2 liter inline 6 into a ’50s Chevy Pickup. (I know, an ironic situation considering how many Jaguar XJ-6 sedans had their engines swapped for small-block Chevy V-8s.)
Supposedly, the Jaguar six worked great in the Chevy, although the owner of the truck claimed that he was once physically assaulted by a Jaguar fan who became enraged at the sight of the Jaguar engine in a truck and who beat the owner with his (the fan’s) walking stick.
Was that by Dick O’Kane? Same article claimed that Moss gearbox shifts fine with long, truck-length shift lever.
Brabus and other tuners have been stuffing the V12 engines in smaller C-Class, E-Class, and GLK-Class cars should the customers wish…for a steep price of exclusivity.
There’s been a long-running rumour in the mid-aughts that some of Sprinter built for the Mexican government were fitted with V12 engines and called Sprinter-E. That didn’t stop a few tuners from transplanting the V12 engines into Sprinter.
In the early 50s a fellow put a 2000hp Merlin from a late/post war RAAF P51 into an FJ Holden here in Australia. It was a drag car attraction but clutch slip was a major problem. What clutch, what gearbox?
Volvo 240 with a helicopter engine. I heard about it many years ago and have forgotten the details. I believe it was a 245 with its roof chopped off as well. It was used and built at a military airport in Denmark.
It’s been done before!
I think the nuclear-powered DeLorean from Back To The Future is the gold standard.
I still smile when I think of the last swap I did, a 350TPI/TH700R-4 into a 307 Olds/TH2004-R equipped ’89 Caprice wagon.
23 years ago and we got another 130,000+ miles on it as a daily driver after the swap.
One of the more interesting ones I have seen was a Henry J with a Taurus SHO V6. Not sure what they used for a transmission but the car was still rear drive.
Not exactly an engine swap, but what about a homebuilt 8 liter Straight Sixteen engine?
Volvo Amazon with a 2.6 L Evinrude two stroke V8
1974 Mercedes 450 SL with a 1968 FORD 200 inline six and C4 automatic trans.
Reason for this swap: Mercedes V8 delivers 11 mpg, aged engine very costly to service
Now with the very simple but durable, lightweight compact Falcon/Mustang/Maverick six,
my ’74 450SL with Ford 200 six gets nearly 21 mpg on average (approx 19mpg in slow city, stop n go traffic, and around 23mpg to 24 mpg on interstate highway driving.
All this from a one barrel carb on the factory log intake manifold and stock early Ford Falcon air cleaner assembly. The electronic ignition distributor is Ford Duraspark from a 1979 Ford Fairmont. The radiator is from a 1965 Ford Mustang with a six cylinder.
Both the 1968 Ford 200 inline six and the Ford C4 automatic transmission were completely rebuilt before being installed into the 1974 Mercedes Benz 450SL.
Airconditioning compressor that was chosen was from a 1988 vw cabriolet because of its small compact size and highly efficient output (e.g. small sanden type compressor).
Basically, you have to adapt and build suitable motor mounts, radiator mounts, and airconditioning compressor mounting bracket, but much of that can be done with a variety of various available existing mounts/brackets from aftermarket and Ford/GM/Toyota, with only minor modifications to and possibly slight welding/cutting/adding of bracket/mount material.
Yes, the Ford 200 inline six probably has net horsepower of about 110hp to 115hp, but it is enough to reach 95 miles per hour, and it allows for comfortable 70mph to 79mph Interstate cruising. You aren’t going to reach 100 miles per hour unless you have a long downhill stretch of freeway. The FORD 200 inline six powered 450SL won’t be a speed demon or allow you to burn rubber, doing donuts in a parking lot like a 16 year old pimple faced high school dumbass.
It will be adequate to take you anywhere that you want to go with perfect reliability as long as you don’t expect to drive at 80+mph on the highway.
It will be adequate at merging on to freeways/interstate on ramps. You just should not expect to do any jackrabbit zero to sixty freeway onramp emerging in less than about twenty seconds. If you remember that it won’t do 0 to 60 in 16 seconds, you will be fine. Millions of sixties era Falcons & Mustangs and early seventies Mavericks travelled tens of millions of Interstate highway miles before Dec 31, 1973 when the posted speed limit was 70 mph and above. (USA speed limit was 55mph from Jan 1, 1974 to almost 1990..)
This 200 inline six Ford engine into an old Mercedes-Benz 450SL (R107 chassis) is very very simple to accomplish. You will have a smooth, quiet, extremely reliable, simple and more fuel efficient engine. Yes, it will be slower and will not have much power compared to the original Mercedes V8 , or to any Ford V8 / Chevy V8 / Buick V8 / Oldsmobile V8 / AMC v8 /Chrysler V8.
The FORD 200 inline six is the most compact inline six at less than 30 inches long, and it is very narrow in total width, and it is among the lightest 6 cylinder engines. It is also not very tall, so that ease of fitting it in the engine bay with the hood closing is not a problem at all.
I kept mine pretty much as Ford delivered the 200 inline six between 1965 and 1970 except using the Ford Duraspark ignition that did come out until the mid seventies.
It is possible to get significant horsepower from the FORD 200 inline six BUT YOU MUST SAWZALL OFF THE LOG INTAKE to get any horsepower improvement,
See YOUTUBE (…v=Iuzc3NSOjP8……first letter after v= is” Capital Eye”, then uzc3NSOjP8…)………youtoober known as Section8Motorpool placed a Ford Mustang 200cid in an MGB. Section8Motorpool also has a video showing explaining how he sawed off the Log Intake and then brazed on tubes in order to construct a custom home made intake that will allow for 170hp to 195hp from the Falcon/Mustang sewing machine 200 inline six.
Check it out.
Swap whatever makes you the happiest assuming that you don’t have emissions inspections in your local jurisdiction or state/province.
If you’ve got the time and if you’ve got the skills to Do It Yourself in your backyard or garage, then why the hell not do it to that old 450SL with a blown engine or that old XJ6 with a blown engine, or whatever other piece of trash TR6, TR7, Spitfire, MGB, FIAT 124 Spider, Alfa Romeo, Chevy Vega, Rambler American, whatever POS engined car that otherwise has redeeming qualities. Obviously the transplant engine MUST easily fit the particular car in question’s engine bay, but so many decent enough four cylinders such as TOYOTA 22R, TOYOTA 20 R, TOYOTA 2TC, TOYOTA 3TC, DATSUN L16, PONTIAC 2.5 liter IRON DUKE, FORD 2.3 LIMA, german ford 2.0 liter pinto engine seen in ’71-’73 PINTO & CAPRI,…..just to name some of the ancient simple and mostly bulletproof ones.
Obviously you have also a host of potential V8 and V6 candidates that are decent if not bulletproof. Size and weight do matter!! Ancient American V8 choices are FORD 302/ 5.0 liter, the Chevy smallblock 350 v8, the 1964-1967 Buick 300 V8 which is smaller-more compact than the Chevy 350 V8 and significantly lighter than the Chevy 350 v8 as the Buick 300 weighs about what the Ford 302/5.0 v8 weighs. The FORD 302/5.0 weighs almost 100 pounds LESS than the Chevy 350 V8 weighs. You also have decent old V8 engines from both AMC (290/304/360) and Chrysler (late sixties onward 318) as well as other ancient GM V8 engines which are decent such as OLDS 350 Rocket and some Pontiacs that aren’t too gigantic and heavy. The Buick 455 big block V8 is among the lightest and smallest-compact of any of the big blocks. The Buick 455 V8 is also decent.
That is a historic trip down the memory lane archives of ancient cast iron engines.
Hey, don’t limit yourself to just American junk iron from the 20th Century because its simple enough and cheap/easy enough, as we all know that American automobiles were POS compared to Japanese automobiles of the Seventies onward. So, heck yes, don’t overlook the Toyota V8-Lexus V8 of the past twenty years or even the ancient Supra inline six or the last 280Z Nissan inline six of forty + years ago. If you’ve got the skills to figure it all out, the sky is the limit. Look at what the aftermarket did to improve the POS oil leaking, crappy Chevrolet small block to where it is a solid, oil tight reliable engine. It only took GM about ten or eleven years to get the small block chevy to be a half way decent, reliable engine, which it did by 1965-1966 or so, after going from total POS in the mid fifties to early sixties. GM was always historically slow at getting it right, but they often did when they were smart enough to stick it out with a good idea. Too often, GM conceived some really awful designs such as the Corvair engine, and the Vega engine which were just poorly thought out and terribly executed.
Those two engines and the accompanying cars were hugely responsible for GM losing its prestige as the manufacturer know for the Mark of Excellence. Both the Corvair and the Vega were in fact beautiful cars, and not everything about them was bad, only the mechanical components that mattered (namely their powerplants) were awful and essentially ruined the cars. The wacky, nut-job Corvair collectors have in nearly 55 years since the Corvair went out of production, have figured out thousands of fixes that address the problems that GM couldn’t or didn’t bother to during that era. Believe it or not, there is a guy in South Carolina that designed a bolt-on electronic fuel injection system for the Corvair that works flawlessly. He built the system using a hodge podge conglomeration of all GM off the shelf efi parts. He must have been some ex-GM engineer and Corvair zealot. I think his name is Charley Brown, as the efi bolt on system is known as BROWN efi. It makes the Corvair a really nice driveable car that you can reliably drive anywhere. That just goes to show that almost anything is possible, as who would have thought that the Corvair could have been improved so much to become way more reliable than a Porsche and way more fun to drive too. You never can discount what those crafty Lemons racers, backyard tinkerers and other section eight oddball misfits with a dream and a few skills can come up with. That is what is so marvelous about the do-it-yourselfer in the old car hobby, because without them, you’d have just the same old, same old, and no improvements or innovations to transform something beyond POS status to beyond decent territory.