Don’t get me wrong, an LS swap is fine in my book. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s the most common way of beefing up underpowered cars, and if so many are using it, then it has to be worth it. However, this time we’ll leave out the obvious LS swaps like fitting the modern engine into the vintage car. Here are the 20 best engine swaps we’ve come across. Some are downright menacing, some are outright outrageous, some are incredibly stupid, and some are all sixes and sevens. Some are even cool. You be the judge which of these belongs under which category.
Check Out These Crazy Engine Swaps!
Jeep Wrangler With 6.2L HEMI SRT Hellcat V8
Guess you already heard about this one, so I thought to get it out of the way ASAP. What is it? It’s basically the anniversary version of the Jeep Wrangler powered by the colossal 707-hp Mopar V8. It was built to commemorate the 50th annual Easter Jeep Safari and the 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand itself. That’s not all. Pennsylvania-based tuner Hauk Designs actually used to fit the HEMI into Wranglers on their own for a time. 50 of them were made and they used to cost $130,000 or thereabouts.
Ferrari 308 GTS With Pontiac Fiero Engine
Uh, where to even begin with this one? First thing, you’re going in the wrong direction, dude! Put the Ferrari engine into the Fiero, not the other way around. Secondly, the Fiero’s V6 can’t really fit Ferrari’s mid-engine layout, so it has basically ruined all the swagger that the Ferrari had. Third and last thing, this actually makes some sense. Hear me out. There was actually a 308-inspired kit for the Fiero back in the late eighties. It was called the Pontiac Mera and it even came with Ferrari 308 replica set of wheels. Needless to say, Corporate Concepts which created the Mera got sued by Ferrari for ripping off their sports car which lead to the settlement outside of the court. Once more, needless to say, that was the end of Mera.
Radial Aircraft Engine Powered VW Type 1
Say you have an older Baja Bug (tastefully updated with a matte black paint scheme) but are at a lose for what engine to install. Every version of VW, Porsche, and Corvair has been done to death. There are even VWs running around with Small Block Chevys hanging off the back. No, to be truly original you need a Continental W670-9A seven cylinder air-cooled radial aircraft engine. The engine, which was first introduced in 1934, is rated at 250 horsepower and weighs 550 lbs. While primarily an aircraft engine it was used in a variety of applications, and this 1941 model was pulled from an M2 tank. Bore is 5.125 inches with a 4.625-inch stroke, giving the engine total displacement of 668 CID. While the car was finished a coupe of years ago with plans to take it to Bonneville to determine it’s ultimate performance, but as of yet the VW’s not hit the salt.
Golf Mk II with Cadillac Northstar V8
People at CWS who have conducted this engine swap actually managed to fit the entire Northstar V8 into the compact Volkswagen Golf’s engine bay. Now the German boxy compact has around 300 horsepower at tap and its suspension is constantly under pressure. In fact, the engine’s weight practically glues the wheel arches and tires together, but hey – you gain some, you lose some. Coupe DeGolf rides, though, and it rides sharp.
Yugo GV With Two Cadillac 500 V8s
Oh, boy, here we go again. Spending a few bucks on air freshener for this car is money thrown away, but conducting a full upgrade is downright insane. We’ve covered this one a while ago. Although the owner uses it on Auto Cross events, that still doesn’t make it less insane. One Caddy 500ci up front and one in the trunk give this Yugo around 900 hp which is 20 times more than the stock figure. It also weighs much, much more, and heats up in a jiffy. In fact, there’ no need for heating whatsoever. Let the engines take care of that.
Subaru BRZ With Synergy V8
First of all, what’s a Synergy V8? It’s a unique V8 engine comprised of two 1.2L Kawasaki Ninja 4-cylinders on a shared crankshaft. JUN Auto is one quality Japanese tuning house that even creates their own engines, as evidenced here. Now, the Kawasaki Synergy V8 makes 356 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque which doesn’t look like much. What it also does is that it redlines at no less than 11,600 rpm. As if BRZ’s stock 7,400 rpm redline wasn’t enough already. What’s even better, it can be yours for “only” $70,000.
Sherman Tank Engine Powered Ford Mustang
During WWII Ford was a huge defense supplier building bombers, Jeeps and whatnot. They also wanted to get into the aircraft engine business, for they developed a monster 60 degree V-12 with four vales per cylinder and DOHC, all cast from aluminum. A pretty modern engine for a company still installing Flatheads in their cars. The Army and Navy said no to the plane engine, but the Army asked if Ford could create a V8 from the V12 to power Sherman tanks. The result was the Ford GAA, the largest Ford V8 ever built. It displaced 1100 CID (18 L) and produced 525 hp and a very tank-like 1000 ft-lbs of torque. Many still exist and one intrepid Mustang racer is in the process of building a car around a GAA. See the big tank motor in the car does help provide a sense of scale of how large the GAA is.
Chevrolet Corvair With Jaguar V12
It’s not the only beefed up Chevrolet Corvair we’ve seen around, but it is one of the most interesting ones we’ve come across. Fitting the huge Jag V12 inside Corvair’s engine bay might seem like a tedious task, but Jay Eitel who’s an engineer actually enjoyed it. Apart from the venerable V12 additionally stroked to 347 cubic inches, Jay installed two Buick V6 fuel injection systems. That’s only the surface of it as small details like like stuffing the fuel injection pickups onto the cam sprockets or building his own headers took even more time. The end result – a reward-winning overpowered Corvair.
Volvo 242 Coupe With E60 BMW M5 V10
What Swedish cars of the seventies and eighties lacked the most were the looks. No doubt about it. Although sufficiently powered, a few extra ponies doesn’t hurt as well. That’s exactly what this Volvo 242 Coupe owned by Jesper Andersson has. Courtesy of a V10 stolen from BMW M5 (E60). It’s not only about fitting the 500-horsepower mill into the engine bay, though. It’s also about massaging the chassis in order to sustain all that extra power.
Helicopter Gas Turbine Engine Powered Mini Cooper
This isn’t actually an engine replacement, but rather the additional of a second engine. A two engine car. There’s a Cooper “S” engine driving the front wheels, and a Rolls Royce-Allison 250-C20B gas turbine engine driving the rear. This engine, which is not a jet in the sense that it produces thrust from combustion to move the aircraft forward, but rather a gas turboshaft engine – in this case designed to power helicopter rotor blades. Though compact, the gas turbine produces 420 hp with over 400 ft-lb of torque. If you look carefully at the photo, you’ll notice a second rood on the Mini. It’s actually an air intake for the gas turbine, with a control in the cockpit to open the vent for turbine operation or close the vent so that the gas turbine doesn’t ingest rain water, leaves, small children – you know, the usual stuff.
Toyota 86 With Ferrari 458 V8
Now we’re talking. This is how the engine swap should look like. Fitting one performance legend with another one’s powertrain. However, stuffing Ferrari’s mid-placed V8 into front-engine layout Toyota 86 isn’t exactly easy. It’s an ongoing project that will take some time to complete but we’re already looking forward to seeing the end result. Here’s the video.
Porsche 911 With Corvette LS1 V8
Ok, this one is a pure sacrilege. The Corvette LS1 V8 is a great engine, no doubt about it, but so is Porsche’s horizontally opposed straight-six. Discarding such dissonance-free beauty of an engine shouldn’t be an option. It’s only justifiable if the engine is already dead and gone. It’s not the most complicated of engine swaps, but it isn’t one of the simplest as well.
Plymouth Pickup With Jacobs Radial Airplane Engine
Another one we’ve covered a while back. This 1939 Plymouth pickup isn’t only powered by the 757ci Jacobs radial airplane engine, it’s also completed in riveted raw steel fashion. You can see the radial mill sticking out of the gloriously shiny and raw hood, and you can bet it creates a lot of smoke. No need to mention the ingenuity and engineering prowess required to complete this swap.
Goggomobil With Vedeneyev M14P Radial Airplane Engine
Someone mentioned the radial engine swap? How about this one?! You really need to be mad in order to squeeze in the 10L airplane engine in something as small as Goggomobil with the wheelbase of only 71 inches. That and you need to be quite an accomplished engineer. And while Vedeneyev M14P produces up to 360 hp, Goggomobil only managed to deliver 20 hp. Another one of obvious discrepancies between them. Kudos to Uwe Wulf who’s made us wonder about the extense of human mind’s capabilities.
Nissan 240SX Cummins Turbo Diesel
Normally when one sees a 1992 Nissan 240SX with engine swap, it’s the underpowered OEM four-cylinder normally-aspirated engine being replaced by a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) turbocharged DOHC four cylinder from the Japanese version of the same car. This builder, for whatever reason, went the other direction – in this case Indiana where Cummins diesel engines are manufactured. Well, the engine didn’t come directly from Indiana but rather spent the first part of its career powering a bread van. Now the four cylinder 3.9 L Cummins 4BT fits under the under the hood (mostly) of a Nissan 240 SX. Stock the Cummins produces 105 hp and a modest 265 lb-ft of torque, but has been upgraded with a Holset HX35 turbocharger and a Garrett intercooler. We could find a power rating but one thing you can’t away from is that the engine assembly weights over 800 lbs. (can you say “understeer”?)
DeLorean DMC-12 With Buick Twin-Turbo V6
Let’s forget all the pros and cons of the DeLorean altogether and face on the limitations it has when it comes to potential engine swap. There’s the mid-engine layout which needed to be bypassed, first and foremost. So, when guys from Dutteiller Performance decided to put a Buick Grand National’s 4.3L V6 in it, that’s exactly what they needed to do. Moreover, they’ve added a couple of turbos and numerous fresh parts at the same time. The end result – 580-horsepower DeLorean that puts Dr. Brown’s time-traveling one to shame.
Lotus Esprit With Ford SHO V6
The Lotus Esprit used to be one fine car in its time, but it initially offered quite an anemic powerplant for its class. How do you remedy that? By conducting an engine swap, of course. This Esprit had received nothing other than early Ford Taurus SHO V6 mill capable of making 220 horsepower. Needless to say, that Taurus SHO was very much underrated in terms of its actual power output. The important thing is that the SHO and Esprit were a perfect match. And, what do you call it? A SHOtus?
Mini Cooper With LS2 V8
When you decide to fit such a large engine into such a small car, it’s not an engine swap anymore. Basically, it then becomes a body build around the engine. This Mini Cooper nicknamed “The Monster” features a 6.0L LS2 V8 engine under its short and tight hood. It looks horrible but it flies.
Mini With QSK78 Cummins Engine For Mining
You think “The Monster” Mini from above is badass? What to say about this one, then? It packs the gargantuan QSK78 Cummins diesel engine found in equally gargantuan mining dump trucks. This 3,500 hp beast has 78L displacement (no, it’s not the 7.8L, it’s the 78L), 12 turbos, and produces 10,157 lb-ft of torque. In order to accommodate the powerplant which is clearly larger than the car itself, Mini needed the extended wheelbase. Way extended wheelbase, I might add. Let the pictures do the talking.
Chevrolet Camaro With Duramax V8
Duramax diesel in a Camaro? Why not! It’s not that the 6.6L mill is that much bigger than the V6 and V8 installations that usually go in it. This 2010 Camaro SS was made what it is today by its owner – Nathan Mueller from Minnesota. Never mind the horsepower, the Camaro now produces 896 lb-ft of torque. That’s not all. As a bonus, Nathan also swapped 2006 Dodge Charger’s stock engine for 5.9L Cummins diesel V8. That car delivers even more. A whopping 1,100 lb-ft of torque. Diesel Power!
Jet Engine Powered VW New Beetle
Here’s another dual engine concept, retaining the OEM engine and drivetrain to maintain legality and street-worthiness, but with a General Electric Model T58-8F in the rear cargo area. This is also a helicopter turboshaft engine that was converted by the builder to a jet engine through some internal modifications and a custom tailpipe (it might be worth mentioning here that the builder has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stamford, so I think we can trust him). The engine spins up to 26,000 RPM (idle is 13,000 RPM), draws air at 11,000 CFM through open windows and the sunroof, and is rated at 1350 hp. The engines comes in at a lightweight only 300 lbs. There’s no mention of any speeds recorded for the jet-assisted VW Beetle, which is probably the way the low-key owner would like to keep it.
Lada 2104 Wagon With Nissan 4-Cylinder
And not just any 4-cylinder – it’s Nissan Silvia-sourced SR20DET which already packs twice the power of this Lada in its stock form. This wouldn’t have been a crazy engine swap had it not featured some extra flavor, though. Sleeper Lada wagon now packs around 400 horsepower and accelerates from 0 to 62 in just 4.6 seconds despite its horrendous aerodynamics. It only lacks the Adidas stripes and logo in order to become the ultimate Gopnik car. Well, at least it has the hammer and sickle.
Jeep Wagoneer With Ferrari V12 (Jerrari)
This engine swap was conducted years ago, but it’s still one of the craziest ones ever completed. The Jerraris (two were made) were basically Jeep Wagoneers with Ferrari engines, while one of them (1969 version) also featured the Ferrari 365 front end. 1977 Jerrari has Daytona V12 engine and it’s still exhibited at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. The same can’t be said about the Wagoneer/365 mashup which has lost its Ferrari V12 mill some time ago.
1967 Pontiac Firebird With Toyota Prius Hybrid System
This ongoing project we’ve covered a while back is more than a simple engine swap. It’s more than even a complex engine swap, for that matter. This is a full restoration and mashup of two entirely different platforms and philosophies as a whole. When it finally gets completed, it’ll ride on a Prius platform with all the perks of the hybrid powertrain, but it’ll look like a good old ’67 Firebird. Is there anything more one could ask for than economical classic muscle car?
Nash Rambler With Ferrari 360 V8
We’re concluding this list with another one of Ferrari-borrowed engine swaps. This one actually turned up quite well. Tim Divers and Mike Warn used the 1960 Nash Rambler body and 2002 Ferrari 360 Modena powerplant in order to create – wait for it – the Ferrambo. Not only that the 3.6L V8 packs close to 400 horsepower, but Ferrambo was completely overhauled in order to look as plush as possible. It even kept the rear-mid engine layout of a Ferrari in a way. Where else would you have put the engine but inside the trunk?
So start asking yourself: “what engine fits my car?” and get working on a crazy project of your own!