TALK SHOP: Insane Engine Swaps

Earlier today, we talked shop with John Potucek of Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. to whet your appetite for tonight’s insane engine swaps coverage. THIS is how ya swap!

#1 “Sometimes only a Cummins will do.”

Roadkill - Courtesy of Motor TrendAlthough reported last year, who could forget the rotted-out Cadillac that received a Cummins diesel powerplant transplant on Roadkill? The team sought help from Tony Angelo and Lucky Costa of Hot Rod Garage. Together, the crew created a wild Cummins/Cadillac Frankenstein’s monster under the Cruella Deville hood.

“It’s not pretty; the car is peppered with rust holes, wears heavily pitted chrome and sports an interior that is missing a great deal of trim. For the Cummins, a crashed Ram 3500 is found, packing the tried-and-true Cummins B Series 5.9-liter engine,” said Motor Trend.

But thanks to the Caddy’s large engine bay, the diesel transplant was relatively simple. After reconnecting hoses, wiring and a quick fuel conversion, the ‘Bro-Ham’ Caddy was road ready. “Initially, the Cummins didn’t impress, leading the crew to label it as the slowest project car they’ve worked on to date. But Tony Angelo is familiar with these engines so after tweaking the fuel system, the Cummins turned into the tire-smoking, coal-rolling dynamo they were hoping for,” continued Motor Trend. ‘Nuff said.

#2 “We found a Saab 9-3 Sport Combi with an unlikely Viper V10 transplant.”

Engine Swaps - Saab - Courtesy of AutoblogIt may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. And in the words of Motor Trend, it was a risky build “born from snakes, conceived after someone bought a Dodge Viper that was no longer safe to drive after a rollover accident. Fortunately, the V-10 engine and its accompanying chassis components were intact, so the owner did the only logical thing: stuff the parts into a Saab 9-3 SportCombi wagon.”

This so-called “9-3 SRT10 Megapower, a play on Saab’s eco-minded BioPower label,” wasn’t a simple engine swap. “The builders were forced to cut out parts of the Saab’s front subframe to accommodate the massive V-10 engine, hack up the floor plan to fit a transmission and driveshaft tunnel and even chop a hole in the firewall, so the big engine can poke through from the engine bay,” continued Motor Trend. And according to the forum threads, there was quite a long bonding session between the builders and local Swedish authorities about whether or not this car should be deemed street legal due to restrictions involving the power to weight ratio. Looks like the builders won that battle!

#3 “You mean someone actually stuffed a 5.0 V8 from a Mustang in this Porsche Cayman?”

Porsche V8 SwapIt-kinda-fits… Sorta. “Fit, of course, is a relative term here. The V8 sticks out of the Cayman’s engine compartment, as it’s a much taller engine than a Porsche’s flat-six,” said Road and Track. Now you just have to decide if it’s engine-building heresy or pure genius. Power By The Hour Performance released a YouTube video of this first-generation Porsche Cayman powered by the 5.0L Coyote V8 from a Ford Mustang.

“We’re dealing with an ex-generation Porsche Cayman whose owner blew the factory flat-six and, upon analyzing the costs, came to the conclusion that a Ford Coyote swap would be more affordable,” said autoevolution. It’s hard to dispute 428 horsepower and 363 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. And “to use the crank horsepower manufacturers provide, we’re dealing with a Cayman that packs well north of 450 ponies,” said autoevolution. That’s while “retaining the instant and liner response delivered by natural aspiration and seriously upping the ante on the aural front,” they continued. Long live American horsepower!

#4 “Yep. Someone stuffed a Ferrari 458 V8 into a Toyota 86…”

Ferrari Swap - Courtest of Road and TrackIf you’re looking for the most beastly of rumbles, look no further than a Toyota GT86 with a Ferrari 458 engine mounted up front. “It’s like an LS-swap, but infinitely more complicated!” said Road and Track. And make no mistake, this is not bolt-on magic.

According to Jalopnik, there are many custom parts and clever modifications that make this build primo. Drifter and engine-swapping madman Ryan Tuerck debuted the car’s throaty noise live on Facebook. Because really, where else would you announce such a crazy project this day ‘n age?

And it’s as ri-donk-u-lous as a drift car build gets. The sounds, oh the sounds. It was like “like beasts picking fights with other beasts,” said Jalopnik. “The windshield frame had to be cut in order to accommodate the V8’s big air intakes, which now face backwards as this motor was designed to be mounted behind the driver. It also looks like the V8 is sitting quite high in the frame, which makes sense given that the 86 was engineered around a much lower flat-four engine,” continued Road and Track. Count us in for a spin!

#5 “Because an American LS1 V8-powered Porsche 911 is anything but sacrilege.”

LS1 Swap - Courtesy of Road and TrackPorsche fans are like old-school Jeepers—purists. “Just look what happened when Porsche decided to, shock and horror, install a radiator in the 996-chassis 911,” said Road and Track. “Due to their persnickety nature, they’re especially fun to troll, and I can think of no better troll than a 911 with an LS1 V8 from a Corvette mounted where a flat-six usually lives,” continued Road and Track.

The Americanized LS1 delivers 390 horsepower to the rear wheels via a stock 915 trans axle. But our records show both the gearbox and limited slip have been rebuilt as part of the project. That’s big power gains from a stock 1986 911 once making 217 horsies!

#6 “A classic Datsun 510 serves as inspiration for one of the coolest builds EVER.”

Datsun Swap - Courtesy of Speed HuntersWe conclude with a nostalgic throwback that tugs at the heartstrings. Most drivers tank their first ride as soon as a steady paycheck allows for an upgrade. But not Cameron Lees of South Australia. According to Speed Hunters, “He purchased his first car—this Datsun 1600 (510)—at the ripe old age of 15, two whole years before he could legally drive by himself in Australia.”

Now, these little buggers pack a punch in the fun department fully stock, but Lees had more serious plans for his beloved Datsun. Plans that would increase the performance to a straight up 10. “Originally, the 510 was running an upgraded L20B and the standard 1600 4-speed gear box. Cam says it was a great little performer in the hills, but was all a bit rough for his taste. At the age of 19, he tucked the car away in a garage for a full restoration and an SR20 engine swap. While the original antique L-series motors are an object of beauty, they’re 30 years behind the game in terms of technology and development. Given that decent power was always the dream for this build, there were only a few options for a replacement engine, and for Cam an SR20DET made the most sense,” said Speed Hunters.

And before long, Lees was presented with an offer too good to refuse. “Local auto wrecker JDM Spares had imported a Japanese S14 Silvia time attack car, and although their original plan had been to swap the running gear into a S15 in Australia, a change in direction meant the SR20 was no longer needed. Suffice to say, the engine was capable of a lot of power, so the thought of dropping it in a car that weighs less than 1000kg (2200lb) was an opportunity that simply couldn’t be passed up,” continued Speed Hunters.

Keeping our composure was challenging upon learning the aftermarket goodies living under the hood. It’s like a tuner king’s wish list come true. Performance hardware includes HKS 264-degree cams in the ported cylinder head and a GReddy Performance intake manifold plenum, fuel rail and 1000cc injectors. We’re not done. Check out the GReddy oil pump, Splitfire coil packs and a 70mm throttle body from a N15 Pulsar.

“The larger intake and bigger injectors are absolutely essential for the build, because without them the HKS 3037S GT Pro turbocharger would never reach its full potential. Cameron’s years of expertise setting up race cars and big-power projects is evident when you trace the pipe work that supports his oversized hair dryer. Designed and fabricated in-house at Cam’s own workshop, Solid Engineering & Mechanical, each path is well thought out to reduce length and unnecessary bends,” continued Speed Hunters. This is one cool cat.

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