Cool LS swap bro’, but check this out.
Online, you’ll see a lot of talk from people saying they want to swap this into that or that into this, but the reality is it’s typically a very long, complicated, and expensive proposition to swap a modern car engine for something different. LS V8 swaps are common because it’s generally the best bang for your buck as a mix of power and reliability. LS engines are also well documented and have the aftermarket to extract more power relatively inexpensively compared to other platforms.
However, some people don’t want to go down the well-documented route. For them, the point is the process, the learning, and the engineering creativity of engine swaps. They simply want to see how much engine they can fit into a small car or build something that will impress or baffle people or be just be plain fun to drive.
These are some of our favorite and most creative engine swaps from recent history. They may not all make sense from an economic or engineering point of view, but we salute the mad professors of engine swaps prepared to do something wild and different.
Taking two cars from the opposing sides of the Italian automotive spectrum and smashing them together has resulted in a 580-horsepower V12 powered monster of a compact car. There was no way the Lamborghini V12 would fit straight into a Fiat 500, and by the time they finished building it out they had turned it into its own car making 580 horsepower.
Taking advantage of the strength of old Volvo models and the room under the hood to drop in a V8 is fairly common. However, dropping an E60 BMW’s M5 V10 isn’t, and that’s exactly what owner Jesper Andersson has done. He still needed to strengthen the Volvo’s chassis though to deal with the 500 horsepower and relentless torque produced by the new lump.
One of the common complaints about the Toyota 86 is the lack of power from its four-cylinder Subaru boxer engine. Drifter Ryan Tuerck fixed this problem with Huddy MotorSports by shoehorning and reconfiguring the V8 from a mid-engined Ferrari 458 into the front engine bay of the 86. It’s a feat of fabrication and engineering that goes very, very, sideways indeed.
The BRZ has the same issue as the Toyota 86 as it’s the same car with the same engine. A Synergy V8 is basically two Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle engines that make 356 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque put together by JUN Auto Mechanic who then fitted it into the Subaru BRZ to build a time attack demo car. Of course, 356 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque aren’t big numbers, but the crazy part is in how the redline is a little higher than the stock BRZ’s 7,400 rpm. The Synergy powered BRZ screams all the way up to 11,600 rpm.
A drag racing Prius is something that was simply inevitable. The juxtaposition of one of the most despised cars by enthusiasts with the 6.2-liter supercharged crate engine from a bananas street legal drag racer is pretty much perfect. However, the builders went a step further and the Hellcat engine has been tinkered with to create a 1000 horsepower Prius.
You can’t do an engine swap list without a 2JZ being in there. In this case, a Japan-based owner wasn’t happy with their super smooth 6.75-liter V12 driven Phantom after its engine failed, so they enlisted someone to drop in a fully built turbocharged and supercharged 2JZ straight-six making a healthy 900 horsepower.
Back in the day, a powerful Saab meant torque steer but by the time the 9-3 came out that wasn’t a big issue. A gentleman named Zaccho Pelle apparently remembered that when he decided he liked his comfortable 9-3 Wagon but didn't find the power exciting enough. So, he went about rebuilding the 9-3 with rear wheel drive and getting 600 fresh horsepowers being delivered to them by an 8.4-liter V10 pulled out of a Viper SRT10.
Fitting a V8 into the engine space at the back of a 911 is something people have been doing with mixed results for a while now. These guys didn’t even try to fit it into the tiny engine bay though, and instead put the massive 8.2-liter V8 from a Cadillac Eldorado directly behind the driver and hid its 537 horsepower with a heat shield made to look like luggage. To Porschephiles it’s sacrilege, but the builder did it for the fun of the engineering challenge and finds the negative reactions funny.
One of the nice things about old big cars is they tend to have lots of room under the hood. In this case, SpeedKore Performance realized there's enough room for a twin turbo Mercury Racing V-8 QC4v crate engine pushing out 1,650 horsepower. That doesn’t just make it fast, it also makes it able to pull off burnouts of epic proportions right up until the tires disintegrate. There's something captivating about this one, and we would go as far as saying it's a work of art with another work of art under the hood.
Of course, nobody would be dumb enough to convert a Lexus LFA to standard factory Camry power. The Lexus LFA V10 goes down as one of the best engines of all time, but Japanese drift legend Yoichi Imamura didn’t think it had enough torque for drifting. So, he set about putting a Nascar Camry race engine under the hood to truly unhinge the LFA. Ultimately, the new engine cost an absolute fortune and pulled the car apart from the inside. It turned out to be a colossal waste of money despite the LFA being a flood salvage vehicle.
This is not the oft-forgotten American Ford Granada of the 1970s, but the Anglo-German designed Ford Granada that can best be described as an acceptable luxury car when put up against the actual prestige of BMW and Mercedes at the time. The Granada was not known for being a monster sleeper either. However, a Norwegian built this one out into a 600 horsepower Cosworth engined sleeper before deciding that wasn’t enough power. What he wanted was absolute insanity, and rebuilt it using the twin-turbo version of the Ford V8 that was used in the Koenigsegg CCX. Now the European beater is capable of 1,700 horsepower.
German builder Andre Pötsch has a history of taking small cars and putting absurdly large engines in them, but here he truly shines. He took the subcompact Volkswagen Lupo and put not one Volkswagen Phaeton W12 engine in it, but two. One 6.0-liter W12 sits in the front, and the other in the back, linked together by a 2.0 TDI manual gearbox. The dual-wielding W12 Lupo is easily one of the craziest builds we’ve seen and each engine makes 444 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.