Nissan's twin-turbo V6 is compact, powerful, and incredibly tunable.
The engine powering the Nissan GT-R is one of the all-time greats. The hand-built twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine is a tightly packaged, aggressive, and lightweight unit. Currently, it generates brutal 565 horsepower and 467 lb-ft in the base model GT-R, up from 480 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque when it debuted in 2007. As it is a compact unit and takes to being tuned well, the Nissan VR38 series engines are an excellent candidate for swapping into cars with tighter engine bays. It's not a common swap, though, as getting hold of a GT-R engine is expensive, and getting to grips with the engineering required to put it in a car it wasn't designed for is even more financially prohibitive. It does happen, though, and these are the swaps that have excited us the most over the years.
When Aussie Tony Quinn decided his Ford Focus based hill climb monster needed crazy power to attack Pikes Peak, he first thought of Ford's Coyote V8. However, the Ford V8 wouldn't fit in his reworked Focus. So, a motorsports shop called PACE Innovations rebuilt the GT-R engine for him, using two bigger Garrett turbochargers, its own engine management, and E85 fuel to generate 850 hp. The Focus race car weighs just 2,200 lbs with 53/47 weight distribution. However, its crowning achievement is a barometric pressure sensor working with a speed sensor built into each turbo to adjust the boost pressure to deal with thinner air at higher altitudes.
A common complaint is that the Toyota 86's flat-four engine is underpowered, and could be fixed with a turbo. In the name of overkill, Street FX and GT Auto Garage got together and fixed the power issue with a GT-R engine, stroked to 4.1 liters. The companies also added a GT1000 Symmetrical Turbine kit for extra power, and a dry-sump system to help squeeze the engine under the hood. The end result is a hair raising 1,000 horsepower Toyota 86 with a six-speed sequential gearbox designed for both street and track driving. It must be absolutely terrifying to drive on the street. Some will call this build blasphemy, but we're going to call it a Toyobarussan, and we love it.
A more natural swap than a Nissan GT-R engine into a tiny Toyota sports car is putting the twin-turbo unit into a Nissan truck. A UK firm called SB Motorsport is doing just that by "taking full advantage of workshop downtime" during the coronavirus lockdown. The project is ongoing, but we've seen what this group can do before in the form of a crazy GT-R drift car, so keep an out in our news section for when the 1,000 hp GT-R engine hits the road. While the Navara is not available in the US, it's quite likely that the 2021 Nissan Frontier will be based on the international market Navara. That means you might be able to perform one of these swaps soon, too.
Top Secret's Kazuhiko 'Smokey' Nagata is a tuner legend and loves a Skyline GT-R. In this case, Nagata took a 1990s Skyline R32 model and put the modern VR38DETT engine into it. Being a Top Secret project, though, nothing is kept standard. The entire car was pulled apart and rebuilt in order to accept the whole transaxle gearbox assembly from the R35. The chassis was strengthened, the suspension upgraded, and massive 380 mm Brembo brakes added. The engine, amongst many other things, now has a pair Top Secret's 800Plus turbochargers and a set of bigger fuel injectors. The Top Secret team has been shy about giving power specs, but knowing Nagata's thirst for speed is unquenchable, it's going to be well north of a 1,000 hp.
The idea of putting a GT-R engine into a classic Mustang made its way into a Fast And Furious movie, but that was an earlier RB26 engine from a Skyline GT-R. A man named Jerry Fan made it happen in the real world and used the modern twin-turbo V6 engine. The GT-R powered car is a 1970 Mustang Fastback styled like a Mustang Mach 1. However, as well as the engine, the USDM/JDM mashup continues with some creative engineering to fit things like the GT-R's gauge cluster and center console in the interior. No power figures have been offered, and the engine looks stock, but even a stock GT-R engine will make a 1970 Mustang into an absolute beast, if an uncontrollable one.
The Nissan 240Z Fairlady is an iconic classic sports car. The Nissan GT-R is a modern sports car icon. Blending them together was never going to be an easy thing, but another Australian, Joel Dimmack, had a vision. Well, a second vision since the first actually failed, as engine swaps are no easy thing. Initially, he tried to fit an RB engine into a 270Z before learning valuable lessons then dreaming bigger. He found a 240Z that fit the criteria of being available but not too good to turn into a hybrid drift car. Dimmack found the right help, and the result is a stunning piece of engineering with a GT-R heartbeat. Last we heard, the GTZ was making between 650-700 hp through an Albins ST6-I 6-speed sequential transmission.
While landing a GT-R engine is an expensive proposition, swapping it into a car it's not built for is an even more costly outing. That's why putting it onto a seemingly unsuitable vehicle is a rarity. An engineering company called RML went ahead and put the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 into the engine bay of a Nissan Juke with the automaker's blessing, and it's a wonderfully absurd vehicle. Then came the Juke R 2.0, which is an epically pointless crossover capable of smoking supercars. None of the five built made it to the US, but European owners had 700 hp at their disposal. It's no surprise that there's only three left now as the other two were crashed - that short wheelbase made handling very, very snappy!
The final car on this list is a candidate for the most absurd and outrageous engine swaps you'll see. The Nissan Qashqai is an innocuous compact crossover related to the USDM Nissan Rogue. Severn Valley Motorsport is a UK tuning firm that also happens to be one of the most renowned Nissan GT-R tuners on the planet. SVM went to town on the engine, leaving almost nothing stock as the team rebuilt it to their own exacting specifications. There are a bunch of mind-blowing facts about this car. First, the Nissan Qashqai-R makes 1,500 hp. Second, it's road legal. Then, it has been clocked at 237.6 mph after hitting 62 mph in 2.7 seconds. Could this be the ultimate performance SUV?