Engine swaps and transplants.

"Insane engine swaps"

Engine swap

A popular modification with Torquecars members involves a complete engine swap and remains one of the most cost effective modifications you can do.

As long as there is sufficient space in the engine bay any engine can be made to work in any car although in most cases the work involved is prohibitive to say the least.

In an ambitious project you would have to strip the car to a shell and create custom drive train, create a custom gearbox and make a one off loom to cope along with a totally new engine computer.

So if someone asks "can I fit an XXXXX engine in my YYYYY car", the answer is yes but you should really be asking is it affordable and practical.

Generally speaking look at engines from the same manufacturer and preferably from the same model as these are usually mated to the same gearbox ranges and engine mounts are available off the shelf saving the time and effort of creating custom engine mounts yourself.

Check the legal requirements in your country relating to the construction use and registration of cars. Often you will need to submit an engineers report and re-register the car with the new engine. Insurers will also need to be notified of an engine change and may decline to insure you although there are plenty of specialist insurers out there for modified cars.

Finding a suitable donor car

Often high performance saloon engines will fit into smaller family or shopping car derivatives from the same manufacturer.

An engine swap remains one of the most cost effective ways to increase the power of a car.

When swapping in an engine which has twice the power of the current one you should also look at replacing the gearbox. Firstly the gearing will be so low you will not be able to fully exploit the top end of the engine and secondly you are likely to shred the current gearbox as it was not built for the power you are putting through it.

Research the swap you plan to do

Your first task is to ask around and see if and engine swap has been done before on your stock car and donor engine combination. Our forum is a great way to meet other owners who have done or are considering the same engine swap as you.

Find out first what is involved in your chosen project as these are rarely just drop in replacements and usually need an engine management upgrade and new wiring loom with many engine swaps needing different engine mounts and an amount of custom work such as shorter drive shafts.

Set yourself a budget, add another 50% for unexpected work and start looking around for your donor engine. If you can avoid one which has been sitting around for months you will avoid the need to rebuild the engine and there will be little corrosion which has built up.

Engine bay space is often at a premium and you can always relocate the battery and some of the engine electrics to the boot if you are very tight for space.

Check the new engine and rebuilt worn parts

(When engines are left without coolant and engine oil for more than a few days corrosion can be a real problem especially around the core plugs). When stripping down an engine always replace the cylinder head bolts and rod bolts but there is no need to replace the main bearing cap bolts with new ones.

It is also worth replacing the core plugs (which pop out when the engine freezes) when you have the engine out of the car and you should take the opportunity to replace these with new parts.

Engine swap

Whenever you fit an engine to a car I would recommend stripping it down first, inspecting and replacing worn parts, and rebuilding it to ensure that it is reliable. You should aim at a minimum to  replace the core plugs, head gasket and cylinder head bolts.

While the head is off you also get an opportunity to inspect the engine for damage and can decide in advance whether more extensive engine work is required or cost effective -  usually for the extra cost involved you will save yourself a great deal of hassle later on dealing with component failures.

When you have a stripped down engine you have a fantastic opportunity for tuning and can save a small fortune if you get all of the engine modifications done at the same time so look into engine balancing, fitting larger valves, gas flowed machined head, crank lightening and even a lighter flywheel and clutch.

Most of these will involve a great deal of man hours stripping and rebuilding the engine again should you decide to do these at a later date. Replacing the oil pump, water pump and fuel pump is also a good idea at this stage as a failure can be catastrophic undoing the work you have done and requiring another rebuild.

Checks after the engine is fitted

With the new engine fitted check all of the leads pipes and hoses are connected, there should not be any exposed connections. when you are satisfied start the engine and let it run for a few seconds. Check the engine for leaks and look at the oil level  and pressure, water level and look on the ground for leaks.

An engine will usually take a few hundred miles to properly bed in so keep the revs down and watch the temperature gauge and oil pressure gauge constantly. If you have stripped down the engine and fitted new pistons and rings run in the engine afterwards carefully.

The run in drive should be with low rev & high stress driving such as hills and acceleration, changing the oil and filter after 200 miles and then after 500 miles and 3000 miles to get rid of the metal fragments that will collect in the oil and prematurely wear the engine. (Do not use any oil additives in this run in period or for the first 9000 miles as these will stop the bedding in process.)

Please join us in our friendly forum to discuss engine swaps, if you have done or are currently in the middle of an engine swap we'd love to hear about it. Forum membership is completely free and gives you access to our members gallery with work in progress reports and finished project pictures. Click here to join.

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2 Responses to “More power with an engine swap a simple guide”

  1. Taiwo says:

    Thank you for your beautiful work. I am about mounting a Golf engine on my Peugeot 207 have been looking for this info all over to support my seemingly ‘radical’ decision. I just got that info at no cost, thanks to your effort. Again, thank you.

  2. Vincent Paquet says:

    Hi, I’m currently a diesel mechanic at EMEMM (Quebec) student and I have a kind of special question.

    Usually, I hate all FWD vehicles, except one – the Acura~Honda Legend, because it has a longitudinal engine like a RWD, which is rare for FWD cars and it has A LOT of space under the hood, even it’s V6 3.5 looks ridiculously small….

    So, I wondered, using an adapter plate and swap any of those engines inside

    Viper Engine V10 (any)
    BMW V8 4.4L or 4.0L
    BMW V10 5.0L
    BMW V12 6.0L

    After fitting one of those to the car’s transmission, what problems I could encounter? Do you have any advice? I don’t think anyone thaught before to put a V10 or V12 under it’s hood – so it could be really called LEGEND

    I’ve been told it could break the differential having this much torque…

    Thank you

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