This week's Community Question is about questionable engineering you've seen when someone performs an engine swap on a vehicle. I once saw a Lotus-engineered Corvette LT-5 in a 1969 Camaro, but it was surprisingly well done. And I've seen LS-swapped vehicles of all shapes, sizes, and budgets...and they all seem to be as good as their budgets allow them to be. 😁
Then I came across this video from the 24 Hours of Lemons, where they profile a race team that put a Ford 2.3L Pinto motor into a Mercedes C-class. That might be one of the weirdest swaps I've ever seen!
So the question remains, what's the weirdest motor swap you've ever seen?
Back in the day, a guy I knew blew up the engine in an MGC. He put a Ford six cylinder in it and turbocharged it. This was in the '70s when a turbocharger was a pretty wild idea. It had some sloppy areas, like where he wired the Ford alternator in, and some bracketry was kinda sketchy, but he drove it for a while.
The oddest we have done is a 428 Pontiac in a Jag.
But I have seen a number of odd things in my area. With the Arfons family there was a history of Allison and GE jet engines. They did put a Jet in a Smart car.
The one that tops all are two guys from Millersburg Ohio. It is the heart of Amish country. They took a E bay purchased Jet engine and installed it in a Amish buggy.
It is called Thunder Buggy check it out.
I've looked at that car very close-up. It is truly a masterpiece of engineering. He managed to fit a Jag V12 under the hood of a Corvair, with no external mods- not even a grille! He acquired a 63 Pontiac Tempest drag racing transaxle, which is two Powerglides connected both to the front of the diff, and the rear of the diff. He actually complimented me on my Type 34 Turbo Corvair powered Karmann-Ghia. He even made adaptors to use stock 13" wheel covers on his 14" wheels. What an awesome car!
30 years ago a guy traded my uncle a Chevelle as payment to hack up a Chevette and stuff a 350 small block in it. He (that guy) then proceeded to blow up said Chevette.
I'd forgotten this until your post.
Small blocks in a Rolls were surprisingly common. I think it was a cost and convenience move since bringing your RR to the dealer meant a huge bill and the seals they used kept DIYers from working on the car without voiding the warranty. Yes, there were some owners who preferred to do their own maintenance. My dad worked with one such guy in the '70s. He bought the car used and realized the dealer service bills would soon exceed what he paid for the car. Enter the 350 that performed better than the original engine and had an exhaust sound that raised a few eyebrows in LA's Century City.
It was decades ago ... probably early- to mid-90s ... I went to look at a used car, it was a Pontiac Sunbird with a GM 350 V-8. They told me you had to take the fenders off in order to access the spark plugs. I heard it run but declined to test-drive it. It looked a little too "cobbled-together" for my comfort, and I'm no gearhead. It had a severe forward rake, too, and probably not much in the way of properly-adapted suspension in the front.
A few decades ago, I remember being at a discount bookstore and (forgive me if I remembered any of this incorrectly) found a softcover book "Peterson's Book of Engine Swaps". One of the last builds featured a Fiat 850 with an Olds Toronado engine/transmission stuffed under the vented rear decklid. Wish I'd bought the book!
Back in the early 80's I saw an early 70's Datsun pickup with a complete late 60's Olds Toronado drivetrain complete with its 425 mounted in the back providing 385hp of rwd power
Below is a 1980's vintage chevy S-10 with a Geo Metro 3 stuffed into it sitting in front of a series wound 9" DC motor that was coupled to the 5 speed the S-10 came with. The engine and motor were coupled with an electric clutch so it could run pure EV, pure engine, or adjustable combined power. I actually drove this contraption to not one but two American Tour De Sol wins back in 1997 and 1999. We even converted the engine to propane. It was a waste of a good S-10 but we had a lot of fun and it gave me a lot of confidence in my engineering skils.
My dad and uncle (his younger brother) were always into cars. I've seen pictures from the 60's of them working on cars. They have both done all sorts of race cars and many different swaps. But the one that comes to mind for me was in the 80's (I think 84 or so) my uncle decided to take a late 70's-early 80's Toyota Corolla and shove a Ford 302 in it!! He had to remove/modify the firewall to get it to fit! HAHAHA I was amazed at that thing! And, it RAN! Like crazy fast. He also made sure it didn't look any different on the outside, so a true sleeper. Man the fun times of growing up in a car-fanatic family. My dad took my '79 Fox body Mustang and swapped the 4-cyl/4spd over to a built out 302 and 5-spd when I was 16. Ummmm after many, many trips to the lawyers office to resolve a traffic ticket, I finally let that car go when I was 20yo. Man I miss that car! Have thought of recreating it, but notchback fox body Mustangs have gotten a bit pricey in this crazy car market. Man I miss those days!!!
I want to LT4 swap one of those Grumman LLV postal vans. Should be pretty straightforward since the basic chassis is and S10. Also they should be plentiful once the USPS starts getting their new delivery vehicles, as they start to replace the LLV’s they should be real cheap to acquire.
E.J. Potter was the guy who put an Allison 1750 V-12 in a Plymouth Valiant station wagon. That was too heavy to get the results he was looking for, so he put the Allison on a trailer spinning a big DC electric generator, and a DC motor from a big fork lift on the diff of the Valiant. He used a 1350 foot long extension cord to connect the two, but that didn't work out. So he put the motor in an Austin America, and used a pair of bare cables stretched from the start line to the traps that the car picked up power from. He called it the 1 to 1 slot car.
When I was in college in the late 60s, had a fraternity brother who had access to his father's repair shop where a very sharp maintenance guy was employed. They managed to put a Cadillac V-8 with 6 2-barrel carburetors (out of a ski boat) into the back seat area of a VW Beetle! With the body off, they cut the frame out, everything from the back of the front seats to the rear, boxed it all in with square tubing, mounted the engine, a clutch, a u-joint then the rear-end bolted solid to the frame. Mounted the radiator where the old engine was with electric fans. It had forward only with an electric solenoid to hold the clutch disengaged so if he had to turn around or reverse, we would climb out and pick the front end up and turn it! It was rough riding, hot and could reach back and mess with the carbs if you had to, but it was a helluva machine to ride in!! Miss those days...
Once had a Craigslist buyer come to the house to buy a Zodiac inflatable boat. He was driving 45 miles in a 78 Ford F-150 that had a 4 cyl forklift engine swap.
Having once owned a Goggomobil -- a 10 foot long, sub-1000 pound 1950s-era German microcar -- with a seized engine, while waiting for parts for a rebuild I stumbled on this swap on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLACDB5B8977BE4DFC In a tiny car that usually sported a 2-cylinder 250cc engine someone stuffed a 9-cylinder 10 liter radial aircraft engine! My first thought upon seeing it was that I didn't know how the 12 inch wheels and 46 inch track would keep the little sedan from flipping over sideways from the torque alone.
Way back in '67, while I was shopping for my first car in Long Island's Buy Lines, there was an ad for a "Bugeye" Sprite with a 421 Pontiac in it's little nose. I never saw it, but it was sure there! I ended up with my '58 Olds S-88 convertible w/ J-2.
In UK racing back in the 1960's and 70's was a "Special Saloon" class which allowed pretty much any modification that could be dreamt up, with the only restriction being that the engine had to be in approximately the original location, i.e. front-engine: most of the engine needed to be forward of the cars center, rear-engine: most of the engine needed to be behind the cars center. A Ford Escort fitted with a Jaguar E-type engine blew off most of the competition, then the same driver came up with a Ford Capri powered by a big block American V8. The coup de grace was a F1 style spaceframe chassis complete with Cosworth DFV and Hewland transaxle hidden beneath a Skoda (Soviet Bloc piece of crap) bodyshell. That thing was almost as fast as the formula cars.
At the LA Auto Show one year, there was a college group that displayed a Taurus with a JDM Honda 1-liter 3-cylinder that charged the battery pack. This was years before the Volt. The car also had a hand-formed fiberglass front end to improve aerodynamics and reduce weight. They claimed over 80 mpg. It was a super clean conversion except for the fiberglass work.
This isn't all that unusual but I have a neighbour who put a 283 in a 1972 Datsun 1200 Fastback. He was about 22 at the time. He put together a tube frame and installed a bullet proof transmission and narrowed rear end. It had wide slicks on and was street legal. Passed provincial safety inspection. He later sold it to his younger brother who put a 350 in it. Then, the younger brother took over his dad's 1958 Chev Station Wagon. He shortened the frame and body to make it a 2 door with an NHRA approved frame and sheet metal interior. he put a 396 in it. He eventually sold it and it raced in the Pacific Northwest for several years. Not too weird but pretty good for a couple of 20-somethings in their garage 40 years ago.
Many years ago, a boss-hoss motorcycle with a flathead Ford and era correct springer front end.
In my own insanity - nailhead V8 S10. Why? Because. And beer. It was just a basket of ill handling nonsense.