QotW: What’s the most blasphemous engine swap?


Many years ago our very own Technical Editor John “DatsunFreak” Roper declared that there were three and only three engines immune to accusations of blasphemy due to their uniqueness, size-to-performance ratio, and lack of anything comparable. They were: the Honda F20C, Mazda 13B, and Nissan SR20 turbo. Today we’re asking about swaps that are clearly sacrilegious.

What’s the most blasphemous engine swap?

We don’t know if this is the most blasphemous swap ever done, but we spotted the above V6 at the 2008 Motorsport Auto West Coast Z Nationals. But that wasn’t what caused the affront to its 240Z host. What made it truly profane was the transversely mounted mid-engined placement that is not only pointless in the already great-handling Z, but it turned its elegant lines into the thing you see below. 


What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “What’s Japan’s greatest factory two-tone?


The winner this week was our returning champion Styles, who was the first to win two weeks in a row!

Is there anything more fundamentally early 80s Japan car culture than two tone? My pick has to be red and black. I know that there’s heaps of love for the panda scheme, but the combination or red and black does it for me on a number of levels. There are actually quite a few red/black two tone schemes, R30s, MA61s, Subaru Leone (if my memory serves me correctly), and of course the AE86. It’s a winning combination, and here’s why: the black bottom makes a car look lower and more sleek, and having the red upper section is vital, EVERYONE knows that red makes you that little bit faster!

Omedetou, Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels x JNC Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!


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62 Responses to QotW: What’s the most blasphemous engine swap?

  1. cesariojpn says:

    Too many AE86 responses in last article. There had to be other schemes out there that other people could’ve mentioned instead of invoking Takumi Fujiwara. One of the frustrations of popular things……


    As for todays question. Any engine swap that removes the original engine and replaces it with a newer engine, destroying the historical relevancy of the character of the car. There is a reason why they put the engine in the car originally; cause it worked for the time and use of the car. As much as I wanna not invoke the $65K AE86 a few articles back, there might be a time when numbers matching J-Tin is more valued than a hacked-up franken-auto w/ engine swap.

  2. Gino says:

    In my opinion, I think American V8s swapped into JNCs are the worst thing that can be done. I think that these swaps defeat the purpose of these old school cars. They’re meant to be lightweight and highstrung, making the driver work hard to get the peaky powerband. Straight line speed should come second to overall balance and feel. The V8 just makes the power too easily accessible and can even ruin the car’s handling characteristics. And then there’s the sound. I’d take an 18r or L28 with sidedraft carbs over a V8 anyday. The induction noise they make are just orgasmic. Don’t get me wrong, Chevy small blocks are amazing motors, but they just don’t belong in a classic Japanese car.

    • Anthony says:

      But 18R-C is so slowwww! 18R-G I’d love to have for my ’73 Hilux, but I’ll be looking at 4A or 2J swapping it in the future.

  3. Steve says:

    Chevy LT1 into 1st-2nd gen rx7’s

    Apparently its a pretty popular swap, but it completely goes against the point of the “R”otery e”X”periment-7

  4. DiabloBlanco918 says:

    Let me start by saying I do not agree with all swaps… but I will defend vehemently people’s right to swap weird engines into their own cars. Far be it for me to judge; it’s not my car.

    But Bimmer I6 into FB RX-7? This makes no sense to me at all. The crime here is that it isn’t weird enough to be unique, polarizing, or even interesting at all. Just… random.


  5. Nigel says:

    Mustang 5.0 Litre into Rx-7 FC.
    I have personally witnessed this evil, and will never be the same.

  6. John M says:

    I like the look of the guy standing behind the Z. You can almost hear him saying “Oh no he didn’t!”

  7. zKars says:

    Didn’t that V6 Z abomination also have a ridiculous system to jack it up so that it could spin around too?

    I was at that show and I still have nightmares about that “thing”…. Thanks for refreshing my memory!

  8. Styles says:

    Got the double, awesome! Thanks so much, and with a post that was inspired by my own “Street Toning” red/black MA61!

    What I think would be blasphemous is also an idea that I have had and I think would actually work well……. inspired by the JGTC Supras and Top Secret Supra of the early 2000’s – A GA61 Celica XX, with a built 3S-GTE dropped in behind the front axle. With a front-mid located engine and the relatively light weight of the A61 body it’s be a great handler. But there is just something a bit wrong about a 4 cylinder in a Supra……

    • Expulsion says:

      That’s a cool idea, for sure, and I low how it sounds in that chassis. But I think some Supra guys would have issue, haha!

  9. boyee says:

    I am speaking from a rotary purist’s perspective. I’ve seen the most common engine swap into an RX-7 is the GM LS1. Taking away the innovative power package, of what only Mazda could achieve by being compliant with US emissions regulations in the early ’70s, to have an engine that is shared with many GM branded cars introduced in the late ’90s is just blasphemous! Nothing can replace the unique characteristics of a rotary engine in any Mazda RX, including the distinct sound, smell, smoothness, simplicity, power to displacement ratio, and so much more.

    • Antonio says:

      I know someone who did this to an RX-7, threw a LS1 into it, even got some press in a minor auto magazine, But I wonder, how much heavier is that LS1 engine? What else needed to change to accommodate the swap? Different suspension, modifications to the unibody structure? It just seems wrong to swap solely for more horsepower and maybe better reliability.

  10. Ken says:

    Living in so cal I’ve seen those hack jobs first hand. It’s confusing because the actual fab work is usually top notch… it’s just based on horribly, ill conceived ideas. It’s a shame really because if done right, some of those could turn out into a well performing, unique set ups.

    IMO chopping the chassis in half to squeeze in a motor is not unique, that’s about as unique as intentionally smashing your windshield to stand out from the crowd. I think any motor can be done right in any chassis, the blasphemous part is the lack of vision and over the top; Sativa-induced creativity on how the execution is carried out.

  11. acbpanda says:

    The most outrageous engine swap i have seen is the wonderful Rotary that comes in the Mazda RX-7 FD swapped with a roaring, blazing, and outright loud V8 from the C6 Corvette, the rest of the car was fine, but it was just plain wrong to replace the awesomeness of the Rotary for the V8.

  12. Victor says:

    The LS series of engines is a popular engine for many reasons, its powerful, light weight, and its pretty compact compared to other V8s. While it is a wonderful and simple piece of engineering, its popularity endangers the creativity of engine builds, which in my point of view kills the spirit of a car. By swapping an LS into a car it becomes like every other Camaro, GTO, G8, and Corvette because now the heart of those cars is in the swapped cars, making it more like its donors and less like its true self. But because the LS is so popular every built car can become the same, which ruins the individuality builders seek when making a car.

  13. Dave says:

    +1 for the rotary comments. At every SevenStock, I’m reminded not to knock on the V8 RX-7s. To each his/her own, and many of them are quite proud of their machines. …but those cars really hurt me. To take the essence of the RX-7, or any other rotary Mazda, and replace it with a V8, a GM one no less, is just such sacrilege. It’s on par with taking a Lamborghini Miura and turning it into a lawnmower.

  14. Tom Westmacott says:

    Probably the worst I’ve seen was a BMW diesel six into a S13, thus making the car slower, smellier and worse-handling in one foul swoop. I mean, swapping in a more powerful engine is debatable, but a bigger, heavier, less powerful one?? Car was sold on several times at ever-decreasing prices.

  15. Rayson says:

    The worst gotta be the LSx or Viper’s V10 into a Miata. I mean the reason you buy a Miata is obviously the handling not the power. How does the handling and the weight distribution work after dropping that massive engine into a tiny Miata? I know its properly not related with JNC but this gotta be the worst engine swap ever.

  16. invinciblejets says:

    On youtube somewhere I saw a cummings turbo diesel swapped s13

    I must admit I like it lol only because
    1. it’s an s13, who cares
    2. Craziest swap idea sver so it’s cool

  17. Oracles says:

    IMHO any cross band swap is blasphemous but LS 1,2 etc into JTIN is not only blasphemous but vulgar as well

  18. Bart says:

    In my opinion, it all depends. When dealing with rare “classics” or soon to be classics, obviously, keeping the original engine in the car, or at least an original rebuilt/restored engine of the correct type is preferred. However, I can’t fault people who swap in different motors to “rescue” ANY car to get it running and back on the road. Getting and old car running with an incorrect engine is better than letting it go to the crusher, especially when dealing with uber rare drive-trains where parts are next to impossible to acquire.

    And of course, it also depends on the application. If the car is being restored back to stock, obviously, originality is better. But if you are modding a car (or SUV/Light Truck) for something like better offroad performance, an engine swap to something modern with more power makes perfect sense. Same goes if you are building a racer or something.

    Bottom line: Do what makes sense, don’t just stuff a LS1 in there so you can say, “look what I got to fit” while the back of the motor is sticking through a hole you had to cut in the firewall.

  19. slade says:

    see above mentioned z.
    that is all.
    JNC air sick bags should be provided ahead of time for posts like that one.Seat backs and tray tables can stay right where they are but that thing is ready for take off……..to the ugly farm.Poor z poor poor z.

  20. Alvin says:

    I also second the notion of an American V8 in a Japanese car. You may want it to create more horsepower and get some easy torque out of it, but if I wanted to drive a muscle car… I would have bought one to begin with, not do an engine swap.

    Something like a V8 in a Mazda Miata makes no sense to me, but people do it all the time.

  21. angelo says:

    hmmm… as a car enthusiast, i appreciate all the things we do to our cars, engine swaps included. generally, if it’s a japanese car, you could put something related to the orig. engine or at least the country of origin.

    but, well, if i were to be asked? simple, american engines into japanese cars, old and new alike? now that would be plain stupid… yeah, you get more “oomph” out of the car, but as Alvin have said, just buy a muscle car…

  22. Mase says:

    Everyone’s already said it, but it’s true. The American V8. It’s a cop out. The “I don’t care where we eat so we just end up at McDonald’s for the 4th time this week” of engines. It’s the motor swap for the uncreative. Sure, its cheap. Sure, it can make a lot of power. Sure it’s reliable, and sure, you can basically get any piece needed at your local auto parts store, but that defeats the purpose of it all. You take the time to find that rare center console or steering wheel or fender flares or carbs or genuine wide barrels to your JNC and that’s what gives it its character. A predictable, American V8 is kinda like saying, “I really just don’t give a shit, man.”

  23. Jim-Bob says:

    First off…why would you modify the front end of a Z car to look like a Volvo? Words fail me…

    As for a swap, I don’t like anything that takes a rare, original, functional car and makes it something it is not. If the car starts out as a parts car without an engine or with an original engine that is broken beyond repair (rod through the block, etc.) then I have no real issue with repowering it with something that works, but doesn’t require extensive restructuring. I also see it as permissable in the case where the original engine was notoriously unreliable and is now difficult to find. Likewise, if returning the car to original is not economically feasible and the car would otherwise be parted out or scrapped, then it is perfectly fine to do a swap to keep it on the road. Lastly I think it’s fine to play with very common cars to make a functional end product that better suits your needs. This would be something like repowering a vintage truck with a modern drivetrain to add utility, or installing a kei car drivetrain in a small car like a Suzuki Swift for better fuel economy. I guess what I dislike is pointless swaps and customizations that ruin otherwise useful or significant vehicles. It’s also why I dislike drifting. It’s fun to watch, but you just know that the cars used for it will eventually end up stuffed in a wall and removed from circulation.

  24. Max says:

    I think that the most blasphemous of all engine swaps would have to be something along the lines of a V8 swapped all original low mile first generation 911, with a front wheel drive configuration. Everything else just seems like chasing the magical properties of an outrageous power to weight ratio.

  25. j3wman says:

    USDM V8 into *insert japanese car here*
    v6 into anything L6 originally
    GM 3800 into a celica… glad superstreets old editor never did that

  26. Beans. says:

    Putting a piston motor of any kind into a vehicle that left the mazda factory as a rotary. Now thats Blasphemous.

  27. Fuelish says:

    Let me count the ways

    4bt(diesel) in an s13
    maverick with n/a 2.3 from 80’s mustang
    datsun 510 wagon with dodge 360 w/2bbl carb
    65 mustang 350 chevy
    69 camaro w 2jz not the swap so much as the execution, also had toyota interior
    harley powered suzuki samurai

    I do like the oddball swaps so much as they are an upgrade, example 70 chevy nova with a rotary but with 456 hp. Geo tracker with LS1, normally i dont like the idea of a chevy in a ford, muscle car especially but a maverick with an LS1 with a turbo is cool. a 66 nova wagon with twin turbo diesel is odd but cool. I get bored when I go to a car show and see the same cars with the same original powerplants.

    Everybody has there reasons for doing their swap and will not please everybody and sometimetimes on purpose eg 01 Corvette with small block Ford V8

  28. ewokracing says:

    Rotaries into Corolla’s and Datsuns.

    Having been a rotary owner though, I do love the idea of a ls1 FD rx7

  29. dankan says:

    For sheer blasphemy, you could do no worse than sticking a Ford Cologne V6 (the 4 litre) in an NSX.

    Failing that, an Oldsmobile LF9 diesel V8 in a Hakosuka should be offensive enough for anyone…

  30. Eddie says:

    I don’t feel the motor is blasphemous, more the chassis. Some of us like vulgar displays of power. We can argue about V8 RX-7’s and LS1 powered 240z’s all day long. As long as the engine fits without destroying the looks or performance, than it’s hard to say it’s a bad idea. In full disclosure I’m putting an RB20 in my 74 260z so maybe I’m biased.

    I think the better case could be made for what CHASSIS would be a blasphemous swap. 60’s Mazda Cosmo with an SR20DET? Toyota 2000gt with a LS2? I think that would be way more riot-inducing than an LS powered RX7.

  31. Trevor says:

    Any domestic v8 put into a Japanese car is blasphemous and gross. It completely ruins the image and feel of the car. I can’t stand seeing these monster LS swaps into 240sx and RX7s to make them drift cars. Here’s a hint, it doesnt take massive power from a v8 to drift unless you dont have much skill.

  32. Jim says:

    Seems like the piston engine in a RX car is popular, and I think the most egregious. The reason is that the RX-7 was the first mass market car designed by Mazda to have a rotary engine. Except the Cosmo, all other RX cars had piston variants, but the RX-7 was unique. The rotary allowed the designers to have a low hood height and also provided for a low center of gravity. The RX-7 took advantage of the size of the rotary to place the engine behind the front wheels, thereby making it a (front) mid-engine layout. Include the other characteristics of the rotary such as the sweet noise and the ability to rev to insane RPMs and I think you can see why it is a crime against humanity to plop anything but a rotary into the RX-7. Rotary swaps, like a series 5 Turbo II into a 1st gen is OK as it retains the same basic engine. Swapping any piston engine into a car designed for a piston engine is just not any where near the sacrilege of putting a piston into an RX-7.

  33. Jonas says:

    I’m going to jump in with a recommendation I’m sure has been mentioned many times previously, but a V8 in any generation RX-7 really annoys me, particularly a first generation. If you want a front-engine rear-wheel drive vehicle with a solid axle buy a fox body mustang or another 80s muscle/pony car. It’s not like there aren’t options out there that wouldn’t take a unique vehicle and make it like every other car out there.

  34. gold28 says:

    Without a doubt, the most sacrilegious/blasphemous engine swap for classic JDM tin is the Electric Toyota 2000GT SEV (Solar Electric Vehicle) from Crazy Car Project.

    Not only is the car the most desirable bit of tin ever to come from the land of the rising sun, the engine is every bit as special too. And what makes it worse, Toyota helped them do it.

    You can understand the reasons why they did it. But that doesn’t make it right.

    A very sad day in the History of Toyota…..

    Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120113/CARNEWS/120119897

  35. voytko240 says:

    Lotta hate for american v8 here. In particular LS swapped RX7’s. But, I gotta admit the one blaspheme I dream about is a 67 four door nova with a supra powertrain…2JZ, irs, 6 speed trans, lowered with bolt on flairs. Go ahead and hate me.

  36. mike says:

    I’m a datsun man through and through and given that the datsun/nissan marquee offer so many great engine and driveline swaps between models my choice is obvious. It was a car i saw for sale here in australia and was a 1200/b110 datsun 4 door with a buick v6 (vs ecotec for the aussie contingent) and a hacked apart trans tunnel and firewall to accommodate the 3.8 litre donk and notoriously slack transmission… the car didn’t sell very quickly and the price dropped often and frequently. I think it’s blasphemous not because of the different motor companies but simply because the engine, despite it’s power doesn’t compliment the car. The engine capacity is more than three times that of the stock 1200cc a12 and was put together in the 90s.. and after all that you still have a clutch cable, no OHC and a supposed 147kw at the flywheel. Given the engine weight and tiny stock brakes maybe it’s more stupidity rather than blasphemy..

  37. 3uzfte says:

    Purist suck, they take the fun out of everything… Who are we to determine what another person should so with their time, money, and ultimately their creativity. Sure constructive criticism is very useful, but to say someone is an idiot, or comments like “shouldn’t have done a V8 swap because it’s just not ‘pure’…”, who are you to decide whether on not what I’ve chosen to do is the right thing to do in your book. I take your comments, and do nothing with them and continue to put what engine I want, in whatever I may choose.

  38. mrduggie says:

    for all you guys criticizing the japanese car with american v8 swap….just think, if carol shelby thought putting a american v8 into a european car was blasphemous, the cobra would never have been born and the most iconic car ever created would not exist today.. being a former owner of a first gen rx7, and after reading an article about the megamonster miata, all i thought about was putting a ford 302 into the rx7. i even went so far as to weighing the 2 engines for comparison (after all the rx7 has a near 50/50 weight balance) and was surprised that the 302 only weighed about 20 lbs. more…. wouldn’t it have been cool if carol shelby would have partnered with mazda and ford and done this swap back in the day. after all the two companies were partnered at the time. he might have created another icon…..

    • pstar says:

      Shelby was busy partnering with Chrysler slapping his name all over Lebarons and Chargers and Omnis and other assorted pieces of crap which everybody has conveniently forgotten when they endlessly fellate the guy.

      Another point all your guys who bring up the Cobra analogy forget, is that AC, and its car, the Ace, was a marginal brand and a marginal model. Maybe you could make the case that a Mitsuoka or an Autobacs Gariya would be awesome with an American v8 swap.

      Finally, Shelby and “his” idea for the Cobra were just blatant ripoffs of what Briggs Cunningham and others had already been doing for more than a decade. …Except he did far less engineering of his own than Briggs. He even stole the iconic paint scheme! Pretty rich, considering the very same Carol Shelby spent his post Chrysler career being a patent troll and harassing kit-car makers for “copying” him.

  39. ra21benj says:

    I favor swaps from the same make that are of the same number of cylinders as the original factory car, so anything farther from that, I start to not like the car more. The farthest from original make and number of cylinders for Nostalgic Japanese cars would probably be a V8 from a non-Japanese company.

    Just to take it to the extreme, the original Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane with original Nakajima (now Fuji Heavy Industries) Sakae engine is more desirable than the A6M Zeros with more powerful Pratt and Whitney engines. The sound of the Sakae engine is like nothing you’ve heard before.

  40. justin says:

    In my opinion engine swaps need to be grass roots. If you have a datsun/nissan swap a nissan engine. Same goes for every make and model I hate it when you have ae86 with rotaries or sr20’s, 240sx with 2jz, ive even seen a s2000 with a 4g63 and a fd rx7 with a k24. And the worst crime of American v8. Yeah congrats on the work and time and sometimes originality but one had to ask. …. why?

  41. Madis says:

    Here in Estonia we have only under ten rx7´s (sa22c-s and fc3s-s), about 3-4 are running including one of my own. but if you can find a rx-7 in some back yard it probably has a ford scorpio v6 or a bmw 4 cylinder in it. disgusting.

  42. mrbigtanker says:

    It looks like a james bond movie car gone bad.holy sh&t batman,that car should be put out of its misery.Is that a datsun martin db9 or a datsun.lol

  43. Aly says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with DatsunFreak and nominate the 13B rotary – which got placed under the bonnet of a Holden HJ Premier to be sold in Japan as the Mazda Roadpacer.

    As nice as the 13B is, it had nowhere enough torque to motivate a full-size sedan; this Mazda-Holden had all the performance of a six-cylinder with the fuel consumption of a big V8.

    Naturally, it was not a success.

    • Jesse Risk says:

      you see, i agree the torque curve is a lot left to be desired, but its not that it lacks power or torque, its just its delivery. i mean, i strongly doubt the Holden 202/183 had much more than 89kw/138nm. Having said that, a Bridgeported and dowled 13B with a webber IDA would completely transform the car!

  44. pstar says:

    A car is essentially the sum of its chassis and engine. And to a lesser extent, its interior (since the interior isn’t “functional” in quite the same objective way as the rest).

    A chassis without the engine it was designed for, is not that car anymore. Its like if your friend or child got a hypothetical brain transplant. Or their brain replaced by some extremely commonplace computer (a good comparison for the soul-destroying that SBC/LS swaps do) Its not really them anymore. Its just a shell of what it was -an abomination, even. Looks like them, except for their movements and mannerisms. But its not them.

    Now, lets say your friend or kid is a real failure. But they look good. In that case, maybe a swap to some generic common brain/personality is a real improvement. But the thing is, that combo happens to be really rare. There aren’t many cars that have desirable chassis but useless, junky engines. Certainly not most of the cars that lazy wannabes hack up. 240SXs had CAs and SRs. Great engines, meant for the chassis. AE86 has 4AGE. Great engine, meant for the chassis. Z-cars, same story. RX-7, absolutely.

    If the car has a fantastic, desirable, classic engine it is retarded to destroy that and shove in something cheap, easy, boring, and soulless.

    So really, any engine swap that isn’t one of the same series is blasphemous. Using the engine that is a direct descendent or successor to the series that came in the car isn’t that bad either. For example, a Honda K in a chassis that were born with B-series. Or a 13B in an RX3.

    Something like a V8 240Z or RX7 or AE86 has lost so many of its initial attributes that made it appealing, that the entire point of starting with that car is lost. Its pointless destruction of limited precious resources.

  45. Danny Lectro says:

    The comments I am reading here make me wish I had the resouces to do every single one of the swaps you all are complaining about. To me, the only swap that is truly blasphemous is one you do just to appease people who talk about which swap is blasphemous.

  46. Hman says:

    In Australia there is a 240z advertised for sale with a Holden (Aussie GM) 202 in it. These engines are a cast iron, in-line 6 with push rods. Although this engine had race applications it is very low tec (not even a cross flow) and a big step backwards from the original. Every time I see the add (and it has been advertised for a very long time) I ponder why he did it.

  47. Jesse Risk says:

    and suddenly the JNC rotary fans have come alive!

    go to any vicdrift event, and youll see LS1’s put into anything and everything.
    i have a friend who is halfway through a RB30-T conversion in a bright yellow VP commodore! So if youre from victoria, watch this space!

  48. aa35199 says:

    Wow you guys really seem to think american V8’s are the devil, time for a point of view from some one who went to the “dark side”. I personally can’t stand Japanese V8 swaps IN TO ANY CAR, they are not very powerful, hideously expensive to modify, more difficult to install and wire due to lack of documentation and aftermarket support, they are enormous in size yet small in displacement. Why would any one want to swap in a toyota or nissan V8 boggles me, thousands of dollars and months if not years of frustration to be rewarded with a JDM crowd approved 260hp boat anchor under the hood.

    American cast iron is not as bad as you think, my ford 5.0 powered FB isn’t a rx-7 with a piston engine, I like to think it’s a Fox body mustang with a 1000lb weight reduction. Domestic V8’s are cheap, powerful, infinitely tuneable, fun to drive, and reliable, they are truly the whole package. Also the V8 has had absolutely no impact on the car’s handling, so my feather weight fox body can also corner!

    But I say to each their own, my decision to swap in a v8 came after 5 years of tinkering with rotarys, I wanted some thing different, some thing faster, and thats what I got. Swapping in a weird and stupid engine just to make it different makes you a follower, plain and simple! Friends you just have to take the shortest route to happiness, because it’s all about the miles and smiles, not forum cred.

  49. issa bendeck says:

    all swap are great , who cares if a supra has an LS engine ,the only strange thing is the nazty v 8 sound coming out of the supra that just dont seem right , or viceversa a supra sound coming out of a camaro , but who cares every one is free to do what they want as long as dont hurt any body , i personay wish to put a LS7 into a old XJS JAGUAR i thick its the best of both worlds the mega reliability of a chevy engine mixt with the beauty of this particular jag , i personally thinck that its the best loocking car ever

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