Performing an engine swap to gain horsepower is a big-ticket mod many hot rodders swear by in order to put them over the top when it comes to get up and go. As the old drag racing saying goes “there’s no replacement for displacement.” From simply pulling an old Chevy 350 5.7L and boring it out to make a stroker motor to swapping a 6.2L LS engine into a Mustang, there are literally thousands of ways to put a bigger engine in your ride. For some people, common sense, a solid understanding of what components inside the engine will give the best bang for the buck and which engines will fit in what cars is all they need to pull off a successful engine swap.
While many of those rides are on this list (complete with the workarounds the mechanics did to make the engines fit) sometimes the swap simply makes no sense and the engine just doesn’t fit. In the case of sticking a dramatically larger engine in a car that requires heavy engine bay fabrication, drastically increased front suspension components and more to accommodate the massive new block, it seems like just moving to a faster car altogether might make more sense. But, that doesn’t seem to stop people from doing the big-ticket mod to turn their small engine cars into big engine projects. While we may never know how many of these turn out to be #MajorFail when the engine simply won’t fit at all, we can at least view a lot that may or may not have worked out here.
19 S-10 times too big
When your little Chevrolet truck requires you to remove the entire bed in order to do your engine swap, the engine is clearly too big. If all you’re looking for a is a dragster, the light body/chassis combo of the S-10 might seem like a great choice. Problem is, the S-10 chassis and body can barely handle the power from the 3.8 liter V6 many of them had installed at the factory.
Expecting the “lil truck that couldn’t” to handle a big block with hundreds and hundreds of horsepower requires the sort of faith best left to more likely outcomes, like praying for rain in the middle of the Sahara desert.
18 Pray for Boost
If your need for boost far outweighs the need for a passenger to be able to see through the windshield, or the ability to cover your entire engine with the hood, then this mod might be right up your alley.
Since the license plate clearly denotes that the driver is a person of faith, they should have a far better return on investment when they pray for wins over the S-10 owner praying his frame doesn’t twist. Maybe someone can set up a race between the two rides and we can all sit back and hope the best non-fitting engine wins.
17 Acura ZL1?
Acuras are known for their sporty, performance driven rides, even in their SUVs (see the SH-AWD turbocharged RDX if you want to test that statement). But apparently stock performance wasn’t enough for the owner of this Acura, who took the time, energy and resources to cram a turbocharged 6.2L Chevy LS engine into their ride. I'm not sure if Acura makes a ZL1 RSX, but if the owner of this one can figure out how to mass-produce these things they might just be able to cash in on the newest stuff-a-giant-motor-into-your-sport-sedan craze. If not, at least they have a story to tell to all their gearhead friends from now on.
16 Close the Hood
Having a massive engine jutting out of the front of the car like a monument of muscle car power is a visual trademark of the hot rod world and something you’ll find at just about every large car show.
When done well, it looks really cool and more than likely, makes the car far faster than it was when the low-profile stock engine sat in the bay.
To pull this off, you really need some talent, skill and money. When any of those three things are missing, you might as well just make sure you can close the hood because no one wants to see that.
15 Are you sure?
And then there are those who don’t know when to say when. In wondering how this car got this way, it would seem the story of this automotive evolution involved copious amounts of beer, bravado, machismo and a smidge of competitiveness.
While there is no end of psychological studies on why these sorts of things happen, the only thing that really matters is the notion that no one should ever, ever do this to their ride.
The fact that they started with a Geo only makes things worse. That is, unless they were trying to see how big of a hole they could start from to achieve this “never enough” result.
14 Twin Turbo Civic
When you not only have to remove your hood, inner fenders and radiator core support but also have a custom sized chunk remove from your windshield, it’s pretty clear that your engine doesn’t fit. But, maybe this Civic owner is after something more than just plain old horsepower. Thankfully, the two giant turbo intakes on the side of this engine do a wonder of a job of pest control, inhaling flying insects at a record setting pace.
While we’re unclear as to what bug juice does for horsepower, especially when it’s vacuumed into the turbo if they can achieve a verifiable advantage from it, more power to them, literally.
13 Neon Pink
When you cram a 440 cubic inch Hemi into a 1996 Dodge Neon, chances are you’re going to have to give up certain luxuries, like leg room. But, that’s ok because if comfort was your thing you certainly wouldn’t have purchased a Neon in the first place, much less taking a saw to the firewall, had to make a custom dashboard and completely given up on things like properly operating climate controls just so you could cram a horsepower monster into the engine bay, then past it, then under the car, which is about the only place it would fit in this car.
12 1500 HP Chevette
The sheer number of conversations ever had in the history of hot rods that include a 1500 horsepower Chevrolet Chevette that do not include this one could probably be counted on zero fingers.
While the owner of this one did actually manage to squeeze a seriously powerful engine into this poster child for the horrible economy car era, using it to tow a yard trailer offers some further insight into zaniness of this one.
Or, maybe the trailer is to haul around all the spare parts they’ll inevitably need, since Chevettes were never exactly the epitome of problem free driving.
11 Blew the fenders off
Then there was the time your engine was so big and powerful it literally blew your own fenders off. In the case of this hopped up rat rod, the fenders were most likely removed long before the engine was anchored to the mounts and promptly forgotten. When trying to classify whether or not an engine clearly doesn’t fit, having to remove and not replace large body panels is a good indicator that the car qualifies. The saving grace of this one is the anything-goes wild west modding that comes with rat rods. Even if the engine would sit well behind the fenders, there’s no reason to actually re-install them on this fine rat.
10 69 Camaro
While all this engine might look seriously impressive to the average car show tourist, having all that chrome sticking out from under the hood means the car exists just for the show. Having the engine stick that far out of the engine bay is really overkill too.
The sheer amount of chrome probably offsets the horsepower gains the high-rise intake gives it.
Since intakes work best when they draw in cold air, and chrome traps heat inside the metal it encapsulates, it’s quite possible all the owner of this one was going for was to get on the cover of Hot Rod magazine.
9 Customized hood
When your oil filler tube has to have a custom cutout taken from the hood so it fits, your engine clearly doesn’t. Now, someone put some serious work into cutting out the hood on this machine, then took a page from the professional carpenter’s handbook (“trim hides everything”) and had the hood wrapped to match the rest of the car, with the great side-effect of hiding the cuts.
However, simply making a rectangular shaped cut and trimming it out might have looked more professional than the Minecraft maze of cutouts on this ride. Regardless, driving this one is most likely a serious blast.
8 Prius Hellcat
Speaking of no place to put your legs, cramming a V8 into a Toyota Prius pretty much makes the poster child for engines that clearly don’t fit. The 800 hp high-performance Hellcat engine is guaranteed to embarrass a lot of people at the drag strip. The last thing any real racer wants to hear is they got beat by a Prius, Hellcat or otherwise. But, there’s an easy workaround by just telling your friends you lost to a Hellcat and leaving out the Prius part. As long as none of them ever hear the truth, you should be safe. That is, except when you wake up in the middle of the night from the terrible nightmare of losing to a Prius just to remember it wasn’t a dream at all.
7 454 LS Civic
Cramming a 454 Chevrolet LS into a Honda Civic is a sure-fire way to land on the list of engines that clearly don’t fit. However, in the case of this one, the swapper did a fantastic fabrication job and the engine sits in the bay quite nicely. Unfortunately, there are far too many who make this attempt but don’t do nearly as nice of a job when making room for the big engine. However, you can probably take this one out to the local tuner car meet and end up smoking just about anyone there, since most average Civics can’t keep up with a Corvette, much less a Civic with a Corvette engine hiding under the hood.
6 Poser or power?
Based on the picture, chances are this one is a total sham. Looking at the angle of how the valve covers and hold downs meet the hood gives us a good idea that this hood couldn’t open/close with those attached to the top of the engine.
Why on earth someone would want to take a Chevy Cavalier and try to make it look like a Chevelle is anyone’s guess.
But, that's one of the great things about car modding, anything goes. Or in the case of this Cavalier, anything can be made to pose like it goes, whether it actually does or not.
5 Honda S2000 LS
The Honda S2000 is a less common, yet better answer to the question: "should I dump a ton of time, energy and financial resources into modifying my silly little Mazda Miata?"
While a lot of people have opted to say yes to that question, getting your hands on the Honda roadster will take you places the Miata, and the Miata stigma has, just simply can’t go. Even if that means taking your S2000 and adding it to the list of cars with engines that clearly don’t fit. Now, to find yourself an S2000. They’re certainly far rarer than a Miata.
4 Scion 5.0
Nothing says TRD: Toyota Racing Development like a Ford Motor Company HO 5.0 liter Boss engine. Since a lot of gearheads think TRD is missing a letter (TuRD), turning to Ford to get your hands on a hot rod engine might be a no-brainer. Especially if you don’t care for the GM LS engines for whatever reason. Unfortunately for this one, the 5.0 engine clearly doesn’t fit which will require some hood modifications that will prevent the owner of this one from going the sleeper route. But still, dunking an HO Mustang engine in a Scion is more than enough to get this car to move faster than it ever has before.
3 Duramax Hatchback
If you really want all the horsepower and all the torque that comes with a Duramax engine but you don’t like big old pickup trucks, you can always cram the diesel into your hatchback Honda.
While the engine itself will probably run you north of $10,000, the older Civics can be had for a fraction of that price.
Then you just have to track down your local Honda diesel engine specialist, which is actually much harder to do than it is to read about, and you too can be the proud owner of a diesel-powered hatchback coupe. And then, the world is your oyster.
For those looking to corner the market on ridiculous, or more likely, someone who doesn’t want all the hassles of owning one of the most unreliable engines made this century, you can pull the engine out of your Mini Cooper and drop a chromed Hemi in there. You’ll be racing through subways, sewers and concrete rivers alongside the Italian Job crew in no time. And, you won’t have to worry about the pesky plastic timing chain guides Mini puts in their engines that eventually break and turn the engine into a giant paperweight. So, what are you waiting for? The Hemi isn’t going to jump into that Mini all by itself.
1 And the winner is…
This is just about the king of the “engines that clearly don’t fit” crowd. Obviously, when you pull a diesel engine from a ship and cram it into a car, stretched or otherwise, the idea that it doesn’t fit will instantly elicit the “well, duh!” response from onlookers of all ages. Since this was obviously a professional job, it begs the question as this done for marketing purposes? And, if the answer is yes, then who on earth are they marketing to? Ship captains who have long land commutes to work and can’t operate an inline 6 smaller than a yard shed?
Sources: autoweek.com, engineswapdepot.com, speednik.com, carthrottle.com