It is no secret Japan has given us the short end of the stick for years when it comes to performance cars. It keeps all the good ones on its shores: Nissan Skyline GT-R, Nissan Silvias S-13 to S-15, Honda Accord Type-Rs, Mitsubishi Evolution models I through VII, the Mitsu GTO, Subaru's previous WRX, not to mention a grip of cool micro vans like the Honda MD-X and Step Wagon and the list goes on.
Well, Japan blew it--it made the underpowered piles we got too similar to their Rising Sun brethren and savvy enthusiasts have been shoehorning the big power engines into U.S models for nearly a decade. Yep, getting your kicks on Route 66 has never been so good, thanks to a multitude of intrepid entrepreneurs hauling over Japan-spec power.
In fact, things may be getting out of hand, with people swapping in Type-R engines without exploring other possibilities. "Even if you have all the bolt-ons, consider swapping to a ported head and get the same output as a Type-R for a fraction of the cost," says Brian Dunshie of Mantaray Motrosports.
"We sell a head package that makes 58 hp to the wheels on a SOHC 1.6-liter. If they want JDM, we have it all. Now a Type-R into a CRX makes sense on a number of fronts and anything with a DX emblem on it is also a prime swap candidate. The way we look at it, it's all about VTEC and turbos. If you can upgrade to a VTEC powerplant or turbocharged variant then you are on to something."
The power benefits of VTEC are obvious, but the parts support of the B18C is far greater than any DX engine. Also, the beauty of a turbo is it can be tuned to "make and take"--make more power and take more abuse. The kings of the power swap are Honda's B-Series in Civics and CRXs and Nissan's SR20DET in 240SXs or anywhere they'll fit.
But where there is a powerful engine, there is a way. The 2JZ-GTE is the most potent powerplant in import drag racing. Three of the five 6-second Pro cars run the Supra engine and the 2JZ brought home the class championship in Pro and Street Tire in the 2002 NHRA SC series. A trend we have seen is Lexus owners who are happy with the refinements of their cars, but a bit disappointed when they depress the gas pedal. The 2JZ in U.S. trim and in Japanese VVTi trim are popular power options. It should be noted that the VVTi swap works best with 1998-and-up cars originally outfitted with a six-cylinder engine. Other hot mods include dropping STi EJ20s into the American 2.5RS and even the WRX, as well as wedging a three-rotor 20B in a Mazda RX-7. The aforementioned swaps are relatively straightforward, either bolting directly in place or secured via aftermarket swap kits.
Whether you plan to turn the wrenches your self or hire out a shop for the transplant, there is a lot to consider when swapping; doing it correctly will cost money.
Once the engine is in the car, you're not home free. Truth is, the trip is just beginning. What about the tranny? We contacted Place Racing and quizzed technician Gilbert Garcia on some of the general rules of thumb regarding Honda engine swaps.
He says anyone swapping a Prelude H22A into any year Civic will need to include the Prelude gearbox. He also wanted to point out that the Prelude transmission is a cable shifted, hydraulic clutch proposition. A DOHC engine destined to be dropped into a Civic will also need the DOHC tranny. All B-series engines are compatible with all 1990-up Integra gearboxes.
When it comes to transmission configuration, manual is superior to an automatic. The automatics run an AP Controller that oversees shifts in the gearbox. Getting this interface to work with an engine swap is a wiring nightmare. If you're after performance, a manual tranny is the way to go. Place Racing makes kits for the conversion and pedal parts and other bits and pieces are easily attainable at a parts recycler for about $75.
Beyond the tranny, the proper ECU, wiring harness and injectors are all possible points of contention. The ECU needs the correct input from the sensors, which is made possible via the wiring harness, and the injectors and ECU must be electronically compatible.
The ECU is key for swaps that bring VTEC into the equation and as a rule it's all about OBD (On Board Diagnostics). You want to use an engine and ECU with a similar OBD status. As an example, let's look at the B16A. B16A engines from 1988 to '91 are non OBD; B16As from 1992 to '95 are OBDI and 1996 to 2001 B16As are OBD II. The ECU should be of the same years of production as the engine it's controlling. Most surplus engine depots include the ECU with the engine purchase; if not, it's wise to purchase the correct ECU outright.
As for harnesses, there are connectors for the VTEC solenoids, a pressure switch, activation switch and a four-wire oxygen sensor that must be present to get the job done. In 1988 to 1991 Si models, these connectors must be wired into the existing OE loom. DX models of this vintage are more involved as you're converting a harness for a two-injector, throttle body injection system into a direct-port EFI harness with four injectors.
Beyond accommodating the additional injectors, the harness will require an injector resistor, magnetic pickup and accommodations for a B16 distributor. In 1992 to 1995 cars, the DX model requires the same modification as previous Si harnesses. The EX harness only needs to accommodate a knock sensor. Confused? Place Racing has custom harnesses for most Honda swaps and, priced from $150 to $300, they are worth every penny.
On the injector side of the equation, stick with the units that came with the engine. If this isn't possible, here are some tidbits from Russ Collins of RC Engineering.
From 1988 to 1991, Honda injectors were low-impedance, peak-and-hold units. In 1992, Honda converted to high-impedance, saturated injectors in Civics and Integras. Preludes and Accords made the jump to saturated in 1996. This area is where novices can really find themselves in a world of hurt. The ramifications of choosing wrong are a burned-out injector driver, which means a new ECU will have to be acquired. In some cases, the injector(s) get fried and at the very least mismatched injectors will result in a check engine light and a poor-running engine. A more complete overview of stock injectors in a multitude of sport compact vehicles can be seen in the accompanying Stock Injector Spotters Guide chart.
As with any complex undertaking, planning is key. Know exactly what components you need for your swap, then shop around. At some engine depots it's meatball surgery; engines are cut out of the car so quickly, the engine harness can be sliced up, ditto the radiator hose (which you need in a B-series swap, as it's larger than traditional Civic hoses).
Other questions for the engine depot should include throttle cable (B-series is longer that a DX unit), A/C compressor (different bolt patterns), fuel lines, heater hoses, engine mounts, shift linkage and slave cylinders. The bottom line is, you need to understand all the components needed to pull off the swap. One way around this is to purchase the entire front clip. The motor is still "in" the car, so it should be truly complete and you should have access to all the tidbits needed to get you down the road.
A power swap can be an intricate and intimidating endeavor, but the payoff is tremendous. Know you options. Know when to go with OE parts; know when aftermarket shortcut kits will save you time and money. Having a grasp on what it takes in parts, time and money will make the transition to big-league horsepower a smooth trip, whether you are doing the swap yourself or if you're having a shop handle the job.
Our April 2000 cover Civic...
Our April 2000 cover Civic sports a B20B under the hood. The engine is available in the CRV and JDM Honda micro vans.
This CRX flexes the popular...
This CRX flexes the popular B16A transplant that delivers the power of VTEC and along with endless turbocharging possibilities. It should be noted that 1988 to '91 HF-model CRXs have smaller axle splines than B-series transmissions. Swapping hubs is a must for this application.
Here we see a 20B three-rotor...
Here we see a 20B three-rotor in a Mazda RX-7. This car graced the cover of our July 2002 Body & Soul 2 issue. Most 20B powerplants come from JDM Mazda Cosmos.
The SP Engineering Supra 7,...
The SP Engineering Supra 7, a Mazda RX-7 motivated by a Supra 2JZ-GTE, is an extreme example of power swapping.
The 2JZ-GTE VVTi engine is...
The 2JZ-GTE VVTi engine is from a 1999-and-up JDM Aristo. This powerplant is growing in popularity, finding its way into Lexus cars that need a performance boost. because of issues with the gauge cluster, this swap works best in Lexus made from 1998 and on.
This JDM front clip was spied...
This JDM front clip was spied at a NHRA drag race at Englishtown, NJ. The advantage of buying a clip is obvious: You get the engine still in the car, so nothing has been cut or taken off to facilitate a quick removal. You also get the JDM headlights and grille to convert the look of your Honda/Acura. Or if you're possessed, you can take all the sub systems and convert your car to right-hand drive.
Here's a Red Top SR20DET looking...
Here's a Red Top SR20DET looking for a new home. Vendor row at the drags is a great way to make that JDM connection. Does the engine include wiring harness and ECU?
EJ20 from the Subaru WRX is...
EJ20 from the Subaru WRX is becoming popular. It can be transplanted into a 2.5RS, but many WRX owners are buying these and building them up. Other Subaru options are JDM STi motors.
This old-school 510 is a prime...
This old-school 510 is a prime SR20DET swap candidate. The 510 is RWD; pre '72 cars are smog exempt in California.
|Stock Injector Spotters Guide|
|Vehicle||Injector Types||Factory Flow Rating|
|1988-'91 Civic Si/CRX Si||Peak and Hold||240cc|
|1992-'95 Civic Si/EX ||Saturated||240cc|
|1990-'91 Integra RS/LS/GS||Peak and Hold||240cc|
|1992-'00 Integra LS/GS||Saturated||240cc|
|1992-'96 Prelude Non-VTEC||Peak and Hold||240cc|
|1992-'96 Prelude VTEC||Peak and Hold||345cc|
|1997-up Prelude VTEC H22 ||Saturated||280cc|
|1991-up Sentra SE-R/200SX SE-R||Saturated||265cc|
|1991-up MR2 Turbo||Peak and Hold||440cc|
|1988-'91 Supra Turbo||Peak and Hold||550cc|
|1993-up Supra non-Turbo||Saturated||315cc|
|1993-up Supra Twin-Turbo ||Peak and Hold||550cc|
|2000-up Celica GT-S||Saturated||310cc|
|1990-up Miata 1.6-liter||Saturated||215cc |
|1993-up Miata 1.8-liter||Saturated||240cc|
|1993-up RX-7 Twin-Turbo||Saturated||Primary 550cc Secondary 850cc|
|1990-'96 300ZX Twin-Turbo||Saturated||370cc|
|1991-up 3000GT VR-4 ||Peak and Hold||350cc|
|1989-up Eclipse Turbo||Peak and Hold||450cc|
|1988-1991 Honda Civic/CRX||B16A, B18C (Swap Kit)|
|1992-up Honda Civic ||B16A, B18C (Drop In), H22 (Swap Kit)|
|2001 Honda Civic||K20 RSX (Swap Kit)|
|1990-up Accord||H22 (Drop In)|
|1989-up Nissan 240SX ||SR20DET (Drop In)|
|1991-'94 Nissan Sentra SE-R|| SR20DET Bluebird (Swap Kit)|
|1992-up Mazda RX-7|| 20B 3-rotor (Swap Kit)|
|1992-up Lexus SC300||2JZ-GTE Supra (Drop In)|
|1999-up Mirage||4G63 (Drop In)|
|1985-'86 Corolla GTS|| 5AG, 3S-GTE (Swap Kit)|
|Subaru RS2.5 ||EJ20|
|Lexus SC/GS300||2JZ-GTE VVTi (Drop In)|
|Mazda Miata ||13B (Swap Kit)|
|1965-'70 Datsun Roadster|| LB20, SR20DE, SR20DET (Swap Kit)|
|Datsun 510||SR20, SR20DET (Swap Kit)|
|2002 Subaru WRX||STI version EJ20 (Drop In)|
|Crazy Swaps (we have seen)|
|RX-7 || 2JZ-GTE Supra|
|RX-7||Buick Grand National Turbo 6|
|Porsche 911||Chevy small-block V8|
|Porsche 911||Mitsubishi 4G63|
|VW Bus||Porsche 3.2-L|
|Engine ||S13 SR20DET|
|Donor Car|| Red-Top 1991-'93 180SX & Silvia Black-Top 1994-'98 180SX|
|Injector Size|| 370cc|
|HP||205 @ 6000|
|TQ||203 @ 4000|
|Turbo Specs||T25 w/ 60-trim 56mm compressor wheel,62-trim|
turbine wheel in .64 A/R housing, Datsun 510 AM Roadster
|Destination||U.S. 240SX S13 (1989-94)|
|Engine ||Engine||S14 SR20DET|
|Donor Car||Black-Top 1995-'98 Silvia|
|HP||220 @ 6000|
|TQ||203 @ 4800|
|Turbo Specs||T28 w/ 60-trim 60mm compressor wheel in T04B housing, |
T25 62-trim turbine wheel in .64 A/R housing.
|Destination||U.S. 240SX S13 (1989-'94) and S14 (1995-'98), Datsun 510 am Roadster|
|Donor Car||1999-up Silvia|
|HP ||250 @ 6000|
|TQ ||203 @ 4800|
|Turbo Specs||T28 w/ 60-trim 60mm compressor wheel in T04B housing,|
Inconnel turbine wheel. Ball bearing center section.
|Destination||U.S. 240SX S13 (1989-'94) and S14 (1995-'98), Datsun 510 am Roadster |
|Donor Car||1990-94 Sunny GTi-R|
|Turbo Specs||Garrett T28|
|Destination||1991-'94 Sentra SE-R, 1995-'98 200SX SE-R|
Mantaray Motorsport Racing
Import Auto Salvage
JDM Engine Motor Swap
San Bernardino, CA
Midwest Engine Sales
Rising Sun Engines
Soshin Trade Corp.