Let’s face it: classic cars may be elegant examples of advanced technology and engineering, but they can still benefit from upgrades like most other similar assets. One key component of an automobile that can be replaced is the engine. According to Road and Track magazine, a V8 engine swap is recommended for vehicles like the Mazda Miata, for example. However, there are several important steps to take in order to prepare for this type of project. Here is what you should do before performing an engine swap.
What you Should Know About Engine Swaps
Not every swap can be performed on any car model. Some engines were designed to produce a specific level of horsepower and torque. (In the case of the Mazda Miata, its inline four-cylinder engine produces 155hp and 148lb-ft of torque.) If you know which cars and engines match well with each other, your automobile can run smoothly.
According to Experian, 54.2% of all engines in new cars sold in 2016 were four-cylinder engines. Meanwhile, the market share for six-cylinder engines fell to 29.7% that year from 32.5% in 2012. The market share for eight-cylinder engines has also dropped in recent years.
When preparing to do an engine swap, be sure to take note of details such as cooling systems (which should be ample), throttle linkages, and working fuel delivery. This can make a major difference when all is said and done.
Step 1: Plan Extensively
This can hardly be stressed enough. Think of how certain car-engine matchups will turn out. A Miata’s inline four-engine should be swapped into an MGB rather than a V6 or V8 because, for instance, the Miata twin-cam fits well with that type of automobile. Additionally, it’s often recommended to begin an engine swap with a complete car, given that certain parts may be difficult to find online.
Step 2: Match the Engine to the Chassis
In order to ensure a strong match, you can draw a dyno graph showing the horsepower and speed of two different engines (in RPM times 1000). Certain engines are docile enough that other driveline changes are not needed in order to control the power and ensure the tires are planted.
Step 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once
A reciprocating saw can help with the process of rapidly cutting off factory engine mounts. A wheel and grinder can then make it appear as if these mounts had never been there.
Step 4: Make Space
Always be sure to create sufficient room for a proper engine swap. Crossmembers can assist with this step. As always, don’t hesitate to ask for help with this stage of the process.
Step 5: Test-Fit
It’s often suggested to leave approximately half an inch of space between the crossmember and the oil pan for a test-fitting. You can also place the engine on a small fragment of wood (plywood is a great option).
Step 6: Center Fit
If you form a line along the centerline of a vehicle’s underside with a string, this can help mark a reference point for the engine’s exact placement. The engine can be placed slightly off-center in some cases, as long as it is not crooked. In order for the driveshaft’s U-joints to properly function, they must be parallel to one another.
Step 7: Level the Engine
Shimming a vehicle can assist with the process of leveling it. Doing the same thing to the transmission and engine is key. It is sometimes recommended to have the latter two slope about 3 degrees front to back.
Step 8: Place the Engine Low and Far Back
Placing the engine far back and low can assist with the precaution of ensuring correct weight distribution. You should also strive to maintain the shifter near its initial location and not cut the heater shelf, which supports the heating unit.
Speak with Robs Customs & Restorations for More Information
Contact the experts at Robs Customs & Restorations in Manassas, Virginia to learn more about how to properly prepare to do an engine swap. We have extensive experience working with several different types of classic cars, as well as vintage and muscle vehicles.
Robs’ team can perform four different types of engine swaps: LS swaps, Fuel-injected swaps, Coyote swaps and Hemi swaps. Whether you’re hoping to add power to your car or simply stand out while driving, we are here to help. We can perform both regular manufacturer engine swaps and total powerhouse block creations and even help you form a swap plan. Call Robs Customs & Restorations today at (703) 552-5001 or contact us online for more information about our work.