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B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Here Are 10 Essential Engine Swaps You Should Be Doing (If You Haven't Done One Already)

Charles Trieu
Oct 28, 2009
Photographer: Super Street Archives

The most ultimate and expensive part of a project car is usually the engine. But before you build your engine, take a look at what popular swaps might suit your car. For the ultimate build, people are not just building the engines given to them with their cars; they're doing a swap and building on top of that. These days the import scene knows no bounds. Tuners are doing swaps with engines from different chassis manufacturers and some are even going with domestic engines. Here are the top 10 swaps based not just on engine performance but also on the popularity of the swap. If it were up to just engine performance it would easily be just the three biggest engines on top. Whatever you decide is the right heart transplant for your car, there's nothing like having a more powerful, high-tech engine swap.

Honda B-Series
These engines were offered in all Civics and Integras in Japan. But here in the US, they only came in Integras and two different model Civics. And since the motor was available here, it made it that much easier for California residents to CARB-approve their swap. Just the sheer number of tuners that have done this swap make it the most popular swap of all time. With all the aftermarket products available, making over 200whp N/A or 300whp with a turbo is child's play. Realizing how easy it is to build a Honda B-series engine, other makes such as the older Lotus Elise S1 and Mini Cooper have found a way to do the Honda heart transplant.
Specs: 4-cylinder 1.6 to 2.0L, DOHC VTEC
Power: 160 to 200 hp
Engine Cost: $1000 to $3000
Originally With: Honda Civic EG/EK, Acura Integra DA/DC
Easy-Fit Cars: Acura Integra AV, Honda Accord CA, Honda Civic EA/EF
Custom-Fit Cars: Mini Cooper, Lotus Elise S1/S2, Lotus Exige S1/S2
Mount Kits: Arizona Race & Machine, Avid, HASport, Innovative Mounts, Mini Tec, Sun International

Sstp_0911_01_o+engine_swaps+b_series Photo 2/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Nissan SR20DET
You'd have to be a hermit not to have heard of the SR20. Nissan offered this potent 4-cylinder in naturally-aspirated and turbo form. The motors also came as both transverse (FWD) and longitudinal layout (RWD), making them a candidate for so many different types of cars. Over the years, Nissan added VTC and then even Neo VVL to keep the motor up-to-date with technology. Just a few bolt-ons and you can easily have over 300whp on a SR20DET. The Nissan Pulsar/Sunny GTI-R even came with a set of factory individual throttle-bodies to make things even more interesting. We've seen the SR in everything from Toyota Pickups to Mazda RX-7s.
Specs: 4-cylinder 2.0L, DOHC Turbo, VTC, Neo VVL
Power: 140 to 245 hp
Engine Cost: $1000 to $4000
Originally With: Nissan Sentra SE-R, Nissan 200SX, Nissan NX, Infiniti G20
Easy-Fit Cars: Nissan 240SX, Nissan Altima
Custom-Fit Cars: Datsun (RWD), Mazda RX-7, Mazda Miata, Nissan trucks, older Toyota (RWD)
Mount Kits: JSP Fab, McKinney Motorsports

Sstp_0911_02_o+engine_swaps+sr20 Photo 3/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Honda K-series
Honda replaced the B-series with the K-series and nobody complained. This is one of the best transverse naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engines ever built. Incredibly engineered, it was the engine choice for makers of the Ariel Atom. Making 250whp with minor bolt-ons is typical for a K20A. Dr. Charles was the first person to do the swap in a Civic. Since then the K-series swap is every Honda owner's wet dream. Unfortunately, the price of the motor and conversion isn't for everyone. The Japanese Type R engine isn't very common in Japan, so it goes for a premium here.
Specs: 4-cylinder 2.0 to 2.4L, DOHC, iVTEC
Power: 160 to 220 hp
Engine Cost: $1200 to $5000
Originally With: Acura RSX, TSX, Honda Civic Si, Accord, CRV, Ariel Atom
Easy-Fit Cars: Acura Integra DA/DC, Honda Civic EF/EG/EK
Custom-Fit Cars: Mini Cooper, Lotus Elise S2, Lotus Exige S2, Toyota MR2 Spyder
Mount Kits: Arizona Race & Machine, Avid, Brooke Kensington, Half Way, HASport, Hybrid Racing, Innovative, Mini Tec, Sun International

Sstp_0911_04_o+engine_swaps+k_series Photo 4/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

What makes a Skyline so awesome? The RB26DETT. When making the Skyline, the engineers at Nissan wanted to give drivers everything possible. Six inline cylinders, two turbos, individual throttle-bodies and of course an AWD transmission. Good lord, is there any other company crazy enough to offer that for under $100k? Don't forget this was in 1995. Using the RB25DET RWD transmission with either RB longblock, people have been able to fit this engine in everything from small 240SX cars to older Datsun Z cars. They just don't make inline-sixes like this anymore, what a shame.
Specs: 6-cylinder 2.5 to 2.6L, DOHC Turbo, Individual Throttle-bodies
Power: 245 to 280 hp
Engine Cost: $1500 to $5000
Originally With: Not available in US, Nissan Skyline
Easy-Fit Cars: Not Applicable
Custom-Fit Cars: Datsun Z, Infiniti M30, Nissan 240SX, Nissan 300ZX
Mount Kits: McKinney Motorsports, Syko Performance

Sstp_0911_05_o+engine_swaps+rb26 Photo 5/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Toyota 1JZ/2JZ
The 2JZ-GTE is one of the most badass engines to ever come out of Japan. After Nissan released the Skyline with the RB26DETT, Toyota answered back with their own twin turbo inline-six, but in a larger 3.0L. If you can't afford a 2JZ-GTE you can also look into the older smaller brother, the 1JZ-GTE, which is still a turbo inline-six, but only a 2.5L engine. Although only the Supra was given the turbo version, even the cheaper naturally-aspirated JZ engines from cars like the Lexus SC and IS have serious potential. Their cylinder blocks are known to handle double digit pounds of boost. Having over 700whp on a JZ engine is no surprise to anyone. Mate one with the optional Getrag six-speed transmission and have yourself the ultimate Toyota setup. This beats the RB swap mainly due to how many more cars can take the swap.
Specs: 6-cylinder 2.5 to 3.0L, DOHC NA or Turbo, VVT-i
Power: 200 to 276 hp
Engine Cost: $1000 to $6000
Originally With: Toyota Supra (93-98), Lexus SC300, Lexus GS300
Easy-Fit Cars: Toyota Supra (82-92), Toyota Cressida (85-92)
Custom-Fit Cars: Datsun Z, BMW 3-series and Z3, Mazda RX-7, Honda S2000, Nissan 240SX, Toyota Celica (RWD), Toyota Corolla (RWD), Toyota Pickup
Mount Kits: Supra Sport, Tech 2 Motorsports, Zerolift Autolab

Sstp_0911_06_o+engine_swaps+2jz Photo 6/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Toyota 4A-GE
If you own an 80's Toyota you know the Toyota 4A-GE. This is like the B16A of the 80's. Coming from the AE86 Corolla, there are tons of parts available making the little 1.6L one of the coolest transplants for older Toyotas. And if you got the funds, you could even buy a TRD Formula Atlantic spec 4A-GE, which makes 240hp and redlines at 11,000rpm. Not too shabby for a naturally-aspirated 1.6L. But at $40k most tuners will shy away from one the most infamous 4-cylinder race engines. Instead you can build up your own 4A-GE or even the supercharged 4-GZE (found in the '84-89 MR-2). Keeping up with technology Toyota later introduced a 20-valve version of the 4A-GE making 160hp with factory individual throttle-bodies. Yes, these are the same ITBs that so many companies from Japan have fitted to Honda B-series engines.
Specs: 4-cylinder 1.6L
Power: 130 to 165 hp
Engine Cost: $700 to $1500
Originally With: Toyota Corolla, MR-2
Easy-Fit Cars: Toyota Corolla, MR-2
Custom-Fit Cars: Toyota Celica, Corolla, Starlet
Mount Kits: Ace Engineering, Techno Toy Tuning

Sstp_0911_07_o+engine_swaps+4a_ge Photo 7/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Honda H22
Before the K-series took over, the H22 Prelude engine was the ticket for a big block Honda engine. With 2.2 liters, this was the answer to low torque B-series motors. Every top drag Honda at one time was running the H22 including Steph Papadakis' record-setting Civic. For a while, Civic and Integra owners had been laying off the H22 swap and leaving it to Accord owners. But with the recent H2B adapter plates, allowing for use of a B-series transmission, Civic and Integra owners are once again looking at the H22.
Specs: 4-cylinder 2.2L, DOHC, VTEC
Power: 187 to 200 hp
Engine Cost: $1000 to $2000
Originally With: Honda Prelude 92-01
Easy-Fit Cars: Acura CL, Honda Accord CB/CD
Custom-Fit Cars: Acura Integra DA/DC, Honda Civic EF/EG/EK
Mount Kits: Arizona Race & Machine, Avid, HASport, Innovative Mounts

Sstp_0911_08_o+engine_swaps+honda_h22 Photo 8/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Mazda 13B
You may just be too young to know about Mazda's 13B. But back in the day, this little rotary engine found its way into just about any and every rear wheel drive import. I can't forget how many Datsuns we've seen with a 13B swap. The naturally-aspirated 13B, turbo 13B and the twin-turbo 13B-REW are loved and loved-to-be-hated by many. With high oil and fuel consumption and low amounts of torque these engines aren't for the ideal daily driver. But for a racecar this makes for a great setup. Very few if any engines of the same size and weight can make the same horsepower as a 13B. In 1992, after Mazda's victories in Le Mans, FIA decided to outlaw rotary engines for their advantage over other engines.
Specs: Twin rotary 1.3L
Power: 135 to 280 hp
Engine Cost: $1000 to $3000
Originally With: Mazda RX-2, RX-3, RX-4, RX-7
Easy-Fit Cars: Not Applicable
Custom-Fit Cars: Datsun, Mazda Miata, Mazda RX-8, Toyota (RWD)
Mount Kits: Not Applicable

Sstp_0911_09_o+engine_swaps+13b Photo 9/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Honda F20C/F22C
Not an easy fit in anything but a S2000, but this motor is such a good FR 4-cylinder that people have gone through hell and back to just to get that 120hp per liter in their cars. We've seen these motors in Miatas, old Corollas, Starlets and old Celicas. You'll need the help of a fabricator like Andy Vang who's done several of the Toyotas conversions. If this swap didn't require so much fabrication to the firewall and transmission tunnel, I'm sure this would be more popular and further up on the rankings.
Specs: 4-cylinder 2.0 to 2.2L, DOHC, VTEC
Power: 240 to 247 hp
Engine Cost: $4000 to $5000
Originally With: Honda S2000
Easy-Fit Cars: Not Applicable
Custom-Fit Cars: Mazda Miata, older Toyota (RWD)
Mount Kits: Not Applicable

Sstp_0911_10_o+engine_swaps+f20 Photo 10/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps

Some of you might not like the idea of using a domestic GM engine in an import and I'd have to agree with you. There are some sacred rules you just don't want to cross. But not even I can deny the numbers this engine makes. With so much horsepower and torque, all from a naturally-aspirated engine, who wouldn't want that? Not everyone can afford the latest LS7, but the older LS1 engines are very affordable. As for the actual install, you'll have to resort to custom fabrication and wiring. RX-7 owners have been doing the swap for years and now we are starting to see more and more Nissans making the jump. Just look at many of the Formula D cars.
Specs: V8, 5.5 to 7.0L
Power: 350 to 505 hp
Engine Cost: $1000 to $12,000
Originally With: Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette, Pontiac Firebird, Pontiac GTO
Easy-Fit Cars: Not Applicable
Custom-Fit Cars: Infiniti G35, Mazda Miata, Mazda RX-7, Nissan 240SX, Nissan 350Z, Toyota Supra
Mount Kits: Boss Frog, Hinson Supercars, Improved Racing, Monster Miata, Samberg Rod and Custom,V8 Roadsters

Sstp_0911_11_o+engine_swaps+ls Photo 11/11   |   B & K series, SR20, RB26, 2JZ, and More - Top Engine Swaps


Improved Racing's
Hybrid Racing
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
HASport Performance
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Avid Racing
Arizona Race & Machine
Mesa, AZ 85204
Boss Frog
Monroe, WI 53566
Brooke Kensington
Telford Road, Bicester, Oxfordshire, OX26 4LD, OK
Hinson Super Cars
Laceys Spring, AL 35754
Innovative Mounts
Placentia, CA 92870
Vista, AK 92081
McKinney Motorsports
Murrieta, AK 92562
Mini Tec, LLC
Royston, GA 30662
Monster Miata
San Marcos, CA 92078
Samberg Rod and Custom
Benicia, CA 94510
Supra Sport
Stillwater, MN 55082
Sun International
Manhattan Beach, CA
Tech 2 Motorsports
Redding, CA 96002
Techno Toy Tuning
Placerville, CA 95667
V8 Roadsters
Tampa, FL
By Charles Trieu
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