There's no simpler, more reliable way to increase just about any car's power-to-weight ratio than with an engine swap. The idea of engine swaps has been around longer than you think, but cross-pollenating dissimilar powerplants and chassis with one another is a phenomenon still relatively new. The following are some of the most popular engines and most likely chassis they've found their way into. If you're considering an engine swap, any of the following make good places to start.
Sources: Popular versions include the B16A, B16A2, B16A3, B16B, B17A1, B18C, B18C1 and B18C5. Engine codes not concluded with a numeral are sourced from Japanese-only (JDM) chassis. The rest can be found in North American-spec vehicles. B16A engines are native to most 1987-2000 Japanese-spec Si, Si-II, SiR and SiR-II-badged Civic and CRX chassis. Similar 1.6L engines can be found in Japanese-only 1989-1993 Integra RSi and XSi models. Only the Japanese market 1997-2001 Civic features the unique B16B engine. Japanese-only B18C engines can be found in 1993-2001 Integra Si VTEC, SiR-G and Type R chassis, however, the Type R's powerplant is a markedly different, more powerful version. In North America, B16A2 and B16A3 engines were offered in the 1999-2000 Civic Si and 1994-1997 del Sol VTEC, respectively. Only the 1992-1993 Integra GS-R featured the B17A1. Finally, the B18C1 can be found in any 1994-2001 Integra GS-R and its more powerful relative, the B18C5, was available in all 1997-2001 (exclude 1999) Integra Type R.
Engine Swap Candidates: Any 1988-2000 Civic, CRX or del Sol as well as any 1990-2001 Integra. May also be transplanted into any 1984-1987 Civic or 1986-1989 Integra, however, such swaps are not nearly as prevalent.
Specs: There are four different architectures among the B-series VTEC family, the 1.6L B16A, B16A2 and B16A3; the 1.6L B16B that features a taller deck and longer stroke; the B17A1 that's nearly identical to the B16A except for its longer stroke; and the B18C, B18C1 and B18C5 that feature the same deck height as the B16B but with the most stroke of any of these. Horsepower varies significantly, with early B16A models measuring in at only 160hp and some of the final JDM-spec, 1.8L Type R versions reaching almost 200 hp. Use your brain when considering cross-pollenating engine swaps, though; dropping a 160hp B16A into an Integra Type R will never make sense.
How Much: A complete swap, including the engine, transmission, ECU and any applicable aftermarket engine mounts and axles can set you back as little as $1,500 for an early model B16A or as much as $7,000 for something more powerful and rare, like the Civic Type R's B16B.
The Good: Few engines feature the sort of aftermarket support and potential that Honda's B-series does. Even today-nearly 15 years after Honda's discontinuing the B-series platform-it remains the engine of choice for some of the most powerful Hondas in history, capable of producing in excess of 1,200hp.
The Bad: Yours won't be making 1,200hp, though. Eclipsing the 400hp mark isn't hard, but it'll cost you. A lot. The cylinders, fuel system, engine management and drivetrain must all be addressed if you care about any of it holding together.
The Aftermarket: Hasport and Innovative Mounts both offer bolt-in B-series solutions for any of these chassis.
Sources: The K20A2 was first offered in the North American-spec 2002-2004 RSX Type-S and then later rebadged as the K20Z1 for 2005-2006 models. The similar K20Z3 can be sourced from any 2006-2011 Civic Si. In Japan, the K20A is offered in dozens of JDM vehicles, however, look for more powerful versions exclusive to 2001-2011 Civic Type R, Type R Euro, Integra Type R and Accord Euro R models. Back in the U.S., the 2004-2008 TSX is fitted with the larger-displacement K24A2 with Japanese variants available in 2004-2008 Accord 24S, 24T, 24TL and Type S chassis.
Engine Swap Candidates: Any 1988-2005 Civic, CRX or del Sol as well as any 1990-2001 Integra. May also be transplanted into any 1990-1997 Accord, 1992-1996 Prelude, 2011-2013 CR-Z or 2007-2013 Fit.
Specs: Available in 2.0L and 2.4L configurations (2.3L RDX engines are entirely different), Honda's K-series is its most sophisticated four-cylinder to date. Performance-oriented versions like those listed above feature variable valve lift at all 16 valves and electronically controlled, dynamic camshaft phasing on the intake side. Power starts at 197hp on entry-level 2.0L engines and is rated as high as 222hp on select Type R versions.
How Much: K-series engines like any of these that feature VTEC on both camshafts aren't the least expensive. They are, however, the most powerful. Pricing starts around $6,000 for a complete K20A2 swap and can eclipse the $10,000 mark once anything Type R is added to the list.
The Good: Only the B-series rivals the K-series in terms of aftermarket support. There's also no other four-cylinder Honda engine swap that's comparable power-wise in factory form.
The Bad: The price. Because of the engines' orientation and shifter layout, a host of aftermarket components are required to complete any K-series swap. The engines and transmissions themselves aren't exactly inexpensive either.
The Aftermarket: Hasport, Innovative Mounts, Hybrid Racing and K-Tuned all offer engine mount and swap solutions for any of these chassis.
Sources: Look to the 1999-2005 Japanese-spec S2000 for the smaller-displacement F20C and late-2005-2009 models for the bigger F22C. In North America, the F20C1 was available from 2000-2003 until it was replaced with the F22C1 for model years 2004-2009. Special JDM only Type V and U.S.-only CR models were sold with the same 2.0L and 2.2L engines, depending on the year.
Engine Swap Candidates: Although not a direct, bolt-in transplant, the F-series regularly makes its way into Miata chassis as well as classic RWD Toyota platforms like older Corollas, Starlets and Celicas. The F-series also serves as the basis for at least a few RWD-converted Hondas like the 1992-2000 Civic or 1994-2001 Integra.
Specs: Honda's twin-cam F-series is the unofficial precursor to the K-series. Here, Honda implemented its timing chain-driven valvetrain, roller rocker cam followers, a clockwise-rotating assembly and one of the best-performing and flowing cylinder heads of any mass-produced, four-cylinder production engine. Both 2.0L and 2.4L engines yield 240hp-the larger of the two laying down an unprecedented 162lb-ft of torque.
How Much: S2000 production numbers pale in comparison to B-series or K-series chassis. As such, an F-series powertrain will cost you dearly. Depending on the chassis and the number of aftermarket components needed to complete the conversion, plan on spending upward of $6,000.
The Good: It remains Honda's most powerful four-cylinder engine to date and boasts a specific output rivaled only by the Ferrari 458 Italia and Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0.
The Bad: It's a pricey swap, and converting a non-Honda chassis to the likes of it requires custom engine mounts, a revised engine management system and all sorts of tricky wiring.
The Aftermarket: Not a whole lot. Plan on custom mounts, brackets, and all sorts of fabrication.
Sources: Honda introduced its 60-degree V6 J-series platform for the 1997 model year. Since then, it's been offered in a number of configurations and displacements, available in select trims and years of chassis including the Odyssey, Ridgeline, Pilot and Accord as well as the CL, TL, RL, TSX, TLX, RLX, RDX, MDX and ZDX. J-series engines were so widely produced and so prevalent in the U.S. that sourcing Japanese-versions is hardly necessary. If possible, look to the more powerful coil-on-plug engines and avoid those with drive-by-wire throttle bodies for the sake of swap simplicity.
Engine Swap Candidates: Any 1988-2000 Civic, CRX or del Sol as well as any 1994-2001 Integra. May also be transplanted into any 1990-1997 Accord.
Specs: Honda's single-cam, 60-degree J-series is the successor to its larger 90-degree V6 platform of decades past. Power varies significantly between platforms-as low as 240hp and as much as 310hp-with a combination of either VTEC or i-VTEC available for all models.
How Much: About $4,000 for an entry-level Odyssey engine, the appropriate gearbox, and whatever engine mounts and supporting electrical mods are needed. Later-model and more powerful engines naturally mean more money.
The Good: There is no better bang for the buck than Honda's 60-degree V6 engine family. No place else can 240hp be had for so little money.
The Bad: Aftermarket support is scarce when compared to other Honda engine platforms and at 550lbs, it's the heaviest of engine swaps into any of these chassis.
The Aftermarket: Hasport and Innovative Mounts both offer J-series solutions for most of these chassis.