At some point while trudging through traffic on a Monday morning, every driver on the road ends up fantasizing about having a bit more horsepower under the hood. If only to show that annoying driver who's texting how wrong they are or to feel the thrill of getting slammed back in the seat, just a bit more get-up-and-go always sounds great.
But from tiny engine mods like ECU tunes and cold-air intakes—the latter of which typically reduce performance, believe it or not—to huge rebuilds, turbochargers, and engine swaps, getting under the hood and making changes doesn't always go swimmingly.
In fact, many engine upgrade projects turn into black holes for money, time, sweat, and tears. Keep scrolling for 19 engine upgrades that are simply hilarious, even if they took ten years of their owners' lives.
19 Money Cooper
BMW made some pretty sweet engine options available on their reboot of the iconic Mini Cooper, though a supercharged inline-four clearly wasn't enough for some people.
This Mini has received a hilarious V8 under its tiny hood—which won't even fit anymore—plus a turbo and intercooler bolted on to complete the absurd look.
18 No Integrity
The Acura Integra will go down in history as one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars of all time. Part of that success is thanks to the car having a lightweight four-banger up front, which only makes it all the more confusing that someone decided to swap in a transverse-mounted, turbocharged V8 since it will now be completely unbalanced.
17 Bug Out
This VW Bug looks totally radical with long-travel suspension and a massive engine hanging off the back. There's no doubt that it needs that suspension, though, just to keep the engine from dragging behind it when it pops wheels and catches air—still, blasting around San Diego while evading the long arm of the law sounds pretty fun!
16 Not Your Ice Cream Van
This Volkswagen Bus looks pretty unsuspecting on the outside, but once those doors open, it's a thing of beauty. Of course, it's also completely ridiculous since just about the entire interior is taken up by an enormous Chevy V8.
Just imagine burning rubber around the block while playing ice cream truck music as the kids run and chase.
15 Never Enough
One thing that engine mods always seem to prove is that no amount of power is ever enough. Mechanics just love it when their customers begin modding their cars because they know the black hole has caught another victim.
This Firebird's enormous intake system literally looks cartoonish—but it's not Photoshopped at all.
14 Is It In Yet?
This hilarious photo reveals just how much Tetris-like genius is required to do a full engine swap. The fact that that enormous powerplant might ever fit into such a small engine bay seems dubious—and there's no doubt about it being not such a great idea.
Just imagine trying to change the water pump once everything is snugged into place.
Of course, the aesthetics of many engine upgrades become more important than what they actually produce in terms of horsepower. Sure, this Camaro SS can probably fry tires like it's nobody's business, but driving it fast is almost impossible because the driver won't be able to see anything in front of them.
12 If It Fits
Some engine upgrade projects are undertaken by shops that just want to prove and show off what they're capable of doing. Take this Honda, for example, with an enormous V8 dropped into the engine bay. Does it make sense? Not really. Is that turbo going to be a serious problem any time it goes over a bump or catches a piece of a pebble? Definitely.
11 Hemi Up Front
Volkswagen's Beetle used to be the ultimate car for any owner that could do just a little bit of wrenching. This one, though, has completely abandoned the rear-mounted, air-cooled simplicity of the original Bug in favor of front-mounted, Hemi-powered insanity.
This is yet another example where an engine upgrade pretty much required an entire rebuild of the chassis.
10 Come On, Cayman
Porsche nailed it again with the (relatively) cheap 987-generation Cayman. On the used market, these are some of the best handling cars available for the money. But their flat-sixes are significantly underpowered compared to the 911, so engine mods are pretty popular among owners.
Few, though, will go as far as swapping in a Boss 302, especially with the air filter in the hatchback.
9 F1 If You Dare
This Alfa Romeo sedan has been modified with an engine sourced from an F1 race car, which completely removes any hope of it ever being a useful four-door ever again. Of course, that's not the point, but it's still hilarious to see just how far the mods had to go to get the engine mounted effectively. Essentially, it's little more than an Alfa shell anymore.
8 Fast Brick
Most classic Volvo owners buy their vehicles because they're safe, reliable, and simple. While Volvos may have handled well for their time, now they're just brick-like commuter cars in the best way possible. But engine mods are also popular among Volvo owners, though the extent of this project seems pretty ridiculous (and definitely way too expensive).
7 Aston Martin Has A Sense Of Humor
When Aston Martin dropped a V8 engine into their Cygnet city car, no one could believe the stolid old British brand had the courage to be so hilarious.
The Cygnet is little more than a rebadged Scion, after all, so popping a 430-horsepower V8 sourced from a Vantage underneath the tiny, tiny, tiny hood just seemed like an impossible proposition.
6 Again With The Balance
BMW earned itself a place among the big boys with the perfectly balanced E30-generation 3 Series. But as usual, there are plenty of E30 owners out there who decide that the silky-smooth inline-six that made BMW famous just wasn't putting out enough power, which results in strange projects like this twin-turbocharged V8 getting swapped in.
5 Rotary FTW?
Plenty of fanboys love their rotary engines, which might be perfect in airplanes but are silly in automobiles. Planes get their engines rebuilt all the time, after all! But no one wants to spend the time to drop an enormous rotary powerplant into an M6 like this one, only to have to pull it all again after a few spirited drives because all the seals and tolerances started leaking immediately.
4 Mini Cooper, Big Heart
The fact that Mini Coopers were actually relatively successful in the rally world may come as a surprise to most non-gearheads, but it's true. The cars were so little and tossable that rally drivers just loved them.
Of course, front-wheel drive and a lack of power weren't ideal, so plenty of Minis have been beefed up, including this one and its hilarious turbo setup.
3 Clean For Now
The problem with many engine upgrade projects isn't that they're bad ideas, it's that they inevitably end up becoming such big projects that doing them right becomes an enormous investment of either time or money—or, more likely, both.
Would it have been possible to get all those engine components in there without making the hood unusable? Probably, but it would have been a serious hassle.
The reason rotary engines attract so much attention is that they're super tiny and lightweight. Another reason they attract so much attention is that they're incredibly inefficient and less reliable than a Tinder date. But for the short period of time that this E30 runs right, it's probably one serious screamer!
1 Not-So-Smart Car
When Mercedes-Benz builds Smart cars, they're not intended for any kind of impressive performance—not to mention reliability, it turns out. Instead, they're for city dwellers who only need to carry a few grocery bags every now and then.
This Smart Fortwo, however, has received a Hayabusa engine that now takes up all the space that's ordinarily reserved for snacks and frozen pizzas.
Sources: Engine Swap Depot, Jalopnik, and Wikipedia.