15 People Who Bravely Attempted To Put Giant Engines In Tiny Cars

When it comes to cars, most people would willingly accept a bit more power. There are few things in life as glorious as mashing the throttle and being slammed back into the seat for a few seconds, though everyone sacrifices their power dreams to achieve better daily driveability, more reliability, and nimbler handling.

Some mechanics, both pros and backyard amateurs, just can't get enough power, though. They'll happily take a car that was intended to carve tight corners and ratchet the insanity up past 11 without hesitation. The problem is that dropping a massive powerplant into a tiny car can be a difficult—if not impossible—task to do properly. From engine bay size issues to powertrain failures and chassis destruction, here are 15 huge engines that couldn't quite work with tiny cars.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

15 S2000 Fail

via YouTube

The idea to drop a V8 into a Honda S2000 is a bad start to a project. The VTEC powerplant that every S2000 left the factory with was a screamer that revved up to 9,000 RPM in AP1 cars. Then there's the concept of lightweight, nimble handling that goes right out the window with a big V8. Of course, the last problem is that the engine bay is just tiny.

14 V8 E30

via YouTube

BMW's E30-generation 3 Series helped to establish the German brand as the world's premier builder of sports sedans—and their coupes weren't too shabby, either. The highlight of BMW's cars has always been their silky-smooth straight-six. And while plenty of E30 examples could use an engine rebuild by now, dropping in a V8 is definitely not the way to go.

13 Exigerrari

via Engine Swap Depot

The Lotus Exige is an awesome sports car that is, arguably, a bit underpowered. The idea to plop a Ferrari V8 behind the cockpit might seem great at first because Ferrari is legendary for their engines. But combining Ferrari reliability (or lack thereof) with Lotus reliability (or lack thereof) is a recipe for a track-day disaster.

12 Viper V10 Volvo

via Speedhunters

This Volvo 242 might look sick with a sinister Viper V10 lurking under the hood, but the fact is that this engine swap was a bad idea from the start. It's just not going to go well to pump upwards of 500 horses through the drivetrain of a Volvo 242, even if the goal is to create the ultimate sleeper. Even with upgraded mechanicals in support of the behemoth, the chassis is just going to melt like butter.

11 Exigent Power Struggles

via DPCcars

Lotus has always stuck to Colin Chapman's recipe for creating lightweight, nimble cars. They're even relatively affordable, or affordable for fancy sports cars, anyways. Many Lotus owners track their cars regularly, where they excel in the corners but get blown away in the straights. Seeing taillights all day helps explain why an Exige owner made the terrible decision to install a BMW V10 sourced from an M5 in their car.

10 Monster 914

via Pinterest

Some speed freaks just want to go fast in a straight line and get their kicks letting out the clutch at 6,000 RPM. Others like to preserve their momentum and feel those G forces during a tight turn. Some gearheads, though, just can't decide, which is proven by the V8 that's been precariously fitted into this little Porsche 914.

9 Because Why Not

via Engine Swap Depot

The 2JZ-GTE engine that came in the Toyota Supra MkIV is legendary for being so overengineered that it can easily handle bolt-on mods that more than double its power output without needed upgraded internals. So why on Earth would someone need to squeeze a twin-turbocharged Hemi V8 into their MkIV? Bad choice all around.

8 V8 Sentra

via Engine Swap Depot

As hilarious as a twin-turbo Hemi V8 might seem in a Toyota Supra, the setup in this Nissan Sentra's engine bay is a bigger step towards real insanity. Obviously, this thing isn't going to be able to retain its stock appearance. But the bigger issue is that it also had to be swapped to rear-wheel drive. Why not just go with a different car to begin with?

7 Turbo'd My Turbo, Bro

via YouTube

The lure of burning tires and mind-melting acceleration has prompted plenty of car owners to dive into the black hole of mods and upgrades. Engine swaps are becoming more and more popular, too, as the internet gives an average amateur mechanic plenty of resources for building a monster. But this turbocharged piece of silliness just went far too far.

6 Dom Would Be Proud

via Twist and Lean

Once again, here is an awesome little car that's been totally ruined by an engine swap. The E46 BMW M3 took its predecessor's engine and upped the redline to 8,000 RPM while adding a sixth gear (in the US) and improving overall creature comforts. While a supercharger would have been another nice add-on, having one sticking up out of the hood like the prop on Dom's Charger is just ridiculous.

5 Honda LS

via YouTube

The backyard builder behind this wild engine swap deserves a bit of credit for their ingenuity. Not many gearheads would think of swapping an LS V8 into a Honda—much less mounting it transversely. However, dreams don't always translate into reality and it should be no surprise that this build didn't quite work out smoothly.

4 Not So Mini

via Motor1

A Mini Cooper with a V8 sounds great and the smoke billowing from the rear wheels of this one looks pretty sweet. But the reality is that dropping in a huge engine, reworking the Mini into a rear-wheel-drive layout, and bolting on a massive supercharger are steps that just ruin everything cute and tiny the Mini had going for it.

3 LS1 Cayman

via LS1 Tech

Porsche purposefully keeps the Cayman and Boxster underpowered relative to their big brothers in the 911 range. Still, there are steps owners of the mid-engined P-cars can take to improve their power output. Mounting an LS1 into a Cayman probably isn't the best plan and Porsche's electrical gremlins since the late-2000s probably don't help.

2 LS1 911

via LS1 Tech

The fact that Porsche has stuck with a rear-engine layout for the 911 over all these years comes partly down to stubbornness, without a doubt. Still, there's no arguing that coming out of a corning in a 911 with all the weight on the tail end is a great sensation. But adding to that weight by swapping in an LS1 V8 isn't the best way to deal with lift-off oversteer.

1 Chevy V8 Beetle

via Generation: High Output

Like the Porsche 911 to which it is closely related, the original Volkswagen Beetle is a rear-engined, air-cooled, rear-wheel-drive, and small vehicle. While plenty of people mod their Bugs endlessly, it takes a more maniacal mind to think that the best plan would be to put  a Chevy V8 engine into the front trunk.

Sources: LS1 Tech, Engine Swap Depot, and Wikipedia.

More in Cars And Trucks