The wonderful world of the internet has allowed a new generation of backyard and home garage mechanics to take on automotive projects that would have been impossible only a decade ago. From suspension work to engine rebuilds and even engine swaps, plenty of information and aftermarket parts are available online.
But just because a car has a blown motor or is underpowered doesn't mean that it should be a candidate for an engine swap. In some cases, it's best to just let a car go—no matter how much it seems like a heartbreak to do so.
Some owners, however, undertake engine swap projects seemingly because they have nothing else to do with their time. Another miracle of the internet is that their ridiculous, failed attempts at engineering genius become examples for the rest of the world to scoff at.
Keep scrolling for 15 sad engine swaps that failed big-time.
15 LeMons Lemon
The 24 Hours of LeMons is a joke race that brings out automotive maniacs with some of the most ridiculous cars the world has ever seen. It's a joke take on the seriousness of the famous Le Mans race, and many entrants are mashups, garbage cars, and home builds. An example is the poor Nissan 300ZX above, which received a disgusting Saab turbo engine swap.
14 Subie Brah!
Subaru fanboys love to drop boxer-fours into anything they can get their hands on. One bonus is that many Subaru models have interchangeable parts, so drivetrain components from an STI can easily fit into a base Impreza 2.5RS. But despite how simple and dreamy the concept might sound, plenty of would-be mechanics end up at about this phase, sans a working motor or any usable wiring.
13 Legendary Jaguar Reliability
Jaguar may be putting out some pretty sweet cars these days but there's good reason their lease program is so popular. Even with modern technology drastically improving mechanical reliability, modern technology is also bringing with it increased computerization in the automotive world. Jaguar's history includes beautiful cars with gorgeous V12 engine notes—swapping one into any car, however, is a commitment to a lifetime of maintenance.
12 Mad Miata
Mazda has remained impressively committed to the Miata's design concept over the last 30 years. It's a tiny, lightweight, efficient car with excellent driving dynamics and respectable, if not overwhelming, power. The point is that Miatas are perfect in the turns, not blasting off the line. But some people can't handle that and create monstrosities like this unfortunate example.
11 E30 Monster
BMW's E30 generation of the 3 Series helped solidify their status as the builders of the world's most enjoyable little cars. But even the highest-end models didn't have a ton of power, something that this owner has remedied with an enormous twin-turbo V8 setup. But did that camber become necessary because of the behemoth in the engine bay?
10 Hemi Prius
This Toyota Prius is famous because it's been done up to completely counter the development, popularity, and efficiency of the hybrid car. Dropping a Hemi V8 into a Prius might seem funny but there's no chance this car drives well. Priuses are great for gliding around town—mashing on the accelerator pedal or taking a turn at speed is not a good idea.
9 Twinned RSX
The Acura RSX is another wonderful sports car from Japan that does well because it's lightweight and nimble, with a bit of power, despite being front-wheel drive. It essentially carries on the tradition of the Integra. One owner couldn't handle any of its pros, though, so he dropped in the cons of two (count 'em, two) LS4 V8 engines front and rear powering all four wheels. Talk about gaining weight!
8 Wired Up
Many backyard mechanics think about engine swaps as being entirely about wrenches, nuts, bolts, and mechanical know-how. But even older engines require a huge amount of electrical ability—which, in turn, requires a huge amount of foresight and planning. This engine bay is a nightmare to look at, with wires running all over the place just begging to melt onto the head.
7 914 Dilemma
Engine swaps are usually all about power—and more power is never a bad thing, usually. Typical recipients are cars that offer nimble handling but not enough grunt in the straights, which is just about the calling card of the Porsche 914. But dropping in an enormous setup like this is absurd; that intercooler probably weighs about as much as the car's original engine.
6 Boxy Baby
Often, completing an engine swap that will run requires a bit of fabrication to make all the parts and pieces fit together in their new home. Intake hoses and exhaust manifolds are typical places to start as they can be adjusted as an engine bay requires. But this Toyota Corolla All-Trac engine swap just looks like someone used a bunch of tin foil.
Here is yet another car that left the factory with perfect balance, impeccable steering, and a low curb weight. The Honda S2000 even had perfectly legit power, too, thanks to a high-revving engine that offered the highest output for a naturally aspirated engine in the world at the time of its debut. But, naturally, somebody wasn't happy and trashed their S2K with a ridiculously large engine swap.
4 But Why?
This Ford Ikon was documented by a person who was very confused as to why the car, which left the factory with a 1.3-liter gasoline engine, sounded as rough as a diesel. Well, upon opening the hood, the engine was revealed to be a Nissan diesel. Less surprisingly, it wasn't running very well, taking 10-15 cranks to start up, vibrating and squeaking intensely, and ejecting thick black smoke from the exhaust.
3 Corvette Traitor
The Chevrolet Corvette is Detroit's only true supercar, offering not just impressive power (which the Challenger Hellcat can beat) but also grip in the tight corners. This Corvette, however, has had its V8 swapped out in favor of a turbocharged 13B rotary engine—the owner then snuck it into LS Fest, where presumably every V8 fanboy had a conniption.
2 More Rotary Wrongs
Rotary engines were a miraculous invention. They offer power-to-weight ratios that put traditional internal combustion engines to shame. However, they also burn through gas and oil like it's their job and their longevity is, literally, a joke. Swapping a rotary engine into an E30 BMW might sound like a good idea but the setup will never last as long as BMW's original inline-six.
1 Six Rotors Worth of Wrong
Despite its flaws, the rotary engine has a wide following of rabid fans who are all willing to overlook the fact that their seals are going to blow, forcing them to undertake another engine swap in the near future. Or maybe they just like dropping engines and installing new ones. If that's the case, maybe a six-rotor swap into a BMW M6 isn't a complete waste of time.
Sources: Engine Swap Depot, Team-BHP, and Wikipedia.