The Ultimate Lexus Swap? LS3 IS300 March 11, 2016 | 02:24 am

The first generation Lexus IS sedan was built from 1998-2005. It was known for being fairly stylish, and fairly refined in terms of noise levels, isolation, and luxury. It handled well enough, but it weighed 3400 lbs and with the 3.0 liter inline six, its 215 hp spun it up to a mediocre 7.3 second 0-60 time. That’s not gonna put ya to sleep, but it’s not gonna set your hair on fire either.

Even when C&D tested it back in 2004, they came to the conclusion what the thing really needed was more power.

Hmm… I wonder if sprinkling a little LSx juju in the engine bay might spruce things up a little?


Well as a matter of fact, somebody has tried that already! Read the rest of this entry

1986 Mitsubishi Starion October 10, 2014 | 06:13 pm

The Mitsubishi Starion is a cool example of 1980’s sportiness. The sister vehicle is a Chrysler Conquest.

These 2.6L turbocharged four cylinder engines are known for being capable, efficient, and peppy. But they actually aren’t known for being particularly tolerant of modifications, ie giant increases in boost. Improvements were made throughout the product life cycle, but output typically falls between 160-190 hp. At less than 3,000 lbs curb weight, the zero to sixty time is around 8 seconds flat.

This particular example is for sale by a used car dealer in Missouri, and is a beautiful silver color with black leather interior. It has 58k miles on it and seems to be in pristine condition. I doubt this has been refurbished or restored. It’s always a wonder to me that a car this old (28 years!) can be in this kind of shape. Did somebody just park it in a garage, maybe with a plastic bag to keep the dust and rodents away? It looks like the right-hand flip-up headlight or headlight cover is slightly misaligned. That could be indicative of a prior accident, but it’s just as likely that it needs a minor adjustment as a result of 28 years of normal use. The interior looks basically spotless. Did you notice the “Turbo Turbo Turbo” logo on the seatbelts? I could do without the goofy two-spoke steering wheel, but as mint and original as the interior is I would certainly be loathe to change a single thing. The dash and instrument panel scream “1980’s” and are so unique and welcome. It’s refreshing to find something so different from stuff we see today. Read the rest of this entry

911 Turns Beastly September 15, 2014 | 01:20 am

Some guy in Japan took a Porsche 930 and swapped in an LS7. If you are mumbling to yourself “that’s seven liters of madness”, bingo you are correct sir. I’m not sure what year car this is, but this vintage 911/930 is a bit tricky to drive on the edge. They are rear-engined (of course) and have a good bit of rear weight balance. If you grew up in the era of ABS and traction control and electronic nannies, a swapped car like this definitely isn’t for you.

I’ve heard this thing can turn some impressive lap times. That stands to reason when you consider it’s a claimed 2200 lbs and about 540 hp. It has gi-normous brakes, big sticky tires, and all the suspension and interior upgrades needed to go fast and nasty.

The rear wing personifies badass. Yeah, you can but a huge wing on anything. But a WRX or any other Japanese go-fast-mobile just doesn’t have a the credibility this 930 does.

A Renegade Hybrids V8 conversion kit was used, along with headers and a custom titanium exhaust. The interior looks like a nice place to do some work. Imagine revving this thing up and dumping the clutch with the grip of some 315mm wide Hoosiers on the back. The traction probably rivals that of some all wheel drive cars. Read the rest of this entry

Craaaazy FB Mazda Rx-7 Swap August 30, 2014 | 12:52 am

It’s very rare, but occasionally I will come across a swap so insanely built that I am awestruck. This is certainly such an occasion.

Mazda released the first generation FB-Series Rx-7 in the States in 1978. The Rx7 always had a unique rotary engine. The FB had a 12a, which was a 1.2 liter and had 100 horsepower with 100 ft-lbs of torque. By 1984, the car had grown into a version called a GSL-SE. It had a 13b engine, which was fuel injected, 1.3 liters in size, and had 135 horsepower with 133 ft-lbs of torque. At only 2,400 lbs, these things were pretty peppy. I owned one in high school. Mine got pretty bad gas mileage, and the steering (which is a recirculating ball design) was pretty bad. But I remember when Car & Driver magazine did a write-up on the SE version, and they something about “entire city blocks can be covered sideways.” Well, maybe if you are a Car & Driver editor, and not a pimply teenage dude with an 89k mile example with worn out steering. I introduced mine to a ditch or two trying to prove that statement.

I digress.


Doing a high quality swap in a nice shop when you have lots of money and the best tools and just buying all the parts you need is one thing. But when you see something ultra-fine and it’s apparent that it was all done by hand… awesome. Read the rest of this entry

Vorshlag LS1 E30 August 28, 2014 | 06:07 pm

Unique cars are a good thing. I’ve found that souping up an old(er) car won’t necessarily get you around a track quicker than a more modern car. Add to that the fact that it’s rarely more cost effective, and you have a recipe for cookie-cutter, OEM sports cars.

a) If you’re a real car guy, you can’t help but tinker, so you will almost always modify whatever you’re driving, whether by a lot or by a little.
b) Stock is boring. Why not mix a little drama in there? Yes, the feeling of satisfaction you get when you snap off perfect shifts right at redline with a machine that is operating perfectly and just as intended by it’s original design engineers is GREAT. But it feels EVEN BETTER if the same thing happens with something you built with your own hands. Or at least that’s how I feel.

DSC2918-L Read the rest of this entry

1999 BMW M3 August 27, 2014 | 09:28 pm

The 2nd generation BMW M3, generally referred to as the E36, was heralded as one of the most sublime daily-driver sports cars ever. No, it wasn’t as brutally fast as a Corvette or as exotic-looking as a Porsche. But anybody that has ever had their ass handed to them by a smug M3 driver at a track event knows that these cars are more than the sum of their parts.

This car was found on bimmerforums, originally for sale for $23,000. At the time of this post, asking price had dropped to $13,200 OBO. The fact that it has 193k miles on it is a bit of minus. But the fact that so much work has been done to it is quite a plus. All the projects were well documented on MotoIQ. Some fancy dress-up bits for the interior, a cat-back exhaust, an M50 manifold upgrade, the TurnerMotorSports Stage 3 performance package, wow. Read the rest of this entry

Toyota Celica GT – 4th Generation February 5, 2014 | 07:27 pm

Totyota made their fourth generation Celica from 1985-1989. They aren’t my favorite series Celica, but the example below was so clean it sparked my interest. To me, the biggest drawback was their conversion from rear to front wheel drive starting with this generation. In 1986, the GT came with the ST’s engine, which was a ST-161 with a 2S-E. These only lasted one year so they are pretty rare. But they have a 2.0 liter eight valve four, rated at 97hp at 4400 rpm and 124 ft-lbs at 4400 rpm. They weight right at 2500 lbs.

For a 1980’s car, these came loaded with sunroof, power windows, and fancy 13″ alloy wheels. Trivia time – the GT came with a front strut tower bar, as seen in these photos. They had ventilated disc and rear drum brakes.

The interior on this car is like a way back time machine. Dang, is it clean. This auction has a buy it now of $5,995. That seems overpriced considering what this car is – ie not a performance freak, just a very nice shiny fwd sporty gas sipper. But hey money isn’t much of an object, we are allowed to buy “1 car per day” right?


Original 1987 Honda CRX Si Time Machine February 2, 2014 | 03:49 pm

This original 87 CRX Si looks to be in fabulous shape. With 77k miles on it, you probably won’t easily find another one in the entire country that shines up quite as pretty. Looks like the rear bumper is a bit droopy, but come on if the car was perfect we would be afraid to drive it. Speaking of perfect, check out that interior. No airbags to worry about in 87, so we could let the kids ride in the front seat. No milkshakes or goldfish crackers though, because the interior is just remarkable in terms of how clean it looks and totally devoid of wear or age.

I believe 1987 is the last year of the 1st generation CRX. The HF version I think got around one meeellion miles per gallon and came with a 60 hp engine. 0-60 time was 14 seconds. Nope, I didn’t say quarter mile, 60 mph. The Si faired better, with a 91 hp engine to propel 1,840 lbs. No lie, 1,840 lbs straight off the factory floor. They were rated at 36 mpg on the highway, but with that sweet little transmission and that super light clutch and that very direct manual steering, you are going to keep that thing buzzing near redline constantly right? Base price for the Si in ’87 was $7,999. They made 48,355 CRX’s in 1987.

A friend of mine owned one of these in high school. She had a red one just like the one in these photos.

This beauty is currently posted on ebay. It’s at $4900, with a day and a half left on the auction. It’s at $4,900 but the reserve hasn’t been met. Whatever the cost, if I were rich, into my stable it would go.


**Update: The car ended up selling for $5600

Bad BMW February 2, 2014 | 03:06 pm

Personally, I believe everything tastes better with ketchup. Along a similar line of thought, pretty much any car is better if you swap in an LSx motor.

Take for instance this 1985 BMW 528i with an LS1 swap. I grew up in the 1980’s, so I always enjoy plonking my rear into a well-maintained 80’s car and enjoying the look and feel. This particular car was offered up for sale several times on ebay and craigslist (this was a few years ago), and I lost track of whether it did or didn’t sell. I think part of the problem was the owner spent $35k and spared no expense in doing the swap.

Economics aside, it really does seem like this thing is one of a kind. Brakes were upgraded to help provide additional stopping power more appropriate for the potent v8. Cool E39 wheels, improved suspension, and apparently a little restoration work on the interior. At the time of the ad postings, it had 130-140k miles on it. Certainly doesn’t look it. What’s a good guess, 375 hp at 3200 lbs? It’s no Ferrari, but whoa that would be a ton of fun!

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1977 Ford LTD June 9, 2013 | 10:11 pm

Stretch it out. Go ahead. It’s 1977, and you don’t give a crap about compact, fuel efficient, lightweight, weenie stuff. 220 inches long – yeah baby. My parents had a Ford LTD in the late 70’s when I was growing up. I didn’t ride in a car seat because if they even existed back then, my parents sure didn’t own one. I rode in the front seat, the back seat, stood in the floorboards and called to my pretty mamma, whatever. Who cared, I was wrapped in the loving and nearly impenetrable arms of 2 tons of Detroit steel.

Although the 351 Windsor v8 is a big heavy beast, by 1977 it was already partially neutered. Figure 200hp if you’re lucky, but gobs of torque. Hey no worries, were you wanting a sports car or a cruiser? Flip the AC on max, set the cruise, and float down the road dude.

This particular one has 16k miles on it. Are you kidding me? Where do you think you’ll ever find another 77 LTD with 16k original miles on it? Look at that woodgrain. Look at that plush carpet, those wheel arches. See the headlights? The radio? See the little silver button on the floor by the left of the brake pedal. Trivia time – that’s the bright headlight switch. Try to find a switch like that on a 2013 Avalon and you’re gonna be disappointed. You’d have to buy a limo to get a bigger back seat. Didja see the trunk? I’m pretty sure I know a couple of single guys who could move everything the own into this car and live in it.

If I had just won like $269M in the powerball lottery, I would buy this car. Just because. Might sit in my gigantic air conditioned car warehouse most of the time, but it would look beautiful doing it.

ltdltd2ltd trunkltd door panelltd dashltd headlight switchltd back seat