List: Top Ten In-Brand Motor Swap Dreams

By Seyth Miersma

August 03, 2010


Lincoln Town Car w/5.0-liter V-8 (Mustang): Strange as it sounds, we’ve still got a soft place in our hearts (and probably heads) for Lincoln’s wildly out-of-date Town Car. The big sedan may be one of the last vestiges of the bad old days for Ford (though it does keep selling), but it’s also just the kind of chrome-laden swank-machine that Detroiters really dig. Now, Imagine the TC with a hardcore upgrade—stiffened suspension, huge (non-chrome) wheels, and a truckload of power from Ford’s all-new 5.0 V-8. Something along the lines of the Mercury Marauder from a few years back, but with all of the power and menace that it really deserves. We’re getting chills just thinking about it.


Mercedes-Benz R-Class w/ 6.0-liter biturbocharged V-12 (AMG): The AMG hooligans already tried to stick their “63” motor into the Benz kid-carrier, but clearly, that wasn’t enough power for a hungry public. The R63 AMG was pretty ill fated, after all, being pulled from production in 2007 after being introduced for the ‘07 model year. We think that a 604-horsepower V-12 has the power to change all of that. By using the same mindset with which Toyota is now trying to sell its new, “swagger wagon” Sienna, we think Mercedes could play up the high-po R65 AMG as being “rich Dad’s ultimate compromise.” And he’d have to be rich, too—if the general AMG pricing stayed in place, the super-fast R-Class would run about $1 billion.


Chrysler Sebring w/ 6.2-liter V-8 (SRT-8): We’ll grant you that this is a slightly more bizarre combo than most of the rest, but if there’s one thing that could possibly save Chrysler’s Sebring from the clutches of boredom, it’s the company’s potent Hemi V-8. You’d have to select the AWD version of the sedan to have any hope of managing the huge Hemi power, for sure. As a side benefit, fitting the 6.2-liter motor under the hood would almost inevitably lead to the obliteration of the stupid Sebring hood-strakes—win, win.


Audi TT w/ 3.0-liter V-6 turbo diesel (Q7): Audi’s TT has always pulled off the “stylish GT” bit a little better than the “sports coupe” theme, anyway (with apologies to the hardcore TTS of course). Why then wouldn’t the sexy 2+2 fare even better with torque-rich diesel motor? Audi does make a derv-burning TT for Euro customers—that one using the slightly less ballsy 2.0-liter diesel—and we can only imagine that combining 406 pound-feet of torque with the TT’s Quattro all wheel-drive system would make for some hellacious back-road driving.


Chevrolet Cruze w/ 3.6-liter V-6 (Camaro): Chevy’s Cobalt replacement may have only tiny shoes to fill here in the US, but early reports from European drives have us hoping for very competent small car. While the 1.4-liter turbocharged motor that’s slated for the car could be a lot of fun, we’d guess that the 3.6 V-6 would be a whole different, hard-charging animal. A 300+ horsepower Cruze probably falls into “pipe dream” territory, but there’s a decent chance that an SS version will come to fruition.


Nissan Versa w/2.5-liter I-4 (Sentra SE-R Spec V): Why? Because the Versa is a sweet-handling, larger hatchback that has always deserved a chance with a more potent powerplant. The Sentra SE-R Spec V’s 2.5-liter four may not have the cachet of previous Nissan hot hatch engines, but its 200 horsepower could still do a lot to liven up the Versa. Note: Nissan’s own Cube may be the real right way to go with this dream swap, but we do like to give the long-suffering Versa credit when possible.


Ford F-150 w/6.7-liter V-8 turbo diesel (Super Duty): Why does the Super Duty get to have all the fun? Adding the massively torquey 6.7-liter diesel V-8 to the F-150 would create a supertruck unlike the world has ever seen before. Mountains of torque and great fuel economy for the class could make the beefy F-Series an immediate working class hero.


BMW 1-Series w/ 4.0-liter V-8 (M3): Yes, we love the BMW 1-Series a great deal as-is—in both 135i and 128i specs. The car is nimble, forgiving, and attractively communicative. Stuff in BMW’s ultra-intense, M-tuned, 4.0-liter V-8 though, and you’d have a car that would forever stop Bimmerphiles from lamenting the loss of the 2002tii. Stiffening and lightening the car, à la the 1-Series tii Concept, would instantly make the M1 one of most desirable BMWs ever.


Hyundai Genesis Coupe w/4.6-liter V-8 (Genesis Sedan): Word on the street is that Hyundai is already working on a 5.0-liter V-8 for it’s Genesis Coupe—in the hopes that it’ll be able to take Mustang and Camaro head on. We’d guess that even the 4.6-liter Tau V-8, now used in the Genesis Sedan, would make a pretty good companion for the Coupe. That 375-horsepower mill, if combined with a smoother manual trans and some work to dial back the understeer, could make for one hell of a Korean hotrod.


Honda Fit w/2.0-liter I-4 (Civic Si): Here’s a motor swap dream that’s probably already been enacted in some corner of the tuner universe. Honda’s Fit is small, light, good-handling, and impressively functional. The Civic Si’s motor punchy and hard-revving. The resultant Fit Si would be in line to win every hot hatch comparison test for years.

Lincoln Mercedes-Benz Chrysler Audi Chevrolet Nissan Ford BMW Hyundai Honda

Since well before Carroll Shelby was plowing a huge, 427-cubic-inch Ford V-8 into an unsuspecting AC Ace, car guys have been dreaming about putting big motors into little cars. Of course, as satisfying as a good old-fashioned engine swap can be, we always appreciate it when the OEMs take care of business on their own, too, keeping warranties intact and reliability high.

Below are ten visions of greatness that could be had if today’s automakers were able to put economic feasibility, physical restraint, and, sometimes, actual safety requirements to the side, and just dream a little. In-brand motor swaps that would no doubt make the enthusiast-driver community quite happy,

Of course, there are no real limits to the ways one can imagine a motor-swapped world. Be sure to write in to tell us the sexy, outrageous, or otherwise noteworthy in-brand combos that we may have missed.