Why Can’t Engine Swaps Be Easier?

Porsche V8 Swap

“Just toss an LS in it bro…”

Those words have been casually uttered thousands of times by people that, for the most part, have never lived thru the waking nitemare that is an engine swap.

It sounds so simple, right? Like a greasier version of Legos.  Just toss in a beefier, more reliable powerplant into your hum-drum ride and watch it spring to life as if it had just taken an adrenaline shot straight to the heart.  Its just oh….so….simple.  LS? 2JZ?  The world is your oyster! 

Ahhhh, if only it were that easy.  From wiring harnesses, to mounting brackets to the small army of devilish gotchas in between, grafting a new engine into a platform that wasn’t designed for it is a daunting task, even for the well-wrenched.   And even with the help of “engine swap kits” from companies like Renegade Hybrids, things can and often do go maddeningly wrong…almost no one gets out unscathed.   

But does it have to be this way?  Isn’t there an opportunity here to make things better? Easier?  More Lego-ish?   Why can’t there be standards across manufacturers so heterogeneous components can bolt right up and work in harmony?  

A great example is technology.  An Android phone, Windows laptop and iPad can all access the same web pages, share the same files and play the same music.  All networking equipment, regardless of manufacturer, plugs into the same type ports.  Why?  Because of standards.  HTML, MP3, IP, RJ-45 etc all make it possible for these disparate devices to communicate with each other seemlessly.   

Why can’t this be transferred to cars?  

Why can’t there be a standard for the way transmissions mate to engines?  Why can’t gauges, sensors and wiring harnesses all talk the same language?  CAN buses and OBD II ports are a nice, but it’d be great if everything were more plug-and-play.  Similar bolt patterns.  Adjustable engine mounts.  Gauges that simplly worked with the new hardware.   

The upside to this?  You could swap in transmissions and engines at will with only physical clearances to worry about.  Mazda RX-8’s could get the 2JZ’s they always deserved.  Nissan 350Z’s could rock LS4’s with 7-speed dual-clutch trannys.  Compromise would be a thing of the past.  The world would a better place and war and hunger as we know it would cease to exist worldwide. 

OK, so maybe that last statement was a bit of a hyperbollic stretch.  But thousands of man-hours would be saved and likely more than a few marriages…so from that standpoint, I think this is something worth seriously consideration.   

Image: LS1Tech.com

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