Five Killer Corvette Engine Swaps!
by Jason Giacchino
Make no mistake, we adore the Corvette chassis as much as you do, but life is complicated, and occasionally engines and car bodies go their separate ways. When that happens, can we blame the owners of lesser automobiles for desiring the world-renowned performance of the ‘Vette block? Of course not. So it should come as no surprise then that tuners, shops and backyard mechanics the world over have managed to shoehorn the Chevy V8s into some of the most unlikely engine bays. Check out these five sweet projects.
Corvette-Powered Mazda Miata:
Consider this: A 2001 LS1 Corvette weighs 3214 lbs, a 1994 Mazda Miata weighs in at 2100 pounds. The charm of slapping a high-output LS1 into such a nimble chassis is certainly not lost upon us. Even after the most unlikely of engine transplants, the Miata came away weighing a scant 2536 lbs (a total gain of under 200 lbs), with a weight distribution of 38% at the front wheels and 62% on the rear. Now consider this: In stock trim this 1.6 liter powered Miata was good for roughly 116 HP. A 234 horsepower increase and a weight gain of under 200 pounds? All we can say is hold on tight!
Corvette-Powered Honda Civic:
Not only are we astonished that a 2000 Chevrolet Corvette powertrain could be made to fit into a 1996 Honda Civic, it’s even more baffling to consider the amount of work involved in turning what began life as a 1.6L 4-cylinder front drive platform into a 350HP, rear-wheel-driven V8.
Apparently this unlikely union spawned as a result of having a totaled Vette on hand and a thoroughly used 96 Honda Civic picked up for a cool $200.
Of particular note, this build managed to swap not only the engine & transmission, but the Vette front suspension, steering and rear suspension all found their way onto the Civic as well. When last we heard, the owner was busy trying to incorporate many of the interior elements from the Corvette into the Civic build. We certainly hope he managed to integrate fatter tires into the formula!
Corvette-Powered Porsche 944:
If you think about it, the Porsche rationale of making fast cars pretty much goes against all that is American muscle. Porsche’s reliance upon extremely heavily tuned, smaller bore mills makes the swap to the thumping 5.7L LT1 out of a ’96 Corvette an unlikely one and yet that’s exactly what happened here. With some pushing and shoving, the Vette powerplant was made to fit into the engine bay designed around a 2.5L 4-cylinder rated for 150HP.
In its original condition, the Porsche was purchased off eBay for $1,800 and while no information was available of the cost of the ‘Vette mill, we are certain the jump from 150 to 300HP wasn’t lost upon this home-garage-builder during his shakedown runs. In the war of technology versus sheer displacement, apparently there is room for compromise.
Corvette-Powered Jeep Wrangler:
When we think of wedging a Vette engine into another vehicle, we usually think of harnessing the power on tap for similar pavement twisting exploits but that’s not always the case! Apparently the 1997 Jeep Wrangler’s 4.0L inline six-cylinder engine may be well suited to climbing rocks and crossing streams but imagine the possibilities of working a 5.7L V8 in there!
Sure enough, someone managed to shoehorn an LS1 V8 from a Corvette behind the trademark seven-bar grille of a Jeep Wrangler and in the process created what we can only imagine as being quite a handful off road! Good for about 320 horsepower (up from 147), we have no idea if the swapper managed to retain the four-wheel-drive capabilities of the stocker but we can state with confidence that racing fellow Jeep owners at traffic lights must have been pretty interesting.
Corvette-Powered S197 Mustang:
Purists of either marque will likely cringe at the following union, but let’s not kid ourselves here, this Corvette/ Mustang hybrid means business! Staring life as a 2006 S197 Mustang this ?pony car? is equipped with a Chevrolet LS-series engine. Perhaps even more unbelievable is that this is no mere 7.0L Vette block, this one boasts a Procharged C5R from the Corvette racing program built with billet connecting rods, a billet crankshaft and forged pistons good for 1015hp at 18 psi. Naturally the Mustang’s tranny has been dropkicked in favor of the Corvette’s six-speed manual unit. This terror-inducing hybrid was actually for sale by Muscle Carz out of Houston, Texas back in 2008 for $70,000 and we suspect it didn’t sit on the floor for long.