PCH, Rotary Swap Hell Edition: Honda 600 or Toyota Starlet?

Technically, the Peugeot Mi16 beat the Mercedes-Benz 6.9 in last Friday's Choose Your Eternity poll, but we're talking 327 to 317 votes here. When all is said and done, however, France still needs to take on Britain in a PCH Superpower Challenge... but we're postponing that apocalyptic battle for another day, because tipster EdNiedermeyer sent in a mighty Wankelized contender from not-often-seen-in-PCH Japan (earning a half-credit towards a Project Car Hell Tipster T-shirt in the process), and we've found a Rotarian opponent that stacks up pretty well against it. So throw those pistons in the trash and stagger into the sumo ring to face your 800-pound opponent, because it's Rotary Swap Hell Day!


We dove into the searing flames of Hayabusa Honda 600 Hell a few months back, but the problem with the Hayabusa is that it has pistons. What a Honda 600 really needs is an engine with no reciprocating mass and an even more deadly potential power-to-weight ratio than the Hayabusa (and besides, the Honda 600 came with a motorcycle engine from the factory). That's why we're pleased that EdNiedermeyer found us this 1971 Honda 600 with Mazda 12A rotary engine. The starting bid is $3,500, there are three days to go, and there are no bids yet! The seller, a stickler for the eBay Motors CAPS LOCK tradition, tells us "I GUESS I DON'T HAVE TO EXAGERATE WHEN I'M SAYING THAT THE CAR IS VERY FAST," and we tend to agree. In fact, we'd go a bit further and say that this setup wants to kill you, in one of those wrecks so grisly that the paramedics involved will be required to go on long-term psychological disability leave. It appears that the car has a shortened Mazda RX-2 chassis, plus evidence of quite the junkyard shopping spree, including a spoiler off a Blazer and an Alfa Romeo brake booster. It's been sitting for a long time, it's probably packed with all manner of scary hacks and workarounds, and the engine needs more power... but you'll solve all those problems. A little turbocharging here, a few months of puzzling out wiring and linkages there, and you'll be ready to wail down the highway at three times the top speed of a stock 600!

Converting a front-wheel-drive car to rear-wheel-drive, just so you can Wankel away? Why do that when there's a perfectly good rear-wheel-drive Japanese machine that's not a whole lot heavier than the Honda 600? Yes, the Toyota Starlet, the car with the best fuel economy in America. Once you ditch the pushrod four-banger for a powerplant with no pushrods (or valves, for that matter), you can make quite the impression at the dragstrip if you so choose. And if you've got $3,000 in your pocket ("only cash in person please," in one of those stating-the-obvious moments you often get in car ads), you can have your very own 12A-powered 1982 Toyota Starlet. The seller doesn't indicate whether it runs or not, but that won't matter much to you. You see, that's because you'll need to make this thing street-legal. Roll cage, nitrous, 4.62:1 rear and all! Sure, there will be plenty of work required, but imagine the glory of commuting to work in this howling-mad brute!

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