Illustration for article titled PCH, Engines Not Found In Nature, Part II: Turbo Rotary Datsun 510 or V8 Austin-Healey Sprite?

Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Let's return to Engines Not Found In Nature projects, shall we?


You can find intra-corporate engine swaps all over the place, but even a 350-powered Chevy Vega or a 4A-GZE-motivated Toyota Starlet is a bit of a snore after you've seen a few. The real engine-swap fun starts happening when you do a mashup involving totally unrelated drivetrain and chassis; that way you get maddening challenging technical hassles and enraged purists thirsting for your heretical blood. It's a lose-lose win-win!

Sure, you can get all manner of potent Nissan powerplants for a 510, but what if you want completely absurd engine revs and all the engine weight behind the front wheels? You could spend crazy downtown money on a wild SR, and then chop a hole in the firewall and move it back… but why not just take a tip from Herr Doktor Wankel and eschew reciprocating mass? That's what the seller of this 1971 Datsun 510 with 1988 RX-7 Turbo engine (go here if the ad disappears) has done, and all you need to do is wrap up damn near everything a few loose ends to get it fully streetworthy! It's got a Frankensteined custom oil pan, some suspension mods, wheel flares, etc. It starts and drives, doesn't have much rust, and the interior is totally stripped ready for restoration. That engine put out 182 horses from the factory, and you'll be able to blow it up get much, much more with the usual turbo tweaks.

182 horsepower in a 2,000-pound car? Why, you might as well be driving a garbage truck powered by a 50cc Honda Cub motor! You need to get the power-to-weight down from 11 pounds per horse to something more stupid sensible, like 500 horsepower in a 1,000-pound car! You get to two pounds per horsepower and you'll have plenty of hill-climbing and passing power, because it's all about the safety! We all know that the cheapest route to 500 horsepower is the good ol' Small-Block Chevrolet V8; you can put together 500 reliable Chevy horses using off-the-shelf parts, no sweat… but what car best suits such an engine? We suggest this 1965 Austin-Healey Sprite (go here if the ad disappears), which is already set up for a small-block Chevy engine. By "set up," we're not sure if that means "Austin engine torn out, space now available for Chevy" or "engine mounts in place, firewall modified," but you'll learn more as you try to negotiate the price down from the $3,000 starting point. It has a "professionally built" chassis and wheel tubs- hey, you need steamroller rubber to propel you into the nearest concrete abutment get all those horses to the pavement- but the planned 4-link rear suspension, she is not finished yet. Does it come with the body and trim parts not shown in the photo? Is there rust? We can't say! Don't worry about that stuff, though, because we can think of plenty of cars with tougher parts availability than the Sprite. Thanks to Radiohound for the tip!


Project Car Hell's Greatest Hits

Share This Story

Get our newsletter