PCH, Superpower Swap Showdown: Subaru'd Renault or Toyota'd Maserati?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Superpower Swap Showdown: Subarud Renault or Toyotad Maserati?

With Italy edging out a narrow victory over Britain in yesterday's Choose Your Eternity poll and advancing to the first-ever Project Car Hell Superpower Showdown with France, I decided we needed to add an extra layer of Hell to each nation's entrant in order to honor this occasion with the solemnity it deserves. Not that we won't repeat the Superpower Showdown schtick over and over, of course, but this one is first! So, what we got here is PCH Superpower cars with Japanese engines. Now, you figure maybe a Japanese engine would make such a car more reliable, but I've been careful to select car/engine combos that involve twin-turbocharged complexity and fragile-chassis-twisting power. France? Italy? You decide!

The Renault 4CV was a sort of French interpretation of the Volkswagen Beetle... which meant that it wasn't much like the Beetle at all, other than having an ass-engined configuration and being cheap. Would you like suicide doors on your tiny econo-car, monsieur? Of course... and we'd also like a twin-turbocharged Subaru engine putting out 275 horsepower (i.e., sixteen times the original power rating of 17 horses), like the Arizona crazyman who started this 1957 Renault 4CV project (go here if the ad disappears) has. You get acres of description of what's been done so far to the car, which is considerable yet makes it clear that it's nowhere near finished. Not even close (cue evil laughter, odor of sulfur, hellish choir singing the Marseillaise)! But the engine starts up! Look, here's proof:

See? How hard can it be? And how long would you survive once you finished the project? Thanks, and a half-credit towards a Project Car Hell Tipster T-shirt, to Skaz for the tip!

It's going to be hard to top the Twin Turbo Subaru-powered 4CV with an Italian engine swap project that's already as far along, so I'm taking the liberty of finding a car and a separate engine, letting you fill in the frightening blanks. You know the routine here, of course, so let's see what we've got! The main ingredient must be an Italian car with an extremely high Coolness Quotient, and I think I've found just the thing: this 1959 Maserati 3500GT coupe. In stark contrast to the 4CV, there's no description whatsoever, and it's got a little extra something for those of you who like mysterious car deals: the car is in Portugal, with no information of any sort explaining how the seller plans to get the car to you. That's right, a 49-year-old Maserati "Restoration Project" in Portugal, and you know nothing about it! Now, the 3500GT came with an incredibly finicky inline-six engine and fuel injection by you-know-who. That engine was rated at an impressive 220 horsepower... but we say you need to dump it on your garage floor and forget all about that wimpy hunk of Italian iron, because what you need is a Maserati-purist-enragin' twin-turbocharged 1JZ six out of a JDM Toyota Soarer! Once you're done adding more boost (waaaay more boost), you can figure out some way to make the Maserati rear end withstand all the power (or deliver another thudding kidney punch to the already-reeling Maserati purists and put a Ford 9-inch in the back). It's really quite a simple process, from purchase of Portuguese Maserati to complete Toyota drivetrain swap... so get busy!


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Rob Emslie


Of course, plugging a mass produced, robot assembled, Japanese motor into the engine bay of a hand crafted, emotively shaped, Italian touring car is like putting a trucker's cap on Monica Bellucci.

Because of this, half the hell you would experience would be tracking down (Nicholas Cage-like) all the matching serial numbers parts and reassembling them into a factory-authentic restoration that would make Gioacchino Colombo and the four original Maserati brothers proud. Well, maybe not Bindo.