Engine swaps get us excited here at Jalopnik. There’s something wild and frankly transgressive about putting an engine in a car it wasn’t meant for. But not all swaps are equal. The best ones tell a story.
Some keep it in the family, like this turbo-swapped RAV4, this mid-engined VR6-powered Scirocco, or this insane F40-driven Dino. When you swap an engine from a relative, or from another model in a brand’s stable, you’re actually writing a little bit of alternate history, a glimpse of what might have been.
Others try and blur the lines between cars and other kinds of vehicles, whether with heavy trucks, motorcycles or even lawnmowers. These are mighty impressive swaps and the stories behind them are no doubt legendary.
I wanted to bring your attention to one engine swap I came across earlier this week, though. One that tells a story about the car it’s based on and the place where it was built.
This Volga has a Toyota 1UZ-FE V8 inside. That seems like a pretty random if well-suited pairing for a large rear wheel-drive sedan, but there’s more to it. You see, both V8 Volgas and Japanese-market motors have important histories in Russia, and the story they tell together helps bridge the gap between the Soviet past and the free-market present.
You see, the GAZ Volga-24 was offered to most buyers in Russia with a 2.4 liter four-cylinder. The KGB and traffic patrol got a little more power from a V8, though. The indigenously-designed 5.5 liter motor was only good for about 190 HP, but compared with the normal spec that was pretty impressive. If you had the misfortune of seeing one of those cars in your rear-view mirror, you probably weren’t going to get away with a time out.
The other side of the coin is Russia’s history of Japanese imports. Way over on the eastern side of Russia, ferries go back and forth between Japan and the port city of Vladivostok. In the early days of the Russian Federation, those ferries(and plenty of other vessels too) carried a steady stream of lightly-used Japanese used cars to the young country.
Put them together like these guys did in the video above and you’ve got yourself a vehicle that pays homage to the secret sleepers of the Soviet security organs and also to the wave of Japanese cars that hit the Russia after the fall of the USSR.
But this is just one example. I’m sure there are plenty more swaps (and swap ideas) out there that tell some good stories. So what have you got in mind? Share them below and let us know what makes them so special.