We understand there's nothing more American than swapping a potent power plant into a chassis that natively came with an otherwise underwhelming mill, usually for the express purpose of hooning. We believe it's called "hot rodding," and while the phenomenon has been around in some way, shape, or form since the early days of the motorcar, it would be incorrect to assume only enthusiasts from the US — with only domestic source material — have had all the fun, because they haven't. Go to any drifting event, large or small, and you'll see nearly equal amounts of V8s, inline-6s, and even inline-4s — probably the best place to see the diverse influence of engine swap pioneers from all over the globe.
The best place, but not the only place — in 2017, we came up with the idea to pit a bunch of uniquely motivated machines against one another on the dyno and at the track. Dubbed the Odd Swaps Challenge, we opened it up to all makes and models of engine-swapped builds; put our chosen entries on title sponsor Continental Tires' ExtremeContact™ Sports; and finally instructed them all to show up at the World Motorsports Wind Tunnel Dyno on one day, and Buttonwillow Raceway Park the next.
As the pics and video suggest, it was a motley crew, a mishmash of eclectic platforms and tried and true power makers. In addition to a handful of familiar faces, we also witnessed a few surprises in competition. Let's just say the most powerful cars were not necessarily the fastest.
Spinning the rollers for a staggering 668 horsepower and 629 lb.-ft. of torque, Diego Garibay's Toyota 1.5JZ (1J head on a 2J inline-6 block) motivated 1988 Mitsubishi Starion set the bar incredibly high, and was for all intents and purposes unchallenged in the power contest. Ryan Castro's GM LSX V8 BMW E36 M3 came in a remote second with a still impressive 447hp and 442 lb.-ft. of torque, and close behind Castro was Lalo Pineda's Honda K20/K24 1985 MR2, which put down 441hp and 379 lb.-ft.
Demesio Castaneda's 2JZ 1991 Cressida rounded out the 400hp club, registering 413 ponies and 407 lb.-ft. of torque, and then there was a sizable break to the remaining cars, which were all under 300 horsepower. Daryk Arden in his LEA Ecotec 1999 Mazda MX-5 led that duo with 208hp and 193 lb.-ft. of torque, followed by the Sportcar Motion K24 2005 S2000, making 205hp and 174 lb.-ft. Evan Tran's J35 V6 1993 Miata, which was unable to make the dyno day, purportedly makes 276hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, but we could not independently verify this (besides, unless the measurement was taken on the dyno at World, most agree it wouldn't be a fair representation since power readings can and do differ — sometimes wildly — from dyno to dyno).
|1.||Diego Garibay||1.5JZ 1988 Mitsubishi Starion||668hp, 629 lb.-ft. of torque|
|2.||Ryan Castro||LSX 1995 BMW M3||447hp, 442 lb.-ft. of torque|
|3.||Lalo Pineda||K20/K24 1985 Toyota MR2||441hp, 379 lb.-ft. of torque|
|4.||Demesio Castaneda||2JZ 1991 Toyota Cressida||413hp, 407 lb.-ft. of torque|
|5.||Daryk Arden||LEA Ecotec 1999 Mazda MX-5||208hp, 193 lb.-ft. of torque|
|6.||Loi Song/Sportcar Motion||K24 2005 Honda S2000||205hp, 174 lb.-ft. of torque|
In some respects, the track battle results — derived from a time attack-style trial on Buttonwillow's 12-turn, 3-mile CCW 13 configuration — were almost the reverse of the power contest, with one glaring exception: Castro's E36 M3. The V8-swapped Bimmer had enough output for second place at the dyno, and on the road course — and, critically, in the hands of probably our favorite local hot shoe of the moment, Amir Bentatou — put that power down successfully for a smoking 1:54.533, sub-2 minutes on the American Tsukuba and effectively a gaping 6 seconds ahead of the runner up vehicle.
Evan Tran was in the books with an orbit of 2:00:591 from his V6 Miata, trailed closely by the Ecotec Mazda roadster of Daryk Arden, clocking a 2:03 flat. Jeff Ringer, another local favorite lead foot, muscled the Sportcar Motion K24 S2k to fourth place with a 2:03:149 — amazingly less than 0.2 seconds off of Arden's pace.
The remainder of the order was made up of big power guys, entries from the top of the dyno results. Diego Garibay's mighty 600-plus hp 1.5JZ Starion came home in fifth with a 2:13.680; Demesio Castaneda's 413hp 2JZ Cressida had a fast lap of 2:25.761; and Lalo Pineda's K-series MR2 turned in a flier of 2:35.032.
|1.||Ryan Castro||LSX 1995 BMW M3||1:54.533|
|2.||Evan Tran||J35 1993 Mazda Miata||2:00.591|
|3.||Daryk Arden||LEA Ecotec 1999 Mazda MX-5||2:03.00|
|4.||Loi Song/Sportcar Motion||K24 2005 Honda S2000||2:03.149|
|5.||Diego Garibay||1.5JZ 1988 Mitsubishi Starion||2:13.680|
|6.||Demesio Castaneda||2JZ 1991 Toyota Cressida||2:25.761|
|7.||Lalo Pineda||K20/K24 1985 Toyota MR2||2:35.032|
We had an awesome time and are definitely looking at doing this event again, possibly with a bigger field of entries, and hopefully with a way to create some parity between competitors. As our first shot at this, though, we are pretty pleased with the way things turned out. Take a look at the visuals — in stills and video — from the event, and be on the lookout for more in-depth coverage from the inaugural Odd Swaps Challenge Presented by Continental Tire.