There’s Going To Be A Riot…<br/> Swedish Engine Swap Insanity
Don’t look now!

If you’re a marque purist turn away now. No seriously, save yourself the strain of looking at these images. What we found at the Bilsport Performance & Custom Motor Show at Elmia may well make you unhappy. As for the rest of us, check this out, because you’re not going to believe what’s been squeezed in to what.

Take body styles from BMW, Toyota, Volvo and Mazda, mix up all the engines, add some turbos and a whole load of creativity, and you’re almost there. Did I mention Dodge Viper or Porsche? No? Well I have now, so if you’ve made it this far then best you read on. This is going to get random.

Engine Swaps of Elmia Bilsport 2014-2

We didn’t have to wander too far from the Speedhunters stand for the builds to start catching us out. A Nissan S15 with a turbocharged BMW six cylinder? Yes, that just happened. But when you consider the benefit of having two extra cylinders over the standard SR20DET, it actually makes sense. If you ignore the badges it can make a lot of sense.

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But that BMW base motor had to come from somewhere, right? Maybe that’s why one of the other Penny Bridge Performance cars has an E46 with a Lexus V8 and turbo? It’s like they’re doing it on purpose. The rest of the line up were equally as interesting; projects like an Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX featuring the same engine set up you can see here. I’m really hoping we’ll be able to catch up with these guys at the Mantorp Park dates of Gatebil – it’s an interesting collection that we need to take a closer look at, and ask some questions about.

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Sweden being the home of Volvo obviously means there’s a lot of love for the domestic product. We’ve seen plenty of their four and five-cylinder engines make serious horsepower, but what else makes serious horsepower? You guessed it – Toyota 2JZ! Sweden and Norway have a massive passion for the legendary engine, so it’s really no surprise to find one, and it’s definitely won’t be the last on our tour of mixed-up power.

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But that’s what intrigues me so much about the mash up of makers at Elmia. I mean, why engine swap at all? Surely a Volvo motor would have done the job?  I’m guessing it’s because you can. Maybe the owner of this one, Axel Hajlte, is a Toyota fan, or he picked up the engine for a good price?

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Although the 200-series Volvos seem to be more popular here inside the show halls, I’m glad to see Axel went for a 1990 760 for his build. I think has a later 9-series front end on it…

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What’s certain though – the Toyota motor isn’t stock. 875hp!

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Looking inside the cabin all the haulmarks of drift-based action are there, but it was only then that I noticed the burnt rubber which had been left behind the rear wheels. With the rest of the bodywork in immaculate order, this was very much a badge of honour. A kind of ‘yeah I use it’ note for all to see.

Now that makes a lot of sense
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When I first turned the corner and saw this KE20 Toyota Corolla two-door saloon I instantly thought of Australia. The bright hue and immaculate chrome work are trademarks of that scene to me. Maybe it’s an import? I’ve long thought that building cars in the sun often helps make the decision to go for a bright colour. Of course, the other thing the Australian scene is known for is big power.

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So when I took a closer look and saw the size of Weld rear wheels – another Australia favourite – I knew something interesting would be going on at the front end.

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But to be honest, I wasn’t expecting a four-cylinder motor. I don’t know why, maybe it would be considered small by local standards? Then I found out the 3S-GTE-based engine makes around 600hp, which in this tiny shell would be hilarious. Years ago I owned a KE20 that had a 4A-GE fitted, and that was pretty lethal with the modest power outputs that had…

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With a bonnet and a colour change this could almost be considered a sleeper – which is another good reason to engine swap, as people would never guess what’s lurking behind that large front mount intercooler.

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Like the Corolla, some swaps make more sense than others. Here’s another 2J that’s been mounted in an BMW E30, this time put together by Viktor Martensson who also built this rather special VW Caddy last year. As the base shell was originally designed to accomodate a six-cylinder engine, it’s not too hard to understand why the Toyota motor is a natural choice, especially when you have experience with tuning them.

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By now you will have realised that the engine swaps are just the start of the ethos. For me, they set the tone of these builds, and that freedom of approach means the end result is often as unpredictable as the engine choice itself. Squint your eyes and apply the style of this E30 to an S14 and it really makes sense. What I mean is, if you take a proven recipe from a different scene and mix it up in your own way, it will generally succeed.

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The rear lower valance delete keeps the back end clean and adds to the race car attitude. The exhaust exiting through the rear quarter panel is just mean!

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Linking from the E30 to the next find is easy, because as we’ve seen, BMW is popular with the Swedish mash up crew. From body shells to engines the German manufacturer has provided us with some proper hero metal over the years – the S85B50 M5 engine certainly being some of that. With newer M generations getting a turbocharged V8, the distinctive Formula 1 type howl the V10 has will slowly disappear in time. However, as these engines get older they will become more accessible on the secondhand parts market.

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Jesper Andersson went for the BMW engine and added some Porsche brakes. But what did he package them all up in?

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This is Sweden right? A 1984 Volvo 242, of course!

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His newly-completed build was gorgeously simple in execution, with straight, mile-deep paint and black trim throughout. Wonderfully understated, I lost some time circling around the saloon and taking it all in.

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As much as I love Sweden, it reminds me of how far I could have come with my own Volvo 200-series project and subsequently haven’t. I was offered an M3 engine and box for it nearly ten years ago and if I had that time again I probably would have snapped the seller’s arm off.

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So if I’m being honest, this is the one build I would have happily have in my garage. It’s tastefully built and I’ll bet it’ll rip up the road when completely finished. So if I’d take this one home and this is not the end of the article, what the hell comes next? The really crazy stuff. Because this isn’t the last V10 I’ve got to show you…

You put what in what?
Engine Swaps of Elmia Bilsport 2014-17

Most of the base cars we’ve seen so far have made sense to me. They’re everyday models that we all know and love, but wouldn’t usually associate with big power figures or crazy engine conversions. So why is the home of this Magnusson supercharged LS1V8 bothering me so much? Have you worked out what it is yet?

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Because it’s a Passat wagon, that’s why! VW did make a 4WD Syncro version, but the only modified Passats I’ve seen have been very low and have immaculate wheel and tyre fitment. But this creation from Psycho Tuning in Norway? This is something else – and I love it. When you consider all the work it takes to complete an engine swap, I’m guessing the fitment of BMW E39 M5 suspension and the creation of transmission tunnel were fairly straightforward. Or maybe not.

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That trans tunnel houses a Tremec TKO-600 gearbox and the inside is now pure business. I was also interested to see the tablet-based instrument display as I’m looking to do the same thing in my Volvo. As an off-the-wall project, this ticks all the boxes for me. The 21-inch wheels it’s wearing might be a bit much for your tastes, but the 18s it wears when it’s drifting will soon fix that. Check out the noise it makes in this video.

Engine Swaps of Elmia Bilsport 2014-39

So what could top that then? Surely not an FD3S Mazda RX-7? Well yes, because for me, this is even more out-there in pure WTF? terms. As a base model it’s so well-served by a myriad of engines – from the original rotary that our own Mad Mike holds dear, to SR and V8 swaps, the choice is wide and varied.

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So what did Martin Enmar go for? A Viper V10 – 8.0L of American muscle from the Dodge of the same name.

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Except as you can see, that wasn’t enough – so he bolted two turbos on to it for more power. As engines go, this is a mountain of horsepower. But it’s also following a similar vein to all the other builds – a popular base vehicle (and a Passat) with an available engine and some forced induction mixed in for good measure. I know it might all still seem a little alien, but really it’s not, as classified ads can reveal this sort of hardware if you know where to look. All of these have been rear-wheel drive too, which is another thing that’s popular in this part of the world because it means you can make silly amounts of smoke whilst travelling very fast sideways.

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So if you take those three elements of body, engine and power adder and apply them to anything you like (or can get your hands on), judging by what I’ve seen you’re guaranteed a good time. If you feel these builds are sacrilege and you got this far, then thank you for reading on as this is what our love of car culture is all about – doing our own thing. In Sweden this is just the tip of the iceberg though, and what stops us in our tracks is fairly ordinary around here.

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No, when the Swedish want to get inventive they do things like this: a Porsche 356 coupe replica with a mid-mounted, naturally aspirated 2.5-litre Volvo five-cylinder. Sound tame after what I’ve shown you? What if I told you the only thing that the builder Staffan Linden didn’t do himself is paint it. Let me just clarify that – he designed and fabricated the spaceframe chassis, and completely made the Porsche replica body himself and everything else you see here from the suspension to the windows.

So the next time you think something you’re contemplating is a little ‘out there’, ask yourself this – what would the Swedes do? Or the Finns, or the Norwegians…

Bryn Musselwhite
Instagram: speedhunters_Bryn



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That KE20 Corolla is Kimmo Viherkoski's from Finland. KE20s were common car back in the days here. Light weight body - good project for e.g drag racing's street class.


@J  Thanks for the info, I spoke to him at the end of the show but he was in a rush to head out :)


You're welcome,Speedhunters_Bryn!


That Porsche at the end looks gpfeature worthy! It sparks so many questions! That viper Mazda though!!


Lachys114  I have the owners details and hope to get it shot on a future trip to Sweden :)


well built KE20, it would be insane with 1UZ + Supercharge engine imho :D


Oh cool! I'll keep an eye out for it! You guys really are awesome your coverage is spectacular and covers so much cool stuff!


Damn I love those Scandi builds... the bright sun might make for lairy paint, but the long dark winters make for crazy ideas.

Also a KE20 with a 4AGE, that must have been a nice toy ...... motor .... *cough*


That V10 RX7 is completely nuts!!


The note on the Viper engine is saying: "Looking for sponsor, engine blown." ^^ Turbocharging BMW six cylinders is very popular here right now, they are everywhere. Apparently they can take a lot of beating and are very affordable to build. As a Swede, I'm more or less allergic to Volvo's so I find those builds very hard to appreciate. Let me tell you, for every good Volvo build, there are at least a thousand old rust buckets, with no springs and smashed mufflers driving around terrorizing small town centers at night with a combination of stench, black smoke (from diesels), tractor sounds and empty (cheap) beer cans.


wheatgod I don't think that's the case here to be honest. It's not about that in most cases. It's take what you've got (or know) and make it work. It could be an opportunity like being able to buy a wrecked car cheap, maybe you had the engine from an older build or just simply using what you are familiar with and have tuned before. Remember, parts are not very available in Scandinavia and importing them can be very expensive with added taxes.

Seeking Perfection

wheatgod I will have to agree with you on that one, but I guess I will be the only one. That is barely a complaint from my side, but it seems like they are modifying cars for the purpose of implementing an engine swap. This is not a bad thing though.

I love the Swedish approach of tuning cars since I read Sean's post last year, but this obsession with old Volvos is beyond my comprehension. In most cases they look like a huge bulk of metal carrying another manufacturer's motor for the sake of being different. It is crazy that the swapped engines might cost more than the actual car itself. I would consider this a poor investment, but people are entitled to do what they want with their money.

Gianluca FairladyZ

Wow that's a really interesting post. That what makes me wonder most is, how they make these engines work in cars that are not originally supposed to be for this engines. As the facotry car ECU, for exmaple on the S15, is programmed for the SR20DET, i can't all of a sudden speak German and control the M52 ( i think???!!! ) engine i guess. Is it possible they make a complete rebuild with free programmable Motec units? Because theoretically with the Motec you do adjust the sensors yourself, as well as writing the base file to make the engine running! Anyway huge respect to these funtastic builds!


I love all of these builds. I have used this term before: MAD SCIENTIST.  I understand build with what you have and
take it to the NEXT LEVEL. By the way, What happened to Fredric?


wheatgod What exactly do you base any of your opinions on? People have been swapping engines practically since there were two makes of car.


Option13 wheatgod Look at his previous posts. Aside from his fondness for old white guys, he's a rather effective provocateur.

Pete the perfect pilot

The rx7 is just wrong.... Keep it pure, keep it rota!




I am so glad somebody did a more detailed write up of these specific builds, I saw other photos and my mind was doing circles with all of the questions i had about the builds. Feels like everyone one of these cars could be a feature vehicle!!


OMG! That is the sexiest old school volvo that I have ever seen! And Yes! a viper powered Rx7!... All of the cars and images on the last page made me drool. Nice article!


Well I respect your opinion, but it's not the first rx7 to be chopped up. I admit the filters hanging out of the nose are excessive, but it is the function of a race car. But all that power and that light of a car would make for a fun ride. Different strokes for different folks.


first of all, great writeup! i have lived in sweden for 8 years and i can say that there is alot of potential out here. alot of very clever people working to make interesting builds. for the people complaining about swaps, chill and try to appreciate the amount of effort, time and money it goes into doing them. an engine swap of any type is no walk in the park or something that you "just" do. this year is the most interesting show at elmia in a while and i hope it continues in this direction. respekt! =)

turbo BEAMS ae86

Pete the perfect pilot just because i wouldn't do that to my own rx7 (if i had one), dont mean i cant appreciate it!!!

turbo BEAMS ae86

wheatgod Lol 2jz's do lay around, u can buy the vvti one for 2-3k USD...the expansive part is the supra 6mt..


wheatgod Option13  
Forgive me, I'll get the quote correct "middle aged redneck white men".


wheatgod Option13  The better question is: Why you care so much that people swap engines? 
Or do you just really want to see bone stock old Volvos at car shows?


Ive seen the m50 Silvia before. Considering you can get one for $300 and they can make 600whp on factory internals, and the gearbox puts up to the abuse, they are very potent. Clutches are expensive tho lol. I never liked the cramped engine bay tho. Looks like the Silvia shell alleviated that somewhat.


Pete the perfect pilot  When I do get a Fd, I'm gonna enjoy it for a while and then rip out and trash the rotary for a ls...owner a Fb has made me dislike rotaries and the cost of parts


Speedhunters_Bryn Lachys114  YESSS it was one of the coolest fds I've seen


@wheatgod  Can you point to a feature that you do like? It seems that you really enjoy not liking anything. 

And anything that takes years of commitment, planning and more money than you'll get back, such as a complete swap as well as a show worthy car inside and out can hardly be called goody, a trend or gimmicky. Unless you would call every manufacturer that popped open the hood of their latest car gimmicky, you should really stick to the old proverb: say something nice or say nothing at all.

And yes, some people do have V10s laying around (if you mean they bought them to use them), as in, someone totaled their car and pulled the block, just like some people have spare 4dr R34s shells from all the RBs they pulled out of them. 

And for all you know, these cars had previously been modified by a blind kid with a sawzall and an arc welder, crashed or abandoned to rust, many builders don't bother paying full price for a perfect shell just to cut it up, they love cars too, but hey, assume what you want.


MIND BLOWN!!!!.....


That Volvo! Murder on the streets! 
Love these insane level of builds from these guys, gives me a number of ideas for my next project.


Master of Engine Swap


Love it. This is just amazing car culture. Awesome to see the incredible quality of these things. And for some reason that viper powered fd is just SO right. It's just awesome!


Any video on the V10 FD?


Awesome combos here.
I also had a KE20 with a smallport 4age + haltech + HKS2540 tuned by Adam Neish. Yes, I'm in Australia!


You should add this to the article, awesome sound on the RX7 FD with the V10 :-)


robzor  I know, it just made me smile with the way the engine is almost bursting out of the bodywork.


kphillips9936  It's lethal, the amount of project car plans I came back with could be dangerously expensive.


AlexLobanov  Yup, it makes a lot of sense in a country where SR motors cost so much and the BMW is readily available.


AnthonyCrawford  Glad you enjoyed it, I think the good thing is that not everybody 'gets' engine swapping so it's only for a select few ;)


JustinBrostrom  You're right they could be, if we had more time they would be! However I did walk away with ten other cars that will hopefully be featured and they are quite possibly even more insane than this line up! Volvo Amazon with Skyline running gear and a turbo charged BMW six? Yup, we're going back.


Check out pbperformance cars on Facebook



Theres just something about over the top Volvo's. Everyone expects a Silvia, RX7, Supra, or BMW to get mauled in the name of performance, but then the Volvo blind sides you with a haymaker. Cars built for safety, turned into performance monsters is so ironic that it's beautiful.


Well, the finns usally go to the sauna and drink alot of vodka, but swedes and norweigans does the job just fine


So what sort of power is that mental rx7 viper putting down. 1000hp???


If anybody needs me, I'll be spending the rest of the evening picking up pieces of my brain from the floor. Thanks Bryn.


I got a small documentary kind of book/magazine that's about Volvo (from it's beginning to Volvo 850 & 940) , it seems facelifted Volvo 760 does have a front end that looks a lot like a Volvo 940 (or early 960) ... to recognize facelifted 760 , besides the 940-alike front end , it also have a stripe taillights instead of block taillights .


Gianluca FairladyZ  yeah they will be using an after market ECU


Censport  My pleasure!


RDS  Ahh, that would explain it, thank you :)


Curlytop  At least, probably 10,000bhp, or all the horsepower!


alex jonson  You say that, but two of the craziest cars at the show were from Finland and we'll be headed there later on in the year to see them.


Budd19  Yup, that's the appeal for me :0


FredrikJosefsson  Got a proper link? I can't find them!


@Zebra P Knee  Sounds like a weapon.


@Aaron  I couldn't find any, maybe somebody else can?


I guess this stuff would make my ideas/dreams feel tame for my ride/future build.


KE20 Toyota Corolla has at least Finnish plates VHP-818 and Toyota has also commercial on the side. Greetings from Finland (c:


saw that KE20 corolla today at a local show and it is very sleeper like and heard someone from the people who built it say it is street legal in finland


Please do a feature on that V10 Volvo!


You need to do a feature on that last 356, its very impresive from the little that can be seen


That mental V8 Passat sounds like Banshee, I'd crap myself if I'd hear it in the middle of the night.


Ozwal RH  I have the guys details and will hopefully be following up on it in a future trip, too good to let it get away!


the mix and match of early and late model front end on the ke20 gives it a few too many indicators up front. Looks like something out of the drag scene in AUS.


Janne Koskinen  

I would like to know more about that car, a friend of mine is still finetuning his MR2 SW20 with 3S-GTE engine. It now produces around 360 hp, however tuning until 450 is within reaching distance.

Seeing this engine which puts out about 600 hp show room for improvement. So if anyone can help, please give some more information about this car and especially its engine.

Kind regards,


Hot rodding is the father of the modified car scene we know and love today. Crazy engine swaps our the basis of whole hobby. Think of the looks the first guys driving 1930's fords with chevy v8's got...


Great article. That 2jz E30....tho...drools


Speedhunters_Bryn FredrikJosefsson Performance


Speedhunters_Bryn  don't now if it works, If you sourch on pb performance mayby you will find us?


You guys should go to Denmark for the DHB show. Danish version of the Gatebil. Also all of these cars need a feature. Please.


love all the cars but would love to get my claws on he grey v10 volvo  940man