V8 Swapping: Choose Your Weapon
From Dearborn to Munich

Ah yes, the V8 swap – it’s been around since the days when Ford Flatheads first started finding their way off the assembly lines in the 1930s. A lot has changed in the automotive industry since then, but despite massive advances in technology the good old V8 swap has never been more popular than it is now.


So with that in mind and our V8 Swap theme going on right now, we thought it’d be fitting to take a look at a handful of the world’s popular V8-based retrofit choices. This by no means represents every V8 choice out there, but it does reflect the most common V8 swaps that people are doing these days. There’s a lot to go through, so let’s begin.


Why not start with Ford – the creator of the aforementioned Flathead V8 way back when. Things really took off in the early 1960s when the new small block Ford V8 was introduced. These compact, OHV V8s quickly grew a strong reputation, powering the Mustang, Falcon and other cars from the Ford corporate family.


The legend grew even stronger when Carroll Shelby chose the 289 small block to power a new sports car called the Cobra. The Ford small block would see production through the late 1990s, and reached a factory displacement of 351 cubic inches over its lifespan.


In the 1980s, the new fuel-injected 5.0 HO used the small block roots to help usher in a new era of modern V8 performance and further established the motor as one of the best swap choices out there. The roots of the Ford small block can even be seen in today’s Roush Yates race motors, which power cars like Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Formula D Mustang.


But there’s more to Ford’s V8 line than just the original small block. Beginning in the 1990s a new line of modular overhead cam V8s was introduced – and this family gradually grew to include high horsepower DOHC motors and factory supercharged applications.


Today the Ford 5.0 ‘Coyote’ engine is considered one of the best all-round V8s – producing well over 400 horsepower from the factory. For those with enough budget, the Coyote has become a popular swap option for restomod, pro touring and race builds.


Perhaps the biggest to drawback to these later model Ford V8s is their physical size – with their wide OHC heads taking up a lot more engine bay space than GM’s OHV LS motors. Other than that, it’s hard to fault Ford V8s and they get extra points for having that distinct exhaust note.


You didn’t think we would limit this just to American V8s did you? European car makers have been building amazing V8s for years, and BMW’s line of eight-bangers have become quite popular for swapping.


The lineup of BMW V8s includes everything from the early ’90s motors that can be commonly found in junkyards, to the fire-breathing S62 mills that powered cars like the E39 M5.


While the majority of these Bimmer V8s find their way into older BMW builds – we’ve actually seen them in everything from Ford Model As to late model Mustangs. While the motors have plenty of exotic charm, there are some drawbacks when compared to the more commonly seen Ford and Chevy V8s.


The motors (or even complete donor cars) can be had for cheap, but parts availability is likely the biggest obstacle. Naturally, this will depend where you live, but for many it’s a lot cheaper and easier to source parts for an American V8. The same goes for aftermarket support. While there are upgrades available, they will likely be more expensive and harder to find than those for a Ford or GM motor. Nevertheless, we’ve seen some awesome machines with BMW V8 swaps over the years. It all depends how strong the draw of the Bavarian V8 is to you.

The Japanese Route

Just like their counterparts from the USA and Europe, Japanese automakers have also cranked out some great V8s over the years. Sitting atop the pile of Japanese V8s is the Toyota’s line of UZ V8s. It all began in 1989 with the introduction of 4.0-liter, 32-valve DOHC 1UZ-FE, and Toyota continued to improve its flagship V8 over the following years.


Today, early 1UZ-FEs can be picked up extremely cheap – and given the motor’s bulletproof construction, reliability should not be a major issue. There are even companies out there producing bolt-in kits to make fitting these motors in cars like the AE86 and Cressida an easy proposition.


The early versions of the 1UZ-FE put out about 250 horsepower, and while that’s not an incredible amount of power by today’s standards it’s hard to resist the velvety-smooth character of these motors. It’s a great swap choice for vintage Toyota owners.


The biggest issue with the UZ family would have to be aftermarket support. Since these motors were designed for luxury applications, there aren’t a ton of tuning parts available. Unless you have a massive budget, forced induction will likely be the best choice for those looking for more power.


If you don’t have astronomical power goals though, the UZ is a great choice. It’s just hard to beat the low price and legendary reliability of these V8s.


Don’t forget about Nissan either. VH45DE and VH41DE V8s from Nissan and Infiniti luxury sedans can be had cheap and are a decent choice for Fairlady Z or S-chassis owners who want V8 power but also want to keep it in the Nissan family. For the most part, they suffer from the same drawbacks as the Toyota V8s – namely a lack of aftermarket support.


For those looking to do even better, there’s the newer line of VK-series of Nissan V8s. While these larger, more powerful motors are still a little pricey for most grassroots builds, I’d expect them to start becoming more common as they get older and more readily available in junkyards.

Bowtie Or Bust

Last but not least, we move to GM’s legendary line of V8s – both the original small block and the modern LS series. It’s impossible to overstate the importance that these motors have had on the enthusiast world over since the debut of the 265 V8 in 1955.


Despite the recent popularity of the LS motors, the original small block is still one of the world’s defacto engine swap choices. With its small size, affordable pricing and endless aftermarket support it’s been a favorite of hot rodders for 60 years now. It may not be the most exotic V8 out there, but the classic small block Chevy will be around forever.


For an idea of just what the ‘old school’ Chevy small block is capable of, take a look under the hood of Darren McNamara’s Formula Drift car. This fully-built, 410 cubic inch twin turbocharged V8 is making somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 rear wheel horsepower.


Then comes the GM LS series – the motor which took the original small block and modernized it for the 21st century. Love it or hate it, there’s simply no denying the capabilities of these motors. They are lightweight, compact, make tons of reliable power and have limitless aftermarket potential.


There’s seemingly a motor in this family for every budget – whether it’s a basic 5.3-liter iron-block truck motor or an exotic 500 horsepower, dry-sump LS7. The possibilities are endless.


GM even offers complete crate packages with supercharged or naturally aspirated LS motors designed to pass emissions testing in places like California. From turn-key street setups to full-on race builds, there are few motors as versatile as this one.


As for drawbacks, there really aren’t many. Secondhand LS motors could be considered a little pricey due to their popularity, and if you are looking for a ‘unique’ engine choice then this probably isn’t the motor for you. They’re certainly popular for a reason though.


So there you have it – a quick look into to crazy world of V8 swaps. Love it or hate it, this movement shows no signs of stopping. But what say you? Do you prefer the tried and true LS route? Or do you fancy something a little more unique?

And on that question our mini V8 Swap Theme comes to an end – we hope you enjoyed it!

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike



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All this talk of V8's, and nothing on the Rover V8? Now i know i'm British based and therefore might be a little biased, but surely its worthy of note? After all, it was in production for something like 40 odd years!

Oh, and if anyone would like to give me a nice shiny new Coyote, i will happily drop it into my friend's TVR, so we can V8 swap a V8 (insert exhibit photo here).


The Maserati V8 omg omg that's some epic sound


J45ON Exactly what I was thinking...  That rover v8 ex buick for the record... is light and a great swap... hell the3.5 liter rover v8 is lighter then the 4 banger in the MGB....


It really depends on were you live. good luck finding a Chevy V8 in a German scrapyard, you're probably better up searching for BMW/Audi/Mercedes V8s (or V10s or V12s). Even a W12 would be easier to get here (just the bare engine, mind you).




J45ON We have a 3.9 EFI swap in our P5B coupe. Does that count?


"Today the Ford 5.0 ‘Coyote’ engine is considered one of the best all-round V8s"
Couldn't agree more.


I'd rather scoop my eyes out with a rusty spoon than do a V8 swap into something that was never meant to have one. So many more interesting and unusual motors to cross breed with, just my opinion of course.


I love the sound of a 1UZ, a VH45 and oh my god I love the VK56 BUT the only issue with a lot of these Japanese v8's is that the only come in automatic!!! You can find some, SOME with a stick but those are far and few apart. You have to go through with a transmission swap, which isn't such a pain in the ass but its just one more thing you have to do before you start having fun. 

But this was a great article, i love the V8 theme SH is doing. GREAT JOB MIKE!!!!!


Am I the only person who thinks 1UZ's are ugly as f@#k haha??


No old school Hemi love?


would be cool if you did one on odd or unexpected conversions in models so rotary, 2JZ, RB, SR20 etc


kphillips9936 Hell yes gotta love a big Hemi. Not to mention Fords 427 Cammer either. Oh well.


PhilMaurer J45ON The 1.8 in the MGB is a boat anchor though!

Gianluca FairladyZ

Since i dynoed a Z06 C6 Corvette with open exhaust and remapped ECU the Chevy engine would be my weapon!  That gives me the creeps :D

BiTurbo from oppo

J45ON Came here to write that. Old RV8s are even more compact than an LS, and weigh even less. They were the LS before the LS was invented ;)

Lower power, you're looking at 220-250bhp for a low budget-build. You can get higher (up to around 400bhp NA I think), but it starts to cost more and more money at that stage.

People stick these in MGBs, TR7s, Escorts, Firenzas, ADO16s, Stags, Midgets, Spitfires, Defenders, pretty much anything you can squeeze them into.

Personally, I'd like to get really good at building 220-270bhp 3.5l/3.9l RV8s and drop them into a whole host of cars. An SD1, a P6, a TR7 and an MGB GT with Jag IRS are the prime candidates (although an Austin ADO17 would also be a cool choice).

The other V8 swap I really want to do is a Jaguar AJ-V8 into a Triumph Stag. One of the early 4.0ls would be ideal as I don't want a massive power build. 300bhp and a killer soundtrack would be ideal, and it weighs all of 2kg more than the stock engine :)

The main issues that I can think of would be size (although it's not a colossal engine) and engine management. I'd have to run a standalone system as all AJV8s have their engine management tied into the auto-boxes and I'd definitely want a row-your-own...


BiTurbo from oppo J45ON


A v8 would be so hard to source and service here, that i would go full-exoctic with the VK45 anyday!

BiTurbo from oppo

kayjaypug205 I remember seeing one at a show. You did pretty much sit with your knees resting on the block :S

Must have been an utter monster :)


Also epic v8s:
-Cadillac Northstar 4.6- 275 hp (up to 320hp)  32 valves, all alloy, basically free in any junkyard in USA. Famous for fiero swaps or the Shelby Series 1.

-Buick 455-  Stage 1 upgrades (valves/cam). 500 ft/lbs of torque for heavy cars (or slammed trucks). The nickname "hemi killer" doesn't hurt.

-MB M156- Only a millionaire could afford one, but a W114 with that engine would win all swaps... ever.
-Ford Boss 290- For no rational reason, i want one. Probably because I can't have one.


milkplus Yeah but I heard those Northstars are murder on head bolts, awesome engines though. Much love for the Buick 455.


Born and raised on Big Iron...  I have a hard time thinking smaller than 427 cubic inches (7 liters). Chevy L88 (or all aluminum heaven...ZL1), Ford FE, Chrysler Hemi.

Sonny's Racing 1005ci, 2150 HP NATURALLY ASPIRATED. 


why is bowtie or bust?


My choice is always a rotary.
You have a v8 in your small car?
Oh the other guy also has a?
This is already boring! !


Love the V8 theme this month. I'm currently swapping a 1uz into the a s14 and it's awesome to see all well sorted 1uz'd vehicles this month!


JamesFries Been there, done that. It's a great motor choice for the s-chassis. Used a stock 5spd. Easy to drive, makes the car nicely balanced, but not too crazy.


Give me the money, now


The Coyote is virtually the same size as the LSx engines and lighter just an FYI.


V8 is not my type of engine. But if I had to choose one it would be something with a carburetor. There's nothing more badass than the typical american old school V8 sound.


hikkusubei As fond as I am of a proper big bore V8, I must say that there ARE a very few engines that sound better. Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 (or Packard V-1650) in a Spitfire or Mustang is absolutely spine-tingling.


JamesFries , 1UZ-powered car ? I would love to see more about it !


I wonder ... if someone in the future would say , "Let's do Mitsubishi/Hyundai's V8 swap" ?


hikkusubei Meh, the camshaft makes more of a sound impact than whether its carb/FI


@Shin Is it really lighter? I just assumed with all the extra moving parts floating around it would be pudgier. And it is similar in size but a good chunk taller, which makes it harder to stuff into a swap than an LS


milkplus Northstars are great until they break. My buddy's dad loves chevy's but hated working on that motor when he owned a shop


@Brent They don't look good in any engine bay lol


Spaghetti but torque bro


Acc same reason I won't do a BMW v8 swap any time soon friend


Wait a sec, japanese engines get swapped into japanese cars? There's hope again :D


LS for the win.


RDS nahhhhh


I'm partial to Buicks myself. I love the look and sound of the later Nailhead V-8's as well as the brute force of the 455 Stage 1. The small block Buick 350 has seen a little bit of after market love and are great engines for a forced induction application.


@Pooft Lee Spaghetti Spaghetti, once it's you're own coin a known quantity vs unique and exotic becomes considerable more clear


VK56 FTW!!!!  We're wrapping up our VK56 S13 build as we speak.  Really excited to have the Nissan V8 in a Nissan!  See you guys at FD Texas!


One thing that has always puzzled me, is the lack of appreciation for the Mopar V8s of the 90's. For those looking for a simple swap in an older Mopar, they're a great option... especially if you're not looking to make big HP.
Before you start assuming, I'm not "one of those Mopar guys". I will have to say that the 5.2 and 5.9 truck engines of the 90s made some of the best exhaust music known to man. They had that magical balance of throaty, smooth, yet rumbly sound... unlike that "drumming" sound you get from most modern V8s (LS, Ford Mod, and Hemi), or old school Pontiacs, Olds, and nearly all Fords.
The most limiting factor for these engines is intake design (worse on the 5.9), and aftermarket support. However, if you're not looking to make the big numbers... an intake swap, headers, and a tune will yield a significant boost. If you're after the exhaust note, stay away from cam swaps. That characteristic "drumming" sound of nearly all modern V8s, that sounds like one cylinder is hitting harder than the other 7, is because of the higher efficiency. Just about any modern cam you buy will have that note to it. I'm not sure if anyone is still producing the same profiles as what was available back then, but Mopar had a few cams at the counter that made for some mean 318s, and brutish 360s.
Other good news? This things are CHEEEEEEAP, and the EFI ensures that high mileage examples will have maintained their cylinder integrity. Pop out the slugs, do a ring/bearing job, and off you go for another 100,000 miles.


I did a 455 swap on my C10 Cheyenne... and love it!
I tell everyone "It's the best truck engine Chevy never built!".
I don't care for the GS versions. Mine is an "X-SF" code (1970 Electra 225 and Riviera) rated at 370hp and 510lb-ft. One thing to be careful with on these, is their intolerance to ethanol blended fuels. The intake gets too hot, and the heads run too hot for it. The predisposition for these engines to build carbon in the chambers is worse with ethanol fuels... and gets really bad when you have to back of the timing to avoid predetonation with the crappy "cornohol".


@James  As stated at the beginning of the thread, its all about the most common. I believe these Dodge aren't really that commonly thrown into import brands, unlike LS which almost every non purist drifter wants in their E36/46, 240sx, Miata, etc. To reiterate, it's not that they aren't a great product nor viable option, just less frequent than the highly popular, long running engines that been listed in the article.


jdmRob  1UZ in Japan are swapped in most anything Toyota there but lets be honest, 2JZ-GTE is a better motor. 1/2/3 UZ are much better than the non turbo 2JZ drivetrain though. I can't imagine the VG or VQ being that popular but I guess they didn't really have any other Japanese brand with production V8s to add to the list in place of Nissan. Japan was more into the Inline6 and now is more about the V6.


@Shin  Overhead cams vs overhead valves makes the coyote engine less compact. Same size? LS are anywhere from 700cc to 2450cc larger not that there isn't a Ford based 572 crate engine to compete with Chevy's.


JamesFries  Well done. I saw a 2UZ swapped R32 GTR and people were crying sacrilege. It was hilarious. (:


reno808  First Option, Second Option, Final option or Bust as is none of the following options. These are just the common ones, there are lots of great less common swaps available like Jag motors.


Awesome, I have been looking for information on engine swaps.  I have an older truck that doesn't have the power I would like it to have.  Throwing an old 8 banger in there would really make things more interesting.  What is your opinion on swapping out the engine for a used engine?  I figure as long as it runs well, there shouldn't be a problem.  Engine rebuild kits are generally inexpensive.


..you better watch your speed.


Seriously!! He missed the BEST New engine in the world. The Chrysler 3rd gen HEMI. What a dope!!


@Troy Best new engine is the Coyote.


@Troy Best new engine is the Coyote.


At the beginning he said these are " a handful of the  most popular swaps" not ALL of the swaps.


@Troy they call it an Hemi but its no hemi... there's nothing hemispherical in that engine... and its no NHRA Top Fuel engine either but cost the same in spark plugs


You forgot the BEST and Most powerful engine the hemi. Most of all the new 3rd gen hemi!!


You forgot the BEST and Most powerful engine the hemi. Most of all the new 3rd gen hemi!!


Does anyone know if it is possible to put a Hyundai tau v8 in a 86' 4Runner?


While I'm certain that we would all die to have an engine like this under our hoods, I think it's important to note that many car financing companies might not be comfortable insuring a modification such as this. Be careful when getting one.


I recently inherited a 60 Ford Fairlane with a bad 6 cyl. motor. I have a real nice 302 from a 78 Elite that I would like to swap into that 60; I also have a 4 sp. top loader that I plan to run behind it using the manual clutch. As this is the first engine swap of this sort I have ever attempted, is there anywhere I can find the hardware needed and/or videos which might help me see what I am up against?


Bredfearn sure why not. why would you want to though? I'm sure these guys can help: dedicatedmotorsports.com


Yamaha v8. All aluminum and capable of 700hp with twin turbos. Very nice note...Ferrari esk.

antonio godinez

dose any one know if you could put a supercharged engine in my corvette 1985 c4 or a stronger engine that has more horse power please tell me thank you


hey great read thanks
wanted to put a BB chev (454) preferably into a VX commodore any suggestions for a late model motor


Mopar 5.9/360