Over the last few weeks, you’d have noticed more Honda-powered content than usual on Speedhunters. And there’s a very simple reason for this: we dedicated October to the iconic Honda K-series engine.
For two decades we’ve witnessed this engine revolutionise not only the Honda tuning world, but just about every other make and model imaginable. It’s become the go-to four-cylinder engine for a cheap, reliable swap with more than enough performance even when stock. And whatever your thoughts are on the Honda scene, you cannot fault the masterpieces created back in 2001.
The K20’s figures remain impressive even today. More than 100hp-per-litre with no form of forced induction, and a square displacement (meaning bore and stroke are equal) for improved balance allowing the 2.0-litre motor to scream at 8,600rpm without sacrificing reliability. It’ll even return upwards of 30mpg on a good run.
It may have first come to light in the 2001 EP3 Civic Type R, but Honda more than got their money’s worth over the years, fitting it within the Integra, Accord, CR-V and Stream over its lifecycle. Outside of Honda, it was even used by Ariel in the bonkers Atom; a true mark of just how versatile this engine is.
That’s why, in addition to some of the spotlights and features we’ve already shown you, we wanted to put together a small collection of our favourite K-series swaps previously featured on Speedhunters. That doesn’t mean they’re the wildest or most powerful, but each one has a unique quality that makes you think ‘wow’.
And truth be told, these represent just a small snapshot of what’s been featured on here, let alone what the rest of the world has been up to. Because 20 years later we’re still being surprised by not only where this engine ends up, but the performance it packs in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged form.
How to pick a favourite? Tricky one, but if we’re being pushed it has to be that Metro 6R4. This is a car that didn’t need to be anymore wild, yet somehow the sight of a four-cylinder stuffed in its backside does exactly that. Plus, we’re much less likely to upset anyone choosing that.
Now it’s your turn, though. We’ll see you in the comments section…
You can’t do a story about Hondas and engine swaps without paying a visit to Bisi Ezerioha at Bisimoto Engineering. The LA-based scientist has made a name for himself over the years producing some of the coolest builds the world has ever seen, and with Honda being his bread and butter you know he’ll always go one step further.
Not only did the ‘Wagovan’ benefit from a turbocharged K24 motor swap, it also went 4WD with Bisi using a Honda CR-V rear end in the process. Still want more? All that power is sent through a Quaife sequential box just for good measure. Just awesome.
I remember going out in an SW20 MR2 years ago which was running around 450bhp. It felt terrifying; plenty of lag, plenty of boost and a constant feeling of death every time the wheels broke traction. So, the idea of doubling that power – and still keeping it road legal – hurts my brain in the best possible way.
Of course, this particular car hails from Australia; why wouldn’t it? But it’s also built for drag racing. And actually, having the weight right over the rear wheels makes an awful lot of sense. The lack of any visible cage, however, does not.
We take K-swapped Civics for granted now. So common have these swaps become the initial ‘wow’ factor of seeing one fitted within an EK or EG seems to be replaced with mild admiration instead.
But it’s easy to forget just how potent this combination is; 200+ horsepower in a chassis weighing not much more than a tonne will always be impressive, and that’s before you go and stuff a load of boost in it. The fact TJ built this drag-spec EG on a budget (paying just $230 for the car initially) is everything we love about Speedhunters. It’s raw, a little rough around the edges and blisteringly fast. And all for just a few thousand dollars.
When we clocked this Porsche at the 2018 SEMA Show we knew it’d stir up some debate within the comments. And rightfully so; the flat-six is the heart of any proper 911, so being greeted by a turbo K20 in its place seemed downright confusing.
In reality, when Scott bought the car its six-cylinder engine was long gone in favour of a V8 swap; something that’d been done poorly leaving the car pretty rough. The solution? Do something entirely unique and unexpected. Oh and bronze TEs are an inspired choice.
A little slice of Honda perfection. I’ve always loved EK9 Civic Type Rs; to the point I tried to make an EJ9 look exactly like one. But that B16B engine is the holy grail of B-series engines in my eyes; 1.6-litres and 187bhp. And first released in 1997, too.
The problem is, EK9s are rapidly becoming a victim to the ‘appreciating classic’ school of nonsense, so their very existence of being rapid, giant-slaying hatchbacks is now being replaced with exaggerated asking prices.
That’s why I love Andy’s build so much. It’s not one for those who desire ‘matching numbers’, but if you want an angry little Honda packing a 240bhp punch, come get in line with the rest of us.
Of all the K-series swaps you could imagine in the world, this has got to be one of the most unusual… ever. The Metro 6R4 is a complete mash-up anyway, typically found with a naturally aspirated V6 stuffed in the back for good measure. Not this one, though.
That might seem like a downgrade, but owner Dave didn’t just fit the K20 – he supercharged it, too. The end result is 320bhp with super-sharp throttle response in a car weighing just 800kg. Bonkers.
As you’re reading this story, Mike Burroughs will be frantically finishing the 308 pictured here for SEMA 2021. And while it isn’t quite finished (yet), it’s already more than worthy of this list.
Before you ask why, we’ll let Mike tell the full story in a follow-up feature later down the line. But put it this way, the stock Ferrari F106 2.9-litre V8 produced 202bhp when new. The K24, completely stock, makes 200bhp despite having half the cylinders. Throw in a Garrett G35-900 for good measure and the result should be around 600whp.
Engine swaps and drift cars are a given these days. And in the world of Silvias, that tends to fall into a few common categories. If you like punishment, you stick with the SR20. Want all the turbo noises and more power? Go pick up an RB or JZ engine instead. Want the simple, reliable life? There’s an LS V8 with your name on it.
But if none of that sounds appealing in the slightest, you can go completely the other way. A longitudinally-mounted K-series with a turbo strapped to the side.
A Honda-powered Lotus Elise or Exige is nothing new; these swaps have been commonplace for years, especially those early Rover-powered examples. But this particular example from Japan ticks all the Speedhunters boxes.
It’s on bronze TE37s which will never not be cool, and the aero looks like it’s straight from time attack. But then there’s the interior… a leopard-printed interior at that. We’re not making it up, go and look. If it were anywhere else in the world it just wouldn’t work.
The Volkswagen scene has no shortage of good engines to choose from, most of which will have found themselves in a Golf at some point. So, jumping ship in favour of something Japanese seems like blasphemy… until you see what it’s powering.
Built for hillclimb and sprint events, Seb’s Mk1 Golf has something undeniably quite beautiful about it. Everything has been added in the quest for speed or safety, and like the old saying goes – fast never goes out of fashion.