You've got to love engine swaps. They've been done since they dawn of the automotive era, and for what? More power! There are many vehicles that are eligible for engine swaps. Most can be done, but require a large up-front expense or a great amount of labor. Others, however can be done on a small budget with big time results. That's what we're focusing on. As a disclaimer, engine swaps aren't for the technically inept. Also, this guide is a basic reference. It isn't a step-by-step procedure, its merely a guideline. Here are some elements that are required:
- A background in basic automotive maintenance and repair.
- Access to necessary tools and equipment.
- A working knowledge of DSM vehicles and their design and operation.
- Patience, attention to detail, and perseverence.
That said, let's start at the top:
Choosing the right car:
This is probably the toughest part. The easiest and cheapest route is to find a 1989 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo or 1989 Dodge Colt GT. These vehicles came equipped with the 1.6 Liter Turbocharged engine. Since this engine is the little brother to the 2.0 Turbo engine from the DSMs, the swap is very straightforward and quite simple. Here's where it gets tough: there were less than 1500 of these cars made and they're peppered throughout the US. You can always find one or two for sale on the Web, but more than likely it will be about 1000 miles away from wherever you are.
If starting with a 89 Mirage/Colt 1.6 Turbo:
Congrats! You've found a pretty rare car! I bet it smells like a dumpster inside. Seriously, it's quite difficult to find one of these cars in great condition. Mine was in OK condition, but with some time and effort, it now looks great and smells like a car should. If the car is in good running condition, they respond quite well to similar DSM mods. But, in my opinion, you might as well just start off with the 2.0 motor. 200hp and 200 lbs/ft of torque STOCK in a 2500lb car is hard to argue with.
If starting with a 89-92 Mirage/Colt 1.5 non-turbo:
These cars are much easier to find. You also now have a choice between a hatchback or sedan. For information on this particular swap Click Here
It's Swap Time!
Now that you have a good foundation, it's time to build on it! An engine out of a 1990 FWD/AWD 5speed MT DSM (Talon/Eclipse/Laser) is your best bet for the swap. The electrical connectors are the same, and the engine should come with the 450cc injectors and 14b turbo which is capable of just under 300hp with very simple modifications. If you cannot find a good 1990 motor, you can use any 1G turbo motor as long as you know the differences between them. (having already done extensive research on DSMs these differences should already be imprinted in your brain, right?)
I've found it easiest to remove the tranny before removing the engine. After removing the 1.6 (you labeled every little vacuum hose, bolt, wire, etc right?) install the 2.0 Turbo in it's place. Damn, it bolted right in! The mounts and everything are correct and bolt up without any conflict. A FWD 1G DSM flywheel, clutch and pressure plate is required as an upgrade from the smaller 1.6 clutch setup.
After installing the transmission that was previously bolted to the 1.6 a wave of panic may come over you. How is this tranny going to hold it's newfound power? Answer: Just fine. It's practically identical to the FWD 1G DSM tranny internally. I am pleased with mine and have been shifting and launching the heck out of it.
Now that you have the big parts in place, it's time to focus on the supporting mods and details.
After reconnecting everything to the engine, you will need to install a few things. 1st is a sidemount intercooler setup from a 1G DSM. Since the 1.6 came with no intercooler a little bit of fabricating is necessary for the install. The easiest thing to do is start with all the hoses and pieces from a 1G car. Finding these parts should be quite easy and inexpensive. Simply mount the IC in the same position as the 1G donor car. The only downside is the giant piece of metal directly in front of your new intercooler that blocks most of the airflow. Never fear, just go nuts and slice away the sheetmetal. Also, a small hole in the bumper cover will be required for adequate airflow.
A 1990 ECU from a 1G Turbo FWD car will be required as will the Mass Airflow Sensor and 450cc injectors from the stock DSM. A Stock DSM fuel pump will work, but I would upgrade now rather than later.
As for the exhaust, one could bolt the stock Mirage/Colt GT exhaust up to the 2.0 motor, but one would be considered a giant dumbass for doing so. The stock 1.6 exhaust is too small for the 2.0.
This is probably the most challenging part of the swap, fabricating an exhaust. Luckily DSM parts work pretty well. I chose a 2G FWD downpipe and fabricated the rest myself. Find a friendly exhaust shop to help you if you do not have the capability to build a 3" mandrel bent exhaust in your kitchen. The same rules apply to DSMs at this point, keep it free flowing.
I'm running out of things to say here so that can only mean one thing…you're done. Good Luck.