Hooniverse Asks- What Would be the Coolest (and Doable) Delorean Engine Swap?


You know Back to the Future really made things tough for owners of Deloreans. I imagine that these days they can’t so much as run their cars through the drive-thru at Wendy’s but to have someone ask where the flux capacitor is. That movie’s plot required that upon reaching 88 miles per hour the protagonist’s specially modified Delorean – The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style? – would travel through time.

The thing of it is, with its meager 130-bhp PRV V6 pushing the car’s 2700 pounds, the DMC-12 was lucky to get to 88 miles per hour. That engine, as well as its aft-most placement, severely limited the Delorean’s performance, potentially contributing to the brand’s demise.

But we still love the stainless steel gullwing sportscars, and as time wounds all heels – or something like that – we can do something about that. Today we have both a selection of existing Deloreans running around – production numbers ran about 9,000 over the two-year model run – and a choice of great engines which could potentially replace the grandfatherly French/Swedish anchor that the factory installed. Considering all the options out there, and which of those would best bring the Delorean back to the future, what engine do you think would make the perfect transplant?

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70 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Would be the Coolest (and Doable) Delorean Engine Swap?”

  1. themagicboltbox Avatar

    In a nod to John Z's history, how about a Pontiac OHC-6 from a Tempest Sprint?

    1. I Think Not Avatar
      I Think Not

      Updated with modern ignition and fuel injection, it could be a hot engine.
      Might be a bit longish, but the engine's already hanging off the arse of the car — just make that arse bigger!

    2. CTbert Avatar

      The sprint 6 weighs a ton. It is also modern only in terms of The 1960s. I loved my Sprint, but that was then.

    3. Sam Avatar

      There is someone who put a single turbo 2JZTE in his. It somewhere in http://www.supraforums.com. A mild tune with about 650hp. That's a great swap.

      1. Sam Avatar


    4. Sam Avatar

      Here is about as nice as it gets.

  2. I Think Not Avatar
    I Think Not

    How about the small, hard-revving V6 the PRV wishes it was?
    Might I humbly suggest the Ford Duratec 3.0 V6? With anywhere from 200 to 230hp, it'd give the ol' time machine a nice kick in the pants. And it's found in tons of cars, so junkyard options are sure to be plentiful.
    And if you ever want more powah, just follow the lead of Noble and turbocharge the hell out of it!

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      "How about the small, hard-revving V6 the PRV wishes it was?"
      And by that, you mean —
      <img src="http://www.mervernation.com/v6n.jpg&quot; width="512">

      1. I Think Not Avatar
        I Think Not

        I did think about the SHO V6, and also the smaller Duratec 2.5 SVT (as found in the Contour SVT), but I went with the more common engine that makes nearly as much power.

      2. engineerd Avatar

        This was going to be my answer. I believe it to be the correct answer.

      3. buzzboy7 Avatar

        I think SHO is the only correct answer.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      What about rotation? Would it have to be reversed?

      1. buzzboy7 Avatar

        Why? Pretty sure the Subi rotates the same direction as (almost) ever other engine.

  3. CherokeeOwner Avatar

    Twin-Turbo 3.6L V6 from the Cadillac CTS V-Sport. Given DeLorean's origins at GM, only a high-tech GM mill would suffice.
    If you want to get crazy though, 6.4L Hemi V8. Imagine the oversteer.

  4. Kogashiwa Avatar

    You could say something other than 20B, but you'd be wrong.
    [youtube Zw8d48RYgBo http://youtube.com/watch?v=Zw8d48RYgBo youtube]

  5. mallthus Avatar

    I would suggest the motor(s) out of a Tesla Model S, matched to a pair of small turbines in a series hybrid arrangement.
    Awesome torque. Wild sound. Runs on diesel.
    <img src="http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/blogs/Tesla-ModelS-motor.jpg&quot; width=600>
    <img src="http://static.bladonjets.com/images/41-82264-bladon-jet-visit-001.1.jpg&quot; width=600>

    1. FreeMan Avatar

      Your thoughts, newsletter subscription, etc…

    2. mallthus Avatar

      And before anyone asks…no storage batteries. I'd use ultracapacitors. They can cycle a near infinite number of times, can charge and discharge very rapidly and don't weigh very much. They'd be used to load balance to slow spooling turbine and the demands of actual driving.

      1. jeepjeff Avatar

        That's the only way to go. No need for long term storage, just buffering energy.

  6. crank_case Avatar

    The PRV V6 successor, the ES Renault V6 engine swap would probably be the most straightforward, as found in the Clio V6, grand espace, venturi alantique and lots of PSA luxobarges. Hard to source over in the US I'll admit.

  7. TurboBrick Avatar

    Replace that Swedish cam eater with a proper French, turbocharged, even fire PRV.
    <img src="http://www.renault25.de/Bilder/Bilder/Technik/V6TURBO_HERZ.JPG&quot; WIDTH=500">

    1. FreeMan Avatar

      Mein Got! It's there a motor somewhere under all that plumbing and network closet nightmare?

      1. TurboBrick Avatar

        Look, it's right there between the switch stack and the rackmount UPS.

        1. dukeisduke Avatar

          Has it got redundant, hot-swappable power supplies, and a remote access card?

  8. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    A 3.2 Alfa GTA engine, just to keep the whole package neat looking.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/GTAengine32.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. owl Avatar

      That should have been a thumbs up from me. Sticky breakfast fingers ooops

      1. FreeMan Avatar

        gotcha covered. Somebody's going to have to cover for me, though, because that's a pretty little motor right there.

  9. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    Beemer S54B32 from the early 2000s Clown Shoes/M3s. 340 horses from a 3.2L I-6 that made the greatest noise in recent memory.
    Had the Delorean started out with something like this. . .
    <img src="http://www.usautoparts.net/bmw/images/cars/vintage/m1_engine.jpg"&gt;

  10. P161911 Avatar

    GM Northstar V-8. Apparently a common conversion.
    <img src="http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e198/High-Mountain-Pilot/MVC-115X.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. joshwebster84 Avatar

      Yeah, I was gonna say Northstar too, also common in Fiero swaps.

    2. Krash Kadillak Avatar
      Krash Kadillak


  11. engineerd Avatar

    The PRV motor isn't that big, so unless you have a love affair with the plasma cutter (who doesn't?), you want to source an engine that's relatively compact, as well. Furthermore, the car is already heavy so adding an iron lump hanging over the rear axle may not be the best choice if you plan on turning left or right. Therefore, other than the SHO V6, the only other option that makes sense is the 'Busa V8:
    <img width=500 src="http://www.didntyouhear.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/105_assembled.jpg"&gt;
    Now, if you want to get more PAH! and have a love affair with your plasma cutter, then might I suggest you power that dog of a car with a Coyote:
    <img width=500 src="http://media.caranddriver.com/images/10q1/338454/2011-ford-mustang-gt-coyote-50-liter-v-8-engine-photo-338480-s-1280×782.jpg"&gt;
    It's a wide engine, so you may need to move the wheels out and fab up some box flares, but that could just add awesome.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      What the DeLorean needed was an engine to match its sports car looks, so how about a Lotus 918 V8?
      <img src="http://www.lotusespritworld.com/images/Technical/V8EngineSpec/V8-Engine-Spec_05.gif&quot; width="500">

      1. Vairship Avatar

        And I see joshwebster84 already beat me to it (below).

  12. $kaycog Avatar

    Power by Pedal.
    [youtube dvEiz7ht7cc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvEiz7ht7cc youtube]

  13. Neen85 Avatar

    I think another Giugiaro designed transplant would be the most fitting. Plus the low weight would bring the F/R distribution back to a more manageable ratio.
    <img src="http://www.lotusespritturbo.com/Lotus_Esprit_Turbo_910_Engine.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Right car, but I prefer the Buick GN Turbo V-6 if you are going to do an engine swap.
      <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2010/07/09-gnesprit.jpg"width=500&gt;

      1. vroomsocko Avatar

        Came to post this, leaving satisfied.

      2. www.oddimotive.com Avatar

        Grab the same turbo V6 from a 1989 Turbo Trans Am and you'll have a nice Pontiac/Delorean story. Well, that or the turbo 3.1 from the Grand Prix.
        The other best choice would be a bone stock 1.9L Wasserboxer from a Vanagon/T3 (just because).

  14. SSurfer321 Avatar

    I've loved Deloreans for years. Fascinated by the stainless steel and gullwing doors. Always new they were underpowered. Just figured out last week that they were rear engine. I don't remember the last time I was this embarrassed.
    <img src="http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqgplo1Tau1r0oyz9o1_500.jpg"&gt;
    <puts on dunce cap> I'll be over here in the corner counting holes in the ceiling tile if you need me.

  15. Sjalabais Avatar

    Considering that the PRV was intended to be a V8, and had three cooks who spoiled it, why not try again? The Volvo/Yamaha V8 that has got taught new manners by Noble would make a nice "VYN"-replacement.
    <img src="http://media.racer.com/Images/2009/10/22/_nob5_75979.jpg"&gt;
    It may not fit though, so a Volvo 300hp I5 would provide good sound and power, too.

  16. Alff Avatar

    Masochist in me says 2.7l twin turbo B5 engine.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      A local shop has a B6 S4 with about 100k miles…
      Then I sobered up.

  17. joshwebster84 Avatar

    I'll just leave this here.

    1. vroomsocko Avatar

      Yowsers! Thanks for the link.
      <img src="http://www.entermyworld.com/cat/custom/lc/lcb.jpg&quot; width="500">

  18. jeepjeff Avatar

    The PRV got used in some Chrysler products in the early 90s (really, Chrysler? WTF?*), so how about a MOPAR suggestion? If that Northstar fits, I bet you could cram a Pentastar in there. 300Hp, 264ft-lbs of torque in the Charger, 90% of torque available by 2000 RPM.
    Ok, ok, no one has done it. The transmissions for it are longitudinal front-engine RWD or transverse FWD. So, less do-able than some of the others, but still technically possible.
    EDIT: * Yes, it has to be Renault via the AMC purchase, but still.

    1. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

      Or it's predecessor, the EGJ 3.5L SOHC V6. 250hp and no aftermarket whatsoever.
      Which is fine, because the 42LE Ultradrive for longitudinal FWD applications will hold about 260hp.

      1. seguin Avatar

        I was about to suggest that one. I have a feeling it might have some important dimensions in common with the PRV, since Chryco adopted the longitudinal FWD configuration from the Eagle Premier in their LH sedans. Just a hunch.

  19. Tomsk Avatar

    In the interest of maintaining the connection to the "R" in PRV, how about a Nissan VQ37? They're rather abundant, peppy, and sound sufficiently angry.
    <img src="http://media.caranddriver.com/images/media/274335/2009-nissan-370z-37-liter-v-6-engine-photo-274349-s-1280×782.jpg&quot; width="500" />

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      [youtube -h66gYArIiw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h66gYArIiw youtube]
      The VQ has been successfully done. Good call.

    2. ToLiveNDieInNJ Avatar

      Came to say this. Best way would be to use a FWD version from a Maxima.

  20. Matt Avatar

    Weight over the rear axle is a concern. I wonder what an all-aluminum LS8 would look like in there? I've seen someone wedge an LS8 into a Honda Civic, so it might fit.

  21. P161911 Avatar

    If it fit in an Isetta then there should be plenty of room in a DeLorean.
    <img src="https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSPcnmjnIzVNcHC9G13U5_mHmYzuLCKO2Frw1DjBNp0V5CMse1q"width=400&gt;

  22. Arelem Avatar

    I vote for the GM 3.6L V6. Its a nice engine in my Saturn Aura XR at 250hp, the latest version, with direct injection, is 315hp.

  23. just66horns Avatar

    Oh come on. How about Porsche's 911 motor. Air cooled! All of you forgot about cooling the damn thing. A carrera 3.2 motor would do it beautifully

    1. David Walcott Avatar
      David Walcott

      I remember the director saying in the commentary they used them in movies. It was more reliable than the standard engine he said.

      1. Jared Avatar

        False. The hero car in the movies retained the original motor. I believe what you're referring to is the sound of the motor, which was dubbed over using possibly the motor sounds from a Porsche.

  24. Tim hogan Avatar
    Tim hogan

    I vote for turbocharged Olds quad 4, because rockets!

  25. pj134 Avatar

    6BT… It might not work well at all, but you'll die with a smile on your face.

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      Are you proposing to turn it into a two wheel vehicle by cutting out the bumper and rear body work, or flip it around and cut out the seats?

      1. pj134 Avatar

        Well, someone has already fit a 2JZ in a Delorean, so I'm sure we could find an extra 10 or so inches somewhere. If worse comes to worse, it's already center console shaped, maybe just a bit tall. I'm more concerned about the 1000 lbs crushing everything below it, the torques turning everything in the transaxle into filings and the driver pancaking himself on a wall.
        I guess we could always wuss out and go 4bt… off topic but one of those ended up in a 240 vert that was up for sale a couple weeks ago.
        [youtube rUO0KU6Eeek http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUO0KU6Eeek youtube]

  26. Monte Avatar

    Honda F22C with Rotorex Supercharger, Compact package, High revs for fun, and over reliable 450 HP for years of trouble free performance and easy maintenance.

  27. LTScare Avatar

    An LS7 is an obvious choice. The stock, compact, sturdy, economical, lightweight OHV, all Al V8 wouldn't add much to the tail heavy weight distribution, while offering a TON of potential added power. Stock at 505 HP, or invest a few hundred in bolt-ons that can easily add another 100+HP. I've seen LS engine swaps in dozens of different applications that really bring vehicles to life. Why should a DMC perform like it looks!!?

  28. lightbright32 Avatar

    Something with vtec, a civic si motor or a nsx motor

  29. Guest Avatar

    How about VW's 2.0T engine from the Golf R (258 hp) and the 6-speed DSG? Or the 3.6L VR6 with aftermarket twin turbos? Both setups should be physically small enough and provide tire-shredding performance.

  30. Piston Slap Yo Mama Avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    [youtube Zw8d48RYgBo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw8d48RYgBo youtube]
    I've never driven a triple rotor Mazda Eunos Cosmo rotary engine sedan, but I would imagine it's pretty awesome based on my years with a RX7 daily driver. Now stuff that drivetrain in a Delorean. This website http://www.eliseusa.com/rotary.htm is old, like more than a decade, and the videos are laughably low-res, but you get the idea. When this car went on ebay waaaaaaaaaay back when ebay was still a new thing, it sold for less than $15K if memory serves. I was too broke at the time to even entertain the thought but today I'd snap it up at twice that.

  31. fmx Avatar


  32. Spear Avatar

    The Delorean in itself has a lot of baggage in the summation of the final product, the crucial players get excluded in the shortened version of its history. This is similar to that of Apple Computer or the race to the moon for that matter.
    The DMC-12 is enigmatic to the sci-fi and comicon world, but to the engineering auto enthusiast it “Could” have been soo much better based on parties/individuals involved in its development excluding John Delorean.
    The perfect engine swap: Some iteration of the Ford derived Cosworth DFL/DFV mated to a Getrag CR box. The livery is in the ingredients, unfortunately at the time of production this was not the economical or attainable choice for multiple reasons.

  33.  Avatar

    Rotary or subie motor, either would be good weight distribution wise