Hooniverse Asks: What's the Coolest Exciting Car to Use a Dull Car Engine?

Let’s face it, there are a lot of cool engines out there slaving away under the hoods of undeserving cars and trucks.
Sometimes, they are allowed to cut loose and get to play at someone else’s party. That’s what we’re looking for today, engines that once did dull duty in one car, and that were then liberated when dropped into another. What do you think is the best exciting car to use a dull car’s engine?
Image: Wikipedia

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  1. Kiefmo Avatar

    Playing off your example, I’ll go one further with the Lotus Evora. At least the ‘Yota engine used in the Elise motivated the hot version of the final Celica, a car with sporting pretensions. And the engine itself wasn’t dull at all.
    The 3.5L is a fine engine for a Camry or a Sienna. It makes good reliable power for those who need a little more motivation in their beigemobiles. It doesn’t belong mounted amidships in a high-performance semi-exotic. Not without substantial changes, that is. Sure, there’s a supercharged version, but the NA mill makes nearly the same power as it does in the Toyota equivalents.
    Edit: I really should read the text, not just the headline. Witness my shame. I’ll try again momentarily.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Mopar’s 273 was never exciting – even in Barracuda form (although I think they did make a 275 hp version for NHRA). But a Ghia 450 SS – oh me oh my

    1. Texlenin Avatar

      Well, being a part of the LA family of motors (273,318,340,360) does allow for some
      interesting parts swaps for better performance. I ended up with a set of 360 heads and a
      340 aluminum dual plane intake on mine.

      1. GTXcellent Avatar

        My GTX got smoked by an Aspen with a built 318 – I have nothing but love for Mopar smallblocks (granted he also had a line lock, pinion snubber and traction bars, but he still ran away from me)

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I think we can pack up shop today, we’re not going to get a better answer.

    2. Jeepster Avatar

      1984 Dodge M4S ” wraith” – did it use the same engine as well ?

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        I had thought about posting M4S, but it was a prototype never intended for production, and the engine was significantly modified from ones used in street cars.

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          But it made it to a movie.

      2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        VW Beetle engine, Shirley? 😉

        1. Jeepster Avatar


  3. Kiefmo Avatar

    The early Ford Windsor 260″ V8 had only seen duty in family cars before Ol’ Shel tweaked one of them to 100hp/cid and stuffed it under the bonnet of a little British roadster.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      100 HP/CID x 260 CID = 26,000 CID. Impressive, indeed!

      1. Alff Avatar

        Maybe those obscene prices really are justified.

      2. Kiefmo Avatar

        May’ve been off my meds this morning.
        Or, I was raised on liters, where the magic hipo number is 100hp/l. Or, it used to be. Now you can get better than 100hp/l in a damned milquetoast family vehicle.

    1. The Real Number_Six Avatar
      The Real Number_Six
  4. The Real Number_Six Avatar
    The Real Number_Six

    Someone put a 100HP PRV motor into this and thought it was alright:

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      I see you read the question the same way I did initially.

    2. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      I approve.
      *depends on your definition of exciting.

      1. The Real Number_Six Avatar
        The Real Number_Six

        It may never have been intended as a Lotus drive-alike but it looked like a damn spaceship when it came out.

        1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

          I think they intended better, but ran outta time. And money. But curiously enough, NOT out of cocaine.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar


          2. Hatchtopia Avatar

            Cocaine, time, money. Pick two.

        2. Tiller188 Avatar

          “Looks like an aeroplane…without wings!”

    3. Maymar Avatar

      130! Which, granted, paired with 2800lbs still means it’d be outdragged by a modern day Corolla.

  5. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    Of all of the iterations of the Rover V8, The mid-90s TVR 5.0L has to rank up there as the most wild for an otherwise staid motor.

  6. crank_case Avatar

    Caterham have used everyones boring, or at least less adrenaline pumping car engine over the years (as factory cars too, not just kits), take your pick:
    Ford Pinto/CVH/Zetec/Duratec
    GM XE
    Rover K-Series
    Suzuki three cylinder turbo.
    Mind you arch rivals westfield have offered most of those and the Rover V8 too.

  7. nanoop Avatar

    The short block was used in the VW LT van and in an Audi 100. In the 924, it got a substantial tune-up (culminating in a turbo) and a slippery case, making it a GT-ish autobahn cruiser, and fun on the backroads. Usually, this was not used in favour of the 924, but I am proud that my fellow hoons allow me to use this for an honourable mention!

  8. Borkwagen Avatar

    Cool car, dull engine, but said coolness was so independent of the engine that this might be cheating.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      Imagine that snake pit of an engine bay filled with the engine from an SM. It would be… an SM engine bay.

  9. Alff Avatar

    Annoying Miata nerds like to call their automobile of choice, “The Answer”. With respect to today’s question, that may be appropriate. The NA 1.6 was a derivative of the mundane 323 mill.

    1. discontinuuity Avatar

      Not so! The Miata engine was the same as the turbo motor from the Mazda 323 GTX, but without the turbo, and with a lightened crankshaft and flywheel. It even has the piston oil squirters and oil plumbing for a turbo built into the block. So you could say that it was an exciting engine made more dull and put in an exciting car. And it’s relatively easy to make the Miata engine more exciting with the addition of a turbocharger.

      1. Alan Cesar Avatar
        Alan Cesar

        I’d say the GTX and Miata engines are both mundane Mazda B-series engines with modifications to make them exciting, not the other way around.

      2. Alff Avatar

        You caught me. I skipped the step where the 323;s 1.6 became the GTX;s turbo’d unit. I like poking fun at the Miatisti that much.

  10. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    Mustang SVO.
    Every V8 muscle car. Truck motors in all of ’em.

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      Minnkota or Motor Guide trolling motor?

  11. PaulE Avatar

    The first-year Chevrolet Corvette: Stove Bolt sixes, anyone?

  12. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    The Alpine A108
    Based on the Renault Dauphine
    I chose the earlier Alpine because the better known A110 is based on the far less boring R8 Gordini

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Very nice! Along the same lines we have the Kharmann Ghia. Looks fantastic, is powered by a Beetle engine.
      The Melkus R1000 is much the same, with a Wartburg engine:
      We could just as well include the way more common Wartburg 311 coupé:
      Only 67 Volvo P1900 were made, the glassfiber car inspired by the original Corvette. Powered by a 1.4 litre engine:

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        For that matter…
        Mr Porsche himself with his developments.

  13. ramLlama Avatar

    The Noble M600 uses a Volvo V8 developed by Yamaha. The engine is found in the last-generation XC90, a resolute people-hauler.

    1. Borkwagen Avatar

      Yamaha involvement makes every engine not dull. Also:

  14. engineerd Avatar

    I’m surprised Ford’s 2.3L “Pinto engine” hasn’t been mentioned. The Pinto was not a completely dull car, but it was also an economobile. However, that engine (with a turbocharger) found its way into Mustangs, the Merkur XR4Ti, Thunderbird TC, and the Mustang SVO.

  15. sporty88 Avatar

    The Noble M400 (and quite a few of their other models) used the V6 out of a Ford Mondeo, with the addition of twin turbos.

  16. Maymar Avatar

    Sure, let’s take a great little sports car and toss a truck motor at it!
    For that matter, whatever the hell the Slingshot is, it isn’t dull, even if the HHRs and Cobalts from whence that its Ecotec sprang were.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      I dunno, mine had an SR20DET from the factory 😉

    2. The Real Number_Six Avatar
      The Real Number_Six

      This was the first car that came to mind for me but I figured most younger people wouldn’t remember what an atrocity that pairing was. “We’ll just throw in a truck engine: those stupid Americans won’t notice.”

  17. neight428 Avatar

    She was the definition of dull until they gave her a hair dryer.