GM’s LS and Honda’s K-series may be great engines, but they’re far from the only ones capable of cracking the thousand-horsepower barrier. There are almost innumerable other solid engines out there, many of them without the branding clout of Hellcat, but capable of outrageous power all the same.
In celebration of this increasingly neglected body of engines, we’re wondering: What’s the most overlooked option for engine swaps?
Given its fade from mainstream popularity, it’s tempting to invoke the famed Mitsubishi 4G63, though that’d be hasty considering how well-respected it still is in Japanese (and some Korean) car circles. Instead, let’s cast the limelight on a pair of turbo-sixes from opposite corners of the globe, starting with the Ford Barra.
Hailing from the Land Down Under, turbocharged Barra inline-sixes powered high-performance variants of the Ford Falcon that, with some tuning, were worthy rivals to their V8 counterparts. Throw enough money at a Barra, and you can get one beyond even the 2,200 wheel horsepower mark; not something you can boast about just any engine. As it was never available in any Ford sold Stateside, however, Barra swaps are relatively uncharted territory to us Americans, who are more familiar with BMW’s comparable N54.
Available in much of BMW’s lineup in the late 2000s, the N54’s twin turbochargers, forged factory internals, and under-stressed stock fuel system make it a popular engine with the Bimmer crowd. Tuning guides and performance parts retailers alike maintain that it’s $1,500 in parts away from being a 500-horsepower engine, granting M-level performance at 335i pricing. It’s almost a wonder it hasn’t been adapted for use in more cars—seems like more than enough motor for an E23 7 Series to me. If the E23 didn’t rob you blind any time it breaks, that is.
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