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Question about potential engine swaps


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Hello everyone,

 

New to the forum and going to be a new 280z owner soon which made me think of a question I have. I know this has probley been brought up so sorry in advance but I am wanting to do an engine swap and can not decide on what I want to do.
 

Original thought was 2jzgte but it’s difficult to find one and the rb26, from what I have read, is expensive to swap in. The Chevy small block might be nice but read it might be a bit “peaky” and would prefer an import sounding motor. I want to turbo the car and shoot for around the 500- 600hp range with maybeeee going a bit more in the future but doubtful.

 

So my question is what would be the best swap for what I want to achieve? Ideally something not too difficult of a swap that preferably I can find relatively easily. If you have any questions about what I want to do just let me know and thanks in advance! 

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Well, it depends on a lot of things. An LS is going to be the cheapest and easiest to get that kind of power. Th RB keeps it Nissan, but they're expensive. A JZ will get you all kinds of street cred at import meets, but they're also expensive. What's your budget? Do you care about lineage? Manual or auto trans? There are so many more factors than just the power level 

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If keeping it Nissan isn’t a priority than I think the LS is the best bet for reaching your power goals, but won’t get you that import sound you mentioned. I’ll throw in my own build engine the VQ37VHR but any VQ can get you close to the power you want with a bit of building and a turbo. Plenty of single turbo, twin turbo, and supercharger options, 8k redline and makes the car front-mid engine with the entire engine squeezing behind the front tires. More and more people are swapping to the VQ and more companies are making support for them. The manual trans that mates to them is pretty much bulletproof aside from issues I’ve heard about of the concentric slave cylinder on 370Zs prone to premature failure, but there are kits that eliminate it or upgrade it to heavy duty stuff.

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Just an FYI: 

 

With those power numbers you will be struggling with traction. Not intended to dissuade you, but you will likely be spinning around in first and second gear, when torque hits. 
 

An LSD, wide rear tires and a sticky tire

Compound will be absolute necessities. Just remember, these cars are light and most of the weight is biased towards the front of the car. In the end, you will likely be running less power until you dial-in your traction, or run a boost controller that progressively increases pressure as you up shift. I have not done this last technique myself but the technology is available. 

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You might have a look through the archives as everything you are going to run into has been solved before,https://forums.hybridz.org/

If you are serious about that kind of power you are going to have add extensive body strengthening/stiffening to keep the car from twisting up and to help actually get that power to the ground, you might also want to consider an integrated roll cage.

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My 5.3ls with the 4l60 was around 300hp and would spin wheels in 1st and 2nd. I could down shift at 50 and still break the tires loose.

 

At the 500-600 power range you are going to have to upgrade the rear suspension and drive train along with a lot of body mods to stiffen the shell (I hade some broken spot welds along the frame rail).

 

I am currently building a 6.0 and may supercharge it if I ever get bored of the 500hp range. I am also going wide body to get some 295s under the rear.

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I had one of the first "on the road LS swaps"  It was complete in June of 2003.  My car was the development "mule" for the JCI kit (www.brokenkitty.com)  In 18 years none of John's parts have failed.  My car is running a totally stock LS1 so I'm good with just an R200 LSD and "sticky" compound street tires.

FWIW - it is an old wives tail that these cars are nose heavy.  Before I started my conversion my car had a 50/50 balance, 1400 lbs of both axles.  When I completed the drive train conversion it was 1400 on the front and 1430 on the rear.  Then I did an interior upgrade and the car gained 170 lbs that left it 1440 on the front and 1560 on the rear. A stock LS1 is actually lighter than an L28.

Quite frankly its the turbo cars that are nose heavy because of all the plumbing that sits in front of the axle.  If you opt for an LS3 crate engine (and maybe opt for a cable actuated throttle instead of drive by wire) you start out in stock form with 485 HP.  You'll need a stout 6-spd and the Ford 8.8 independent rear end upgrade to handle that.  A little cam work and you'll easily be in the 5-600 HP range.

Edited by Phantom
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An import sounding motor is also quite subjective. Ford Barra is going to sound like some of the other import 6's, and a 1UZ will sound more like a domestic. 

 

LS would also not be considered peaky, anything running high amounts of boost to achieve those numbers like a rotary or a 1.6L boosted to the moon would be peaky. Something like a 6L V8 will have a pretty broad power range, where as depending on the turbo on a JZ you might get like 1.5-2k RPM unless you are willing to rev it much higher.

 

Take stock of what you have, and what you want and make a list. Also take stock of the car. It is not going to take any power if the chassis is twisted or it has holes in the floor. Stock brakes at the power level are also going to suffer and if you run stock suspension it is going to squat hard and stock axles and stubs may not last very long depending on the driving. 

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On 4/18/2021 at 3:34 PM, Phantom said:

I had one of the first "on the road LS swaps"  It was complete in June of 2003.  My car was the development "mule" for the JCI kit (www.brokenkitty.com)  In 18 years none of John's parts have failed.  My car is running a totally stock LS1 so I'm good with just an R200 LSD and "sticky" compound street tires.

FWIW - it is an old wives tail that these cars are nose heavy.  Before I started my conversion my car had a 50/50 balance, 1400 lbs of both axles.  When I completed the drive train conversion it was 1400 on the front and 1430 on the rear.  Then I did an interior upgrade and the car gained 170 lbs that left it 1440 on the front and 1560 on the rear. A stock LS1 is actually lighter than an L28.

Quite frankly its the turbo cars that are nose heavy because of all the plumbing that sits in front of the axle.  If you opt for an LS3 crate engine (and maybe opt for a cable actuated throttle instead of drive by wire) you start out in stock form with 485 HP.  You'll need a stout 6-spd and the Ford 8.8 independent rear end upgrade to handle that.  A little cam work and you'll easily be in the 5-600 HP range.

 

Yeah that is a fair assessment. When I stated Z's are nose-heavy, I should have been more specific. Most of the mod's I have entertained, or look forward to doing, seem to place more weight up front. My street Z has an L28et (yep, all that plumbing and core you mentioned). The 300zx rotors and 4X4 calipers put even more weight up front. Meanwhile, going fuel-cell reduces the weight in the back. I had kept the drums in the back as well. 

 

Considering the weight distribution was not really something I paid enough attention to when I built the car ~20 years ago. It is something I am much more aware of now, and consider closely on each and every addition/subtraction to the car. 

 

PS: I don't believe there are significant technical differences between JDM, US, or German engines to classify as a "sound" unique to the country of origin. V8's have a unique sound for sure. so do 4-bangers, V6 vs. inline, etc. I think the biggest influence on the sound you are looking for will depend on your exhaust system, and the number of cylinders/arrangement of your engine. 

Edited by AydinZ71
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Honestly even engine arrangements tend to sound pretty similar. Between an RB and a JZ, RB's tend to rev quite a bit more and sound a bit more manic since people push the RPM's higher, where as the bouncing off the rev limiter is pretty iconic for a JZ, but you could replicate either or with setting the limiter and hysteresis. 

 

The only reason I point it out is that this is something you are going to have to live with. Peaky screams big turbo small displacement to me. You could get away with a smaller turbo for more spool, but then you might run into efficiency blocks. My friend's stock LS2 back in the day you could start in 6th and would have torque at pretty much off idle. My small turbo JZ was a maniac making 20 psi at 4k rpm, but I'm not sure if my target was 5-600 hp I would want to push that turbo, and the next step up is like a 1k rpm power band shift. You could look into new age turbo's or go old school with something like a QSV which I would love to see a combo of new age and QSV, but doubt the effort is worthwhile these days.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Have a look at my build.  I choose the LS platform because it's well supported by the aftermarket industry for power upgrades to get into the N/A 500-650hp range but still powerful in factory spec, light with alum block and heads, compact, great trans options, etc.  $50K seems like plenty till you start buying new parts so be mindful that "car parts" add up quickly.

 

On 4/17/2021 at 7:35 AM, Sanchez said:

any VQ can get you close to the power you want with a bit of building and a turbo

 

Sanchez and I discussed the VQ platform for turbo to make the power levels you mentioned.  There is a guy in Florida who makes turbo kits for the VQ which are between $10-15K.  At time of researching could not find anyone else reputable who hacked in the OEM ECU for custom tuning.  So available engine management systems may sway you away from a particular engine swap.  I like the VQ, my wife had a Infiniti G37 rated around 320hp from factory and it was a blast.  If you can get a complete engine/trans pullout with all computers/wiring and choose to stay N/A then the VQ is a good choice.  For me the $/HP and ease of swap the LS platform just can't be matched.

 

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I am just finishing an LS3 build.  I chose the engine largely because I have another car with a highly modified four-cylinder, and I have always envied the small block Chevy crowd for the wide spectrum of affordable speed parts/engines available to them.

 

Make no mistake though....if you are a fan of the S30 Z in anything resembling stock form, the LS swap changes the character of the car completely.  In a very real sense it is not even a Z anymore.  That can be either good or bad, depending on what your goals are.

 

But in terms of power/torque per dollar spent, the LS is impossible to beat.

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