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Engine Swap Drags

Take These Engine Swap Ideas, Build a Car, and Compete

By Car Craft Staff, Photography by Car Craft Staff

Everything about the Engine Swap Drags (ESD) was cool. Take King of the Hill winner Tom Foglesong, for example. Driving his grandfather's 1968 Camaro with a lightly modified 5.3 swapped in from an 2005 Suburban, he beat the entire N/A field, then took out a 10-second nitrous Camaro for the overall win.

These kinds of glorious underdog achievements are exactly what we were aiming for when we hatched the Engine Swap Drags concept. We wanted to turn over a rock and find the hardcore guys who use ingenuity and skill instead of dollars and professional builders to put together some fast cars using bitchin' new powerplants from Detroit. In the end, we found a lot of great cars, but only the most hard-core were willing to make it to Arizona for the race. Those heroes and their engine-swapping ideas are immortalized here.

For the rest of you, these cars are great examples of budget-based engine-swapping. Take inspiration from them at the very least. If you've been considering a swap, learn from the pitfalls and work-arounds they utilized. There is no shortage for information anymore. All you have to do is make the decision, then jump right in.

While we don't have another Engine Swap Drags scheduled, you could probably talk us into doing this again. Let us know what you think on our website ( or Facebook page ( Don't spend too much time at your computer, though. That's no excuse for delaying your next engine swap. Check out what these guys have done, and then make yours better!

Buick LS Cruiser

We were just getting things organized at the ESD when Jeff Beck rolled in with his Buick. Frankly, the car appeared too nice to be an ESD candidate. With a flick of the hood release, we were greeted with an Escalade LQ9 6.0L hunched between the inner fender panels. The installation was every bit as clean as the exterior, which is really no surprise when you learn that Beck's history includes a long stint at Santini USA Paint and Body, where he is back after running his own business for several years.

Who: Jeff Beck
What: 1968 Buick Skylark
Where: Garden Grove, CA
Engine: 2004 LQ9 6.0L with factory EFI control
Transmission: 4L65E four-speed automatic
Rearend: Chevy 12-bolt, 4.10:1

1. Beck retained the stock truck LQ9 intake manifold but added an LS1 Camaro cableoperated throttle body using a Lokar cable that bolted right in.

2. LS engine builder Ken Duttweiler says to not plug the heater hose connections on LS engines. If you are not using a heater, you still must loop the connection between the two heater outlets.

3. You can also remove the heater hose nipples from the water pump and tap them for AN fittings using a 3⁄4-inch pipe tap. We've tried it and it works great.

4. Most electric water temp sending units are too big to fit the stock, metric fittings drilled into the heads. You can create an adapter, or you can also drill and tap a 3⁄4-inch pipe thread hole in the top of the water pump for a mechanical water temp pickup.

By Car Craft Staff
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