I've been receiving a lot of questions about engine swaps and there seems a need for some sort of resource for that information so here goes.
Swapping in an engine is probably one of the single steps that leads to very significant performance improvement, but with electronically controlled fuel injection engines, it isn't as easy as the old days where the biggest concern was how to adapt the throttle linkage for the carburator on two different muscle car engines.
The one very convenient thing with the Isuzu models is that within the various model ranges, the vehicles were manufactured with all of the mounting positions for the entire range of engines available in that model, making installation much less a matter of fabricating mounts and adaptors and much more a matter of collecting all of the various pieces to bolt into the positions that are already there.
This is by no means an instruction guide but is meant to give a general idea of what is involved with doing an engine swap on a Isuzu car. I am confident that there are many, many details that are not included in this information. One thing that you should have before even beginining to obtain parts is a Isuzu shop manual for both the vehicle you will be installing the engine in as well as the vehicle you will be using the engine out of. These books will give you something to set side-by-side to compare and contrast and instruct you on both removal of the original parts as well as installation of the transplant parts.
One note on power ratings, different ratings in different markets is
mostly due to varying emissions requirements, availability of different
grades of fuel, and ECU programming to compensate for these two variables.
Japan, Europe, and Australia had no catalytic converters until a few years
ago and Japan has a minimum fuel octane around 101.
Also keep in mind that there are slightly different power rating systems in each market as well.
The 1985 model year was the first year for the introduction of the 4ZC1-T
turbocharged engine and after that year, the engine compartments
were all set up for both engines with all the bolt in positions.
To install the turbo engine in one of the non-turbo models, you would need the engine, all of the controllers and electronics in the engine compartment which control the engine and turbo system, all actuators, solenoids, etc., the turbo system and intercooler, the exhaust piping all the way to the catalytic converter,the oil cooler, the wiring harness for the engine, engine compartment, and the car interior, and the ECU or computer brain. The 4ZC1-T engine will bolt to the G200Z transmission, but you would probably want to upgrade the transmission, to the turbo model transmission which will be able to cope with the added power much better. The problem is that the Turbo models got the five link rear suspension with a different drive shaft, rear axle, and rear suspension than the 83-87 Non-turbo models with the three link rear suspension, so you would have to change all of those items as well.
The 1988 model year was the first year for the introduction of the 4ZD1 engine. The process for swapping that engine into a 1983-87 model with the G200Z engine would be basically the same as swapping in the 4ZC1-T engine with the exception of the oil cooler and turbo system. The 4ZD1 equipped models had the same five link rear suspension and swapping in that would be advisable with the engine.
Swapping a larger displacement engine into the Turbo models is often
overlooked as a possible option. The 4Z series engines all use the same
basic block layout and the 2.3 liter 4ZD1 would drop right in in the place
of the 1.994 liter 4ZC1-T and the turbo system would bolt straight on.
Lowering the compression and strengthenning the bottom end would be
In addition to this, some of the Rodeo, Trooper, and Amigo truck and SUV models were available with the 2.6 liter 4ZE1 engine which wold also drop straight into one of the Turbo models, offering even more displacement.
Swapping in the G200W DOHC engine in place of the G200Z SOHC engine would require the engine and transmission. The starter on the DOHC engine is on the opposite side due to the width of the head interfering with the standard starter positioning. This is why the transmission which allows for the starter to be mounted opposite is required. The engine and transmission should drop right in and the SOHC computer should be able to run the DOHC engine, but the real challenge is caused by that opposing side starter, which on left hand drive cars places the steering column, starter, and exhaust pipe all int he same spot. A custom shorty header with a carefully placed down pipe is required.
Installing any of the fuel injected engines into a carburated model will first require changing over the entire fuel system including the pump, regulator, and all hoses. Carburated fuel systems run low fuel pressure while fuel injected engines require much higher fuel pressure.
Installing any of the gasoline engines into a diesel model will require a changeover of the entire fuel system to the gasoline fuel system to accompany the engine you intend to use.
Installing one of the 4XE1 or 4XF1 engines into one of the carburated or diesel models will require the use of the engine mounts from the 1989 I-Mark RS model.
The DOHC engines are best used with their accompanying DOHC transmissions, as the gear ratios are set up to take advantage of the higher rev range of the DOHC engines. The 1989 I-Mark RS would be the easiest fit, though the transmission from the 90-93 models has a slightly lower first and second gear. The engine mounts and axles from the 1989 I-Mark RS must be used with the any DOHC transmission.
The 4XE1 DOHC engine was used int he 1989 I-Mark RS and installation in a carburated
model would be easiest if the parts are taken from that model.
To install the engine, you will need the engine, the wiring harness for the engine, engine compartment, and interior, the ECU or computer brain, the intake piping, and the exhaust piping from the engine to the catalytic converter.
Using an engine from one of the 90-93 models is another option requiring the same parts but slightly more challengine in that the engine conrtol systems were slightly revised for 1990 and again in 1991.
The 4XF1 DOHC engine would be slightly more challenging due to its increased height and the fact that there is no exhaust piping available for that engine as used on that model, so that would have to be custom.
Swapping in either the 4XC1-T or 4XE1 DOHC Turbocharged engines would require
the engine, all of the controllers and electronics in the engine
compartment which control the engine and turbo system, all actuators,
solenoids, etc., the turbo system and intercooler, the exhaust piping all
the way to the catalytic converter,the oil cooler, the
wiring harness for the engine, engine compartment, and the car interior,
and the ECU or computer brain.
Keep in mind that the 4XE1 Turbocharged engines are extremely rare in salvage yards.
The DOHC engines are best used with their accompanying DOHC transmissions, as the gear ratios are set up to take advantage of the higher rev range of the DOHC engines.
To install the 4XE1 SOHC or DOHC Non-turbo engines or the 4XF1 engine,
you will need the engine with all accessories, the engine mounts, the wiring
harness for the engine, engine compartment, and interior, the ECU or computer
brain, the intake piping, and the exhaust piping from the engine to the
A special note for those who have been misinformed that the 4XE1 DOHC head will fit on the 4XE1 SOHC block. This is not true. Isuzu names engines in series based on production date. Two engines sharing the same model designation for DOHC and SOHC "variants" most often do not share any common internal components. This is the case for the 4XE1 SOHC and 4XE1 DOHC engine. The DOHC head will not fit on the SOHC block. The block, crank, pistons, piston pins, piston rings, rod bearings, and oil pump are not the same, just to name a few. Installing the DOHC head on a car with a SOHC engine involves changing the block, crank, pistons, rods, and all mounting and control hardware. This is called an engine swap.
Swapping in either the 4XE1 DOHC Turbocharged engine would require
the engine and all accessories, the engine mounts, all of the controllers
and electronics in the engine compartment which control the engine and
turbo system, all actuators, solenoids, etc., the turbo system and
intercooler, the exhaust piping all the way to the catalytic converter,the
oil cooler, the wiring harness for the engine, engine compartment, and the
car interior, and the ECU or computer brain.
Keep in mind that the 4XE1 Turbocharged engines are extremely rare in salvage yards.
If you were to consider installing the all-wheel-drive system on one of the front-wheel-drive models, things get quite a bit more complicated. This would require the transmission, transfer case, drivetrain, drive shafts, rear axle, rear suspension, gas tank, and entire exhaust system. The whole underside of the car was redesigned for the all-wheel-drive system, making the change over require a lot of parts. The good news is that all the parts bolt right into place, but the parts are extremely rare in salvage yards.
Overall, performing an engine swap is a bit more complicated than just
buying a used engine and bolting it into the car. The electronic controls
and fuel injection systems require changing the controls, wiring, and ECU
with the engine for best results. It is easiest to simply scrounge the
wiring harness and brain and just rerun the transplant wire harness in the
place of your original wire harness. It is possible to splice some of the
wiring harness, but it could take years of aggrivateion which has resulted
in more than a few projects being towed to the salvage yard.
For some of the turbo engine swaps, it would be easiest to just buy the entire turbo car, intact, and set it aside the vehicle you will be transplanting the engine into. This will allow side-by-side comparison and you can work directly from one vehicle into the other vehicle with all of the controls, solenoids, actuators, etc.
It is also possible to use a aftermarket computer system, the best of which is the Iperformance system from Isuzuperformance.
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