We see a lot of unconventional engine swaps here at The Drive, and they all make you wonder, “Why would you go and do that?” From a 2JZ in a tractor to a Tesla with a 6.2-liter V8, some of these projects raise eyebrows, while others just get people upset. This latest one—I’ll cut right to the chase—is of the latter variety. Personally, I think it’s great. Corvette purists? Maybe not so much.
Yes, a few enthusiasts out of a shop in Georgia called Unruly Motorsports decided that their C6 Corvette just wasn’t cutting it in stock form. The 6.0-liter LS2 wasn’t what the doctor ordered, I guess. What they’re much more interested in is installing a turbocharged, four-cylinder K24 from Honda. In fact, they’re doing that as I write this.
I spoke to Kevin Prescott, one of the brains behind the operation along with his friend Austin Brown that’s turning the stock ‘Vette into a Honda-powered drag racer. He says he’s doing it simply out of fondness for the Japanese automaker’s tough little four-cylinder engine, and a love for racing under the lights. As far as the negative backlash goes, he doesn’t get it. “I don’t understand why everybody’s taking it [so] personal,” he told me, clearly amused. “It’s not their car.”
The project started in earnest a few days ago when the 6.0-liter V8 cranked over, powered the Corvette into the shop, and was subsequently torn out. Prescott says he already found a buyer for it, unlike the rear-mounted transaxle that came with the vehicle from the factory. It’s being replaced by an 8.8-inch solid axle from Ford, a popular mod for drag racers. Just the same, the mono-leaf front and rear suspension will not survive the swap. Unruly Motorsports has sourced a full set of adjustable coilovers from QA1 to set up the car’s stance and drag racing launch just right.
Speaking of things that aren’t quite stock anymore, the K24 that’s been mounted up in the engine bay isn’t some junkyard special. It has new forged rods, forged pistons, and 11:1 compression to take advantage of all its newfound boost, which comes courtesy of a 67mm turbo with dual ceramic ball bearings. The block itself features a closed deck for improved rigidity, and Prescott says this combination should be enough to hold up to the 900 wheel horsepower he wants to make. In fact, this engine has made close to that before.
“I made 828 [hp] only on 20 pounds [of boost],” he told me, referring to a previous build with this engine. “We just never got to turn it up,” he said, going onto detail how a collapsed vacuum line caused the turbocharger to boost spike to 42 psi, lifting the head on the block. “That’s why it’s apart right now.”
Prescott noted how a few people claimed the K24—a 2.4-liter DOHC engine—was going to be as heavy or heavier than the pushrod aluminum V8 that the car came with. He says he’s weighed both, and that’s not the case. “The LS2 was like 488 [pounds] and the K24 was 318 [pounds], turbo, manifolds and all,” he told me. “Off of what we’ve done, I think we’re right around the 3,000-pound mark.”
What’s also going to help is the fact that they’re ditching the Corvette’s torque tube and going for a conventional driveshaft. The new gearbox was originally planned to be a four-speed 200R4 with overdrive; however, they were worried about ruining it doing dyno pulls, so they decided to go with a built two-speed Powerglide instead. Fitted with a loose torque converter set to stall at 4,500 rpm, it’s a solid choice for the quarter-mile. There’s gonna be plenty of boost and plenty of fire out of the fender-mounted exhaust before this Honda-powered C6 rips off the line.
And yes, for those who are curious, somebody makes a kit to adapt a Powerglide to a K24. Paraphrasing Prescott, you just have to know a guy.
The hope is to take the car to Hot Rod‘s Drag Week next year, a week-long competition where cars must be road-tripped, raced, and then road-tripped again to several dragstrips across the country. It’s a grueling event, but Prescott thinks that once the car is all set with a cage, the right tires, and properly dialed in, it should be quick as hell. “This motor is what we’re experimenting with,” he told me. Once they get the setup on the K-Series right and have the knowledge to do a final build, he thinks they can do some seriously impressive numbers. “I’d love to get this thing in the low sevens, high sixes in the quarter—in the long run.”
That, if I had to guess, would make the Corvette purists pause before typing out an angry comment. Or maybe not. Prescott doesn’t seem to care either way.
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