The politics of the engine swap. Its a funny thing to consider, but stay with me here. In the automotive community there are politics involved in the motor swap. Say you’re a die hard Mopar guy. Typically, the only motor swaps that are looked fondly upon within Mopar circles are other Mopar engines. A larger engine, a newer engine, the famed Hemi swap. All okay in the typical Mopar circle. Now, say someone decides they want an LS motor in their Dart. Watch heads explode. Okay maybe no heads will explode, but you definitely get the negative comments and and plenty of attitude.
This isn’t something that is exclusive to the Mopar guys. Not at all. Ford guys are probably just as bad. As a life long Ford fan I can attest to it. For a while I was considering LS swapping my Falcon. My dad (where I got the Ford bug) was absolutely dead set against it. So much so that it became a running joke between him and I. When I wanted to get a rise out of him, id casually mention that I was collecting parts for the LS swap, or start chatting about how easy it was to get reliable power from the famed (or infamous) LS and that I was just a junkyard trip away from giving him high blood pressure.
The Chevrolet guys seem to be the most relaxed of the bunch. Typically they stick to bowtie swaps within their GM cars, and perhaps thats why you don’t see much contention. Its exceptionally rare to see a Chevrolet automobile with anything other than a Chevrolet engine in it. They also realize that their chosen brand is the most popular amongst swappers and the aftermarket. Its been that way since just about the beginning of hotroding. Considering the Chevy 283 went in to production in 1957 in the height of hotroding, the small chevy V8 become a popular choice for engine swaps. It made great power (for the time) and was a reliable OHV design. It just made sense.
It’s safe to say the modern day LS is the new Chevrolet small block. They are abundant, affordable, reliable and easy to coax respectable power from. And due to these factors, it is right now, at the time if this writing the most popular engine swap. You can find them in everything from Japanese drift missiles to 1920’s era hot rods. Whether you like it or not, thats hotroding today.
There are other engine options though. If you want reliable modern power you can also look to a more modern modular Ford motor (coyote included), or the late model Hemis. Both of these are fairly attainable and Ford and Chrysler put them in enough cars that they are now showing up on eBay and the junk yard for reasonable numbers.
Because of the accesability of these engines, modern reliable power is a fairly easy option that makes sense for a lot of guys. This takes us back to the politics of it all.
I think that the true hotrodder, the guy that just wants to go fast, and be able to drive his car when and where he wants, has a basic desire to make his car better. And better to him or her, is simple. More reliable, and more power. The die hard purist doesn’t see it that way. They believe that if the car came from the factory with a small inch motor, 2bbl carb and hydraulic flat tappet cam, it should stay that way. Who is right? Who’s to say…
With that in mind, I do believe the purist faction is a dying breed and getting smaller every year. Partly because the OG parts are simply going away. Its getting hard to find parts for these 50+ year old cars.
The beauty of this thing that we do is the variety of it all. The different people from the different walks of life. The different priorities that show up in their individual builds. It all comes together to make the scene what it is. Politics (and attitude) aside.