You are here:

South Africa’s 10 favourite tuneable engines


HERE at Autodealer we consider ourselves true petrol heads and in addition to the new car news, reviews and automotive views, we follow the aftermarket scene with a great deal of enthusiasm.

Last week we watched the latest Fast & Furious film in the franchise and since this series got most people into the aftermarket scene, I decided to dedicate this back page to the aftermarket and tuning, in memory of Mr Walker himself; this one’s for you Paul.

Here’s a list of ten engines that South Africans love to modify. Note that the modifications don’t have to be severe but in all instances these engines seem to respond well:

Volkswagen 2.0-litre TSI: We’ve chosen the motor found in many a GTI and Scirocco known as the EA888, which is chain-driven versus its belt-driven predecessor and also has a high pressure fuel pump. The most popular conversion is to take the smaller Borg Warner KO3 turbocharger and replace it with the larger KO4 turbo, which comes standard on cars such as the  previous Audi S3 and Golf GTI edition 35(EA113 engine).  However, not all KO4’s are created equal; either way, these motors respond extremely well to modifications.

Ford Focus 2.5-litre Duratec ST: This engine actually comes from Volvo and the one that we’re particularly fond of locally is the B5254T3, which appeared in the Volvo C30 T5 and Ford’s second generation ST. It’s so popular because it has so much potential to make big power and produce one of the most seductive soundtracks you’re likely to hear from a hatch.

Subaru EJ207: The list wouldn’t be complete without a Subaru STI boxer motor. We love these cars locally for their all-wheel-drive launch, reliability, aftermarket parts availability and, of course, the unequal length headers that give a Scooby that distinctive sound. The EJ207 is arguably the best of the Subaru motor lot with an 8 000rpm capability, a semi-closed deck and strong block and hollow valves filled with sodium, being some of the features that attract enthusiasts to make them go faster.

Mitsubishi 4G63: While we’re only privileged to have a few Evo models in SA we’ve still seen people do great things in terms of modifications to these motors that come from the factory with forged internals, which means that owners can attach massive turbos, crank up the boost and have supercar levels of acceleration and performance.

BMW N54(135i/335i): The first taste that we got of the new era of turbocharged performance BMWs came courtesy of the N54 twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six in the 335i and 135i. Despite the newer N55 with its single turbo and Valvetronic being available, in general the N54 has produced better power figures (and has a forged crank) than the engine that replaced it, despite fuel pump, wastegate rattle and injector issues being reported.

Volkswagen 2.0-litre ABF: The ABF motor first appeared in the third generation Golf and since then local tuners have been putting these motors into MK1 Golfs and making massive power. The appeal with these motors is parts availability, the low cost of the engine itself and the way the 2.0-litre 16-valve seems to make power, whether naturally aspirated or turbocharged.

Lexus 4.0 litre V8: Now I’ve personally seen this motor being used in everything from a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to an old box-shape Corolla to a range of older bakkies. The Lexus V8 4.0-litre 1UZ-FE VVT-i engine is a favourite locally and was the third development of the engine. They are popular because there’s an abundance of these engines available. They’re reliable and they fit into quite a number of bodies, while providing a decent level of power and the ability to make quite a bit more with aftermarket management systems and even the addition of superchargers or turbochargers.

Honda B-series: Now, before Honda fans come to my office and kill me, please hear me out. I’ve chosen the B Series engines in general so as to not step on any toes. I know that the easiest way to confuse non-Honda nuts is to show them the number of B-series engines made. However, these motors are highly tuneable with many aftermarket parts available.

Toyota 2JZ GTE: Perhaps the most iconic engine in terms of tuning and certainly something used the world over by drag racers and drifters. Based on the non-turbo inline-6 GE model, it features a cast-iron block and connecting rods, except it also has forged pistons, a forged crankshaft, oil spray bars to increase cooling abilities and sequential twin turbos. That makes this motor very tuneable and with aftermarket parts, capable of over 1 000 horsepower (745kW). The other Toyota engine worthy of mention is the famous Twincam (AE86/AE92).

Nissan VR38DETT: The heart of Godzilla and the successor to the iconic RB26DETT is the VR as seen in the new R35 Nissan GTR.  We’ve seen people modify their GTRs to run as low as eight seconds on the quarter mile locally. With relatively minor modifications owners can truly turn their GTR into a monster and that’s probably why so many local examples have been modified.

Article written by Sean Nurse
Notify me via email when someone comments or replies
- Enter security code
Posted by: nashlin
Submitted: 19-02-2018
What about the egi motors?