The Engine Swap Hall of Fame:
Hilly’s Audi V8 Lotus Esprit
For anyone interested in wild and wacky engine-and-chassis pairings, visit the Motorgeek community Projects subforum. On any given week, there are at least two dozen projects underway involving major engine relocation (a mid-engined V8 Golf, for example), completely custom sheetmetal fabrication and insane power builds. It’s mostly Audi- and VW-related, but some non-VAG stuff does pop in from time to time.
One of my all-time favorite project threads on Motorgeek is dedicated to Hilly’s Audi 4.2l V8 and 6-speed transaxle swap into an S3 Lotus Esprit. Ditching the anemic and temperamental stock 4-cylinder engine, Hilly went for Audi’s all-aluminum unit, in the process creating a sort of proto-twin-turbo V8 Esprit, a homemade version of what the automaker would later do themselves. You can browse the whole build thread here (it’s worth the read); I’ve grabbed a few highlights:
The old Lotus 4-banger on the way out. Pretty cam covers, but a relatively weak 172 hp. The Citroën-sourced 5-speed transaxle is attached.
A surprisingly large amount of room is vacated by the old engine.
The transplant: A 4.2l Audi ABZ V8 from a first-generation A8. Its 295 hp represents a nice, healthy bump over the stock engine’s power.
A little custom sump and oil pan modification had to be performed in order for the engine to clear one of the frame rails.
Custom drive belt pulley arrangement and crank trigger for the engine management system.
Hilly’s completely custom billet-machined and anodized shift linkage is a work of art. The powder-coated custom transmission mount is apparent, too.
Tagging the wiring harness in order to mate all the sensors and electronics from the body to the engine properly.
As it comes from the factory, the S3 Esprit sports inboard rear brakes attached to the transmission. Hilly fabricated bespoke rear brake caliper mounts to relocate the stopping gear outboard to the wheels.
Beautiful TIG welding on the custom exhaust, including crossover x-pipe.
She’s in! With the specially-made engine cover surround, it looks like it’s always been there.
And the beast in action!
Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series showcasing awesome engine swaps and builds. Read the other installments here: