Engine Choices - 510
Updated November 19, 2009

The rating scale starts at 1 for easiest & cheapest, and 10 for toughest / most expensive.Over $3500 in parts get a cost score of 10. Horsepower numbers are, I feel, realistic estimates of what you'd have by installing the motor into your 510 with minimal performance modifications, other than ECU reprogramming to work in the 510 - so I assumed there'd be a slight performance gain over the factory rating.
L20B LZ22 KA24 Z18ET Mazda rotary VG30E VG30DE VG30DETT

Estimated performance page is HERE
Dyno chart page (all my data) is here

Engine : Nissan L20B (2.0L, SOHC, 4cyl)


EASE :1 COST1 Crank HORSEPOWER (est) : 117 @ 4750rpm
Crank TORQUE (est) :149ft-lbs @ 3000rpm
HP/Torque data (dyno sheet)

Pretty much the standard swap into the PL510. There are a few good reasons : 1) The L20B was the standard powerplant in most Datsuns from 1975-1980, so there is a good supply. 2) For most 510's, the only modifications required is to swap the L20B pan & pickup for the 510 pan and pickup tube, using a lower profile air cleaner, and usually an exhaust modification due to the fact the L20B is 3/4" taller than the L16, so the exhaust my rub the footwell slightly. This mod is EAST for exhaust shops, and can usually be done for $25. 3) The power increase is about 30hp over the stock L16, with a significant increase in torque, so driveability is increased, as well. The engine block is slightly taller, but the weight gain is insignificant. The 510 transmission also bolts right up. Typical cost of a complete running L20B can be as low as $150, with $350 being more common. No special tools necessary, and it can easily be accomplished in one day. 20% displacement increase for well under $500? Not too shabby.

Engine : Nissan LZ22 w/ L20B head(2.2L, SOHC, 4cyl)


EASE : 1 COST 2 Crank HORSEPOWER : 120-145
Crank TORQUE :135-145ft-lbs

HP/Torque data (dyno sheet)

This swap uses an LZ22 motor (2.2L motor which normally has a NAPS-Z -smog- head), with the head from a L20B replacing the NAPS head. This head has higher power potential, and also raises compression slightly. The LZ22 block is dimensionally similar to the L20B block, but has a bigger bore. In fact, the actual swap into the 510 is no different than the L20B, but the motor needs a few L20B parts to work with the old-style head. The higher cost comes from 1) This motor being produced for only two years, but mostly 2) Due to the fact you have to use parts from two motors to make one. Again, the 510 trannies bolt right up, although most people who upgrade to the L20B or LZ22 upgrade to a 5-speed at about the same time.

Engine : Nissan KA24E (2.4L, SOHC, 4cyl)

Photo courtesy Jim Shih


EASE : 2.5 COST 4 Crank HORSEPOWER : 154 @ 5250rpm
Crank TORQUE :166ft-lbs @ 3000rpm

HP/Torque data (dyno chart)

KA24E Install article (John Roper) - link to fiveoneoh.net

Stats from our KA-24 swap. Cost of engine and trans-$750.00. Trans not absolutely necessary. We had already switched to F.I. so not much was needed for the swap. If someone else did this swap and had carbs, substantial cost would be incurred to add F.I. pump, harness, ECU, air flow meter,etc. If they ran carbs they would still need to purchase a manifold. Ease of swap, my opinion, is probably a 2 or 3. Not much fabrication needed and size of engine approximately the same as L-series.
Horsepower can only be guessed at but stock engine was rated at 140 with catalytic converter. With its removal and using a 200SX ECU and adjustable air flow meter, I think 150 to 165 is not to optimistic. I think your chart is a great idea. Dimers who are thinking about engine swaps can pick the one that fits their wallet and abilities.

Submitted by Bill Kenyon

Engine : Nissan Z18ET (1.8L, SOHC, 4cyl turbo)



Dyno Chart

COMMENTS : "The Z18et is a relatively easy swap. Mine is in on modified 510 mounts. It'll bolt to an L series trans too, although the tranny will be a little twisted as the motor needs to be put in upright. I'm in the middle of swapping my bell housing to a naps z one. I'll post the outcome. Cost is the best part! I've bought 3 of these things, paid $300.00 each! (one I sold and the other I'm building up forged, balanced, etc) The real expense comes in the management system. I went the expensive route. But I'm sure it'd be pretty easy to run it with a c18et (from a 200 sx turbo) ECU and a custom harness. I didn't want that pesky airflow meter so I went with Haltech."

Submitted by Jake
San Diego, CA

Engine : Mazda Rotary - 13B (1.3L Rotary)



COMMENTS : "Sure, it looks easy, but here are a few problem areas.

1. The exhaust is on the wrong side, and extremely hot. (up to 1800 degrees) This makes moving all brake and fuel lines necessary.

2. The engine is front mounted. Blow off the original mounts (they'll interfere with the exhaust) and weld in a new, dropped cross member in front of the original.

3. Something has to give, either the firewall or the shifter location. Much easier to move the shifter forward. (I now have 50/50 weight distribution. Dumb luck!)

4. Besides a radiator with the hoses both on the same side, you have to add an oil cooler, which really won't fit well anywhere.

5. No factory oil pan (RX2,3,4,or 7) will fit well, so a custom reversed pick-up and pan with a shallow sump and swollen sides is necessary. Sure, it all sounds easy, and I could do it again quite easily now, but anybody who is gonna try it solo like I did will be wishing they had never started. Bryan Feldman (http://www.bryanf.com ) has written extensively about his many rotary swaps, but mine is quite simple compared to the major surgery he does to mount the engine to the original cross member. Shifter location was the major factor in where my engine would sit, and I have an installation that looks nearly factory original. Bryan's goal was to get maximum engine set-back. So much so that most of the engine is actually behind the original firewall location. Takes a talented welder to pull that off and make it all work again. Drop me a line if you need any more details. "

Submitted by Chuck Rothfuss

Engine : RWD SR20DE / DET

EASE : 6 COST 6 Crank HORSEPOWER : 140-250
Crank TORQUE : 145-250ft-lbs

Not much information available at this time. Here's a link with some general SR20DET swap information :

Engine : Nissan VG30E (3.0L SOHC V6)


EASE : 5 COST 4 Crank HORSEPOWER : 170
Crank TORQUE : 190ft-lbs

Dyno Chart

This is becoming  a common swap for 510 guys. With VG30E's plentiful and inexpensive in wrecking yards, I know of swaps completed for well under $750!

Engine : Nissan VG30DE (3.0L DOHC, V6)
minilumvg30de-1.jpg (6426 bytes)


EASE : 10 COST 10
Crank HORSEPOWER : 230 @ 6400rpm
Crank TORQUE :213ft-lbs @ 4500rpm

Dyno chart

As if you didn't see this one coming? You can read about this swap elsewhere on this site. I chose this engine because I wanted the most factory HP I could swap in. My theory is it's cheaper to buy and drop in 220+hp than to build a lower factory rated (VG30E, for example) engine and build it to 220hp.

Engine : Nissan VG30DETT (3.0L DOHC, V6)
Ease : Over the top difficult / Cost : $6000
Crank HP / torque : 300 / 283

The issues of going from VG30DE to DETT are almost as numerous as going from L20B --> VG30DE