View Full Version : Best bang for buck build/swap? S14

04-03-2010, 11:45 AM
I am getting ready to either finish my car this year or sell and start over on something else. Everything outside the engine is done. I am running a 3" cat and 80mm exhaust so I should be good for the power levels I hope for.

I am shooting for a fun street car. Something that will have balls around town rather than these highway top speed monsters many are building.

I'd like to be in the 5's for 0-60 and 12-13's in the quarter. I run decent tires (either Pilot PS2 or Goodyear F1 Asymmetrics).

I am thinking this is 350-400RWHP...

I'd like to keep at least sane gas mileage (16+) if possible. Right now I get 20-21mpg. It's not critical, but if I can squeeze 250 miles of out a tank I'd be a lot happier than 200. ;)

A lot of the write ups are very old now, I don't know if it's the economy or people have moved on to other cars. I really still like my car, just the lack of power is becoming too much to bear.

My budget is pretty open to this. I am an older professional and I am hoping breathing some more life into it will be fun. It's sort of going to be a final gift to myself digging out of 10 years of debt and finally on the right track.

I am pretty good with tools...so far all the modifications I have done myself. Don't know if a swap would be best handed over to a shop though that has a lift and way more hands than me.

LSx swaps are sounding more and more viable now that some of the pricing has come down on both the parts and the engines. However, it's still very new and each type of kit seems to offer it's own surprises I see more and more in various posts, but none all mentioned in one place. Also quite a few times people are not running all the accessories.

On any build I do I want A/C, PS, etc. This is going to be my daily driver.

I have been thinking of doing my KA to a T3/04e...it'd be the most 'factory' option, but the cost is really over $6k if I do it right.

SR is another option, but by the time I get that in and making the power I want I am at the price of the LSx it looks like.

My total budget I am hoping for is $10k or less. I have brakes, suspension, exhaust, wheels and tires done.

I wish I could really ride in a LSx swap. I have heard everything from perfect to being very touchy in turns. It'd probably give me the best mileage though I'd imagine with the T56 and really what would be a mild tune for it compared to the more aggressive tunes a SR or KA will need.

The alternative car I'd be considering is the 99 M3. I figure I can sell my 98 SE and throw in another $7k to get a clean low mileage one. I'd then more than likely need $2-3k to bring everything up to stuff (rear suspension issue, plastic fans replacement, more than likely new tires, clutch)...

I'd then have to start over.

Thanks for any advice.


04-03-2010, 12:00 PM
it's gonna cost more money, but a LSX with intake,headers,exhaust and a tune will run you into the 12's no issue and will get an EASY 20mpg and i'd bet closer if not over 30mpg on the freeway. car will also be dead nuts reliable cause you have really nothing done to the car.

or you could do a nice bolt on SR20 swap. that could go 12's if you can drive and should get decent mileage.

04-03-2010, 12:08 PM
I wish people posted up their honest budgets and not relying on once in a lifetime deals. :)

04-03-2010, 01:18 PM
lsx. Had a sr swap and with the money i had in it, i should have done lsx instead.

04-03-2010, 02:25 PM
I've done them all, and I say it depends on horsepower target and budget.

For 250whp, which is all you need to get into the high 12's/13's in a ~2500lb car, SR swap with a T28 is perfect. OEM reliability, plentiful, cheap, well documented, minimal work.

For 300whp, its tricky. SR swap with more work done to it, built KA-T (assuming you have a KA), or stock RB25 swap. Depends on which 'flavor' you like.

350whp, I'd say the RB25 is the shit. For more money, a stock LS1 will get you here with headers and be more reliable, sameish weight, and have more headroom.

400whp done right is expensive, no matter which way you go. LS1 can get you there with just a cam and headers, and the RB25 just needs a GT30, injectors, and a MAF, but the SR20 would need a bunch. Wouldn't do a KA-T car @ 400whp myself.

Above that, you should get a new car, to be honest.

Budget - RB25 full swap (with some luck, meaning your motor is good) for about $4k, good for 300whp. Add another $2k to go for 400whp.

LSX you're looking at $3k-4k for the motorset, another $2k or so for swap parts, $1k for sweet long tube headers, and you're good for 350whp. Add a cam/springs/tune for ~$1k and you jump to 400whp, with 25-30mpg.

04-03-2010, 07:44 PM
Most told me 250WHP wasn't enough for anything but just getting into 13's on street tires...I am at about 2750 + me (about another 200lbs).

04-05-2010, 04:09 PM
I am really thinking LS1 is going to be the way to go esp. if I can snag a complete firebird/camaro setup front to back locally (south florida has a ton of these wreaking daily it seems).

That way I get the right ecu, harness and tranny. I am still looking at the LS2 and if I can do it with just a shifter swap and have no drive-by-wire.

The one thing I really didn't like about the GTO I was driving was the drive-by-wire...the throttle didn't feel connected like my 240sx.