5 Crazy Honda K Swaps from VTEC Club
One-make time-attack purveyors VTEC Club have long been known as perhaps the world’s most popular Honda-only competition series, but that designation really only applies to the reciprocating hearts in its competing vehicles’ engine bays. Those vehicles can be of any manufacture, and while Hondas will always be the most commonly raced in the series, some truly odd K-series Honda swaps in non-Honda platforms have lined the grid over the years.
Today we take a look at six of the current oddest, all non-Honda, but all powered by Honda’s K-series inline-four-cylinder engines, beginning with perhaps one of the craziest of them all.
1. Kam Urquhart’s turbo/K24-swapped Noble M400
The Noble M400 is something of a unicorn. Designed in the UK, manufactured in South Africa, and delivered around the world by private importers, the M400 is the lightweight, track-dedicated, ultra-rare brother of the already-rare Noble M12 road car.
The M400 has no traction control, no ABS, and no airbags. What it does have is a roll cage, two racing seats and harnesses, some gauges, and a lot of power for its light weight, thanks to its native 425bhp, mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged, Ford Duratec V6.
Whether out of necessity (to replace a blown factory engine), or the desire for more power, better aftermarket support, less weight, and easier maintenance, Kam decided junking that awesome Ford engine in favor of a fully built, turbocharged, Honda K24A2 engine would be a better way to go in his Noble. It’s unconventional logic, but the benefits are difficult to deny. With a GSX35R/1.06AR twin-scroll turbo, 1300cc injectors, Hondata KPro ECU, a bunch of other goodies, and tuning by “Pineapple Mike” in Las Vegas, the 2350lb car now puts down 610hp and 486 lb-ft of torque to its rear wheels, through a Quaife sequential dogbox, with plenty of room to grow.
2. Amir Bentatou’s turbo/K-swapped Acura NSX
Similar to Kam’s logic was Amir Bentatou’s decision to huck his NSX’s native, naturally aspirated C30A V6 for a turbocharged 2.0L K20Z1 inline-four. Yes, the high-revving Honda V6 is a thing of legend.
Yes, the torque from an extra two pistons and one whole liter of displacement are great for an equally legendary sportscar like the NSX. And yes, Amir and his NSX were doing a great job of cleaning up VTEC Club competition even before the engine makeover.
But the Honda K-series’s aftermarket support is legendary in its own right, and the torque produced by a built, turbocharged, and well tuned K20Z1 is even more impressive that that of a factory-stock C30A. In this case, Amir feels the 424 whp and 389 lb-ft of torque (on low boost) his NSX currently puts out is more than his build needs on most tracks. And the repeatability and reliability offered by the square, high-revving K20 leaves little to be desired. Oh, and the entire swap shed about 200 lbs from the tail-happy car, so there’s that.
3. A Trio of Toyota MR2s
One thing that makes a K swap a relatively straightforward affair in a Noble M400 or NSX is their mid-engine design that positions a transversely mounted engine over their rear wheels, in much the same way as most FWD vehicles do over their fronts. So, too, does the Toyota MR2, the “poor man’s midship.”
Powered by Toyota 4A or 3S inline-four engines in its first two generations, the MR2 once enjoyed a fair share of aftermarket support. But with a switch to Toyota’s 1ZZ four banger by the model’s third “Spyder” generation, the trend has since faded into history.
Not to worry—Honda’s K-series engines enjoy plenty of support, and with a variety of mount and swap kits on the market, the conversion is now very well supported.
At VTEC’s penultimate competition round just under a year ago at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway we found not one, but two K-swapped Toyota MR2 Spyders, one of them powered by a naturally aspirated K20, and the other by a monstrous turbocharged K24, and both running respectable lap times in the triple-digit heat.
Prior to that, it was Lalo Pineda’s turbocharged K24-powered ‘85 MR2 that caught our attention, when it belted out 447 whp and 442 lb-ft of torque to its rear wheels during Super Street magazine’s “Odd Swaps Challenge,” back in 2017. Some heating issues kept it from performing its best during the racetrack portion of festivities, but the proof of concept it presented was undeniable.
4. Loi Song’s Sportcar Motion ITB’d K-S2K
One popular K-swap application that has emerged in recent years is also one of the more difficult of the bunch: Honda’s own S2000.
Bucking the transverse trend, swapping a K20 or K24 engine into the longitudinally aligned front-engine, rear-wheel-drive roadster requires orienting the engine 90 degrees from its intended alignment, meaning things like the oil pan and pickup, radiator hoses, header, intake manifold, and more all need to be … “massaged” to fit comfortably.
Loi Song and his Sportcar Motion shop figured out that recipe, and their ‘05 S2000 now enjoys a modest bump in displacement and power from the K24 powerplant residing in place of its factory 2.2L F20C mill, but more importantly has access to a plentiful aftermarket and pool of replacements, should anything go wrong.
5. K-swapped NA6 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Team WWR (for Will Wattanawongkiri Racing), the team at least partially responsible for those two K-swapped MR2 Spyders profiled above, are no strangers to Honda swaps in non-Honda platforms.
In 2016, USTCC championship winning driver Nik Romano was claiming multiple VTEC Club overall wins from behind the wheel of a Team WWR F20C-swapped NA6 Mazda Miata, showing the world just how fast Mazda’s little fish could be in a sea of sharks.
Today, in addition to those MR2s, Team WWR has a new Mazda Roadster in their stable, this one powered by one of the buffest-looking N/A K24s we’ve seen in any RWD platform. Its initial shakedowns at Chuckwalla Raceway didn’t achieve the sort of numbers Team WWR is known for, but after some continued development, we’re betting this just might be their quickest creation, yet.
BONUS: All the rest
Don’t think Honda K swaps in FWD Honda chassis are boring or status-quo, these days. Time and time again, we’re reminded that they’re anything but. HASport’s turbo, K24-powered Prelude, Jose Mejia’s supercharged K24-powered DC2 Integra Type R, and team Ruthless Squad’s K-swapped CRX are clear reminders of how powerful, stylish, and just plain cool K-swaps can be in just about anything. We'll return with more from the track, very soon.