LS? Small Block V8? Nope. Five Vintage Cars Begging for a GM Four-Cylinder Turbo Swap
When you think of a vintage American restomod, pro-touring or race build you’re always going to think V8 first. Whether its GM, Ford or Mopar there’s near unlimited options these days when it comes to modern V8 swaps for old cars.
But what about other engine types? Like a turbocharged four cylinder for example. GM has been building stout four cylinder turbo engines for a long time, with the “LTG” engine in particular enjoying a lot of aftermarket support with some real power potential.
The LTG has come in cars like the Cadillac ATS and Chevy Camaro and has also been offered by GM’s performance division in crate motor form. Depending on its specific application it makes about 275hp and nearly 300 pound feet of torque. And being a modern turbo engine, there’s plenty of room to raise those numbers without a lot of work.
The GM 2.0L turbo engine could make for any number of quick, unique and fun projects that would stand out from the crowd, but here are five cars in particular which we think match up well for this engine. To keep things in the family we’ve kept the list to GM cars or cars from brands that fall under the GM umbrella.
1962-1965 Chevy Nova/Chevy II
The Chevy II and Nova should need no introduction. It’s one of GM’s most popular platforms for hot rodders. And if there’s a downside to the car it’s that there are almost too many of them out there.
But if you dropped in a LTG 2.0 engine rather than small block or LS V8, you could have something quite different. And with the Nova’s light weight, even a stock turbo 2.0 would give it plenty of performance.
Styled like a miniature C3 Corvette, the German-built Opel GT was sold by Buick dealerships in the late ‘60s and early ’70s to compete in the lightweight sports car market.
From the factory the Opel GT was powered by a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine but we’d love to see one with a modern 2.0 turbo under the hood. Right out of the box, an LTG swap would nearly triple the GT’s factory output.
Built to compete in the red hot subcompact class, the Chevy Vega has long been a favorite of weekend racers who are known for stuffing both small and big block V8s into the car.
But a Vega with a 2.0 turbo swap would be a unique take on this car, and again its light weight and small size make it an ideal platform for a modern turbo four-cylinder engine.
If you are looking for something even smaller and a lighter than a Vega that is still rear wheel drive, the Chevy Chevette is the car for you. Sold from the mid ‘70s to the mid ‘80s, these things have all but disappeared from the road,
Chevettes of any condition are a rare find these days, so to see one of these vintage, almost forgotten hatchbacks with a twin-cam turbo engine pushing nearly 300hp would be amazing—and crazy fast as well.
G-Body Buick Regal
Finally we get to one the most beloved GM models of the 1980s, the G-Body Buick Regal spawned fast and desirable models like T-type, Grand National and GNX, all powered by a 3.8L turbo V6.
And while a normal Regal would obviously make more sense as a project car base, the idea of dropping a modern GM turbo-four into a car that’s always been associated with turbo performance just feels right.
Next time we’ll turn the tables and look at some great project car candidates to swap one of Ford’s EcoBoost four-cylinder engines into.
More From Driving Line
- For one more car that likely would have come with a 2.0 turbo engine, check out the Chevy Code 130R Concept.