Saturday, December 18, 2021

5 cars other than air-cooled Volkswagens or Porsches that could be interesting to adapt an Australian Radial Motion engine

Even though the air-cooled flat-4 engine is highlighted as one of the most noticeable features of the VW Beetle, the recent development of a 3-cylinder airworthy radial engine by Bespoke Engineering catering to the light sports aviation market in Australia had also been noticeable for its perfect fit into Beetles or other Volkswagens with the Type 1 engine (which has the cooling fan mounted at a higher position than the one of a Type 3 "pancake" engine) and even into some Porsches. Available on either air-cooled or liquid-cooled versions, from 2.0L to 2.1L and the option for carburettors or electronic fuel injection, the Radial Motion engine can cover both classic cars and modern vehicles keeping up-to-date with current emission regulations in Australia and some other countries with similar emission standards for motor vehicles. Even though a radial engine may be as much of a challenge to fit into vehicles with transverse engine layout, leading it better suited to the ones with a longitudinal engine, at least 5 vehicles other than air-cooled Volkswagens or Porsches could be mentioned as temptint to try a Radial Motion engine swap had cost not been an issue, as these engines are far from dirt-cheap...

1 - Ford Ranger (Americas model until 2011): as some trims of the Radial Motion engine outperform the 2.3L Duratec 4-cyl which was the base-engine for this model, even though it has a slightly smaller displacement and a pushrod valvetrain, it already sounds interesting enough to justify. The lower weight is also interesting, considering the gasoline-powered versions had a lower payload than the turbodiesel versions made in Argentina, so the weight bias would be improved while unloaded without detrimental effects while loaded;

2 - Chevrolet Opala: the Brazilian equivalent to the Opel Rekord C/Commodore A, was fitted with the 2.5L Chevrolet 153 engine (later 151) on its 4-cylinder versions, while the 6-cylinder had either a 3.8L 230 or a 4.1L 250 engine according to the model-year. Even though it's smaller than any engine fitted to the Opala and the 6-cylinder Opel CIH engines fitted to the Commodore, there are some versions of the Radial Motion capable of outperforming them all in stock form. Liquid-cooling might sound as a quite obvious way to go, but I must confess it would also be quite tempting to try an air-cooled;

3 - early Suzuki Grand Vitara: even the 2.5L H25A V6 can be outperformed by some versions of the Radial Motion engine, let alone the much more usual 4-cylinder 2.0L J20. A lower-weight and shorter engine such as the Radial Motion may also actually benefit off-road performance;

4 - Lada Niva: engine swaps are quite common for this model in my country, with Volkswagen EA827 engines being the most common option. As the Radial Motion is offered with a Volkswagen bolt pattern it might be another straightforward adaptation too;

5 - Alfa Romeo Giulia GTV: an Italian beauty which stock engine is a piece of mechanical artwork, but it would still be tempting to go one step further. Well, considering the carburettor-fed versions of the Radial Motion might at first seem more complicated due to having one more carburettor, it's also worth to remind it won't require any timing chain replacement as the Alfa Romeo "Nord" Twin Cam engine would, the Alfa Romeo had dual-barrel carburettors which are far from dumbproof. It's also interesting to compare the electronic fuel injections of the Radial Motion to the SPICA mechanical fuel injection which used to be fitted to US-spec Alfa Romeo models.

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