Simon's Clubman Site

Suitable Engines available from UK donor vehicles

Based on information collected via the Locost Mailing List, the following information may be of use to builders in the United Kingdom.


2.0 (150 bhp)16v - huge power potential if you have the wallet to match; these are quite expensive to get hold of, they are also not as light as you would like (not Pinto league, either though!!!) unless you can find a late Opel Manta rwd 1.8 model 5 speed gearbox you need a special alloy bell housing. The 2 litre single cam Vauxhall/Opel engine is a bit lighter and is used by Caterham in some models


16v 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 1.8-VVC K-Series

The ultra light Rover K is series now available at sensible prices from yards. The earlier units are probably easier to fit because the engine management ECU has a less complex security system. Engine rebuild parts for these engines are much cheaper than for say a Ford CVH or Ford Xflow, and they are very easy to work on. Generally with the K series the small capacity versions are much sweeter running than the bigger ones. If you want an injection version go for the multi-point and avoid the single point used in some basic 214 models and hot Metros The 8 valve single cam version has less power but is a nice sweet unit, it uses a SU carb and distributor rather than a full engine management system. It looks a bit like a Coventry Climax FPE engine used in the original Lotus Seven S1. Later 8v units also used injection, firstly TBI then MPI. I am told a company called Eldon in St Neots in Cambridgeshire make an adaptor plate to mate the K series engine to a Ford gearbox. When buying a K series avoid any engine that has been "cooked" through head gasket failure, also look out for alloy sumps that have been cracked through accident damage or grounding. All K-series engines love revs. See this site for further information (worth a look)

1.4 (105 bhp) 16v K-series - was fitted with single point injection (SPI) in the Metro GTi upto 1992. From Late 1992 onwards, all Metro GTi's are fitted with the full multi point injection system. These are an ideal motor to start out with and replace with a 1800 K-series at a later date... the injection system swaps straight over... in fact thats what a lot of the Performance Metro Club members are now doing.... though the VVC has a different injection system and harness/ECU and is not a straight swap. All Metro GTa-16v (not many of them about) cars are fitted with single point injection.

1.8 (120 bhp) 16v K-series engines are an excellent choice. The 1800cc 16v engine is good for 120bhp as standard (for around 500 quid), or you could get it chipped OR a pair of cams and still fit your other 'normal' tuning goodies. Realistically, you could see 150bhp with this engine.

1.8 VVC (138 through to 160bhp) 16v Variable Valve Control engine is much more potent as standard, with earlier units producing at least 138bhp trhough 144bhp, to the latest generation in the new MGF-160 with 160bhp. A VVC unit will cost you more than a std. 1800. Remember, even though both these engines are slightly less powerful than the Vauxhall, they are incredibly light, all alloy construction... why do you think Cat*rh*m use them?

(all Rover K series engines are all exactly the same physical size, so you could get away with fitting a 1.4 initially, and fit a 1.8VVC at a later stage)

2.0 (140 - 190 bhp) 16v T-Series (Turbo) -the M20 (based on the older M-series block of the Montego I believe) and the later T20 series are nice tough units very sweet running and very very cheap in the yards, general the later versions (circa model year 1990-91 Rover 820i or 820Si)of earlier M20 with Lucas Hotwire injection are better bets than the T20 which had initial teething problems with sticking valves. Later cars also used much more complex electronics . The normally aspirated version puts out 140 bhp in Lucas multipoint form, while turbos put out 170 or 190 bhp depending on the version which can be screwed up to a fairly reliable 220 bhp by altering the wastegate spring. However it is a heavy unit (much heavier than K-series) and is a little bulky due to turbocharger and intercooler. It is really a much modified MGB bottom end. Suitable rwd gearboxes and bell housing are available from the Rover SD1 2000, Sherpa, MGB and even the Morris Ital 2 litre models. It would also be particularly easy to adapt the engine to a Ford gearbox. You should be able to pick up a complete unit from a dead 200-coupe/Vitesse/600 or 800. Price should be affordable. A simple chip upgrade and you can see quite silly power figures, 235bhp+ and bags-O-torque�.

2.5 KV6 24v Quad cam - very new. 175bhp, lots of torque, smooth as a very smooth thing but hard to find. The motor has had major teething problems particularly with head gasket sealing - perhaps best avoided.

3.5 (150 bhp +) through 4.0 V8 - deceptively light, bags of torque, even the lowest powered units will give you your 150bhp. Big engines, i would imagine a bit of redesign would be required to squeeze one into the engine bay, but it has been done. Fairly easy to get hold of (think of all the dead land rovers/range rovers/800's and SD1's rusting around).


V6 2.8 to 3.0 heavy brutes, but nice and rumbly, very cheap, good torque, and lots of power for such an old engine. I wouldn't imagine the power to weight ratio of these engines was up there with the modern 16 valvers though.

Pinto 2.0 extremely cheap (free with a rusty sierra), 90-100bhp for carb models, up to 120bhp for injection models - bulky, tall and heavy but loads of them around. When it came out back in 1970 it was considered unreliable and totally untunable, but that gradually changed mainly because of shear force of numbers. Strip the injection system off, get them overbored, get the head sorted = big valves, higher CR etc, a fast road cam, a couple of webers and you'll have plenty of power. Don't discount them, with the right tuning, 150bhp should be well atainable. Just shop around for your carbs though! Bear in mind, this IS a (very) heavy brute....

Crossflow Back in the 60s & 70s the 1300 version was considered a waste of space, but as the supply of the 1600 version dried up the 1300 has been used in kit cars. The 1300 is sweeter running but feels very flat compared to the 1600. Loads of tuning knowledge & parts, back in the 70s the 1600 was stretched to what was then amazing bhp outputs for Clubman's racing but most modern engines reach the same figures out of the box without breaking into a sweat. They are simple to work on but expensive to rebuild -- pistons are expensive and because the pistons are both tall and heavy cylinder bore wear is a problem. It'll never make 150bhp with all the will (and tuning and money) in the world.

CVH 1600 From a XR2i or XR3i, nice smooth engines, really affordable, stacks available in the yards but pistons are expensive if you need to rebuild... and all the boy racer goodies ready to bolt on. Approx 115bhp as standard. Camshaft wear can be problem but very easy and cheap to fix. Provided you don't look for high power outputs or high RPM from these units they are a good buy.

CVH 1600 Turbo, from Escort/Fiesta RS Turbo, 135 or so bhp, plenty of potential for more. Not that common though. Ford Zetec 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 16v units The 1.6 and 1.8 don't have anywhere near the power of the K-series or Vauxhall, so stay away. The 2.0 16v is approx 135bhp as std. Good, but not great, potential for big power. Expensive to buy compared to the others.

Cosworth 2.0 16v (Turbo) Very hard to find. Expensive. Great power potential (just over 200bhp as std.). Not very light as it's a pinto with a different head and internals.

Zetec A great website with all you need to know


4AGE Good power and love to rev, particularly the 20 valve models. Hard to get in the UK, although there are places starting to import them. Bear in mind that these units are going to have much higher parts costs than Ford, Rover or Vauxhall bits, simply because they are not built here.

Bike engines

(Honda Fireblade, Kawasaki ZZR 900-1100, Hayabusa) little engines, little weight, big power... big price.


Thanks to John Snowdon and Andy MacFadyen via the Locost Mailing list for much of this informaton.