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Four Cylinder Engine with RWD Manual Trans Options

3397 Views 45 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Ray Bell
I am working acquiring on a project that will get a four cylinder engine and RWD transmission. Anyone building a four cylinder hot rod or anyone have any recommendations for an four cylinder engine that has RWD transmission options. Unlike my other projects, hoping to make this one a budget build, so nothing exotic please (at least not for recommendations - I always love to see what other people are working on).

HP target is around 200 (project vehicle will weigh around 1500 lbs so big power is not required). Working with Fuel injection and ECU is preferred for power and efficiency.
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22re is a great option and buying a entire(rusted or lightly damaged) truck may be option.

While the 22re is a great plan B.

It does not hold a candle to a miata setup.

Now a running bashed(underside), stripped(project stopped), or just rusted miata is going to run you around $3500. If your willing to do some drivetrain work like head gasket etc then you may find them for 2500ish.

So miata has its own race deal. So you can run these engines standalone or build them into turbocharged beast by following exactly what others have done.

Now the frontend of a miata is setup with easy alignment and suspension adjustments. You can add a set of coilovers and you have a very adjustable race setup.
Out back you have easily adjusted IRS and a diff that can once again be upgraded or left alone depending on how wild you want to get. You can take the light car and make it lighter with a lightweight body and basically cutting out the middle of the structure placing a X frame attaching the front and rear unibody. One of those once you see the underbody you will get it. You can loose alot of miata weight easily. Just respect thats probally going to loose ridity so from a safety and ridgid standpoint adding a roll bar might be a good idea to avoid headaches.

But if your just talking a (traditional) transverse double wishbone i beam front with coil sprung solid 8.8 out back. Then just a miata engine/transmission can be used.
They are not terribly hard engines to find in cars. But partouts can be a bit harder.

Still within 10 mins I found a "turbocharged" partout. The frosted side of me to snatch this up for myself as it is 30mins away. But being 4 projects deep the whole wheat side knows I need to finish up at least 2 of those projects before starting more. So here you go a "cheap low mile miata setup" . Your local results may vary.

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What 122(2.0) are you refering to?

To my knowledge every NA fuel injected ohc 2.0 has been transverse.

Except for the turbocharged 2.0 solstice platform. Good luck finding a partout or wrecked turbocharged solstice though.
You might not like this. But if building for lightweight and 200hp a transverse setup with a manual WILL be lighter then a rwd setup.

I would look for something like a transverse 2.2 (L61) dwb ecotech. From like a 02-06 saturn. Drop out and bolt up the entire engine cradle including the manual rack and control arms. Build upper arms and run cantilever coils. Then use the electric power steering in your lightweight body.

Parts are dirt cheap, cars are everywhere, easy to work on engine, and full plug and play standalone (with a manual) can be done for $500-$1000 depending on how you want it tuned.

E85 compatability and I would expect 30-35mpg while having very little wheel slip.
Ok an automatic complicates things a bit. This will be model specific. But you have 3 methods.
One is to run the engine standalone using a standalone ECU for the engine that works with the factory TCU(transmission control unit). The transmission acts stock as the TCU sees everything is factory.

This locks you into factory shift points and factory shift pressure. But may be your best option for 200hp.

The second way is to have full engine standalone ECU and a seperate standalone TSU. Full control of everything as well as the option to run a automatic "better" then stock such as more speeds or better ratios. But this will be expensive and could be complicated.

The 3rd way is to run a "dumb" transmission that does not use a controller. Good chance your loosing overdrive or will have a 4 speed instead of a 5 or 6 speed. But it is simple.

Of course all the above is heavly dependent on the 4 cylinder and rwd transmission you choose.

The issue is that your going to find most all aluminum 4 cylinders are going to bolt up to "dumb" transmissions. You may be looking at a cast block(like a ford 2.3/2.5) or a all aluminum engine that can be bolted to a older "dumb" transmission via an adapter.
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Every now and then I will see a 2wd automatic Mitsubushi mighty max go for less then $1000.
Usually they are completly rusted, dented, and ran hard. They may have a bad headgasket, slipping transmission, or a bad fuel pump. But 90% of the time it will drive onto your trailer.

What most people forget about is some of these have a very reliable (92-95) 2.4 (4G64) engine bolted up to a 4 speed automatic.

That 2.4 (4G64) block came in tons of rides even turbo variants. It comes down to the head(mostly). SOHC non interference, SOHC interference, DOHC, DOHC turbo. But that block in that pile of a mighty max can be built to make some power.

At 200hp you should be able to have a very reliable yet lowcost powertrain.

The 2nd gen Mitsubushi mighty max(L200)/Dodge Ram 50 is a stupid simple fuel injection setup. You can run this standalone. But 92 to 94(95ish) you dont need to. You can find a rusted running pile and basically cut everything around the harness so you can pull the entire (as complete as possible) electrical out. You will be left with a engine, transmission, steering column, cluster, ecm, tsc, fuel tank and after grounding everything to a main ground(bolt) and having a main power(bolt) you will be able to hook up a battery and run the powertrain on the shop floor.

Once you get the $1000 powertrain running on the floor you can decide where to go as far as how custom you want it to look. I would run custom gauges($200), keep the steering column stock with a aftermarket steering wheel($150), and run a fuel injected tank/pump(with return) that fits in your ride ($200). You may or may not need another radiatior ($150) and will probally need to refresh some things on the powertrain lets say $300 to round things right out flat.

If you can find a 92 to 94 2.4 automatic $1000 mighty max that can drive up onto the trailer. Strap it down so it does not throw any rust or drop anything on the way home then get to cutting it up.

For a realistic budget of $2000 and around 60 to 80 hours of work. You can "cut and paste" that powertrain into your ride.

Once it is moving you can look into making more power. It should not take much to make 200hp. I only had one 2nd gen and that was a 92 2.4 with a manual. Maybe someone can give advice on the automatic shift points etc.

But for your power level and wanting a budget, 2wd, automatic, fuel injected 4 cylinder. That 2.4 with the 4 speed auto bolted up behind it fits the bill nicely.

You can do like I have with many many rides in the past and will be doing in the future .

Taking a good hood, grill, repairable bed, repairable doors, any interior that is reuesable, rims, (axle and driveshaft if your not using them) and even some "rare/hard to find" parts off the truck selling them to recoup a good amount of that $1000. I have had over 8 rides that have been free to a bit over free after I parted them out. I get a "free" engine, transmission, rims, or a axle. Then sell the rest recouping a good amount to making a small profit.

Now it may take you a year or two to recoupe that amount depending on what your selling and the demand for it. But at/around $1000 for a moving ride(that is probally a beat up farm truck).

A Mitsubushi mighty max 92-94 with 2.4 with an automatic may be just what you need.

Now you may find one tonight or find one in a year from now. But you wont find one unless you are looking. Look on your local marketplace, tell people your looking and what you have on hand to spend.

Remember the end goal here is to cut that cab up for that harness and powertrain. If the thing looks like it has driven through the woods slapping a few trees along the way, door drops 4" when you open it, 2 foot hole on the floor, and that dead mouse/dead cat/dead racoon smell are all good things. Those things drive down the price when your only after a powertrain and harness. It also makes it easier to cut up something in the above condition then something "rare" that can actually be restored.
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Oh wow. I messed up. Sorry about that.

I thought he changed his mind and wanted an automatic for his wife. Getting a stick later etc.

But looking back that was not the OP that said that. OP still wanted an manual and did not change anything from the title.

Well that makes things stupid simple. Run a 92 to 94 mighty max with a 2.4/5 speed. Bam. Lots of support both for that engine and the 5 speed. 200hp can be done easily with some modest upgrades.

Get it moving first of course. But the potential to have 200hp is there.
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