An Engine Swap… And An Unexpected Outcome

Last time, the trusty Astron 2.6L G54B turbo in Dave’s Rally Pajero was finally showing its age. Go here if you missed it.

Heart Transplant

The Astron 2.6L G54B turbo was tired, really tired. Dave had two options:

  • Rebuild the Astron – not an easy task, as parts are hard to get… and expensive.
  • Drop in something more common, like an LS1, 2 or 3. Parts are cheap and easy to get.
Getting ready to take the old engine and gearbox out. LS1 Engine Swap.
Getting ready to take out the old engine and gearbox.

Fortunately Dave knows heaps of people in the motor sports and performance car industry. Through a contact, he heard about an LS1 for sale.




Someone with too much money had the LS1 rebuilt and fitted to their car. After only a few weeks they decided they wanted an LS3 instead, so the LS1 was now spare. Wish I had that much money to spare!

Dave ended up buying the LS1. He just needed a gearbox to suit.

Dropping the new motor in. LS1 Engine Swap.
Dropping the new motor in to check how much of the firewall needs to be cut.
LS1 is a pretty tight fit. LS1 Engine Swap.
LS1 is a pretty tight fit.

Might As Well Do A Lung Transplant As Well!

With more power and torque, it was quite likely the ancient hand-built Holinger gearbox wouldn’t be up to the task. One of Dave’s off road racing mates had a Hewland gearbox that had never been raced. These boxes were built for Ralliart in the 1990s and are a 6 speed dog box, hand-built inside a Mitsubishi housing.

So Dave decided to drop this in too.




Let The Cutting Begin

Getting the LS1 and gearbox to fit meant cutting out the firewall and a big part of the transmission tunnel. Not only that, the front wheel arches copped the same treatment to make room for the exhaust manifolds. Like always, this job was growing!

Plasma cutting the transmission tunnel. LS1 Engine Swap.
Plasma cutting the transmission tunnel.
The firewall, transmission tunnel and inner front guards had to be chopped away. LS1 Engine Swap.
The firewall, transmission tunnel and inner front guards had to be chopped away.
A very large hole in the floor! LS1 Engine Swap.
A very large hole in the floor!
The Hewland gearbox takes up lots of space. LS1 Engine Swap.
The Hewland gearbox takes up lots of space.

More concerning was the condition of the body. The more we looked, the more cracks and creases we found. Yes the motor and gearbox would fit – just. But the body and chassis were worn out.

Some Fortunate Timing

The LS1 and Hewland gearbox fitted in, but of course the real work was about to begin.

By chance, the diesel fuel pump on my NP Pajero suddenly died. The Paj had lived a tough life and was pretty well worthless. Dave’s rally Pajero was pretty knocked around. So we can up with a plan – why not retire the old Rally Paj and start afresh?

The new donor vehicle - our old NP Pajero. LS1 Engine Swap.
The new donor vehicle – our old NP Pajero.

So that’s exactly what we did!




Questions or comments? Ask away in the Comments section below.

Any errors or omissions are mine alone.



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