Econobox Honda with a Sport Bike Soul: This Hayabusa-Swapped Honda Marches to its own Beat
Swapping big power engines into uniquely awesome vehicle hosts is not an uncommon practice in the automotive world, but transplanting a motorcycle engine into a car is not your everday weekend project. We happily came across this one-of-a-kind build that immediately catered to our love for power and all things go-fast: a 1991 Honda Beat with a Suzuki Hayabusa powerplant.
The original write up on this car below was written by Brian Silvestro and can be found here from Road & Track, with photos from AWR Racing. Brian and the R&T crew were kind enough to let us share the scoop on this JE Pistons powered machine here. Dive in below.
The Beat is one of the coolest cars Honda's ever made. Built to conform to Japan's Kei-class vehicle restrictions, it has an impeccably tiny footprint. Unlike most Kei cars, though, it uses a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. But with just 64 horsepower on tap from its 660-cc three-cylinder engine, it's not quick. This one, though, is a bit different.
One Beat owner decided they needed more power going to the wheels, so they contracted AWR Racing, a shop in Vista, California, to swap in an inline-four from a Suzuki Hayabusa sport bike. According to Engine Swap Depot, the engine was built by Downs Engineering, and comes packing a newer crankshaft, more displacement, and stronger JE pistons. Rated at 194 horsepower, it's making more than triple what the Beat made from the factory. Unsurprisingly, it sounds phenomenal:
AWR had to construct a totally custom subframe to mount the engine inside the chassis. Tony Woodford, the car's original builder, told Road & Track via email he originally used a chain drive to power the wheels, but later switched to the geared direct-drive unit from Quaife to get power to the road. There's a limited-slip differential attached, sending power through Porsche 930-style half-shafts. After sorting out some clutch issues, Woodford says the car became a rocket ship. We don't doubt him.
The shop has a bunch of pictures from the build, giving us an inside look at how they pulled it off:
We've been saying for years that the Beat is a perfect candidate for a motorcycle engine swap, and this car proves it. The combination of high-revving power and low curb weight are a match made in heaven.
Find pistons for your build here!