What Makes Honda Engines So Good?
There’s no questioning the prowess of a Honda power plant and from power to reliability, here are the biggest reasons why.
If you’re in the know, one of the things you know is that Honda engines are serious contenders. From the early days of the import drag racing scene in Southern California, these sport compacts have packed serious power. All motor K24s are running in the low 9-second range with boosted cars snapping off passes in the mid-7-second range to the tune of 1,850 horsepower. These 4-cylinder power plants are capable of crushing supercars and this is before you factor in something even more important.
Light Weight & Compact
When you talk about building a sports car there is no substitute for weight. Forget what the German and Italian exotic manufacturers say about direct injection or active aerodynamics: shaving several hundred pounds off of a car is worth its weight in gold. That’s where Honda engines excel. K-series and B-series both tip the scales just shy of 400lbs which isn’t far away from purpose-built racing engines that can be made of exotic materials. It makes a lot of sense from a build standpoint if you are trying to keep overall weight down to utilize a small power plant as opposed to a big V8 or V12. With serious power and lightweight, these engines are looking more appealing by the minute, but we’re just getting started.
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Tuners from the now-defunct Zcars Mini company to Ariel Atom of Top Gear fame all understand that the physical size of a power unit is just as important as the weight of it in the first place. Honda engines are compact and can be made to fit almost any type of engine configuration in existence. When you couple this with the power they can output it begins to make sense why so many people go to them by default. The Atom simply wouldn’t be able to corner the way it does with an engine that is physically larger or has a higher center of gravity.
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People think of great reliability with years of trouble-free maintenance when they think of Honda which is exactly what you get with a K or B series swap. And, while 1,800 horsepower might be great on the drag strip, you don’t need anything near that to build a truly fast Civic, RSX, or another car that will burn any rivals on the backroads. These engines will output moderate power without any real hiccups or problems which makes them relatively easy to deal with. Couple this with the fact they tend to find their way into lightweight chassis and you have a recipe for hassle-free speed.
The more people who buy an engine and modify it, the bigger the community of people who support the platform. Because of how many engines Honda has made, it isn’t hard to jump on craigslist right now and find a worthy candidate for your next project. Furthermore, no matter what kind of end goal you have for your engine someone out there has likely done exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. This can’t be said of other brands that people are scared to modify or tune.
Honda engines make for the ultimate in engine swaps due to their ability to make huge power while staying compact and light. By being versatile enough to be placed in any configuration while keeping center of gravity low these engines excel into a category that appeals to both tuners and big name sports car companies alike. They’re found in everything from exotic 1 offs to the fastest production-based drag racing cars on the planet, so if you’re looking for an engine that will blow the doors off your competition, you’d be wise to look at Honda.