Lowlites, Splitties, Thous and Millions Lowlites, Splitties, Thous and Millions
Lowlites - Splitties - Thou's - Millions

Japanese Engines

Slotting the Toyota 4AGE or Datsun 1200 into your Moggie

In New Zealand, the most common engines fitted to Minors are the Morris Marina 1300 and the
In the UK a very popular engine swap is the

If you're looking for high-revving POWER in your Minor then this must be one of the best available options. The engines come from the rear-wheel-drive versions of the Toyota Corolla range, dating from about 1983 to about 1988. The engine fits surprisingly well into the Minor engine bay. It's almost exactly the same length as the Datsun 1200, maybe even a little shorter (the ancillaries like water pump and fan blades stick out less).

The 4A-GE puts out around 110bhp in standard form, so if you follow this path you should expect to have to change the rear axle, and obviously the brakes all 'round. The poor old Minor diff just wont take the power and the front drums are hopelessly inadequate for slowing a car rapidly down from a possible top speed of around 130mph/200kph !

The choice of differential is up to you, but the humble Vauxhall Viva does an excellent job of coping with the standard power output of a 4A-GE. If you are looking for more power, then think about buying an entire RWD donor Corolla. Buying a donor car will ensure that you get all the right bits, the diff will be designed for the engine, and with a bit of prudent shopping around, you may even get a disc braked rear end. For these try finding a Trueno or Sprinter (model names may differ outside of NZ).

If buying the engine & box by itself, make sure that you also get ALL of the plumbing. This includes all wiring from the engine back to the plug fittings, the electronic ignition, fuel injection unit and the 'Black Box'. The Box is VERY important, 'cause it's this that controls all the electronics, ignition timing, knock sensor etc etc. Buying a Box by itself later could prove expensive.

Fitting of the engine, gearbox and new diff should probably be performed by a professional. Fitting a new diff involves manufacturing new spring & axle mounts, and the WOF/MOT men will look closely at the work done.

My advise when it comes to welding important bits - Let Someone Else Do It!

Believe it or not, the Datsun 1200 is actually very closely related to the Austin/Morris A-series engine. The Datsun A10 engine was rated at around 1000cc and apart from superior manufacturing and machining processes, was in fact a clone of the good old 850 and 948cc engines of the late 1950's.

The Japanese, with their know-how of taking a good idea and making it great, transformed the ageing BMC lump into a fairly good performing, high(ish)-revving engine of 1170cc. This powered a range of Datsuns from the early 1200 series of cars through to the 120Y and Sunny family-cars.

When transplanted into the Minor, the slightly lighter body and the lower ratio differential results in a liveliness from the Datsun 1200/120Y engine that hadn't previously been seen in it's mid-size vehicle incarnation.

A Datsun-powered Morrie is a Morrie transformed; capable of cruising happily at 115kph/70mph all day, and even 170kph/105mph with little modification.

There is a subtle difference between the blocks of the 1200 and 120Y, and this is in the area of engine mountings. Depending on which block you have, when using Ford Escort or Cortina engine mounts, the engine will sit either WAY down in the engine bay, or will be lopsided. Both cases will mean when fitting the engine mounts to your Minor you will have to weld the mounts on top of an 'n'-shaped piece of thick steel (preferably at least 3mm thick).

When fitting the engine and gearbox, you may also find (depending on how high the engine is placed in the engine bay) that the top of the gearbox fouls on the Minor steering rack. This is easily fixed by shaving some of the excess aluminium from the ridge that runs down the top of the box'. In extreme cases you may have to actually cut a hole in the top of the 'box. Don't worry, the 'box is not load-bearing and wont collapse (not unless it's a really HUGE hole, in which case there's something wrong with your setup elsewhere!!). If you do end up opening a hole in the box, you may like to think about cutting out a piece of sheet aluminium and riveting or glueing it over the hole to keep dirt and grime away from the clutch mechanism.

When positioning the engine in the engine bay, it will be necessary to push the engine as far back in the engine bay as possible in order for the fan blades to clear the radiator. DO NOT DRILL HOLES OR WELD THE ENGINE MOUNTS IN PLACE YET !!

Mark out where you think the engine mounts should be positioned, but this may have to be shifted slightly when fitting the gearbox cross member and the drive shaft.