Not long ago, we took a look at a selection of four-cylinder engines as possible hot rod powerplant fodder, and here we are again. This time, though, we're looking at domestic four-bangers as opposed to Japanese versions. And, with gas at more than four bucks a gallon, a little mpg would be welcome right now. Actually, that's not strictly true about the engines we're about to show you being domestic, as the Ford Zetec in particular has an extensive European history already. It has been shoehorned into any number of small cars over the Pond, spawning an aftermarket all its own.
Now, when we mention domestic four-bangers, there are a couple of engines that will probably spring immediately to mind, namely the Iron Duke and Ford's SOHC 2.0L and 2.3L, as found in the Pinto. Well, guess what? These are old engines now, and while there are advocates of the latter, in particular, still wringing everything they can from those engines (Comp Cams still lists camshafts for both engines), there's a new kid in town, and he can be found under the hood of many a front-wheel-drive commuter car. Turn him 90 degrees and power the rear wheels, though, and it opens up a world of possibilities-not to mention pretty much as much power as you could want and decent mileage numbers, too.
Of course, torque is never going to match that of a V-8, and we're not suggesting you replace the small-block in your '55 Chevy with a 2.0L 'banger, but the power-to-weight ratio suddenly becomes very favorable in a lightweight T or A, for instance.
The Quad 4 makes a great little hot rod engine for something like this turtledeck T, produ
When it comes to modern domestic four-cylinder engines, there are really only four contenders worth mentioning, namely GM's Ecotec and Quad 4, and Ford's Zetec and Duratec. Yeah, Mopar fans, there's the 2.2, 2.4, and 2.5 'bangers found in everything from Neons to Minis up until last year, and George Poteet's Blowfish made 1,000 horses from what was essentially a USAC Midget long-block, Mopar Performance P5 Hemi head, and a massive turbo. But, the GM and Ford camps pretty much have the domestic four-cylinder performance market covered.
As a traditional hot rod and custom kind of guy, it pains me to say this, but check out some of the tuner websites and forums for more information than we can fit in here. Meanwhile, let's check 'em out, find out how to make 'em rear-wheel drive (of course), and see what's available to pep 'em up. Be warned, though; for the most part, we're entering the realms of (whisper it) computers, fuel injection, and electronics. But, don't turn away just because you're a carbs and points type; in fact, check out what Quad 4 Rods can do for the Quad 4 and Zetec.
Our first port of call was to speak with John Ehrlich at Quad 4 Rods in Colorado, who immediately admitted that his primary fascination with GM's predecessor to the Ecotec was its appearance, meaning its similarity to an early Offy twin-cam four-cylinder, rather than its performance. Developed by Oldsmobile, the engine debuted in 1987, and was replaced by the Ecotec in 2001. Its highest power version, the W41, made 190 hp, and can be found in the '91 Olds 442 or '92-93 Achieva SCX. The 2.4L LD9 twin cam came in '96-01 Cavaliers, Sunfires, and Grand Ams, as well as Achievas, Aleros, and Malibus in certain years.
This cool-looking Quad 4 is hooked to a T5 using a Quad 4 Rods bellhousing.
According to John, "The Quad 4 probably makes more power as stock than the Ecotec or Zetec, but there's little available to modify them-pistons, but that's about it." They were all mounted transversely to five-speeds and automatics with unique bolt patterns. However, Quad 4 Rods manufactures bellhousings to adapt the engines to a T5 from S-10 pickups and V-6 Camaros, T10, Muncie, or Saginaw, as well as Ford's C4 automatic or GM's 200-4R overdrive auto. John prefers the C4, as it has a removable bellhousing, making adapters easier to fabricate and install, and a small 101/21/2-inch converter, which mates nicely to an 11-inch flywheel. The GM transmissions tend to use bigger, typically 13-inch, converters, making things a little harder to package. Quad 4 Rods also offers adapter plates to mate to a 700-R4 or TH350, as well as aluminum front covers, throttle bodies, exhaust flange kits, and stand-alone ignition systems. Then, there's the non-computer-literate option of intake manifold, fuel pump, pressure regulator, fittings, and a pair of sidedraft Weber carburetors for that old-timey look and throaty induction sound.
Quad 4 Rods also offers a non-adjustable stand-alone ignition system, a throttle body-including a vacuum manifold and a water outlet that rotates the outlet vertically by 90 degrees-twin DCOE carburetor inlet manifolds, and an exhaust flange kit.
Though its basic foundation was developed in Germany by GM subsidiary Opel in the late '70s, the Ecotec, as it's now known, first appeared in domestic cars in 2001 as a 2.2L four-cylinder with the model L61 designation, delivering around 140 hp. A destroked version, the LSJ, was equipped with an Eaton M62 supercharger and made 205 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque in the Chevy Cobalt S/C SS and Saturn Ion Red Line until last year. The current version, the LNF, is a turbocharged direct-injected version, delivering 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This engine can be found in current Solstice GXP, Saturn Sky Red Line, HHR SS, and Cobalt SS models.
The Ecotec has made it into many forms of motorsport, from the John Lingenfelter Pro RWD Cavalier backed by Summit Racing, to Rhys Millen's Solstice drifter that uses an adapter to mate a T56 to the engine, to So-Cal Speed Shop's 246.849-mph G/BFALT Cobalt Bonneville car that ran a TH400 tranny using a one-off adapter. If you're thinking of using one of these engines, perhaps the dimensions of 20 inches wide, 20 inches long, and 25 inches high might tell you that they'll fit in all but the smallest of engine compartments, and are a natural drop-in for a Model T or A. GM Performance Parts offers an Ecotec performance book, as well as numerous tuning parts and kits.
Quad 4 Rods likes to adapt the Quad 4 engine to the Ford C4 transmission because of the sm
GM still offers the 2.2L L61 as a crate engine, and in fact, the current Solstice uses a 2.4L Ecotec in a rear-wheel-drive format, with a five-speed Aisin transmission. Find a wrecked one of these and you'll have your rear-wheel-drive drivetrain ready to go, no adapters needed. If it's adapters you want, though, Quad 4 Rods is working on a 200-4R bellhousing as well as one to adapt a 4L60E, though this will require a controller. Transmissionadapters.com has a 200-4R adapter, too, comprising a 1-inch 6061-T6 aluminum adapter plate and custom-made converter with your choice of stall speed. This kit uses the original flywheel and starter.
GM Performance Parts offers supercharger kits for both the '00-02 2.4L twin cam Ecotecs, and the '03-05 2.2L, the latter raising the power available from 145 to 200 hp, and Summit Racing has headers for these engines.
Ford Motor Company has used the Zetec name on a number of four-cylinder engines since its introduction in Europe in 1991, but we'll concentrate on the domestic 2.0L version, which weighs in at 370 pounds. You'll find it in a Ford Contour, but the most common source is the Focus. The distributor is at the rear of the engine, which could cause firewall interference problems when altered for rear-wheel drive, but it's easily moved up and forward for clearance. Also, while we're at the rear of the engine, you'll find the Zetec crank is already drilled to accept the pilot shaft when used in a rear-wheel-drive application.
Ford Racing offers a crate version (PN M-6007-ZX3), which includes the exhaust manifold, flywheel, and fuel-injection harness, and produces 130 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque, as well as a USAC Focus race-ready Midget engine (PN M-6007-USAC) that would be killer in a lightweight rod. The same source can supply a Zetec supercharger kit (PN M-6066-ZX3BB) that increases power by 45 hp at the wheels, with an additional 45 lb-ft of torque.
John Ehrlich's personal '30 Model A coupe features an injected Quad 4. You can see the res
Quad 4 Rods manufactures a bellhousing to bolt to T5 and Tremec transmissions, as well as the Ford Type 9 five-speed, though if you're European an RS 2000 bellhousing will connect the T9, too, as Ford conveniently kept the bellhousing bolt pattern the same from the '60s on for all its four-cylinder engines over there! Quad 4 Rods also offers an exhaust flange kit, as well as an inlet manifold to swap to twin DCOE sidedraft carburetors, plus a stand-alone ignition system with rev limit, oil pressure cutoff, and adjustable advance. One good piece of advice offered by John Ehrlich is that Ford harness connectors are proprietary, so you'll have to trawl the junkyards or buy an expensive harness and cut off the ends to connect up everything else!
The Detail Zone offers fuel-injection harnesses with Ford connectors. Summit Racing can supply Zetec headers, though they're obviously designed for front-wheel-drive applications and may need modification. Crane Cams can supply camshafts, as can Comp Cams, who offers three different designs for three engine rpm ranges, designed to work with stock valvetrain components for a simple "drop-in" installation. You may also want to check out www.burtonpower.com, an English company with years of experience when it comes to tuning, modifying, and fitting Ford four-cylinder engines into rear-drive applications, from BDA and Cosworth engines to the Zetec and latest Duratec.
In 2004, Ford replaced the Zetec with the Duratec, a heavily reworked version designed by Mazda. The Duratec 20 is the 2.0L version, found in the Focus, while the Duratec 23 is the 2.3L version found in the Focus from 2007, as well as the Ranger pickup and Mazda B Series. And, yes, the Ranger is rear-wheel drive, so pull the whole drivetrain and you're ready to go with no adapters necessary. The major improvement over the Zetec, as far as we're concerned, is that the Duratec uses an aluminum block and head, making it some 40 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It also employs chaindriven cams, as opposed to the Zetec's belts, and while still a crossflow design, the induction and exhaust are swapped side for side, making a visual identification easy between the two engines. It features SFI fuel injection and four valves per cylinder, with double overhead cams. The 2.0L produces 136 hp, while the 2.3L makes 151 hp. With large ports and very large valves, the Duratec breathes easily and is a low-emissions engine, responding well to tuning that easily takes it to as much as 200 hp, its superior head design more responsive to throttle body and camshaft changes.
The 2.0L DOHC Zetec is available from Ford Racing as a crate engine. The supercharger kit
So, what's available for these engines? Cosworth offers a 300hp version built on the same assembly lines as its Formula 1 engines, the legendary four-cylinder tuning company known for quality; but, if you're looking to modify an existing engine, you have a number of options. Once again, Quad 4 Rods can supply a twin DCOE sidedraft carburetor manifold, as well as exhaust flanges, and a stand-alone ignition system. Bellhousings for Ford Type 9, T5, and Tremec transmissions are available from the same source, as well as VW Type 1 for any mid- or rear-engine aficionados out there. Crane Cams lists a number of camshafts for this engine, as well as valvesprings, while Eagle forged H-beam connecting rods are available for the 2.3L.
We're realists, so we don't expect a whole bunch of you to abandon your V-8s and start reworking your rods for one of these engines, but we hope we've given you something to think about. We're interested in hearing from some of you who have taken the post-1970 four-cylinder path so we can get some more info from you. We're curious as to just what kind of mileage you're getting and if you miss the other half of the engine.
Here's an Ecotec engine wearing a Quad 4 Rods bellhousing to mate the engine to a T5 trans
Here's a T5 connected to a Zetec engine using a Quad 4 Rods bellhousing. Note also the twi
The Zetec crank is already drilled to accept the pilot shaft for a rear-wheel-drive applic
Rex Schimmer's modified runs a Zetec engine and T5 trans, courtesy of a Quad 4 Rods bellho
The Type 9 five-speed manual (oh, alright, the sharp-eyed will have spotted it's a four-sp
This race-ready 2.0L Zetec is available from Ford Racing for USAC Midgets, but would make
The 2.0L DOHC Zetec is available from Ford Racing as a crate engine. The supercharger kit