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Budget K Series Swap - Low-Buck K-Swap: Part 1

Driving down the cost of Honda's K Series engine transplant.

Text By , Photography by , Hasport Performance

More than a decade's passed since the first K Series engine made its way into the fifth-generation Civic's engine bay. Like any Honda swap, the transplant was at first entirely custom. Engine and transmission mounts were manufactured from scratch, the wiring conversion was sorted out without the help of any premade sub-harnesses, and things like axles, throttle cables, and clutch lines were all sourced not from the aftermarket but from a hodgepodge of Honda's own parts bins and the wrecking yard. Early K Series swaps weren't so much prohibitively expensive as they were technologically daunting. Like earlier B Series and H Series engine transplants, though, the K Series flourished and the aftermarket stepped in. All of this has led to what's become among the most costly of all Honda engine swaps, often eclipsing the $8,000 barrier, and that's without even calculating any Type R fanciness.

K Series engine swaps have been expensive for long enough, though—a transplant otherwise reserved for bourgeoisie tuners, or those not afraid to brandish a pocket full of credit cards and alter their credit history for the next decade. Honda engine mount manufacturer Hasport knows this, which is exactly what prompted them to see just how cheap all of this could be done, and then let you know everything they found out.

Picking the Engine and Transmission

Driving down the cost of any K Series engine swap starts with choosing the right engine. But first, you've got to understand the two different kinds: performance i-VTEC and economy i-VTEC. Performance i-VTEC engines feature variable valve lift on both cams (VTEC), variable valve timing on the intake side (VTC), and some of the best-flowing cylinder heads around. They're also the most expensive K Series engines money can buy. Economy i-VTEC engines also feature variable valve lift but only on the intake side, variable valve timing on the intake side but for the sake of low emissions, and cylinder heads that lend themselves well to the engine's pre-VTEC, 12-valve earth-loving mode. As you'd expect, they're among the cheapest of the K Series bunch.

But don't let that discourage you. Despite whatever emissions-mindedness at the expense of more power Honda's come up with, early economy i-VTEC engines still yield between 160 and 166 hp and up to 162 lb-ft of torque, which is a marked improvement over whatever 125hp-or-less turd you've currently got. Horsepower doesn't vary a whole lot between available engines, but only 2.4L versions are capable of this kind of torque. At about $400 and with more than a million of them out there, the Accord's K24A4 all of a sudden makes a whole lot of sense and is more than $1,000 cheaper than even the lowliest of performance i-VTEC engines.

There are also two different transmission styles to choose from, which can be distinguished by how exactly they bolt into the chassis. Five- and six-speed configurations can be found in either, but only one style offers the highly affordable '03-07 Accord gearbox. It's no six-speed, but you can pick one up for as little as $150. Manual transmission-equipped Accords are in short supply so be patient while hunting yours down.

World's Cheapest K Series Swap - Finale, Part 2

Picking The Mounts

There are more K Series engine swap mounts available for the fifth-generation Civic than just about any other chassis. But only Hasport offers mounts that are compatible with the Accord's and like-minded gearboxes that feature unique mounting points when compared to, say, an RSX transmission. Its EGK3 kit works with any '03-07 Accord, '06-08 Accord Euro R, or '04-08 TSX transmission, but only the Accord transmission has anything at all to do with you not spending a wad of money.

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