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Could this be our answer to an engine swap?


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So, I have found a very possible and very interesting engine swap after looking for quite awhileBTW I am still looking and researching. I present to you the 1.4L cylinder out of a Chevy Cruze.

Let me first caveat this by saying I have NO problem with my Chery engine. But it seems to have only so much potential and there is not enough technical support and R&D out there. Considering there are thousands and thousands of Chery 1100s out in the world (mostly in other countries) we should have WAY more options than we do.

The problem I DO have with the Chery 1100 is the transmission it is bolted too. Even if you BORE, Supercharge, Nitrous this engine the tranny just too weak. I would be more inclined to do motor work if there was a stronger gearbox we could strap to it. My experience has shown me the output shaft is weakthats a stock motor. If you power it up what is next to goprobably clutches.

NOW--Why the 1.4L turbo out of a Chevy Cruze?


They are plentiful (fleet car motor) and can be had for relatively cheap ($500-$2000 depending on condition and if it comes with or without the turbo).

They are compact and lightweight--all aluminum block and cylinder head.

They are decently powered (138hp) and even better torque (148 ft/lbs)!!! Most smaller engines, to include ATV/UTV gas powered engines, the hp numbers are always higher than torque numbers. I care about TORQUE! In this case torque is the king over hp and it peaks at 2500 rpm!!! This motor was specifically designed to produce low to mid-range torque.

Also, keep in mind factory engines are designed to be economical. This engine could be easily tuned or a bigger turbo installed to go well over 200 hp.

Now, the most IMPORTANT partputting the power to the ground:

The stock Cruze comes with either a six speed manual or an automatic/hydramatic six speedwith manual shift capability!!! Now, I know what you are thinking. We need a low first gear. Now, I cant find anything online about the Troopers first gear ratio. I called Joyner and I am waiting for a call back. If anyone knows please post. My best guess is its around 5:1???

More intriguingfirst gear in the manual of the Chevy Cruze is 4.27 which is quite low in comparison to most cars being in the 3:1 range. EVEN BETTER the automatic comes with a first gear ratio of 4.58 to one. That is the lowest factory first gear ratio I have found in any FWD 4 cylinder car so far. If you know of one lower please share. Now that may not be low enough for us, but when you keep in mind WE ARE DOUBLING OUR TORQUE it should offset the need for a granny gear. Last, it comes with the manual shift option. This means you can just push the lever forward to shift and back to downshiftNO CLUTCH!

Now this is just a birds eye view of this potentially sweet drivetrain swap. Outside of the normal custom intake/exhaust, mounts, rewiring of any engine swap here are some of the bigger things that need to be figured out/answered:

How do we lock up the differential in the gearbox differential like the trooper is? The trooper has basically a spool (fully locked). In RWD buggies Joyner turns the motor and tranny 90 degrees and opens the differential (I hear some models are full locked).

How would auto/hydramatic transmission handle the stress of offroad?

Will technology get in the way of making things simple? Nowadays if you disconnect a seat belt sensor the car wont start (exaggerating herea little). How hard will it be to simplify the ignition system and get the electronics for the transmission of in harmony?

Interested to hear your guys thoughts and concerns

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I like where you are going with this!

Do you have any pictures of said motor and transmissions?

I would assume that being a newer, and domestic ( not chinese ) motor we could use the computer port to find any wiring issues and delete or overcome them.

Shoot, 100+ hp would double the cherry 1100...so the transmission gearing should be much less of an issue.

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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here's some photo I dug up to answer your question,

[att32 achment=1583:32 teeth.jpg]post-90-0-50063500-1478939457_thumb.jpg

32 divided by 14 = 2.285 gear ratio, my under standing is this engine/transmission was straight out of the gear box to the wheels, so our top speed is cut by 2.285 and our torque upped by that much. I also think that our 5th gear is an add-on because of the differential gear down.


PS if you get going on this, expect a visit or 2


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Joyner USA never called me back on our granny gear. Anyone know what ratio our granny gear is?

I will make contact will some wiring company's this week to see if they can make a standalone harness for this and how much.

I am only hearing great thing about this motor for how small it is.

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So I made an offer on a donor car, but it was turned down. Still shopping down.

A little more research:

The motor is about 50 more pounds than our chery 1100 and the auto tranny is about 100 lbs heavier so total weight gain is 150lbs. This isn't too bad, but with the extra weight and power the chassis and suspension will need to be beefed up. Additionally I am concerned with the rear differential strength.

Recently the portal boxes for utv's has caught my attention. They drastically reduce the forces put on a drivetrain. Of course as many of you know they don't make one for the Trooper and probably never will. They may be willing to offer a portal box for the new renli 1500 depending on sales. This we could possibly adapt to our troopers.

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Chery 1100=80kg/176lbs

Ecotec 1.4l w/turbo=107.5kg/237lbs

Chery 1500=110kg/242lbs

As you can see its lightwe than the engine in renli 1500. The tranny in the chevy cruze is about 80lbs heavier than our TINY little 5 speed. Besides infinite gearing, the number main reason popo, can am and arctic cat sick with the cvt is their low weight and low cost to build. The weak link being a big rubber band is putting all the power to the ground. We want a bigger/stronger transmission its gonna be heavier.

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  • 1 month later...

I looked up some of the specs on this car and the engine and trans. The car weights between 3,011 and 3,475lbs. I don't think there will be any worries about the auto trans holding up when you compare the difference between a t2 and the cruze no matter how you use it. Also the horsepower this great little engine puts out without the turbo would be enough of a reason for the swap let alone when the turbo gets in the picture. The specs I saw the on the 1.4 said 158hp with the turbo in the 2016 models they didn't say what the torque was in the article I read but it stands to reason it would go up too. I am going to look into this with great interest because I have been thinking about the ecotec for along time but could not find an auto trans that hooked to one. Thanks 2scoops this is some great info.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Some issues we will encounter with this engine: 

Electronic throttle control 

How to lock up the tranny. Welding the tranny diff (transaxle) together would probably work

Would need shifter and linkage

Having a whole donor car would be the way to go. 

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  • 4 years later...

At almost 5 years I would have to say that's an understatement. I don't know what the outcome ended up, however I have a guy I know that I need to meet, my buddy says he has a 2300 ford in a T2 Joyner. I know what you can do with the 2.3 Ford, they use to graft them into VW buggies and Baja Bugs in the day when air cooled ruled off road. I assume the Reeper is a later year variant after Joyner USA folded?  I just bought my T2 in January after the wife's used $17,000 2019 CanAm 4seat 1000R  started it's life as a shop rat the second day we had it. It's not really that bad just a combination of bad luck and timing, after it goes into the shop I use mid April, it should be a pretty decent getter.  When it came to a UTV for me, I decided there were only two choices: Joyner, or Tomcar. As a retired mechanic who has done some interesting custom work, the car powertrain of the Joyner is a no-brainer. And as a Veteran the military background of the TomCar has it's appeal.   TomCar was founded by a veteran who served in the Middle Eastern Theater and considered the reliability of the common UTVs on the market dismal. They just plain look rugged too, saw a couple in Quartzsite while we were there.  My thought on a re-power leans toward a Mazda rotary, they're fairly lightweight, can make ungodly amounts of power, and being able to hit 22,000 rpm takes care of the top end problem from the super low gearing the T2 has, but I don't know if I want to drive a T2 over 100 mph.

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It was my pleasure, Rebel.  I had to go look up the Reeper to find they are different from the T2 quite a bit. I see on the site that the Reeper is an 812cc Chery engine. to me that means it should be fairly easy to upgrade your engine by going to the same engine as the T2, the Chery 1100. They're available on Ebay new  and complete.  I don't know for sure,  but I would imagine the 1100 will bolt to the same transmission. Where you could run into problems though is length, logically like Geos the 4 cylinder is longer and the  length could prove problematic.

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Not a bad looking rig, Rebel. You would think with as many of these engines as there are in the states in various different Joyners, Oreions, and whatever else has the Chery 1100 there would be performance parts available like cams etc. .  I'm sure we could send our cams to Somebody like Isky or Crower and have them reground to a more aggressive profile. From what I have read they don't turbocharge well, but can be supercharged and respond better to supercharging.  I made my living as a mechanic for years, and a parts guy before that, so I have to wonder what other parts will actually work in these engines. I haven't been in deep sand like dunes in my T2 yet, but I am interested in how it's going to do, sand may turn out to be the terrain that slows me down. the wife and kids all want to go to Sand Mountain, but we don't have paddles. I think the Mongrels on my machine might work ok in sand, but I don't know about the tires on the wife's machine for sand. Sand Mountain is nothing compared to the Algodones Dunes where I used to run in the 90s, but it is all blow-sand and it may mean paddles are a necessity.


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