Let’s face it, we didn’t expect The Fast and The Furious guys to go against the grain to this extent and actually whack a Japanese engine into something so legendary as a Ford Mustang. That’s right, they really did do the engine swap, and it ripped! Want to know the story as to how it came about?
Watch the video below where Senior Producer of the first three films Craig Lieberman and Sean Morris, one of the car’s mechanics, talk about how it came to be.
Originally, the car was destined to have a twin-turbo RB26 from an R34 Nissan Skyline, but as soon as they attempted to squash it into the engine bay of the Mustang, they realised it wouldn’t fit. Apparently, the Mustang fought against its forced forced-induction, so back they went through the tedious job of fitting it back into the shell of the R34 and finding a single-turbo RB unit instead.
This meant they’d have a fully working R34 instead of just a shall that would be worth nothing, and Morris was able to hook them up with a cheaper block. They also bought a cheap Garrett 60-1 turbo that was easy to fit and repair if needed, which was mounted higher up in the engine bay to not only to give it better fitment, but also to make it more visible once then cameras were on it.
Morris was keen to make sure he was clear that the car’s engine was an RB26, and not an SR20 which a lot of fans believe to be the engine swapped into the Mustang. The reason behind this was due to the car it came from in the movie. Han’s Nissan Silvia S15 ‘Mona Lisa’ was the donor, and while the Silvia does come stock with an SR20, the story goes that it had already been swapped out for the RB in question.
It made 340 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque to the wheels according to Edmunds, a lot more than a stock Skyline, and on a conservative tune (it is a movie car after all), but he expects that the car had plenty of potential left locked away. And while the hero car, one of many Mustangs used to shoot the movie, never had the chance to trade paint, it was perfectly able to drift with a good set of suspension set up for such things.
Despite this, the drifting on-screen was actually done by Mustangs powered by 403 cubic-inch V8s. The reason? They’re far more reliable and easier to repair than a turbocharged motor. Unfortunately, those incredible sounds of a turbocharger RB26 were dubbed over the sounds of the real V8.