Jay Leno Checks out VW Beetle with RX-7 Rotary Engine

Jay Leno Checks out VW Beetle with RX-7 Rotary Engine 4 photos
Photo: screenshot from Youtube
Jay Leno Checks out VW Beetle with RX-7 Rotary EngineJay Leno Checks out VW Beetle with RX-7 Rotary EngineJay Leno Checks out VW Beetle with RX-7 Rotary Engine
Rotary engines will eventually make a comeback - we trust Mazda enough to tell you that. But for now, there aren't any production cars that have one installed. And that kind of makes a 1966 VW Beetle with the turbocharged Wankel from the RX-7 even more unique.
Engine swaps are one of the ultimate expressions of automotive passion. It takes a lot of blood sweat and tears to stuff a V8 into a little Miata.

This one isn't that kind of swap because Wankel engines are pretty compact, to begin with. However, Volkswagen has nothing to do with the trademark Japanese creation. It's like taking Leonardo's glider and putting the impulse drive from USS Enterprise on the back.

This has to be the cheapest, less finished projects we've ever seen on Jay Leno's Garage. It's also the first time an engine swap of the ratty kind caught his attention. It's what the internet wants, as shows from Motor Trend or Matt Farah's Smoking Tire are all about the journey, not the destination.

Engine swaps for Beetles are kind of standard, since the original unit that came with the Bug doesn't put out much power. But most people stick with the boxer configuration, borrowing stuff from Porsche or even Subaru. But the rotary engine from the Mazda RX-7 doesn't even have pistons in the conventional sense.

The decision to go for a Mazda engine was purely based on budget and the fact that other people had tried it with N/A Wankels. But this one is a turbo and it even has an intercooler piped all the way to the front.

If you combine this configuration with a fairly stock body, you end up with a Beetle that will surprise many and even infuriate a few. With an estimated power output between 250hp to 280hp, the Bug will run the quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds, proving that you can do a lot more with a lighter chassis than you can a big motor.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Mihnea Radu
Mihnea Radu profile photo

Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories