Scott Lear
Scott Lear
6/8/09 11:59 a.m.

If you’ve taken a peek under the hood of any car built in the past decade, odds are you were greeted by a great big expanse of plastic bearing the manufacturer’s logo smack-dab in its middle. These covers serve a variety of purposes—hiding the potentially dirty bits of the drivetrain from the blissfully ignorant masses, for example—but one of their primary functions is packaging.

If nothing else, a big plastic cover gives the impression that it’s shielding an equally large complex of performance equipment, privately chugging away. If you can’t see the pavement when the hood is up, then certainly it’s because every square inch of space in the engine bay is being used to generate power, right?

A few quick turns of a wrench, however, can remove these plastic covers and peel back the facade, and doing so often invites disappointment. If the plastic veil is stripped away and air is found underneath, our natural response is to want to do something about it. Ideally, we’d prefer to pop the hood and see a massive lump that threatens to dent the engine compartment from the inside thanks to its sheer imposing volume.

Aaron Couper isn’t the first person to put a bigger engine in his car, but his story is a twist on the standard monster V8 shoehorn story. After all, big is relative when your starting point is a diminutive 1961 Austin-Healey Sprite. For Aaron, there was no better choice for his Sprite than the robust 3.8-liter Jaguar straight-six.

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