AutoXR HalfDork
10/23/19 10:53 a.m.

I have a Datsun 1200 thats in need of a motor.   The factory A12 and trans are long gone, finding a front sump 4cyl has proved near impossible. 




 I don't want an LS or a rotary.






06HHR Dork
10/23/19 11:04 a.m.

FWD SR20DE is front sump.  In theory, you can take the sump and crankcase cover off a FWD SR20 and mount it on a rwd version.  RWD may be front sump, but I haven't had one of those to look at.  I may have some spare SR20 sump parts in my garage...  EDIT, just looked at some internet pictures and all variants of the SR20 appear to be front sump.  Bonus points if you get a JDM RWD version with the transmission attached, could be a drop-in to your 1200..

STM317 UltraDork
10/23/19 11:19 a.m.

Ford Lima 2.3 came with front sump pans in the Pintos.

Aftermarket front sump pans are avialable too if you want to open your donor search options up to more common things than a 50 year old econobox.

It looks like Honda B series would be front sump too in a longitudinal application. Also has tons of aftermarket.

Nissan SR20s too I believe. If you want to keep it all in the Datsun/Nissan lineage.

Saron81 Reader
10/23/19 11:31 a.m.

All of the Ecoboost 4s have pretty much flat oil pans. 

AutoXR HalfDork
10/23/19 12:34 p.m.

In reply to STM317 :

Sadly a B series turns the wrong way, otherwise Id have a B16 in a heartbeat.   You have to build a reverse rotation motor to run it. 

_ Dork
10/23/19 12:36 p.m.

Eww B series... those are like old lettuce now.

buzzboy HalfDork
10/23/19 12:38 p.m.
STM317 said:

It looks like Honda B series would be front sump too in a longitudinal application. Also has tons of aftermarket.

The B series spin backwards so that might be a bad idea.

The K is a full sump engine(don't know the correc term here) but the oil pickup/pump is forward so it would take to oil pan mods better in a front sump conversion.

AutoXR HalfDork
10/23/19 12:42 p.m.

Beams 3gs toyota motors seem to be front sump... 

Tom1200 Dork
10/23/19 4:12 p.m.

I've owned a 1200 for the last 35 years and raced it for the last 30...........hence my screen name.

An L-series is a near bolt in and won't require near as much work as an SR20

If you were closer to Vegas I'd give you enough parts to put together a complete motor. If you were driving through Vegas you could stop by my house and take your pick of an A15 or A12.

My extra tranny I'd actually want cash for, but even at that we're talking $500 for a 5 speed.

My recommendation would be to buy a complete rusty B210, 210 or 310 and pull the drivetrain. If you can't find one of those then grab an L or even Z series out of a truck. Worst case you might have swap pans and the oil pickup tube.

A CA18 will also fit.

If you're not already on it, get on

Great looking car by the way............wish mine looked that nice, of course after the first race weekend the paint would be chipped again.


irish44j MegaDork
10/23/19 4:47 p.m.

BMW M42/M44 out of a late e30 or any e36 318i. Cheap, easy to find, robust, and decent power. 

ggarrard Reader
10/23/19 4:51 p.m.

If you’re interested in experimenting with a Datsun L6 I have one in my barn just east of you in Lansdowne, On.   I don’t  recall if it’s complete as it’s been a few years since I swapped motors in my Z, but you’re welcome to try.  

Best way to contact me is via email my username at Rogers dot com



Tom1200 Dork
10/23/19 5:34 p.m.

Bit of history; there was  Datsun 1200 raced in the UK that had a L24 swapped into it. Naturally that will require some firewall surgery along with many other upgrades but it would be really cool. The down side is the L24 motor pretty much weighs as much as a V8. The A-series motor is under 200lbs and a 5 speed only weighs 54lbs.

The thing to be cognoscente of is that the reason the 1200 is so light is that it uses very light (not strong) components:

The H145 rear end won't handle more than about 100ft lbs of torque, the rear end is also very narrow. Going up to an H165 (next size up) rear end may require different wheel offsets or rolling the rear fender lip.  The 510 wagon H190 I use in my car is nearly 3" wider than the standard 1200, I use a very short 20.6 diameter tire and I still had to roll/pound the rear fender lip.

The brakes are just OK for a 68hp car but even when I first raced the car with a stock engine braking from 85 mph down to 45 mph made it clear it needs better brakes. There are some cheap options for moderately better brakes.

My usual recommendation on Ratsun or is A15 bored to 76.5 or 77 mm. 77 mm piston sets are available form SW motorsports in Australia for around  $170 US (the Aus dollar is only worth about $0.70) Add a Weber DGV carb or bike carbs, mild cam (Delta 278) and clean up the ports. This will get you to around 80-90hp at the wheels. While this sounds pathetic it's double the stock output.


ggarrard Reader
10/23/19 9:03 p.m.

Tom... You're right about the weight issue of the L6 engine....  I had my Z blinders on when I read your first post mentioning the L series and only thought of the 6 cylinder block, not the 4  cylinder versions that would be a better fit.  Unfortunately I don’t have any L4s...

Tom1200 Dork
10/23/19 9:19 p.m.

Nothing wrong with the L6 and you're right I didn't specify. Also as I said it was done back in the day so it would be a cool modification. The price is also right.

tr8todd SuperDork
10/23/19 9:43 p.m.

How about flipping oil pan around 180* and modifying the oil pickup tube.  Just a thought.  Looking at a pan here in the garage and the bolt holes all line up normal and flipped 180*. Must be others out there.  Another thought if the bolts don’t line up would be to make a spacer with dual bolt patterns like on wheel adapters.

wspohn Dork
10/24/19 10:30 a.m.

If you don't mind venturing into the modern era, both LE5 and LNF Ecotecs have front sump.  Outputs start at 177 bhp and go to 290 for the turbo LNF, or anything up to 500 with mods.  The torque should be enough to turn a Datsun chassis into a pretzel, unless it is in particularly unrusted condition.

Sure would make an unlikely sleeper, especially if you went conservative on external mods so that it just looked like an old Datsun with modern rubber. Right in line with the famous electric drag 1200!

Robbie MegaDork
11/4/19 12:33 p.m.

Most newer Nissan stuff is front sump, like ka24 sr20 ca18, etc. Even the v6 and v8 stuff looks similar.

I'm having the opposite problem, looking at a potential swaps for a 1600 roadster and it appears to be a rear sump motor stock.

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