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Old 16th November 2022, 10:07   #1
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Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Hi all, I have an exciting project in hand and looking for suggestions from all members. Let's do it together

I have a 80hp 186Nm 2.5L Chevrolet Tavera diesel engine with all required accessories - rear axle, radiator, gearbox, ECU, etc. Basically its from a scrapped vehicle which has done more than 300k km on the ODO. The engine is in very good condition and mechanic suggested it can easily do 100k km without any major service. I am looking for a suitable donor vehicle which can utilize the 80hp power and I have the following options.
  1. Suzuki Gypsy - 80hp 103Nm 1.3L Petrol engine; Not sure if the engine bay is big enough to hold the 2.5L engine; same power, but almost double the torque
  2. Force GAMA - 60bhp 158Nm 2.6L Diesel engine; Just remove the force logo for Mercedes G-wagon looks ; difficult to find one below 2L rupees in Tamilnadu
  3. Mahindra Bolero - 64bhp 180Nm 2.5L Turbo Diesel engine; available for ~1.5L and easy to find
  4. TATA Estate - 1.9L 68hp 118Nm(not sure) Diesel engine; very hard to find
  5. Hindustan Contessa - very hard to find any
  6. Tata 207, bolero camper, etc., Any white board pick-up truck with 4 doors and 5 seats for less than 2L rupees
Ruled out cars,
  1. Fiat Padmini
  2. HM Ambassador
  3. Mahindra Armada
  4. Mahindra Marshal
  5. Mahindra Willy & Jeep
All my searches are limited to olx.in and within Tamilnadu location. If anyone have any leads within the location, please reach out to me. I am looking for low cost cars only, in simple terms the cheapest used car with a rigid rear axle which should not be more than 10% heavier than tavera and the power of the donor vehicle should be less than 70hp.

I don't know how much difference a 80hp engine will do in a ~65hp car interms of performance. Once the engine swap is done and if it runs well, I'll do engine remap to take it close to 100hp and reduce the weight by throwing out unwanted bulky parts. It will be a cheap fun project with a decade old diesel engine.

I would like to understand the difficulties with respect to fabrication, interfaces, documentation and reliability as this is very new for me.
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Old 16th November 2022, 10:42   #2
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

First question is - apart from the 2L you have budgeted for the donor vehicle, you would also need to factor in other parts, labor and even further furnishing of the vehicle about paint etc. Your total cost can touch 5L. Are you ok with this ?

Having said that, the Gypsy is ruled out. The Gama is old. You could look for a Tata mobile - the single cab version. Or one of the older Mahindra pickups.

Reg your other question, the 86hp/186Nm will be in the range of the Mahindra engines from early 2000's. Or the Sumo TCIC.

Before you proceed - are you really going to use such a vehicle, or just excited at the prospect of using the spare engine that has come your way. After spending the time, effort and money, the vehicle should be a garage decoration piece.
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Old 16th November 2022, 11:29   #3
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Whatever vehicle you get for cheap - its going to need a lot of parts to make it road worthy apart from engine and drive train. So with that in mind Gypsy and Bolero has better parts availability.

Gypsy - Diesel will ruin it`s spirit.
Bolero - M&M`s engines are good enough but on older non ECU models you could attempt a swap.

I hope you are not adamant at swapping the engine because in this process if you come across a vehicle with decent engine, just restore it as is and enjoy it.
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Old 16th November 2022, 12:48   #4
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Any reason for considering the Contessa but leaving out the Ambassador? Considering both were made by HM and used Isuzu diesel motors and that the Tavera is actually an Isuzu Panther that GM sold in India, wouldn't the Ambassador be a good choice as well? Not to mention easier to find than the Contessa? I was never a fan of the Ambassador but if you look at today's landscape, every road is filled with Sonets Cretas Altroz's and Balenos all trying to look bling with their DRLs and touchscreens. An old rounded Ambassador would fit nicely and offer a much needed break from the sea of similarly designed cars that you find on the roads today I feel. Perhaps lower the Ambassador, fit one of those highway horns that give off government vehicle vibes and enjoy the Tavera motor (is it also something that GM borrowed from Isuzu?)
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Old 16th November 2022, 16:34   #5
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

What is the weight of the engine, and the track width of the rear axle?
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Old 16th November 2022, 18:56   #6
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Pls understand that you can’t just plonk any engine into your car. Your car will not remain road legal. You can change the engine, if necessary, with another one from the same manufacturer, and then have your RC and subsequently your insurance updated accordingly. But you can’t put, say, a Mahindra engine into a Tata car. At least not legally. In your case, since GM has shut shop in India, your hands are pretty much tied.

Do think hard before you proceed with the engine change. In case you are flagged down and it is found that the engine number mentioned on the engine does not match with the RC, police will treat it as a case of theft.
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Old 16th November 2022, 20:34   #7
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shreyans_Jain View Post
Do think hard before you proceed with the engine change. In case you are flagged down and it is found that the engine number mentioned on the engine does not match with the RC, police will treat it as a case of theft.
OT question but in what scenario (other than when there's a genuinely possible case of a theft car they are investigating) would the police ask an owner/driver to stop, open his hood and take an effort to go check the engine number on an aging vehicle with what's on the RC?

The more relevant question as @condor rightly put it - does the OP really have the enthusiasm and appetite to take up the efforts and cost just because he's got a spare engine available?

Last edited by ninjatalli : 16th November 2022 at 20:36.
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Old 16th November 2022, 20:52   #8
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
OT question but in what scenario (other than when there's a genuinely possible case of a theft car they are investigating) would the police ask an owner/driver to stop, open his hood and take an effort to go check the engine number on an aging vehicle with what's on the RC?
A lot of scenarios which may not necessarily be in your hands - accident, insurance claim, overenthusiastic police person with suspicion on documents produced during adhock checking (though not on the spot) etc etc.

Another question which springs to mind is - even if you find a donor vehicle (non-tavera), it won't be as simple as dropping the engine and transmission; would it? Mount points, space management for the engine-gearbox combo, exhaust routing, firewall modifications, radiator placement etc. In the end the car may not be road worthy at all. Besides, can such modified cars be re-registered in the first place?

Just a thought - Why not look for a Tavera body to easy the pain and do mods on it to suit your style/taste?

As others have mentioned, do give it a good hard thought before proceeding.
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Old 16th November 2022, 21:19   #9
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToThePoint View Post
A lot of scenarios which may not necessarily be in your hands - accident, insurance claim, overenthusiastic police person with suspicion on documents produced during adhock checking (though not on the spot) etc etc.
None of those ever will materialize into a cop checking the number on the engine on the road. Realistically i.e.; am not talking hypothetically.

My original point/question was to highlight that the point @Shreyas_Jain made, although relevant, wasn't the main concern the OP needs to address primarily. Anyway, I'll end this OT track from my side

Last edited by ninjatalli : 16th November 2022 at 21:20.
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Old 17th November 2022, 00:15   #10
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
OT question but in what scenario (other than when there's a genuinely possible case of a theft car they are investigating) would the police ask an owner/driver to stop, open his hood and take an effort to go check the engine number on an aging vehicle with what's on the RC?
It has happened to me a couple of times.

Odds increase when the car is old and especially when that old car travels out of state.
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Old 17th November 2022, 13:12   #11
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re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

The best use of this isuzu engine would be in a diesel generator/small fishing boat/another tavera (and update the info in the RC book). Our rules and regulations do not encourage swaps with a non original motor anymore, used to be a thing in the past.

If legality is not an issue, meaning you are using it as a project vehicle off the road then from the list of possible candidates I would choose the contessa, but I'd prefer the abassador 1.8isz over contessa if that was an option.

A gypsy is too good to be butchered to make home for a tavera engine and the rest of the lot has decent engines for their respective roles.
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Old 18th November 2022, 12:59   #12
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Hello.

I used to be part of India's leading student Formula SAE team (Camber Racing). We were assigned the task of creating a vehicle from the ground up. Hence I feel I can contribute to your question.
What you intend to do is a massive engineering exercise, so I'll list down what priorities you should have in mind before doing anything further.

Legally - I think routine checks on engine numbers are rare. You should be able to do whatever you want with the donor vehicle after transferring it to your name

Technically - An engine swap is a BIG DEAL. Make no bones about this. This is a project that will take 2 months or more to complete, and you will need the best fabricator you can find, because it's not going to be easy at all.

1. Engine mounts - What are the locations of the donor vehicle engine mounts, and where are the mounts located on the Tavera engine?
2. Drivetrain - The entire gearbox and drivetrain assembly will have to be dropped in order to transplant a new gearbox. If the power ratings are the same, I strongly suggest that you use the gearbox available in the donor car. Even then, you will have to do a lot of work as the engine's output bell housing will have to be adapted to the donor car's gearbox input (whatever it is). If the Tavera was RWD (I don't know) even the donor car must be RWD, as FWD engines usually have a transaxle to drive the front wheels.
3. Electronics - The Tavera was a pretty basic vehicle but check if ANYTHING in the Tavera was hooked to the ECU that is not with you. E.g. if the Tavera had ABS then those sensors would need to be used here as well.

All said and done, what is your motive behind this swap? At best you are looking at a marginal increase in power in the old donor vehicle. What is pushing you to do this?
If you're doing it just to get your hands dirty then by all means you should do it, we at tBHP will do all we can to help you on your journey.
But if you're hoping to recreate a vehicle that is as fuss-free as the donor vehicle and then use it, then I'm afraid that is very unlikely. You will need to go through a ton of headache to make sure the engine even fits inside the donor car (ideally you want to create a CAD model of the donor car's engine bay and some model of the Tavera's engine to see if the engine can actually fit inside the donor car).

Do not purchase a donor vehicle without thoroughly understanding if you can fit this engine in that. Read other engine swap threads for other cars and see how other people have done it. There is a ton of information available on the internet.

About the remap - it kinda defeats the purpose if you have to remap a swapped engine to get more performance. Hypothetically you could get the Bolero and remap that and save yourself a big headache. Why only this engine?

Do not be tempted just by having this Tavera engine in your possession.

I myself found a W123 240D engine for sale and thought of doing the exact same thing. But it's a project for people with time and experience on their hands.

Either way, do let us know if you intend to proceed with this, this should be really interesting if it happens.

Just wanted to add that you can find really interesting things on OLX if you know where to look and are determined. Apart from the OM616 engine I've mentioned above, I've also come across an inline-6 Volvo bus engine and an MWM-Greaves V8 diesel engine for sale that was once used in some defence vehicle.

Last edited by navin : 18th November 2022 at 17:24. Reason: merged and edited.
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Old 18th November 2022, 23:45   #13
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Re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

I congratulate you on the initiative in the exciting direction. Please start out with an open mind keeping all the possibilities in view. There is a huge uncertainty regarding the engine swap because of the lack of adequate frequency of previous attempts.

I too have a similar dream in mind. I dream of plonking a big engine in my Figo.

My worst deterrent was the fact that, on event of an accident involving a fatality, one is liable to reimburse the entire amount the deceased would have hypothetically earned throughout his life. For example, if the last ITR filed by the deceased is 10 lakhs and the number of years of service left is 25 years, one must pay 2.5 crores. Further, the speed cameras are getting set up on our highways which would levy thousands in fine for every few seconds one crosses 100 kmph. This would make fast cars pretty limited in getting experienced to the level one would be aspiring to experience them after forking out a fortune. These in addition to the condition of our roads had made me sway towards slow and steady off road vehicles nowadays. My corny dreams ooze of images with me driving a crew cab Volvo FMX.


I wish you all success.

Last edited by COMMUTER : 18th November 2022 at 23:50.
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Old 18th November 2022, 23:45   #14
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Re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Hello All, thank you for your time and valuable comments,

Quote:
Originally Posted by condor View Post
Before you proceed - are you really going to use such a vehicle, or just excited at the prospect of using the spare engine that has come your way. After spending the time, effort and money, the vehicle should be a garage decoration piece.
It is mix of both, I have done an electric bike on my own and it is running without any problem. I want to explore ICE segment as well and improve my knowledge in the process. Now I happened to find a Tavera engine and thought using it in a GAMA specifically which is even a basic version of the turbo engine I have. In the process I thought getting additional suggestions from wider audience which found to be a good decision as I'm getting lot good suggestions over the last couple of days. I am indeed aware of the additional cost along with the donor car. But it should not cost me 3Lak for engine swap if I'm not wrong. There are some excellent GAMA available for 2lakhs which does not even require paint touch up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosfactor View Post
Gypsy - Diesel will ruin it`s spirit.
Bolero - M&M`s engines are good enough but on older non ECU models you could attempt a swap.

I hope you are not adamant at swapping the engine because in this process if you come across a vehicle with decent engine, just restore it as is and enjoy it.
Regarding the Gypsy, I don't get the attachment with respect to petrol engines. If I'm not wrong I will be improving the off road capabilities by doubling the torque. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Yes, if it is bolero then it will be pre 2005 version only. I'm not going to touch the 75hp versions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IshaanIan View Post
Any reason for considering the Contessa but leaving out the Ambassador?
Only a very few RWD cars are available in India and out of which only ambassador and contessa can take this engine. Personally I do not find the ambassador as striking as the contessa, so not keeping amby in the list

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
What is the weight of the engine, and the track width of the rear axle?
Estimated engine + GB weight is ~300kg and the width ~1500mm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shreyans_Jain View Post
You can change the engine, if necessary, with another one from the same manufacturer, and then have your RC and subsequently your insurance updated accordingly. But you canít put, say, a Mahindra engine into a Tata car. At least not legally.

Do think hard before you proceed with the engine change. In case you are flagged down and it is found that the engine number mentioned on the engine does not match with the RC, police will treat it as a case of theft.
Many diesel swapped gypsy and Mahindra jeep with powerful engines are available on sale in OLX with endorsement in RC as well. Is there any recent notification that is preventing the engine swaps? At some point of time all these engines has cleared the emission regulations and are road legal, so what is stopping the engine swap and endorsement?

I'm not going to start any work until I'm clear on both technical and regulation part

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToThePoint View Post
Besides, can such modified cars be re-registered in the first place?
Engine swap endorsement option isn't available anymore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sankar View Post
Our rules and regulations do not encourage swaps with a non original motor anymore, used to be a thing in the past.
Please share any article or notification regarding the engine swap limitations, this would be helpful for many in future

Quote:
Originally Posted by ads295 View Post
Technically - An engine swap is a BIG DEAL. Make no bones about this. This is a project that will take 2 months or more to complete, and you will need the best fabricator you can find, because it's not going to be easy at all.

Do not be tempted just by having this Tavera engine in your possession.
Honestly I'm very much tempted to use the engine in a light weight GAMA which is very basic without any fancy sensors and ECU's. So I want to use a semi modern engine which is capable of remapping in a pretty basic GAMA for fun and a practical car. I do understand the engineering difficulties of the swapping an engine, but no one has ever worked it in reverse like did with an engine in hand to my knowledge. This will be a one of a kind project in India during the transition to EV. I do not know if any future generation will touch a project like this that too with a diesel engine. I want to create a history.

On a general note regarding the engineering and fabrication, I am pretty confident the technicians I know can do anything thrown at them. I myself have experience doing so on a two wheeler - team-bhp link (My Electric Discover | I converted my Bajaj Discover 125 to electric with a lithium-ion battery). I know two wheeler and four wheelers are completely different ball game, but I know what to do and where to do the same. I'm pretty confident on the technical front. Only thing which is not clear yet is the RC endorsement part. If the paper part is clear I would kick start the project, mostly with the GAMA.
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Old 19th November 2022, 00:46   #15
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Re: Best Donor vehicle for Tavera 2.5L BS3 Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by efuture View Post
Regarding the Gypsy, I don't get the attachment with respect to petrol engines. If I'm not wrong I will be improving the off road capabilities by doubling the torque. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Yes, if it is bolero then it will be pre 2005 version only. I'm not going to touch the 75hp versions.
.
A friend of mine had one such contraption of a Gypsy, it had a much smaller diesel engine fitted to it than what you have. It really did not like it , the lightness of gypsy was gone and along with it the reliability, it started to break things like the prop shaft pinion, repeatedly. Selling it off was the only option in the end.

Gypsy in its stock form benefits from its lightness, especially off-road.
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