Piston Slap: To Love an Italian…Turbo Diesel?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap to love an italian 8230 turbo diesel

Don writes:

I have acquired two VM Motori RA 428 engines that were pulled from new Chrysler minivans in 2009. The van were converted to electric drivetrain in LA. I want to install them in a pickup but because they were never installed in a truck from the factory, it will have to be a custom job.

The wiring harness and ECU, motor mounts, and transmission are the TBD parts. My question is would you do it?

The total cost to install it has to be less than $5K to make it worth it. I paid $1500 for the engine and could resell them in Europe for $3K each and just go buy a diesel truck.

Sajeev answers:

Well! That’s a question ya don’t hear on a regular basis!

Your 5k budget is doable, provided you make items like the engine mounts/chassis wiring integration/fuel system/etc. yourself, handling all such fabrication roadblocks…by yourself. With your own (free) labor. Perhaps you can make it happen. If so, I look forward to seeing your progress. If you cannot, give up now and sell the “Motoris” for that aforementioned profit.

Which leads to the big problem: questions arising from your need to assign a dollar value to this insane project.

Love is necessary when Frankensteining such a machine, any machine, in this manner. Love for the donor truck. Or the engine. Or the need to waste your life (sorry) by fabricating stuff when you could probably do something more worthwhile with that effort. Like volunteering your talents to a charitable organization, or just yelling with everyone else during a football game. Either way.

Why is the Piston Slap guy so douchey-harsh? Because if you are doing this for the money, odds are every would-be buyer’s offer shall be quite the insult. Even worse, they might be right.

Your move, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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4 of 15 comments
  • Battles Battles on Aug 19, 2013

    Get them crated up and eBay'd, you'd have to be very skilled and very resourceful with lots of free (spare and zero cost) time to see this project finished.. Are they even certified in the US? I mean, can you put them in a US vehicle and get them registered or is that not an issue? I can't find any mention of a US market application for them. By European standards, it's not a brilliant diesel engine.

    • See 1 previous
    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Aug 19, 2013

      Certification isn't much of an issue in the US except in locations that have emissions tests. Apart from that, nobody really cares what kind of wacky engine swaps you do, hence the nigh-universal "put an LSx in it!" rally cry in these parts.

  • Optixtruf Optixtruf on Aug 19, 2013

    Another thing to consider would be the validation time. Can you get up an running for 5k? Maybe, if your time is worth that. But it will still have to be tested and validated, and there may be parts that will need to be replaced/changed, etc. that will also be headaches in terms of ti me and money after the initial build. It's the small stuff that gets you; for example, motivation drops quickly after a motor mount needs a redesign/rebuild after the initial drive cracks/breaks them from the engine load and nvh. Just a thought.

  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……
  • Michael Eck With those mods, I wonder if it's tuned...
  • Mike-NB2 I'm not a Jeep guy, but I really, really like the 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe concept.