Piston Slap: Ease of Right Hand Drive Conversion?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap ease of right hand drive conversion

Sure, why not?

Jeremy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Greetings (again) from Australia. I’ve got a question regarding converting from left- to right-hand-drive. No idea if you’re the right person to send this to (you could do worse – SM) but I’ll send it anyway.

My question is this – is it (relatively) easier converting a mid- or rear-engined car from LHD to RHD? My very limited understanding is that, aside from things like the dash and trim that would need to be made, the biggest technical problem is where to feed the steering column, as it’s generally got a nice path through/under the engine/ancillaries etc etc. So would it be theoretically easier if the engine wasn’t there in the first place?

I’m assuming that things like the pedal box etc are easier to shift over.

This all came to my head looking at the new Ford GT, and lamenting on the fact that even if I had the money, I doubt I’d ever see one in our part of the world. That makes me sad.

Take care,


Sajeev answers:

From what I’ve seen while upgrading my RHD Ford Sierra with engine/transmission/suspension components from LHD vehicles available stateside, the engine’s location doesn’t matter. Cars are modular, especially those with steering (rack) and chassis (subframe?) parts specifically engineered for RHD markets. The location of the engine bay on the body doesn’t matter.

Steering columns, shafts and boxes/racks are never in the way of an engine, they mount to one side and the engine’s in the center. The hard part is making or possibly procuring right hand drive conversion parts that mirror the LHD ones.

Since the new Ford GT is far from a Ford-based initiative, odds are it uses steering, suspension and maybe even chassis components previously designed, tested and road legal in another life. This saves time and money, the last Ford GT was full of screwball parts: Focus steering column and engine air filters, Econoline inside door releases, signal lights from the 2001-2002 Cougar headlight assembly, etc. Granted this new GT is far more expensive, it’s probably far more bespoke.

But odds are the steering rack is made by a third-party that also offers a RHD counterpart. And it’s designed to bolt into the same place as a LHD steering rack. Probably.

Now if you wanted to convert to center drive on a front engine vehicle, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

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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2 of 24 comments
  • Ron B. Ron B. on Mar 30, 2015

    In Australia we have few options(think" a mixture of Stalinist russia and 1984 sliding into poverty after 20 yeaers of high growth where free thought is not only discouraged but outlawed " ) . You can import a car and have it converted (new cars attract 100% import duty unless you can prove you have ownee it overseas for 6-12 months) or you can wait 30 years and then register it as is . Converting to RHD is done all the time,there are several firms here in Queensland who convert all sorts of useless American trucks and muscle cars. The biggest issue they have today is the high boron steel which cannot be welded by conventional means . In the old days to convert a Mustang,as an example,they simply cut out the firewall and installed a local falcon unit . The dash was fabbed up in fibreglass and the instruments swapped side to side. With todays canbus etc and airbags this is now a huge job .With OZ's pay rates starting at $30 per hour it can start to cost a lot of money to drive a Ford or dodge around. Far cheaper to go and buy an AMG or Audi supercar or buy a GT40 replica. they do make a good one here. BTW, more RHD cars are sold every year than LHD ones.

  • OMG_Shoes OMG_Shoes on Apr 02, 2015

    It's not just the physical layout that has to be changed, there are also headlights and even rear lights to think about; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-_and_left-hand_traffic#Headlamps_and_other_lighting_equipment . No big deal if the car in question was factory-available with other-hand-traffic headlights, or if it's an old vehicle with standard round or square headlights, but a very big deal if it's got aero headlights and there are no other-side-traffic units because that model wasn't sold in an other-side-traffic market.

  • FreedMike Ford "Powershudder" DCT? Hard pass...with extreme prejudice. The only people who liked these were the class-action lawyers. With a manual, it'd be a different story.
  • Cprescott I blow on a pinwheel....
  • Jkross22 Looks good in and out, but pricing is nonsensical. Anyone spending in the low to upper 40s and wanting something like this would be better off in a Stelvio and anyone wanting a small, fun SUV would be better off in a Q3, X1 or even X3. All hover around that price.Dodge is getting high off its own supply.
  • Parkave231 If I were employed at Grand River, I'd be very worried right now...
  • ScarecrowRepair I can grok everything but 20 TV monitors. What earthly purpose do they serve? If the entire skin were screens, it could change like a chameleon. But they are just square blobs scattered all over. The rear ones can send messages to tailgators. The others?At least the two fake NOS bottles are car related. If it had cattle horns up front, at least that would relate to historical car bling.Makes me wonder how many other mods are just as useless, and how well any of them are done.