How to Fit a V8 in a Tracker

by Roland Hulme
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The Chevrolet Tracker was a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) sold by General Motors between 1989 and 2004 in the United States. It is still in production and for sale in other countries, including Ecuador, as of 2011. Originally powered by the choice of a 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines, or a 2.5-liter V6 engine, many Tracker enthusiasts have chosen to increase the power of their vehicles by swapping the stock engine for a V8-powered unit.

Step 1

Remove the stock engine of your Chevy Tracker using an engine hoist. Disconnect the engine from the transmission and other components (such as the radiator and electrical system) and use the engine hoist to lift it completely from the engine bay.

Step 2

Examine the engine bay of your Chevy Tracker and determine how it will need to be adjusted to fit the replacement engine. You probably will find you need to cut away certain parts of the body to make space for the larger engine. Mark these areas with a pen and measure out sections of spare replacement steel to cover the holes you cut.

Step 3

Replace the transmission of your Chevy Tracker with one that matches the replacement V8 you are using; the stock transmission of your Tracker may not be able to handle the additional torque of the V8. With most engine swaps, it is a good idea to use the same transmission as from the donor vehicle from which you are taking your V8.

Step 4

Use your angle grinder to cut out all sections from the engine bay that need to removed to make room for the larger V8 engine. Then use your angle grinder to cut sections of replacement steel to rebuild, in a different shape, the holes you cut out from the engine bay. Use your MIG welder to spot weld the replacement steel in place, then weld the seams to create a seamless bond.

Hoist the replacement engine into place using your engine hoist. Attach it to the transmission and secure it in place with engine mounts. V8 engines use a different ignition system than four-cylinder or V6 engines so you will need to attach an eight-cylinder distributor cap and other ignition components and connect them to the electrical system.


  • Carefully choose what type of replacement V8 engine you intend to use in your Chevy Tracker project. As the Tracker is a GM car, you should use a GM V8 engine. The most common options are the 5.0-liter V8 commonly used in the Chevrolet Camaro of that period, or the 5.7-liter V8 used in the Chevrolet Corvette of that period. A smaller engine offers better fuel consumption and a choice between transmissions, while a more powerful engine produces more horsepower and torque.
  • Be sure to determine whether you will need to uprate the suspension and braking components of your Chevy Tracker. A replacement V8 engine will weigh a minimum of 100 lbs. more than the stock engine so you may need tauter suspension and stronger breaking to maintain safety and handling. Uprated brakes, shock absorbers and springs are straight swaps so they will be fairly straightforward to install.


  • Engines weigh a lot. Even with an engine hoist, you should only attempt an engine swap with a colleague to ensure your safety.
  • If you fail to uprate the suspension and brakes of your Chevy Tracker after adding a V8, you might place yourself in danger. The additional engine weight will increase breaking distance and make your vehicle more likely to topple when turning.

Items you will need

  • A 1989 to 2004 Chevrolet Tracker
  • Engine Hoist
  • Replacement V8 engine
  • Replacement transmission, if you intend to use one
  • Uprated ignition parts and electrics, including eight-cylinder distributor and cap
  • Angle grinder
  • MIG welder
  • Spare sheet steel
  • Full tool set
  • Uprated suspension parts
  • Uprated brake components

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