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    Mountain View Arkansas Meetup Forum Thread

Alternative Engine/Trans Choices

Dale E

Well-Known Member
So a few folks have brought up using other engines to power their Goblins. Since I suggested doing an other builds forum topic the stage went quiet! There may be a day, when the Cobalt source has dried up, since it was replaced with I believe the Chevrolet Cruze.

Personal opinions here we go! Pop a top and sit back, this rabbit hole may go deep!

When I changed from a non-computer engine in my Stalker V6, I thought it was going to be hard. It wasn't really. A new motor mount, a gutted by ZZP computer (made for the dune buggy folks so it lets the engine start and run) re-routing the water hoses. The wiring harness was the worst part of do it. Hook up the battery, ignition and your off. The rest of the wiring there just worked as before. Power and ground was all they needed. a few sniggle little bits here and there.

The Locost seven folks and other "my own car builders" use a hodge-podge of parts from various sources and a great amount of fabrications with some trials and errors. The Goblin kit is bolt and go -- plug and play -- one source mostly!

Consider I live in Europa. I'm going to want to use an engine and donor of the hot hatch crowd. VW GTI, Ford Focus RS, Audi TT Turbo, maybe a Renault, Fiat, Alfa sourced, or gosh a GM Opal, Mini Cooper. These will all need a different chassis mounting design.

Consider I live in Japan or Australia. I'm going to use a Honda Civic SI, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Mazda what else is there. These cars also sell in Africa and Mexico markets.

Bring it back home. You name it, its here somewhere for you.

The good. As you know, the Goblin is a kit - and a good bit of kit (English)!! One stop shopping for the most part.

The not so good. You will need fabrication skills, or someone to build mounts for you if you go another engine route. Sometimes you can get lucky and score from another swappers experience. Forum topic: Mid Engine Cobalt by Classy -- This different engine topic was brought up there. Talk the talk but no walk the walk! No ones fault - just didn't get in the oven. There I did an experiment and placed a V6 Supercharged GM engine and automatic transaxle sourced from a 1999 Buick Regal/Pontiac GTP. It is doable with a Cobalt chassis with some fabricated mounting parts. Believe it, but some of the mounts can actually be sourced from the Fiero swap crowd. The passengers side outer CV joint has to be replaced (GM wisdom made the inner one a 39 spline on the Transaxle). Now a V8 would fit too but a bit closer tolerances. And you could go longitudinally with an Audi/Porsche Boxer, Subaru transaxle unit.

What does this mean? It means you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Dial it in boys and girls. DF Kit has made it easy. They did all the block walking and research, scaling, modeling, sourcing. You get to purchase a fabulously designed - with not many flaws - build the back yard swing set car and call it your own. Throw some bling and have a fling!

Suggestions for new builders. Build your Goblin stock to begin. Drive it, learn it, it's a different experience from the normal Cobalt donor. It's going to handle differently from your daily driver. You can add your power toys and bling later. Like my Stalker is 12 years old now and it isn't finished. Keep dreaming of the possibilities. Find an Autocross locally and go have fun - or get competitive and beat everyone. Good brakes and sticky tires (suggested many places here on the forum a already). The Goblin is a Cobalt undressed and went on a huge diet successfully!! If you don't learn it's driving characteristics it will hurt you! We don't want that. We just want the smiles per mile! Oh, and you don't need a zillion HP. With a stock lowest powered Cobalt engine, you will still win the light to light race. Decide what you want - street, some race, full track attack! Build to that end goal.

Shutting up now. If you want to use a different engine in your Goblin then do it. Just know it isn't a plug and play adventure anymore. You are going to have to do your own research, development, design and sourcing parts. It's not going to mount to the mounting holes and brackets on the kit you purchased. Guys sometimes are fans of a particular brand. Chevy, Ford, Dodge, foreign. You can still keep that. Heck you can even use a motorcycle engine for power.

Okay, time to totally shut the door. I was at DF Kit manufacturing before it was. Another kit was being made there. I'm a stoked out fan of all things cars and probably partial to foreign ones that we can't get in America (unfortunately). I did my first autocross/gymkhana in 1968, near Ramstein, Germany. Watched the stuff you see on you tube (Berg Franky channel), I have a few designs with a couple models of rear suspensions I would experiment with on a Goblin. I'm old and not going to build or buy anymore toys. But I certainly encourage you all in your journeys and would drive a few hundred miles to help you out.

And finally = whew! Lonny at DF has a huge amount of things on his plate and is planning some awesome future things. It's going to be amazing what's in the pipeline if it can come to fruition. I stand behind it!! (And as I said before - my lips are sealed and sworn to secrecy) I'm in the stands cheering him and you all on!

The floors open, the curtain is pulled. Now, you all take over and light the lights on other engine choice options. And if someone wants to actually do it do it, document the journey and inspire!


Desert Sasqwatch

Goblin Guru
Dale, good that you have brought this up, since as you say as well as a few others, the Cobalt supply won't be available forever. We already know the availability of the SS models is dwindling daily and becoming harder to find (and more expensive when you can locate one). A saving grace is the availability of crate Ecotec motors and F35/F40 transmissions (and some F23, don't want to get yelled at for leaving them out of the equation ;)). Having the heart of a Goblin available, and the aftermarket stand-alone ECU and harnesses, will still make building a Goblin based (mostly) on the Cobalt viable for quite a while longer.

I agree that looking at other drivetrain options could be a path that some may want to try - there has been some discussion before this post, but no updates on the progress of those projects. I know you were successful in the supercharged V6 experiment you performed and proved it fits within the available engine bay space in the Goblin. The next revision of the Goblin may want to use the Cruze as the donor platform, if the same basic donor parts - subframe, suspension, electrical, steering - can be adapted into the frame. Seems like the logical next step in evolution.

The other goodies, like suspension, will be a big step in the capabilities of a Goblin if these are in the works. We have bounced some ideas around between us and your consulting with Lonny can only mean good things are in store. Maybe DF will beat me to the punch on an upgraded rear suspension before I get the chance to start working on my Goblin again (the house move will be later this year than I thought - my build is on the back burner). Can't wait to see what upgrades are coming! :D


Goblin Guru
I think that an LFX powered car would be pretty cool. That said, I imagine the easiest path to an increased donor population would be to go after vehicles built on the same platform (e.g., Ion, HHR, Astra), bit I don't know.

Ark :D

Goblin Guru
Adapting the HHR into the (supported) kit would be a logical first step. Having an official path to an out-of-the-box automatic turbo would be cool.