VTEC Engine in a Sand Rail Makes Sense

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Honda-tech.com VTEC Honda V6 Sand Rail

VTEC may be becoming a thing of the past, but there’s going to be a lot of used engines to transplant for quite a while yet.

While browsing around Craigslist, we came across this interesting use of a VTEC engine. Sand rails tend to be as lightweight as possible for skipping over sand and the dunes. However, a dual-sport will generally be built strong enough to take more abuse in harder areas. A sand rail will tend to have a smaller engine and multi-function off-roaders tend to go bigger. V8s are not rare for those not wanting to exclusively play in the dunes, so going with a V6 as a balance between power and weight makes sense. Particularly when it has VTEC waiting to kick in. Yo.

Honda-tech.com VTEC Honda V6 Sand Rail

Honda’s J-series engines are pretty damn reliable and strong in any of its iterations. It was designed for transverse mounting, so it’s interesting to see it fitted longitudinal here. According to the seller, it’s a 3.2-liter Honda/Acura engine so it must be one of the three versions of the J32A lump.


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If the owner did his homework and was patient, it’ll be a J32A2 from the early 2000’s Acura CL or TL Type S. He would have to have been patient in finding one as they aren’t very common. For a Honda engine swap, it’s worth it though and, arguably, better than later J-Series versions. It’s an engine that loves to rev and benefitted from a more aggressive camshaft, an improved free flowing intake/exhaust, as well as a 2-stage intake manifold. Whichever J-Series engine it is though, we’ll bet it sounds awesome on this sand rail with those sweet and short pipes.


Ian Wright has been a professional writer for two years and is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum, Jaguar Forum, and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

His obsession with cars started young and has left him stranded miles off-road in Land Rovers, being lost far from home in hot hatches, going sideways in rallycross cars, being propelled forward in supercars and, more sensibly, standing in fields staring at classic cars. His first job was as a mechanic and then trained as a driving instructor before going into media production.

The automotive itch never left though, and he realized writing about cars is his true calling. However, that doesn’t stop him from also hosting the Both Hand Drive podcast.

Ian can be reached at b[email protected]

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