Hooniverse Asks: What Car Company Has The Most Appealing Parts Interchange?

What’s wrong with the picture above? If you said not a damn’d thing then props to you. If however, you noted that this is a MK6 VW Jetta with an Audi 3.2-litre V6, a combo that never left the factory, then you also get a gold star. This image happens to be from a thread on the VW Vortex detailing one GLI owner’s efforts to turn his MK6 into an AWD romper-stomper R edition.
That’s the great thing about VAG products: they have a ton of interchangeable parts that stretch over both models and years. If you own one car and jones over a feature of another? No problem, it’s probably just a few triple-square bolts away.
Sharing is caring and today we’d like to know your opinion on which marques offer the greatest opportunity for inter-model parts exchange.
Image: VW Vortex

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20 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Car Company Has The Most Appealing Parts Interchange?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    1980s BMWs had a Lego brick like interchangeability. I think that they all used the same rear diff for instance.

    1. roguetoaster Avatar

      Early ’80s 3s had a small case that was shared with the 2002; mid/late 3s had both a new small & medium case, early 5s had an early style case which is shared with 70s 7s; mid/late 5s had the medium or large case; mid/late 6/7s had a medium or large case. The reality is that many of the internals swap between all cases (especially small/medium), small/medium cases of the same sizes swap between most cars with a simple flange/rear cover change, and large cases require retrofitting.
      In the 90s everything above is mostly true except with more backwards compatibility.
      That said, the engines are usually fairly easy to swap. For instance, someone put a V12 in to a 5 series wagon that started life with a 6 cylinder with minimal fabrication/clearance work late last year. In many cases it’s only a matter of mixing & matching the right driveshaft parts, engine/trans mounts/linkages and the inevitable wiring.

  2. Alff Avatar

    Not an answer to this question but I have come to appreciate the interchangeability across brands for many of the European cars from the 70’s and 80’s. My Alfa sports various VW and Mercedes bits, usually acquired in the middle of a weekend thrash when I didn’t want to wait a week for the “proper” part to come by mail.
    My most shocking interchange moment – putting shocks on the 60 year old Ford one weekend. Fronts available from the local parts stores, rears not in stock. Started looking at interchange tables. Turns out the KYB rears are the same as specified for an Alfa Spider. I happened to have a good pair of those in the attic.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      They only problem is that it ISN’T plug and play for cars with Gen I or II small blocks. They decided to move the engine mounting points and the accessories are all different. I’ve looked into putting one in my ’77 Corvette. While it has been done before and there are kits to do it, you either end up having to fabricate engine and transmission brackets or buying an expensive kit. Also, in that tight engine bay you end up having to do things like pick between air conditioning or power steering, you only get one (Gen I V-8 allows for both.)

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        My Corvette was a big block, with no a/c and manual everything. You won’t miss the power steering. Choose the a/c, or just remove the T-tops whenever it isn’t wet or freezing.

        1. P161911 Avatar

          I live in Georgia no A/C is not an option.

  3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    My answer is, um, predictable: Bultaco. Other than early 4-speeds, GP bikes and a couple of oddball later models, nearly all used the same basic engine configuration. You can make anything from a ridiculously mild 99cc campground bike, to a virtually unstoppable observed trials plonker, to a wheelie-mad 363cc rocket just by mixing-and-matching pipes, carbs, cylinder porting, pistons, cranks, gear ratios, flywheels and ignition, all of which bolt up to each other. (The crankcases do vary slightly, with two opening sizes for the cylinder and an extra mounting boss on the competition motors.)

  4. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    MG, From T to B Midgets/Sprites more than 20+ years of interchangeable parts.
    I’ll also say my Acura TSX, lots of Honda parts, including European and Japanese sources

    1. JayP Avatar

      Plus that BOP V8…

  5. JayP Avatar

    Fox bodied Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys.

  6. Kiefmo Avatar

    I think Honda has got it. So much reuse between cars.

    1. roguetoaster Avatar

      I’ve always read it, but whenever I talk to someone who swapped engines in one they invariably talk of the huge number of small difficulties or tiny iteration differences they encountered.

  7. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Mercedes Benz., particularly in the 80s and 90s.
    You like the ’80s special 190E2.3 16V for it’s sporty character, or the 190E 2.6 for its smooth six?
    How about a 190E 3.6 24V for both?
    A good basis for a turbo conversion if you need more power.
    Or there are V8s.
    And if there is enough length for a long straight six, the related, same length V12 must fit too?
    Or in a W124. Note the rate at which the capacities increase in a nicely modular nature.
    2000cc four gives 3000cc six, 4000ccV8 and 6000cc V12
    2300cc four gives 3600cc six, 5000cc V8 and 7300cc V12

    1. Chris Holmes Avatar
      Chris Holmes

      Except the 400E’s M119 was a 4.2l variant.
      -400E owner

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        And the 2.5 16V took the bore out from the 2.3 and the 2.8 six and 3.5 diesel varied the stroke. The basic cylinder dimensions and bore spacing remained 🙂

  8. bv911 Avatar

    The cars of Ferry Porsche play this game pretty well…
    Flat-8 in a 914 for Ferdinand Peich:
    (Relative) insanity (had to consider what site I’m on!):
    (930 engine in a 356.)

    1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
      Fred Talmadge

      I had a few P parts on my air-cooled Beetle and I saw more than one P guy buying VW parts to save money.

      1. bv911 Avatar

        Yes, came back to say it’s even more fun when you get his father’s products (okay, descendants of) involved:
        (The “Race Taxi”.)

  9. outback_ute Avatar

    Nissan/Datsun would have to be a strong contender. Prime example is the bolt-in nature of C110 Skyline/240K suspension and driveline bits to make a competition 510/Bluebird/1600.

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