– Nissan KA24 install article. By Danny Youngs
Nissans KA24 motor can be installed into the Datsun 510 in many different ways
and forms. In this article I will cover every facet of installation and the different
parts you can use to do this. I studied many different ways of doing the install before
I actually did mine. I tried a few different ideas myself while installing the motor. I have
added reference pictures from my collections through-out this article.
This motor is very popular because of what it offers, and the increasing availability.
Many donor cars are starting to show up in the wreckers, and there is also a large supply
of KA24’s becoming available from 240sx owners doing the SR20DET swap into their cars.
In stock form it produces a large amount of power and impressive torque compared to the
L-series motor. It would take a very carefully built L-series motor to equal the power and
torque of the KA24. It has a very fair redline and will easily spin the tires in lower gears.
If you are converting from the average L20b with mikuni’s or built L16/L18 you will be happily
In the first section I will go over the different types of KA motors. The next section
will cover the installation of the motor.
– The Different breeds of KA24.
Pic of a 89/90 240sx KA24E using Mikunis. Pic from http://www.dimequarterly.com.
Pic of Dan Gallmeister’s 89/90 240sx KA24E conversion.
Pic of a bone stock KA24E truck motor. Notice rear sump pan.
Pic of a 91-94 240sx KA24DE, going into a 510. Submitted by Kim Woo from Fresno, CA
Pic of a 91-94 240sx KA24DE conversion by Mike and Bill Kenyon of Vallejo, CA.
The KA24 motor comes in two moderately different styles. First is the 12 valve,
single cam KA24E engine, and second is the16 valve twin cam KA24DE engine.
The blocks are essentially the same, but the cylinder heads are quite different.
Both engines are EFI motors, except for some very rare exceptions to Non-U.S.
spec 12 valve truck engines that were carbureted.
First engine I will cover is the 240sx 12 valve. This engine is found in all 1989-1990
U.S. spec 240SX chassis. This is the most popular engine to swap into the 510 in
EFI form. It has a larger more attractive two piece intake with a side draft forward
facing throttle body. The upper pieces of the manifold has ECCS engraved on it,
which is Nissan’s EFI system for that era. You will want the 5 speed tranny version
most likely. The exhaust manifold exits very rearward towards the firewall. This engine
also has a girdle that connects all the main bearing caps together inside the crankcase. The
oil pan is a front sump style on this engine. The block casting engulfs the entire surface
where the tranny mates. The pulley and belt systems uses a modern grooved serpentine
belt. These engines were cast and manufactured in Japan.
– Installing the KA24 into the 510 chassis.
There are many different ways that you can install this motor into your 510. The other interesting
fact is that if you choose to do your brackets one way, it doesn’t really dictate what pan you need
to use or what tranny crossmember, or even what tranny you need to use. This enables you to work
at your own pace and choose junkyard parts or fully custom parts. You can get virtually every part
you need from the junkyard or wrecker.
First I will cover the brackets. There are basically three different ways of doing this. The most
popular way you will see is using the stock 240sx brackets. These brackets have the same placement
on both the single and twin cam motor, and they will also bolt to the truck block. You can mount these
onto the stock 510 rubber motor mounts. The trick is to move the rubber mounts down so the top bolt
holes on the mount bolt in to the lower threaded holes on the crossmember mounting surface. This is a very
good solution and you will notice that the rubber mounts only bind ever so slightly, not enough to even notice
really.The motor sets at a very appropriate height this way. The second way is getting some custom
brackets made for your install. The third way is using the stock truck engine brackets which make the
engine set very low and the rubber mounts bind a little more than you might like. I have also seen people
use a variety of different Nap-Z, L-series, and KA brackets, with different sized spacers to get the engine
where they want it. You will notice the block has bolt holes to accommodate different brackets.
Dan Gallmeister’s 510 using stock 240sx brackets.
My 510 using stock 240sx brackets.
Randy Yorks 12 Valve install using custom brackets.
Of course the oil pan is always an issue in any motor install. You have a few different choices in this
category. The most popular route is using the front sump pan and losing the stock sway bar. You
can do this by installing a reversed front crossmember. You can either cut and re-weld the center section
of the crossmember in backwards, or cut out and re-weld the a-arm pivots in backwards. The crossmember
will bolt in either way. This allows the engine to fall right in with the front sump pan on it. The KA truck block
will also accept the front sump pan. You can either run without a sway bar, have a custom sway bar bent to
fit, or use a custom 3 piece racing bar which are available. You can also break open the wallet and get a
custom rear sump oil pan made. The main issue with the stock truck rear sump pan fitting is center link
clearance, and ground clearance. Forget about reversing the center link, cause it will be even more in the way.
You can notch the back of the truck pan to clear the center link, and it will work, but the pan also hangs low
to the ground. No more speed bumps at all! People have also used a conglomeration of cut up L16 pans
and KA pans to make something work. Dry sump systems are also available for the KA, but are extremely
expensive and overkill for a street application.
Randy York’s 510 with custom oil pan, this retains the front sway bar.
16 valve KA using carbs. Notice the front sump pan and reversed crossmember.
Mike Kenyon’s custom Speedway Engineering front sway bar setup. Car uses a HL510
front crossmember with front sump pan.
Dan Gallmeisters custom bent sway bar setup.
Which transmission do you want to use? The most likely choice is the factory KA 5 speed that came
with your motor. This tranny fits perfectly fine and uses many of the same bolt spacings and patterns as
the ever so popular Z-speed. The KA slave cylinder works just fine with the 510 clutch master cylinder.
You can even make that cut up, slotted, and spaced out tranny crossmember you have work with the
KA tranny. There are a few custom crossmembers available that make it bolt right in with either a 240Z
insulator or a stock 510 4 speed insulator. The driveshaft needs to be shortened, even a little bit more than
for a Z gear box. The tranny tunnel will need to be cut quite a bit to fit the bulky shifter mechanism up into
the tunnel. Some clearance is also needed on the sides of the tunnel with a hammer for the large bolt heads
that are on either side of the transmission towards the rear. Nothing that can’t be handled in a few minutes
though.You can also use a normal Z 5 speed gearbox on a 12 valve motor by using a Nap-Z bellhousing
from a Z20, Z22 or Z24 with a manual gearbox. This allows you to use your existing driveshaft that was
shortened for a Z 5 speed conversion, and your existing cut shifter hole and mechanism assuming you
already had a Z 5 speed in the car.
My car using 280ZX 5-speed, Z24 bellhousing, and a Dave Carrol 5 speed crossmember.
What about the radiator? You are pretty much home free in this category. Anything will work. I would tend
to shy away from the smaller units such as the rabbit or even the stock two row. A stock style 3 row will cool
it just fine. If you take your old grungy stock two row to the radiator shop they can construct a three row out
of it and ad a upper coolant inlet on the other side. Any of the larger VW units, or the fiero radiator should
work great. A lot of these radiators have the inlet on the upper drivers side which means you will have to run
a crossover tube to get to the coolant outlet on the KA which is on the passenger side coming out of the
Single cammer with EFI using a Fiero style radiator unit.