We should totally crowdfund my next smart.
The only way to get any truly good performance out of a smart is to shove a big turbo into it. If that doesn’t give you enough speed, you have to swap out the engine. The most popular engine swap for smarts is the engine from a sport bike. This is partially because of videos like this:
Contrary to popular belief, if you want the fastest and most reliable engine-swapped smart, you should swap in a small car engine, not a bike engine.
Bike engine conversions tend to have a lot of reliability issues, most of them revolving around the chain drive, which doesn’t like the whole idea of propelling a car. It’s much easier if you strip the car down, but unlike the above video, most bike engine conversions seek to have the car remain able to be a daily driver...which means more weight.
Ignoring the chain drive, another huge issue is the lack of a Reverse gear. Some builders will figure out how to get a Reverse gear working, but most will not. Some of these builds have even gotten engines starved of oil because again, they weren’t really made to be in a car.
However, despite the issues, Hayabusa builds remain highly popular and they will turn the car into a hilarious sportscar-beating sleeper.
I know the guy who built today’s example.
Built by a fabrication shop named Boesch Built (now known as B2 Fabrication), this car is the fruit of a project that only produced this single example.
Back in 2008, Boesch wanted to offer a truly one of a kind Hayabusa conversion kit. He’d basically standardize the process as much as possible so that he could provide different “packages” depending on your skill level. The established packages were anywhere from the bare bones parts to make the conversion happen, to a full-blown “drop your car off, pay us $17k, and we’ll do all the work for you” turnkey conversion.
The one and only customer for the Hayabusa project chose that latter “all-in” option.
And after a long and difficult build, the car was finally born:
The car is sporting the engine from a GSXR 1300 and I forgot how many ponies it made new, but it was more than any smart would ever need. It even has a reverse gear. Matt is a mad scientist when it comes to his work.
Ultimately the program was shelved. There just wasn’t enough interest in such a business. In a way, it was foreshadowing the demise of smart modification in the US years before it happened.
The car has changed hands a few times since then, and now it’s finally hitting the List of Craig.
The build has not ventured that far from where it was made, it’s still in Michigan! And the fact that the steering wheel isn’t that shiny is a sign that this car has not moved a whole lot in the 10 years of its life. I do see that Matt’s sweet custom armrest is still in the car too, so it’s largely unchanged.
It looks like the car has spent some of its life as a rolling advertisement.
Is it worth the $12,000 cost of entry? Well assuming not much has changed about the car since it was built? I’d say yes. There is incredible craftsmanship in this car and no Hayabusa conversion in the world is like it. I’d say it’s probably even daily driver material.
Oppo, we should totally do this!!!