Your ride has a turbo? Wow, that’s cute. Here are some insane car turbo setups that I’m willing to bet are a whole lot spicier…

Turbos are awesome, they are literally the replacement for displacement, allowing little engines to have the power of a much larger one, and these days they’ve become so commonplace it’s actually rare to find a brand new car that doesn’t leave the factory turbocharged. The thing is though, there’s wildly different levels of turbocharging, from the small factory turbos, to the ‘big’ upgraded turbos on tuned cars, and then there’s what you’re about to see in this feature: absolute insanity. These aren’t turbo setups you’ll see at your local meet or show. These are the most insane car turbo setups on the planet.

Caroline Racing Quad Turbo 2JZ

Back in the day, one of the most popular JDM big single turbo conversions for the Toyota 2JZ engine was the Trust T88 turbo, and they truly are seriously big units. In the early 2000s, just one of these would’ve been considered insane, but Takuro Watanabe of Caroline Racing in Japan decided to step it up with his 2JZ-powered Nissan Silvia by adding two T88 turbos. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, two TD06 turbos joined the party; yes, a quad turbo 2JZ. To be more precise this is a quad turbo twin compound engine, as one T88 feeds compressed air in to the inlet of each TD06, which in turn feeds the even more compressed air in to the 2JZ lump.

The theory is sound, but the reality is this setup is pretty oversized for most 2Js, and he mostly did it ‘just because’ as he’s well known for building crazy creations just for fun. That’s not to say it doesn’t work though, as it does, he’s even used it on track, and it’s certainly about the most insane looking 2JZ turbo setup ever made.

Mazworx Triple Compound SR20

From a compound 2JZ done just for fun, to a compound Nissan SR20-based engine running three turbos with a goal of 3000bhp! Mazworx are one of the world’s top Nissan SR tuners, and this engine is a 2.2ltr SR20VE based engine, running two giant 1500bhp capable turbos blowing into a single 1500bhp unit, which then feeds over 150psi of boost in to the little 4-cylinder engine. Blimey!

The reason for compounding is mostly because no single compressor can make incredibly high boost pressures like this with any kind of efficiency, so using more than one stage to compress already compressed air can create far more power when at extreme levels of boost.

This setup is so efficient, that in testing, even at 135psi boost, backpressure was still at 1:1 and air intake temps were almost as low as ambient, something most factory standard low boost turbo engines don’t even achieve, so it’s an incredibly impressive bit of kit.

Viturro Speed 20 Valve Twin Turbo

Argentina isn’t the first country you think of when thinking of insane turbo setups, but the fastest and most powerful VW 20 Valve Turbo engine in the world is by Viturro Speed in Argentina, and it is wild. First up, it’s mounted to a VW Gol, a front wheel drive car we didn’t get in Europe and looks like a mix between a Golf and a Polo, but is a closer relation under the skin to a VW Passat. Secondly, it’s ran the quarter mile in 7.3 seconds, and it’s fastest ever speed in the quarter is a ridiculous 195mph!

This is another compound setup, this time running a huge Holset HX50 as the ‘small’ turbo, and a literal dustbin lid sized Holset HX82 at the big turbo, with this combo pushing a mammoth amount of boost in to the little 20 valve four cylinder.

Larry Larson’s BIG single turbo Chevy S10

Insane doesn’t have to mean a lot of turbos, it can just be one REALLY big one! Larry Larson and his S10 pickup truck are legends in the drag racing world, and while it’s had various setups over the years, the wildest is the gigantic single front mount turbo he ran in Street Outlaws No Prep Kings. The most powerful cars ran big twin turbos as there was no off-the-shelf turbos big enough for their power levels to run a single, but to give the other cars a chance, the rules stated a significant weight penalty for running twin turbos.
In an effort to get best of both worlds, Larry decided to get an absolutely gigantic single turbo custom made to make the power of the twins but with the significant weight saving of a single. Word is the turbo was as big as 157mm compressor inducer, and bearing in mind a single 88mm ProMod turbo is good for over 2500bhp, you can make a fair guess what this beast could push!

Regardless of power, it looked absolutely incredible, mounted front and centre with the huge compressor inlet poking through the front grille, it’s the wildest looking single turbo setup we’ve ever seen.

1 turbo per cylinder- Boosted Lifestyle Civic and Mustang

Stupid and pointless, or fun? Well, all three! Realistically, there’s no reason to run one turbo per cylinder, but for the sake of entertainment and insane looks, why not!

YouTube channel Boosted Lifestyle certainly aren’t the first to make engines with one turbo per cylinder, but they’ve done it twice, and dyno’d, driven, and even done burnouts with them, which is far more than most people who’ve done these in the past purely for show.

First up was a quad turbo B-Series Civic, using four small Chinese K03 turbos, and while it wasn’t done expecting giant power, it made over 400 horsepower at the wheels at only 20psi boost, which isn’t too shabby at all, and let’s face it, it looks insane.

After a while they decided to step it up a little, by fitting eight of these little $80 eBay turbos to a 5.3ltr V8 fitted to a Ford Mustang! On the dyno it made 737 horsepower at the wheels, which is a big number, but it took a lot of boost to make it, over 30psi. It would’ve made way more power at less boost on a big single turbo, but would it look this wild or fun? Hell no!

Triple Turbo Triple Rotor Mazda 20B engine

While one turbo per cylinder doesn’t really make sense, one turbo per rotor on a Wankel rotary engine both makes quite a bit of sense and looks absolutely awesome.

As rotary engines create such a huge amount of exhaust gas per revolution, having even one quite big turbo per rotor actually works fine, and on triple rotor it’s especially good, as a conventional twin-scroll single turbo setup won’t work with three rotors. So, it’s just as much function as form.

There’s been various 3 rotor 3 turbo engines out there, with Racing Beat hitting a massive 242mph with one in their RX7 back in 1995! To this day triple turbo 20B lumps are seen in plenty of road and race rotaries, with Vargas Motorsport building some wild road versions in recent years, as well as triple turbo drag RX7s and RX8s running 6sec quarters at 200mph+ in both the USA and Australia.

‘Overkill’ Twin turbo and supercharged Ford Barra inline 6

When a car is called Overkill that might be a hint you’re about to see something ridiculous, and two huge turbos and an equally giant supercharged strapped to a 4ltr straight six engine is exactly that.

Overkill is a Ford Cortina from Australia built for one reason only, to entertain the crowds killing tyres while doing insanely smoky burnouts.

The turbo Barra engine has become famous in the tuning world to its capability of creating massive power, but they’re almost always a big single turbo, certainly not running a giant Rootes blower that’s wider than the engine on the inlet side, with two big GT35 turbos on the exhaust side forcing boost in to it!

To make it even more insane, this car was previously a twin turbo and supercharged V8, but when that engine was destroyed in a fire they decided to go even more unusual with this crazy straight six setup!

Rear mount turbos

While these have been around for ever, in fact even the P47 Thunderbolt WW2 fighter plane had this setup, seeing turbos mounted at the rear with the engine at the front never stops surprising people. While in theory it’s not a good idea, and done wrong it does indeed work terribly, the reality is, if done right, it works great, far better than many poorly designed front mount setups. If you’re lacking room at the front, want more weight in the rear, or want something that just looks absolutely insane to most people, this is the way to go.

While some setups use fairly small turbos and look quite tame, some are absolutely wild, with two huge turbos either under the back or inside the rear of the car on some crazy rear mount turbo drag cars. As an added bonus, rear mounts tend to sound crazy too, with the super short exhaust making for some of the loudest turbo whistle you’ve ever heard.

Fabian Bell’s in-car turbo Trans-Am

While rear mounted turbos are crazy, what about inside the car? There’s been various race cars over the years where the turbo has been mounted in-car, albeit under a protective cover, and I’ve even done it myself on a Mercedes CLK V8, but the king of the insane in-car turbos is undoubtedly Fabian Bell’s Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am known as Godzilla.

With a giant Hemi V8 at the front, there’s two huge throttle bodies going through the windscreen in the centre, and on the passenger side of the screen there’s two giant holes feeding twin 98mm Precision turbos mounted inside the car where the passenger would normally sit! To top it off, the exhausts exit through the rear screen!
Fabian didn’t do this for fun, he did it to move the weight around to maximise grip for no-prep racing, particularly Street Outlaws JJ’s Arm Drop events, but unfortunately the people who run the big drag racing events in the USA, the NHRA, wasn’t too happy about the setup which limited him to what he could use the setup for.

Regardless though, it’s fair to say this car probably still holds the crown as craziest turbo setup ever!

Turning your turbo into a jet engine!

Turbochargers and jet engines work on a very similar principle, with the main difference being that on a turbo the combustion is occurring in the engine it is connected to, and on a basic jet engine there is a combustion chamber in place of the engine, and that creates the exhaust gas to spin the turbine. Because of this, a few insane turbo setups actually work more like jet engines than turbos, and can give ALL the boost, ALL the time!

Probably the best known is the Subaru World Rally Teams system they called ‘The Rocket’ which literally added a jet engine style combustion chamber in the exhaust manifold just before the turbo, and allowed those cars to have 3bar+ boost while barely above idle rpm.

While it’s probably the last engine you’d expect to get a mention in Fast Car, the V8 diesel engine that powers the French Leclerc tank uses a similar setup they call Hyperbar, which runs an insane 7.5bar boost, and makes it one of the fastest accelerating main battle tanks ever.

Last but certainly not least of these insane Jet/Turbo hybrids is Mannic Beattie, a crazy UK hillclimb car built and driven by Nic Mann. This lightweight weapon runs a 1.7ltr Ford BDT engine, four wheel drive, and a giant truck turbo assisted by a small gas turbine which keeps the setup running full boost all the time no matter the rpm. According to Nic it makes about 500 horsepower at 30psi, but the setup could run as high as 45psi if the engine could take it!