Pagani may be famed for slotting AMG V12s in its super-exotic creations, but the very first Zonda - the C12 - actually had a standard Mercedes M120 V12 borrowed from the W140-generation S600.
What this means is, if you spend £5000 or so on an old W140 - or the newer W220 S600 with its M137 V12 - and spend a little extra on some trick exhaust parts, you’ll have a wafty luxury saloon that sounds like a Pagani Zonda. Don’t say we never give out sensible consumer advice…
Cars don’t get much more humble than the second-generation Ford Mondeo. Most of these cars were sold with humdrum four-pot petol and diesel engines, although some buyers did splash out on a 3.0-litre Duratec V6. Tiny UK sports car company Noble got hold of this V6, and decided put it to work in something a little more raucous: the mid-engined M400.
Even though the Noble tips the scales at just 1060kg, the company saw fit to pretty much double the Duratec’s power by adding a twin turbo setup, forged pistons, high-lift camshafts and bigger injectors. The result? 425bhp, 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds, and a top speed of 185mph.
Yes, believe it or not, there is something exciting about the Toyota Camry: the 3.5 V6 version has the same 2GR-FE engine as found in the Lotus Evora, as well as the Exige.
Sure, it’s perhaps a bit of a stretch to call the Evora a supercar, but with the Camry’s V6 good for (believe it or not) 400bhp in the Evora 400 - thanks to a supercharger and a little extra fiddling from Lotus - it’s almost quick enough to be granted supercar status.
The average family man or woman driving around in their V8 Volvo S80 or XC90 probably has no idea that the engine sitting in front of them powers one of the fastest, most extreme cars on the planet. The car in question? We’re talking about another Noble, this time the M600.
Volvo may seem like a curious starting point when choosing a supercar’s powerplant, but that 4.4-litre engine - transversely mounted in the S80 and XC90 but longitudinally in the M600 - is built by Yamaha.
It’s much pokier in the Noble, with two Garrett turbochargers upping the V8 anger to 650bhp, making 0-62mph possible in three seconds, 0-100mph in 6.5 seconds, and allowing for a top speed of 215mph. Oh, and there’s no traction control, or ABS.
These ageing luxo-barges would often be floating around on the used market for a few thousdand quid before they started disappearing from UK roads, and yet they share an engine with something that’ll cost you millions: McLaren’s legendary F1 supercar. Well, sort of.
The old 750i uses BMW’s M70 V12, an engine which formed the basis of the mighty S70/2, which sits midship in the F1. It’s a vastly different engine, though; the unit ended up with precious little in common with the original M70. It features an extra litre of displacement, four valves per cylinder instead of two, and kicks out double the power.
Still, if you’re rolling around in an old 7-series, it’s a nice pub boast to have up your sleeve.
As a V8-powered sports saloon, the S4 is about as far as we want to push the description of ‘ordinary’ (that’s why there are no Audi S6/Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 comparisons here), but the car’s 4.2-litre engine has indeed seen service in something much quicker. And crazier. We’re talking about the Spyker C8, a bonkers Dutch supercar with the face of a fish and a body festooned in blingy chrome bits.
The base model kicks out a useful 395bhp, but up to 600bhp was available to buyers willing to spend extra on a twin-turbo setup. Sadly, Spyker has been too busy teetering on the edge of financial oblivion over the last few years to actually make any more cars like this.
Any more humble motors you can think of which lent their hearts to supercars? Hit the comments!