There are many different ways to buy your half cut.
If you are lucky enough to have a half cut importer close by you can drop in and check out the cuts they have available.
If you don’t have an importer nearby, many importers now have their catalogues online, and some even list their inventory on eBay!
However you find your half cut, it is important to choose the one which is going to best meet your needs.
Know what you want
The most important thing to do is to know exactly what you’re looking for.
If you are looking for an SR20DET half cut for example, then you need to know exactly which SR20 you want.
Do you want a RWD or FWD version? Do you want a VVT model? Do you prefer a manual or auto gearbox?
There is no point finding a half cut listed somewhere and travelling a long way to see the engine, or even worse, ordering it online, only to end up with the incorrect version.
If you are really serious, then you should known exactly what codes to look out for on the compliance or build plate, and match those up to any half cuts you are looking at.
What to look out for
Most of these things are pretty obvious, but they’re still worth mentioning.
The first thing to consider before even looking at a half cut is to find out how many kms are on the engine.
You also need to have an idea of what sort of kms are reasonable for any given motor. For example the kms on an early 13B half cut are probably going to be a lot higher than for a late model Lancer Evolution cut.
Ideally you want to see and hear the engine running. If you are located a long distance from the importer you will have to make do with a video, but preferably you want to visit the importer and see the engine start and running.
Once the engine is running you want to look out smoke, leaking oil, poor idling and unusual noises etc. Even after the engine has been stopped for a few minutes it is a good idea to get underneath and check for any leaking fluids.
Get as much as you can
When buying a half cut you want to get as much as you possibly can from the original car, especially if it is the same model as the car you are converting.
What’s included in a half cut can vary from one cut to the next. Some half cuts are literally the full front half of the car, with all panels, brakes, suspension and interior trim in place. If you can get a cut like this you are doing well.
Some half cuts on the other hand are stripped of all panels, lighting, interior goodies and even the brakes and suspension in some cases.
If you have the model car you may be able to use the parts from the half cut to upgrade your brakes and interior, as generally the JDM version will be higher spec than your Aussie model.
Even if you don’t have the same model car and cannot use any of the extra parts, at least you can sell them off to help pay for your conversion.
The end result when performing a JDM engine conversion can be impacted upon dramatically depending on how well you chose your half cut, so take the time to get it right and you will thank yourself when the job is done.