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BTD
BTD Reader
7/25/17 5:08 p.m.

Well ladies and gentlemen...it's official. I own an MR2! Specifically, this one:

These have always been a bit of a bucket list car for me simply because I still find it wild that good old beige Toyota was willing to produce something like this during their heyday. It's really a marker in automotive history and a part of my favorite era of sports cars.

The best part? She's a factory hardtop model with crank windows and manual steering. The lightest MR2 you could order back in the day. I'm SUPER excited about the (lack of) options this car has, it allows me to fit since I'm 6'5" AND makes for the perfect build platform. Why is it the perfect build platform? Well...

I picked her up for the princely sum of $1000 from a local autocrosser who had blown two 5SFE engines before he parked it in the corner of his garage. Prior to his ownership, it was a nationally competitive E-Stock car back in the day and actually won a national championship or two. It has super worn out Kumho slicks on it and is still wearing the custom valved Konis from its glory days. It came with a bunch of spare parts, both wiring harnesses, and the Big Green Books for this year:

It also came with a huge folder of service records, documentation, and articles. There's shock graphs, camber adjustment specs, and even a whole engineering page on the frakenstein front swaybar that one of the previous owners made (a mash between a TRD and ST unit I believe).

But the coolest part of all of the documentation BY FAR is the fact that I now own four Microfiche slides of the entire parts diagrams for a 1991 MR2:

HOW COOL IS THAT?

Even the interior is nice. I've already swapped the shift knob for a white pool ball that I had on my last Mustang, although the factory banana knob on this car is in fine shape. It even has that weird 90's Toyota musk that all of these seem to have after 20+ years. It's not bad, just...very Toyota.

I also grabbed a set of 17" 350z wheels which are the perfect offsets for these cars. Plan is to run 215/40/17 and 235/40/17 tires on them once we have the car up and running. They cost me $120 for the set, so...cheap.

Anyway...what's the plan then? I debated a few engine options:

  • Another 5SFE
  • Easy
  • Cheap
  • Reliable
  • Boring
  • Slow

  • 3SGTE Swap

  • Fast
  • Easy to Mod
  • Well documented
  • Not too pricey
  • Lots of parts acquiring to do (turbo trans, axles, hubs, brakes, etc)
  • Heavy
  • Boring (imo)

  • 1MZGE Swap

  • Quick (maybe not fast)
  • Unique, very cool (imo)
  • V6 noises behind your head
  • Relatively cheap
  • Reliable
  • Not much mod potential
  • Rare M/T donors
  • More work

  • 2GRFE Swap

  • Very fast
  • Reliable
  • V6 Noises behind your head
  • Baby Lotus Evora
  • Expensive
  • PITA wiring w/ drive by wire throttle & interlock
  • No factory M/T, so have to acquire parts seperately
  • Expensive

There are other silly options out there (K20, Beams 3SGE, 1UZFE, etc) but the four listed above were the main considerations. If cost were no object, the 2GRFE would win hands down. It's a crazy engine that makes ~275whp in stock trim, which would be nutty in this car. But, it's also easily 2-3x more expensive than the other options.

So I chose a 1MZFE. Why? Well, for one, I've already found a donor. I'm picking up a '98 Camry with a manual transmission and 134k miles tonight for the sky high price of $700. What this means is:

  • This swap will be cheap. Target is less than $4k all-in to the project, including wiring, fabrication, and incidentals.
  • I don't have to source a bunch of parts individually. This saves TONS of time and $$$. I can choose to reuse the S54 transmission I have or use the E153 from the Camry. I get to pull the M/T ECU and associated wiring from the car. I get to pull all of the A/C components, I get to pull all of the emissions components. It makes the swap much simpler.
  • It's well documented, with companies like the WireGap and Woodsport already offering prefabbed parts for the swap at very reasonable prices.
  • It's light. The 1MZ is all-aluminum and saves me 30lbs+ over a 3SGTE swap. In a car that has crank windows and manual steering, why NOT go for the lightness?

So...that's my intro. Can't wait to document this and get the swap going. I'm sure I'll need help along the way, but this community and others are great. The next post will be of the donor car and tearing her heart out. I'll be refreshing the 1MZ and will be adding some other modifications along the way.

Stay tuned!

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
7/25/17 5:52 p.m.

That's a great start!

Ammonia and a trash bags are a great way to remove old tint if you wanted to.

Late version 3sgte's are so strong even stock that I would be eyeing that as its an easy drop in. You mention parts accumulating but if you buy a rear half cut , it's all done for you.

The V6 is cool too but I recall even with a deep sump oil pan and an oil accumulator, GRM's project Camry spun bearings twice in them. Perhaps there is another solution for oiling issues under hard corning (which I'm assuming you are going to do in an MR2)

Good luck with it!

BTD
BTD Reader
7/25/17 7:21 p.m.
crankwalk wrote: Late version 3sgte's are so strong even stock that I would be eyeing that as its an easy drop in. You mention parts accumulating but if you buy a rear half cut , it's all done for you. The V6 is cool too but I recall even with a deep sump oil pan and an oil accumulator, GRM's project Camry spun bearings twice in them. Perhaps there is another solution for oiling issues under hard corning (which I'm assuming you are going to do in an MR2)

The problem with a 3SGTE is that they're expensive (at least for what I want to spend). Every half clip I find is $2500+ and you're often paying shipping on top of that price. If I go and buy a 3SGTE seperately, then I have to go hunt down individual parts, which I don't really want to spend the time doing.

Compare that to the $700 I spent on my V6 donor that includes EVERYTHING I could possibly need and it's not even close. Even spending another $600 on a patch harness and $100 for a Woodsport mount, I'm still less than half the cost of a 3SGTE clip - and that's before parting out the Camry or donating it to charity.

The oil starvation is a real concern though. There's been some discussion on it, and it's something I'm doing more research on. An Accusump or accumulator are options, but aren't necessarily 100% reliable. Some deep sump pans w/ baffles have been built:

http://hardtechlife.com/toyota-1mz-deep-sump-baffled-oil-pan/

That said, I didn't know GRM did a Camry project, I'll have to look it up!

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
7/26/17 11:54 a.m.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/project-cars/1999-toyota-camry/fixing-get-fixing/

I'm not sure about where the other posts about the oil starvation killing the motor are but read up. IIRC they killed 2 motors, the second with an Accusump and that was with the lateral G's a bolt on 1999 Camry was pulling.

So read up on that. Have fun!

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
7/26/17 12:27 p.m.

For those of is that don't eat Alphabits, can you decode all that alphabet soup for us? What cars are those various engines from, what HP and trans comes bolted to it? Heck, how many cylinders?
I have always LOVED the 2nd gen mr2. I'll be following along

revhard
revhard Reader
7/26/17 12:37 p.m.

In reply to DrBoost:

5sfe is the 2.2 4 cyl found in the camry, mr2 and celica. non-turbo good for about 130 hp.

3sgte is the 2.0 turbo found in the alltrac, the mr2 turbo, and some other jdm cars. good for 200 hp in stock form. i think the generation 4 ( gen 4 ) version of the 3sgte was good for 240 hp.

1mzfe- 3.0 v6 found in 90's camrys, es300's, and avalons. good for 190-200 hp depending on car.

2gr-fe 3.5 liter from new toyotas such as the rav4. good for 275 hp

s54, stock trans mission in the mr2 non-turbo. short gear ratios and lighter then an e153 trans. cant hold up to a lot of power but fine for at leas 200hp.

e153 , transmission found in the mr2 turbo and the manual v6 camry. shifter positions are not the same and the trans needs to be modified to work for different applications.the e153 is what most people want to use as its more robust and with beefier axles, its good for 500hp. problem is finding the axles is either difficult or expensive. CRW axles is one of the only ways to get new axles and its around $900+ for a set. Rock auto is not an option, stock doesnt exist.

both trans will bolt to any engine listed but a 2gr would prolly destory an s54 transmission.

side note: real jelly of all the v6 mr2 action happening. wanted to do the swap myself back in Jan. Life has gotten in the way and ive made very little progress. hopping to have it done by Christmas tho.

mblommel
mblommel HalfDork
7/26/17 1:17 p.m.

Great find! Hardtop SW20 is on my bucket list. If it were my car I'd be looking long and hard at 4th gen 3SGTE's. Sure it'll be expensive but from what I understand totally worth it. Whichever way you go I'm excited to see this one progress.

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
7/26/17 3:37 p.m.

Following as well love that gen of MR2

pimpm3
pimpm3 SuperDork
7/26/17 3:43 p.m.

Beautiful I am jealous of the hardtop. I am 6'4" and fit surprisingly well in the car.

I am worried about the oil starvation issues as well and have aquired an accusump for mine.

Can't wait to see how it turns out.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
7/26/17 3:57 p.m.

Well, I was gonna post something about GRM blowing up Camry's and whatnot, but that one has been hashed out.

So, Im just in for updates! Love me some Mister Too action.

BTD
BTD Reader
7/27/17 11:49 a.m.
pimpm3 wrote: Beautiful I am jealous of the hardtop. I am 6'4" and fit surprisingly well in the car. I am worried about the oil starvation issues as well and have aquired an accusump for mine. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Are you running a V6 swapped MR2 as well? Help me!

Tried to pick up the donor Camry and ran into some title issues that are being resolved by the seller today. New date for pickup is Saturday morning, then you all will get to see the true glory of a 1998 Toyota Camry!

pimpm3
pimpm3 SuperDork
7/27/17 12:29 p.m.

Yup a 1991 with a 1mz.

Build thread

JAhmed
JAhmed Reader
7/27/17 2:22 p.m.

Congrats on the new project! My younger brother drives a '93 with a 2GR+E153...it is an absolute blast to drive. Been autocrossing and tracking it for 2 years now, and it runs as strong as ever. You will freaking love this car with a V6...

Benswen
Benswen New Reader
7/28/17 10:30 a.m.

This is relevant to my interests - I own a '91 Hardtop with a 5s.

How did the previous owner manage to kill 2 of them?

Honda K-swap would be an interesting route to go also, to avoid the oil issues of the 1mz. Or a 1mz/3mz hybrid.

BTD
BTD Reader
7/28/17 11:35 a.m.
Benswen wrote: This is relevant to my interests - I own a '91 Hardtop with a 5s. How did the previous owner manage to kill 2 of them? Honda K-swap would be an interesting route to go also, to avoid the oil issues of the 1mz. Or a 1mz/3mz hybrid.

Previous owner was an autocrosser as well. This car is still shod in Kumho V710's, so that gives you an idea of how it was driven. He suspected the high G-Loads made the engines go pop.

K-Swap is a cool option, but the wiring is more involved than buying a patch harness from WireGap and overall it's less documented. I'd rather have the car driving than me chasing issues constantly. Unless I'm mistaken I don't think it's a particularly easy swap.

BTD
BTD Reader
7/29/17 3:12 p.m.

Houston, the donor has landed!

Meet the sacrificial lamb whose heart we will be transplanting into a better beast.

There's a timing belt record from 2007 and supposedly the clutch is new. It has a leaking cluch accumulator so it won't drive, but I've started it and everything seems to run well with no smoke. Fingers crossed that no engine sludge is present, the 1MZ was known for it.

BTD
BTD Reader
8/6/17 8:22 p.m.

Well ladies and gentlemen....

It's happened!

Having never pulled an engine before (though I did pull a body for my Exocet build...) this was harder than I expected, but nothing too difficult. Hardest parts were the passenger side axle and getting the factory power steering pump off of the engine as we won't be using it. We also have a few fluid spills (hence the cat litter).

BUT...now it's free.

Now I just need to disconnect the transmission and get the thing installed on an engine stand. Once we're at that point, it'll be a lot of maintenance. We need to check for oil sludge (a common problem on these engines), change the timing belt, and possibly (probably) change a few gaskets while it's out. I'm debating doing head gaskets, but it may be easiest to just do it now. What are the hive's thoughts?

crankwalk
crankwalk Dork
8/6/17 11:13 p.m.

Timing belt, water pump, valve cover gaskets. Unless they have a history of head gasket issues, I wouldn't touch them.

pimpm3
pimpm3 SuperDork
8/7/17 6:16 a.m.

I would leave the heads alone as well.

revhard
revhard Reader
8/7/17 6:33 a.m.

if you're gonna farm out the wiring harness to wiregap, you should probably do it now while you do maintenance to the 1mz.

BTD
BTD Reader
8/7/17 9:26 p.m.
revhard wrote: if you're gonna farm out the wiring harness to wiregap, you should probably do it now while you do maintenance to the 1mz.

That's the plan! Just pulling a few more things from the donor before it gets mailed later this week.

Looking at the MR2 engine bay, it's still a daunting swap having never done it before. I'm sure all of the extra time waiting for the wiring harness to come back will give me a chance to mull things over.

revhard
revhard Reader
8/8/17 8:37 a.m.

it does seem daunting to me as well. I personally am leading towards having a shop do mine since theres a guy not to far from me that does v6 swaps as a side gig. Considering you just pulled out the camry engine, it shouldnt be too different to put it in the mr2. Are you going to go returnless and use the fuel pump from the camry? or convert the camry engine to return style?

I also think I saw your post on MR2OC about baffled oil pans.

BTD
BTD Reader
8/8/17 10:43 p.m.

In reply to revhard:

That was my post - we'll see if Canton Racing is willing to put something together for reasonable $$$.

My plan is to convert the 1MZ to a return style setup so I can use the MR2 lines. Early 1MZ engines used that setup, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
8/9/17 5:56 a.m.

Keep it up! I really want to see this finished. Good work.

pimpm3
pimpm3 SuperDork
8/9/17 8:35 a.m.

I replied to your post on mr2oc. I am down for a baffled pan as well. Let me know when he gives you an answer on availability.

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