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revhard New Reader
1/24/17 9:14 a.m.

Hi, long time lurker here.

Reluctantly starting a build thread because I know accountability is good for these sorts of things.

I bought a 91 toyota mr2 around new years from Miatame, who bought it from Woody years before hand.

its a non-turbo 5 speed that has been sitting around for a few years at least and doesnt run. Miatame had planned to do a 1MZ-FE V6 swap from a toyota camry. Against all better judgement, I bought his project with the intention of completing it. I dont have any other car projects going on so I wont really be splitting time with any other cars. I do have a time deadline. I intend to finish this car by august as my lease ends the end of august, and I dont wanna worry about where I will live and worry about dragging a dead car with me. I romanticized the idea of making this challenge budge friendly but thinking about it, the time crunch is more important to me and I would rather spend more to get it done sooner and cleaner then to take longer and challenge it. Sorry to disappoint anyone.

On to details of the project:

Apparently this was a very popular swap to do....13 years ago. Being a bit late to the party, a lot of information is scattered or lost. here are my plans.

I'm spending the month of January to try to get the car running as is. It sounds stupid as i know i'm going to rip the engine out but It helps me discover other problems with the car, like the gas tank and fuel pump.

Wiring: I know that i probably just need to splice and repin 25 wires to get the v6 harness to work, but im very tempted to just click the easy button and farm out the work to http://www.wiregapinc.com/ and have him make make my harness for me. that way i can work on other things while its getting done.

transmission: Miatame was so kind as to get me the engine and transmission out of a manual camry. He though it was a S51 transmission but I now believe it is a E153 transmission. its the same that came out of a MR2 turbo but has a longer final drive. I could use the stock S54 transmission and retain all the axles and hubs but the gearing is very short. something like 3800rpm @80mph vs 3150rpm @ 80mph for the camry transmission. The issue i have is the shifting mechanism is facing the trunk when i need it facing the front of the car. The risky, lazy thing to do would be to drill and modify the existing transmission casing to work in the mr2. the other risky, lazy option is to swap the casing with a mr2 housing. right now im trying to source the parts for the conversion and debating which way I wanna go.

The E153 transmission also requires turbo axles, hubs, and shifter cables, which add quite a bit of cost to the project. I really wanna those lower RPM's tho.

The engine needs a once over. New timing belt, water pump and head gaskets.

the car itself needs new brakes. I want to upgrade to the 93+ turbo brakes but that will require bigger wheels. I'll treat myself to all that after the engine is in.

It also has a bit of rocker panel rot which ill address if i do everything above.

Ill add pictures later. (edit) heres a pic of the car coming to its new home.

in its new home for the next few months. the black paint and poor lighting do a good job of hiding the imperfections.

After I got the car, I poked around to see why it might not run. I noticed the fuel lines were cut so I ordered replacements from toyota. When they came in, I spent more time they I want to admit to reattach them. I tried to drain the gas tank of any old gas. Thankfully toyota puts a drain plug on the bottom of the gas tank. Too bad its frozen and the metal is soft and rounded out. Oh well, deal with that later.

Once I did , I plugged in a good battery I had, added about half a gallon of fuel to tank and tried to start it. Nothing. I couldn't even hear the pump prime. I now assume I need to drop the tank and replace the pump. Later become now. The next day I start to drop the fuel tank. I smell gas throughout the garage but cant find the source. I check and realize that the tank drain plug is leaking slowly but i cant tighten it or loosen it. thanks toyota. A lot of rusted bolts and lines but eventually my brother and I remove the tank. We remove the pump and now is the time pictures would be really handy. the screen on the pump was destroyed and it looks like it had been in a septic tank rather then a gas tank. There was an inch of crud on the bottom of the tank. looked almost like what you would find in dirty gutters.

at this point , I spent a week mulling if I should order a used tank off ebay for $225, have my tank cleaned and repaired for $275, or go cheap and do it myself. In the end , I decided to just have my tank refinished and I hope that decision doesnt come back to bite me.

Right now now, Im just waiting to get the tank back, so I can install the new fuel pump and put the gas tank back in. In the meantime , I need to clean the fuel level sending unit as it also looks pretty beat. I wanna try to reuse it and save $130. I believe I can also replace it with the tank still in the car.

Indy-Guy Dork
1/24/17 9:47 a.m.

Sounds like a fun project you've got started here. I think you should just install with the MR2 tranny, live with the higher revs for now, get the car streetable, then after the move in August decide if it's worth the extra time and effort for those lower revs.

We've all witnessed too many projects get stalled out while fussing over "analysis paralysis" I too have been guilty of this. I hope to see the driving product this fall!

4cylndrfury MegaDork
1/24/17 9:58 a.m.

I have a strong emotional response to 90s rear-engined cars. Looking forward to updates. Keep up the good work!

revhard Reader
1/27/17 4:18 p.m.

Picked up the gas tank today from the radiator shop. $275 flat to clean, fix , and coat it. took them a couple of days longer because they decided to weld the drain plug but didnt bother to provide me with a another one. looks clean enough and doesn't reek of gas anymore. I'll save my final judgement for when I put it back into the car. tested the fuel level sender and it works. Its slow but it works so that saves me $130. Im going to work on cleaning up the cage for the fuel pump and install everything back into the car next week.

Indy guy: your probably right. to use the camry transmission i need to: drill out the transmission, install a new shift selector, get turbo half shafts,modifiy one of the half shafts, get turbo axles, install new rear hubs and bearings. or, just use the stock s54 transmission.

im having the same dilemma with brakes. I want to upgrade the brakes to 93+ turbo brakes. to do that tho i need 15"+ wheels. its difficult to find tires for a staggered 15" setup. 205/50-15 and 225/50-15. It seems like it would be easier to go 17". but these are problems i can deal with after the car is running.

Will UltraDork
1/27/17 5:26 p.m.
revhard wrote: im having the same dilemma with brakes. I want to upgrade the brakes to 93+ turbo brakes. to do that tho i need 15"+ wheels. its difficult to find tires for a staggered 15" setup. 205/50-15 and 225/50-15. It seems like it would be easier to go 17". but these are problems i can dell with after the car is running.

I own an SW20 as well, and I know how hard it is to find good tires for them in a 14" or 15" size. Most are significantly shorter than stock, and that will make your gearing dilemma even worse.

If you can find something taller than stock in a 17", that will help you with your gearing a bit.

wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/27/17 7:21 p.m.

Asian Dino. This I like.

lnlogauge Reader
1/27/17 8:25 p.m.

Beautiful car.

Is availability the reasoning for the v6 over the 3sgte? I don't know enough about the swaps obviously, so I'm just curious why people choose that option instead.

revhard Reader
1/31/17 8:18 a.m.

In reply to lnlogauge:

Im only doing the v6 because it came in the deal. Seems like everyone does a gen 3 or gen 4 3sgte swap and im the weirdo for putting in a camry engine.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
1/31/17 2:31 p.m.

I had a V6 SW20- it was a fantastic road car, which I then ruined by turning into a rallycross car. The engines make good noises even with the stock manifolds as long as the exhaust is open enough, and the torque makes it a really fun engine for everyday driving. Mine was reliable until I started throwing it around on dirt.

revhard Reader
2/3/17 8:54 a.m.

Put the gas tank back together and installed the new fuel pump.

you can see the old one is well, old.

Got the tank in but due to some hamfisting trying to put the tank in a second time, one of the coolant lines that runs underneath the car now weeps. Great. I'll address it later after the car is running.

When it came time to prime the fuel pump, there was a huge leak somewhere. More great news. repeated testing showed it was one of the hard fuel lines coming off the fuel pump.

Time to take everything back out.

trying to see if it was a small hole that could be repaired, I had a welder take a shot a closing it up.

Its the line on the left. Despite her best efforts, it still leaked. A guy at work suggested cutting out the corroded part of the line and patching it with rubber. I've also seen people use compression fittings to patch in new hard lines in.

I got an 18" repair kit from advance and noticed that the flared end is of the o-ring type and the flair on the toyota line is inverted. Im guessing I cant mix the two type together?

Vigo PowerDork
2/3/17 9:28 a.m.

If you can run a flare tool i would just cut out the damaged section, add some flares and patch them together with fuel injection hose.

revhard Reader
2/3/17 9:35 a.m.

Im willing and able to do that. What kind of flare do i put on the end? Do I need to use special clamps?

revhard Reader
3/9/17 8:21 a.m.

Small update. I got the fuel line repaired with some high pressure fuel hose and flaring the good bits of the hard fuel line. Tried to start the car, could hear the fuel pump prime. but the starter wasn't working. Found a bad ground wire and made a replacement. Tried to start the car and it tried to set itself on fire. The starter kept clicking even after I removed the key and the ground wire we just made was melting the sheathing on it. Pulled the battery leads and crisis was averted.

Was kinda demoralized for a few weeks and came to the conclusion im not gonna bother trying to get the 5sfe running at all. Im just gonna go Leroy Jenkins and pull the motor out and just go for the swap.

Finished pulling the wiring harness from the v6 and the 4cyl this week. Im gonna farm out the work to wiregapinc so that i can pull the motor and freshen up the v6 while thats getting worked on.

Crackers Reader
3/9/17 8:45 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: I had a V6 SW20- it was a fantastic road car, which I then ruined by turning into a rallycross car. The engines make good noises even with the stock manifolds as long as the exhaust is open enough, and the torque makes it a really fun engine for everyday driving. Mine was reliable until I started throwing it around on dirt.

You're killing me Smalls!

SW20 turbo is one of my must haves. I want one for a multi-purpose hoon-mobile. What were you having problems with?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/9/17 8:55 a.m.

In reply to Crackers:

Oiling issues, the V6 didn't like getting bounced and jarred side to side.

Sky_Render SuperDork
3/9/17 9:43 a.m.
revhard wrote: Im just gonna go Leroy Jenkins and pull the motor out and just go for the swap.

This made me laugh harder than it should have.


Good luck with the swap!

Crackers Reader
3/9/17 9:48 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: In reply to Crackers: Oiling issues, the V6 didn't like getting bounced and jarred side to side.

(Audible sigh of relief)

Maniac0301 Reader
3/9/17 7:05 p.m.

Eek hopefully the 4age in my rallycross MR2 is fine with things. I might add a baffled oil pan to my list of must haves.

revhard Reader
3/24/17 8:36 a.m.

Another Small update.

Just finished doing the timing belt on the 1MZ V6 motor. Never did a timing belt before so I hope I did everything correctly. Triple checked the timing marks and everything looked good. The job is definitely more intimidating then it is difficult. It also helps that the engine is out of the car and sitting on a stand.

I also painted the valve covers because im a child and I did the valve cover gaskets.

Gaskets were all hard, compressed and brittle.

I dont know why the image is split like that but thats what the engine looked like when i started. haven't bothered to take a picture since i cleaned the valve covers since it makes it so apparent that the rest of the engine is dirty.

put in new spark plugs and wires. Opting not to do the head gaskets because i dont wanna get too caught up in refreshing the engine. Ill clean the out the intake manafold and change the gaskets on that. Im also gonna delete the EGR because CT doesn't require it for a car this old and its one less thing for me to worry about.

In the next few weeks I gonna try to take a crack at converting the camry transmission to be used in the MR2. If its too much of a time suck, ill probably settle for the transmission already in the car and table the camry transmission for next winter. when my motor mount and wiring harness come in, I'll start to look into ripping the 5sfe engine out.

PDoane New Reader
3/24/17 12:09 p.m.

Don't forget the V6 wants fuel pressure at 50psi and the 5SFE fuel pump/regulator only puts out 40psi

revhard Reader
3/24/17 12:43 p.m.

Already have a new mr2 turbo pump in the car. I do need to figure out how to convert the fuel rails to return style and add a FPR.

Stampie GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/24/17 1:47 p.m.

I was just thinking about this one the other day. Nice to see it coming together.

revhard Reader
3/27/17 9:17 a.m.

So this past weekend i did a litle more work to the v6. I took of the intake runners/ manifold/ whatever you wanna call it. There was a lot of carbon deposits in there , most likely from the egr. There was also a bunch of acorns and insulation underneath the manifold. I guess a squirrel or mouse made a home in the engine while it was sitting for how ever long it was.

I let both pieces soak in alcohol for a day and ran it thru the parts cleaner before I decided to sand blast it. I dont have any before pictures because I lack the forethought about posting anything. While taking everything apart, the injectors looked dirty so ill prolly send those out to get cleaned.

After sandblasting , I got the bright idea to gasket match the ports that lead to the heads. I prolly wont touch the actual heads tho because im a filthy casual. Im trying to get what I can done now because I plan on being very busy during april.

revhard Reader
8/8/17 9:30 a.m.

Small update

-was going to Leeroy Jenkins the motor. I started pulling axles, getting ready to drop the motor. I saw that a subframe bolt was either sheared off or already missing and stopped. The car is real rusty , the cooling system is garbage, the brakes are garbage, the fuel system is questionable, the grounds are bad, and ive never had this thing move under its own power. The subframe bolt missing for some reason was the last straw for me.

  • called over a friend with an MR2 to discuss the merits of continuing the swa vs looking for a better shell. He quickly told me to junk this body and find a better shell. He even mentioned he had a friend with a white 91 that had been sitting at his shop for a year. A deal was struck to buy this guy's MR2 within the hour right in my driveway.

  • switching gears, I now was stripping and selling parts of the black mr2 to fund the purchase of the next shell. I would be keeping the interior, bumpers, gas tank, and anything else that would be missing from the new car. Sold the hood, a door, suspension, some carpeting, axles, and some small bits. Paid for most of the new shell so that it only cost me $400 out of pocket and i still have more parts to sell.

  • The new car is better and worse then what i started with at the same time.


paint is faded

interior is missing parts and in pieces all over the car.

questionable alarm system and speaker wiring


 has abs/ power steering

 actually starts and runs

 no rust.

Felt like a top gear challenge when i went to pick it up. The driver seat wasn't even bolted down and i had now way to mount the seat belt. The idle surges for some reason. But damn, it sat for a 4 months to a year without a start and when i threw a battery in there, it started on the first try. I bolted the seat to the car and blindly drove it an hour in Boston traffic back home. Aside from having no turn signals and being a rolling coffin, the car was great. Never stalled, brakes worked fine, turns. My girlfriend says my bar must be so low to be so happy with these basic requirements of a car.

short term plans:

-swap the interior the black car to my new white one. I've already swapped the t bar seals. need to do the carpet, dash, door card, and seats.

-Fix the idle surge.

-Get the turn signals to work.

-swap door locks and ignition so i only need one key.

-strip the black car for everything its worth and junk it.

long term:

-sometime in the fall, I want to prepare to try the swap again.

I'll have photos up later. I need to remember to take more photos.

revhard Reader
8/8/17 9:47 p.m.

How the new car looked when I bought it

The current state of the old MR2. I stole it's interior, locks, and throttle body. I plan on reusing it's bumpers in the future and taking whatever is useful and keeping it as spares.

Dirty carpet. Saw someone else's build thread saying they used resolve to clean their carpet and I did the same. Resolve, simple green when I ran out, and a stiff brush followed by a vacuum.

Cleaner, less smelly carpet.

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