Your Projects: Dropping a V6 Into a First-Generation MR2

By Colin Wood
May 7, 2020 | Toyota, MR2, Your Projects, v6, Engine swap

A general rule of thumb says not to buy someone else's project. User dherr ignored that advice by picking up a 1986 Toyota MR2 whose previous owner was in the middle of swapping in a V6 from a Camry. dherr's original project idea was to build a Honda K-series swapped Fiat X1/9, but after not being able to find a suitable donor car (rust-free examples were too nice to tear apart, and the cheap ones were too far gone), dherr got the next best small, mid-engined sports car: the MR2.

That search led to the V6 AW11 project, which dherr bought and trailed home. Once home, dherr decided to ditch the cast-iron 3VZ-FE block V6 from the Camry in favor of a lighter 1MZ-FE V6 from a Solara, which is good for 200 horsepower and 214 lb.-ft. of torque.

Next was to pull out the old V6 to make way for the new one. dherr took some time to clean up components as they came out, while the wiring harness was sent off to Wiregap to be modified for the new setup.

The transmission has since been put back in, but some adjustments were needed to ensure all the cables worked properly. After that, the plan is to sure up the suspension, upgrade the brakes, and ready the MR2 for the life of a daily driver.

The AW11 was mid-engined magic for the masses, so it only seems appropriate to turn the fun dial to 11 by dropping in a V6.

Like what you're reading? We rely on your financial support. For as little as $3, you can support Grassroots Motorsports by becoming a Patron today. 

Become a Patron!

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Toyota, MR2, Your Projects, v6 and Engine swap news.
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/8/20 8:44 a.m.

I have worked on a bunch of these as we use to race them.  A fantastic platform!!!


This however made me cringe.  These are tie downs used in shipping and not made for lifting the car.  Please be carful. 





5/8/20 6:13 p.m.
dean1484 said:

This however made me cringe.  These are tie downs used in shipping and not made for lifting the car.  Please be carful. 

And that aluminum quick-link is probably not rated for that load.  Because the chain is at a ~45degree "V," the loads are about double the weight lifted.

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/9/20 8:34 a.m.

No worries, the chain and links are steel, not aluminum. The idea to lift the body from the bumper support came from researching how others were doing it, I know that may not be a good way to learn or the best method, but the body is much lighter without the engine/transmission and it lifts easily with the engine crane. I'll be careful when it is all assembled.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/9/20 8:42 a.m.

Warning: Good natured opinion inbound:

I have a hard time jiving with a first gen MR2 being the next best thing to an X1/9. 

The sexy Italian style is great, but the 80s robotastic MR2 is a chiseled beauty in its own way. Handling by Lotus speaks loudly of its inner beauty, as well. Fantastic project.


Greg Smith (Forum Supporter)
Greg Smith (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/11/20 12:25 p.m.

Following. This car and drivetrain is *so* clean


You'll need to log in to post.

Our Preferred Partners