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cdchris12 New Reader
3/12/24 12:08 p.m.

Back in October/November of 2023, I kind of stumbled into an interesting deal; my side job was looking to sell this car, and I knew I wanted it after the first test drive. Eventually, I convinced them to take a reasonable offer, and the car was all mine, with a clear ND title. For a car that was never sold outside Japan, skipping all the import paperwork entirely was sure a nice step.


Starting out, though this car was a little bit sick. One of the OEM twin turbos had so much shaft play that it had started grinding a channel in the turbo's hot side, and the radiator was totally plugged. The side job replaced both of those before they sold me the car, which was nice :) 


On to the pictures:

cdchris12 New Reader
3/12/24 12:21 p.m.

After driving this car for a couple of weeks, Winter in ND was fast approaching, so it was time to park it in the garage for a few months. I ended up doing a bunch of preventative maintenance on the car, including: installing new spark plugs, fixing the busted hood and trunk struts, fixing the power folding mirrors, fixing the radio and speakers, fixing the power windows, fixing the power locks... The list goes on and on and on. Here are some pics from all that work:

Power locks from the 90's, woo!

That's a LOT of gears

The first 3d printed speaker bracket

Printing another new speaker bracket


One of the last things I did was change the valve cover gaskets, which lead me to the conclusion that this car had been rode hard and put away wet a few too many times. The cams were more than a little varnished:

cdchris12 New Reader
3/12/24 12:35 p.m.

After that nice discovery, I started thinking about rebuilding the engine over the winter. This idea quickly snowballed into, "berkeley it, I'll just engine swap it with a 2JZ-GTE". Boy howdy, has that been a gotdamn rabbit hole... I ended up finding a nice, "freshly machined" 2JZ down in Florida for about $7k shipped to my side job's shop, and jumped on it. Shipping was a nightmare, as the freight company refused to pick up the pallets from the shipper's shop, so he had to hand deliver them to the freight company's receiving dock 65 miles away. Eventually, the pallet arrived, and things were not as they seemed...

This "freshly machined" engine had been sitting in a warehouse in coastal Florida for the past 7 or 8 months, with no oil applied to the block at all. EVERYTHING was rusty; the block deck, the head deck, the valve guides, the cams, the buckets, the pistons, the crank...

The picture doesn't do it justice, but those vertical scratches were deep enough to catch my fingernail on

The picture doesn't do it justice, but those vertical scratches were deep enough to catch my fingernail on

Who needs 24 buckets? Obviously, the motor only came with 22 buckets

Who needs 24 buckets? Obviously not me, as the motor only came with 22 buckets...

After a bit of back and forth with the guy who sold it to me, it became clear that I was going to have to eat the loss and have the block machined again. The local machine shop agrees that the scratches and rust pitting won't all hone out, so they recommend boring the cylinders. Gotta love dishing out $7k on an engine, just to turn around and spend another $2k for new rods and pistons frown. That's not all, though; the rust in the head is quite bad, and the valve guides are so pitted that they need to be totally replaced. New guides means a new valve job too, so let's just light some more money on fire there.

cdchris12 New Reader
3/12/24 12:59 p.m.

At this point I figure, if I'm in for a penny, I'm in for a pound, so I set my sights on making some serious horsepower from this 2JZ swap. To do that, I purchased:

  • a Link PnP ECU
  • 86.5mm Wiseco pistons
  • Manley rods
  • ARP head and main studs
  • GSC S1 cams
  • BC valve springs/retainers/seats
  • a FluiDamper crank pulley
  • Radium fuel rail/FPR/pulse dampener
  • Walbro 525 fuel pump
  • and a bunch more bits that I'm probably forgetting


At this point, I'm into the motor for quite a bit more than I paid for the entire car laugh, but cest la vie, right? 

While the motor was away at the machine shop, I started looking the car over for issues, and it wasn't long until I found one; the P/S rack was leaking pretty badly. It would leave a red puddle wherever it was parked, so some seal was probably going bad on that rack.

Here's one of the "funnest" things about owning a car that was only ever sold inside Japan originally; OEM parts don't exist outside Japan for it. In this case, for a ~30 year old car, the parts to rebuild this rack straight up don't exist anymore at all; the rebuild kit was discontinued by Toyota long ago. I ended up ordering a used rack out of an Altezza from South Africa, of all places. The rack looked fine, the lengths looked close enough, and the mounting positions were identical. I slapped the "new" P/S rack on, and very quickly realized the folly of my ways.

For starters, the new rack is physically wider than the old rack by a couple of inches. The inner tie rods are also longer by an inch or two, each. So I pretty quickly realized that the outer tie rods were bottoming out on the inner tie rods, whilst I still had toe out on both wheels... E36 M3. Any normal person would've looked for different sized tie rods (or even considered swapping the ones from the old rack onto the "new" rack), but I'm not a smart man. I went searching the ole Google and decided that buying +25mm lower control arms was the solution to my problems.

Those new LCAs did resolve that problem, eventually, but getting the old LCAs off was an absolute nightmare. The driver's side came off without too much fuss, but the passenger sides's camber bolt was totally frozen to the metal collar inside the LCA's bushing. I ended up spending three straight hours, lying on my back, grinding and cutting at that bolt before I finally made it through one side. The funny part about all this is that the LCA didn't move until I spent another two hours cutting the other side of that bolt off.

If you've never had to cut an LCA off before... Trust me, you don't want to.

Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/12/24 1:02 p.m.

Sweet car, sucks you got boned on the engine. I think you'll like the Link ECU, I run one on my Skyline

cdchris12 New Reader
3/12/24 1:12 p.m.

Back in mid February, I picked up the bottom end from the machine shop after they flat out refused to assemble it for me for some reason. They bored it, decked it, set piston ring gaps, and polished the crank.... But, somehow, assembling it was a bridge too far for them.

Oh well, that just means I'm gonna learn to assemble a bottom end for the first time in my life. That process went well, I think.

Apparently, there's a better way to measure clearances than with Plastigauge... I'm not sure what that process is, but this stuff was easy as pie to use.

Those PowerHouse Racing billet freeze plugs sure do look nice :D 

Everything is so shiny and new laugh

cdchris12 New Reader
3/12/24 1:22 p.m.

I spent the entire day this Saturday custom designing and 3d printing a relocation bracket for the new DBW accelerator pedal out of a '17 STi. It turned out way better than I was expecting.

Gotta pause the printer at a specific layer so we can insert the M6 nuts

They're a perfect, friction fit

The pedal fits perfectly!


At this point, there's a bunch of little things left to tie up, which I'm hoping to have done before the machine shop has my head work finished in a couple of weeks. Once I get the head, then I've gotta get it mated up to the bottom end and get it into the car. After that, it's plumbing fuel, oil, and water, along with custom building a new engine harness. Then I get to build a start up tune and take it for a drive under ligth boost (~3 PSI or so), just to seat the rings.

I'm also waiting on the new gearset I ordered for the R154 transmission in this car to arrive from Australia in about a month. I sure hope that $3,700 in gears, billet forks, and thrust washer plates will hold the torque I'm expecting to make with this build! :P

jimbob_racing SuperDork
3/12/24 1:24 p.m.

Wow. Sorry to hear about all of the issues. That's a really cool car.

cdchris12 New Reader
3/12/24 2:20 p.m.

In reply to jimbob_racing :

It's been a gong show getting this car built up, for sure. 

I agree that it's a cool car... I've never seen one in person in America before this one. That first test drive I took in it reminded me of the times when I was 21, stationed in Okinawa, Japan with the USMC, and driving off base at 1730 on a Friday night in my old SW20 MR2 to go find some trouble, lol. I never used to understand why people would put so much money into older cars until that exact moment, but I totally get it now :)

cdchris12 New Reader
3/18/24 7:54 p.m.

I spent a bit more time working on things for the car this past week, and I've made a good bit of progress. I got the fuel pump replaced, the fuel filter replaced, and all the fittings installed to adapt the factory hard lines to an AN fitting system. I also custom designed and 3d printed a bracket for the cruise control stalk, and redesigned the accelerator pedal relocation bracket. The checklist is getting shorter every day!

I'll be on vacation in California for the next week, so nothing will get done while I'm gone. I did check with the machine shop before I left, and they confirmed that my freshly machined head should be done by the 25th. I'll pick it up on the 26th, and probably assemble the longblock that same day. If the stars align, I can get the engine and trans back in the car the following weekend and get started building a 100% custom harness.

I also have a lead on a chassis dyno I can rent locally, so I might even be able to get this thing tuned reasonably well before Spring has really sprung. Stay tuned for the updates. :)


The new fuel pump is a lot bigger than the stock one that it replaced


I'm pretty confident this was the OEM fuel filter, as the fuel that drained from this thing was that deep brown color. I love how the car was old enough to need a timing belt replacement, but definitely not a fuel filter at any point, ever... LOL


This is the new cruise stalk location. It's a little ghetto, with the visible screws, but it's good enough to get the cruise system tested out. It should hold up for a good long while, too, so I'm not in any hurry to redesign this bracket if I don't absolutely have to.


The original accelerator pedal mount was a hair too high, so I redesigned it to lower the pedal another 40mm. This turned out to be the perfect height, as the pedal travel bottoms out about 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the floorboard.

cdchris12 New Reader
3/27/24 11:39 a.m.

I'm back from California, and the machine work for the head is _finally_ done!


Unfortunately for me, I only discovered that I'm missing a single cam cap after installing the head onto the block. I ordered a replacement, but this is gonna stop me from bringing the engine back to my garage for a week or so, at least.


Because of that missing cam cap, I can't yet install the cam gears or time the engine, but I'm not going to let that slow me down. I've got a bunch of things that can be put on the engine before it's timed, so I'll probably be putting on the intake plenum, fuel system, and the exhaust header in the next few days. I'm exceptionally busy the next few days, though, so it very well might be the weekend before I can get back to this project.

I'm also STILL waiting on my deutsch connectors to be delivered, but they're slated for delivery tomorrow. Once I have those, I can start putting together connector bits for sub harnesses on the engine (like the Dodo Racing coils), too.

Stay tuned for more updates as things progress

yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/28/24 12:09 a.m.

What a cool build. I always fear buying motors that are already worked. 

cdchris12 New Reader
4/3/24 2:21 p.m.

Last weekend was a bit of a E36 M3show, and I didn't get as much time as I would've liked to work on things. Regardless, I did get some things done:

I finally received that last cam cap in the mail, so I could then put the cam covers on, along with the timing shroud and both cam gears.

Unfortunately, I _still_ can't time the engine, as the only water pump I have is from a 2JZ-GE motor, and won't fit correctly on my 2JZ-GTE motor. As I discovered that issue, I ran into yet another issue; the hardline that should connect the water pump outlet to the heater core is totally missing. Not only is it missing, but it's also a $250 or so part... indecision

I ordered all the things I'll need to convert the back of the water pump housing to an AN8 connection, run a fire sleeved AN8 line underneath the exhaust manifold to the back of the engine, fab a E36 M3ty mount to hold it in place, and run a hose up from there to the heater core. I also ordered a brand new water pump + housing, a billet thermostat outlet, and a billet water pump pulley (since my old one won't physically fit the new pump).

That's gonna hold me back from actually installing this engine into the car until next week, but, with the engine now moved back to my home garage, I can work on it more easily. Hopefully, I can find some time this week to begin mocking up parts and figuring out how to route all the various wires for the engine harness. I'm hoping I can end up with a few bulk wire connectors on the engine side so that I can make the harness in two parts; the part which connects to the car and the part which connects to the engine.

cdchris12 New Reader
4/5/24 11:53 a.m.

I wanted to give a small update to say that fitment of new parts and the creation of wiring harnesses has begun!

These are the brackets for the Dodo Racing coils I'm using. They're a MUCH tighter fit than I expected them to be, and I ended up having to tap them in with a mallet to get them to clear the casting imperfections on the edges of the valve covers. Once they clear those, though, they have a very slight amount of play on the actual head itself. If I had to do this again, I'd probably put these brackets on before the valve covers.


With the mounts in place, I could then drop the coils themselves in. I definitely had some trepidation on these actually fitting in place, but there's pretty good clearance once each coil is seated and aligned.


This is the beginning of the wiring work; just tape the trigger wire to each coil, then use those trigger wires to measure out the power wires.


As I was terminating the wiring harness I put together, I realized something important... 12 AWG wire is simply too damn big to fit properly into the connectors that come with the Dodo Racing coils. They recommend a much smaller gauge for the connection to each coil, with a 13 or 13 AWG wire acting as the "bus" of sorts, to deliver enough amperage to support all 6 coils. I didn't want to move literally 2 feet and use the 18 AWG red and black wire I had, so I chose to do it all in 12 AWG wire. It might look goofy, but I firmly believe it's gonna work. If this turns into an issue later on, it won't take much to simply redo the pins later.


I took this photo at almost midnight, so I decided to call it quits for the night here. I still have four connectors to terminate and assemble, but that's not too difficult now that I know what I'm doing.


I'll probably try to finish this bit of the harness tonight, then move on to fitting the intake so I can mock up the fuel rail and get the connections made for the fuel injectors next. I may also cable up the knock sensors and cam sensors while I'm at it. I'll be busy all weekend working at the side job, so I'm doubtful I'll make much more progress than that over the weekend. :( 

cdchris12 New Reader
4/8/24 1:08 p.m.

I had some time to work on the car a bit yesterday, and I made a bit more progress on things. I got the wiring for the electronic fans roughed in, I built the hose to connect the ethanol content sensor and the fuel pressure sensor to the fuel feed line, and I got the EBCS solenoids mounted.


This is the factory tachometer, which I modified to accept a lower voltage signal from the ECU instead of the OEM igniter pack. All you have to do is add a resistor, which is pretty simple, really. I followed the guide here: http://www.6gc.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=89365 . That link was down when I was writing this, so here's another thread talking about the same modification: https://forums.linkecu.com/topic/7238-st205-with-cop-conversion-rev-counter/


Now that the tachometer issue is resolved, I could finally put the steering column cover back together. The cruise stalk bracket I made is a little questionable, but I'm planning to run it all the way until it breaks and I'm forced to redesign it. I also still need to add the mounting pad for the gauge there, but that will be one of the last things I do before the swap is complete.


The new water pump should be arriving tomorrow, and I'll have a bunch of other parts arriving throughout the week. Hopefully, I can get a bit more figured out on the harness wiring this evening. I also need to go to the local Fastenal at some point today and see if I can find some metric plugs for the water outlet above the oil filter location and for the second oil outlet on the exhaust side of the motor. If I can find those plugs, I'd be a lot more willing to start mocking up the intake and exhaust headers to figure out wiring bits there.

cdchris12 New Reader
4/9/24 9:56 a.m.

I made some good progress yesterday evening. I was able to find plugs locally for both the water and oil galley holes I needed to plug. For anyone who does this in the future, the water galley plug (M16 x 1.5) was available as an oil pan plug from the local auto parts store. I had a buddy come over who helped me route wires and hoses for the two EBCS controllers, and also finalize the install for the radiator fan control relay.


While he was working on that, I was working on building wiring for various bits on the engine.  I've got two sensors left to wire up on this side of the motor (the oil temp and oil pressure sensors), and I need to purchase a new alternator connector because the one from my donor harness is fubar. Lucky for me, the local parts store keeps them in stock. :)


UPS confirms that the new water pump will be delivered later today, so I should actually be able to install all the timing components this evening as well (finally).  More updates to come :D 

Shavarsh HalfDork
4/9/24 1:23 p.m.

Rad! what a  cool build. I don't know anything about the 2jz, are the cam caps interchangable? Or do they have to be machined with the head?

wyndscreen New Reader
4/9/24 3:42 p.m.

Now this is the kind of build we like!

cdchris12 New Reader
4/11/24 10:52 a.m.

In reply to Shavarsh :

I sent the cam caps to the machine shop with the head, but they are each designed to only be used in a single, specific spot. You can't see from my pics, but there are numbers, letters, and arrows etched into the top of those cam caps, which are used to determine positioning and orientation. :)

CJ GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/11/24 2:07 p.m.

Curious what assembly lube you used for the engine.  Have a buddy that swears by Redline, although I haven't used it so far - I used Lubriplate the last time and it seemed to work fine.

cdchris12 New Reader
4/12/24 12:17 p.m.

In reply to CJ :

I had actually bought Lucas assembly lube, but my buddy who builds and installs diesel engines for a living convinced me to use white lithium grease instead. It's too early to evaluate if it worked well or not, but I've got no complaints so far. :)

cdchris12 New Reader
4/12/24 12:31 p.m.

I've spent basically all my free time working on this engine build, and things are progressing nicely!


I finally got the engine timed, but I haven't pulled the pin on the timing belt tensioner just yet. I'm waiting on the lower stud for the alternator and the timing belt guide that goes behind the lower timing cover and crank pulley before the timing will be 100% done, but those parts _should_ be ready at the stealership later today. Fingers crossed on that one.


I've been working diligently on the wiring harness, and things are starting to come together there, too. I've got all the coils and most of the sensors wired at this point. I basically only have the fuel injectors, the accelerator pedal, both EBCS units, the water temp sensor (which should be delivered today), the e-fans, the e-fan thermostatic switch, and the IAT sensor (once I get a bung welded into the charge pipe for it) left to wire up. That might sound like a lot of stuff, but it's honestly a pretty short list.

I should be able to finalize the harness layout either tonight or tomorrow, then I can start the wrapping and looming process. I'm sure that will take a bunch of time, but I'll be pretty damn motivated by that point :P

cdchris12 New Reader
4/15/24 12:39 p.m.

Whelp, this weekend was a mad dash to get things done so I could hopefully put the motor in the chassis sometime this century. Unfortunately, the BOHICA (Bend Over, Here It Comes Again) continues, as the exhaust manifold has the wrong bolt pattern for this engine. :((

I ordered a new exhaust manifold last night from twistedmotionlv.com, https://twistedmotionlv.com/product/2jzgte-t4-turbo-manifold-schedule-40-ironman/ . There wasn't an option to select anything except "standard shipping", so I'm planning to call them when they open in about an hour and ask how much I'd be looking at to get next day air shipping for that. Come to think of it, I also didn't get an email confirmation of that order either...


The engine side of the custom wiring harness is done. I've got connectors laid out for all the various bits and pieces the engine needs to run. I still need to plumb the vacuum hoses around, but that's not a huge deal.

Also, you'll notice that the harness needs to sit almost on top of the oil filter sandwich plate, but it shouldn't be a problem for that to sit between the two AN-10 hoses, I'd think.

I needed to get the IAT bung welded into the charge pipe, so I asked a buddy for a favor, and he welded it in for me. It's not gonna win any awards, but it's hidden enough that no one will probably ever notice.

I may be in the market for a new Fluidampr pulley soon, as this one took a vicious hit from the new crank bolt, which kinda messed up the v belt ribs. I filed it down so that the sides of the v won't catch my fingernail anymore, but I'm really hesitant to run this long term. It _should_ survive a while, anyway, so I'll leave it alone until it eats a belt.

cdchris12 New Reader
4/23/24 10:10 a.m.

It's been a while since I updated the build thread, and I've made slow progress on a few things:


The firesleeved AN-8 hose for the heater core is built and installed now. It looks close to the header location, but there's plenty of room. This mostly completes the water system on the engine, with the notable exception of the turbo plumbing.


I've moved a bit farther along with the wiring harness work; it's starting to look like a proper harness! Also, notice that the dipstick is ziptied to the intake manifold; it straight up doesn't clear this intake, so I'll need to buy a different one at some point.


I finally got that exhaust manifold in yesterday as well. This thing is an unmitigated E36 M3 show, too. The bottom header bolts are very close to impossible to attach, so if I ever need to remove this header in the future, it's gonna be a damn project full of pain and expletives. The "T4" flange on this thing has the wrong dimensions as well, so my quick spool valve doesn't clear. I'll probably try to clearance that later today probably. Wish me luck on that, lol.

cdchris12 New Reader
4/25/24 8:43 a.m.

I was able to clearance that header flange enough to make it work for my application. It wasn't too bad, just hogging off material with a flap disc on the ole grinder. With that work done, the spooly boi has now been mounted and plumbed!


The engine side harness is also done now. I've got about 14 wires left to figure out routing for from the ECU, and I'll be done with the major wiring debacles.

I know I still need to wire in:

  • the cruise stalk (it has a Deutsch connector already tho)
  • the e-pedal (it has a connector, but only flying leads currently)
  • the two EBCS units for the external wastegate / quick spool valve (they already have wiring ran back to the cab, so not a huge deal).

I also need to re-pin two wires from the body side of the current ECU harness in the car to different spots on another ECU connector so I can get signals for the brake pedal to the ECU and signals from the ECU to the tachometer.

The current plan is to get the engine off the stand and onto the hoist this evening, then I'll get the clutch and transmission attached in short order. The clutch is going to be interesting, as I have a clutch pressure sensor inside a new clutch line I bought for the car, but the twin disk clutch needs its own hydraulic release bearing, which I'm unsure how that will work with the car's current setup and/or the replacement clutch line with a port for said pressure sensor.

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