Will 2JZ power make this Chevy Malibu a surefire low-buck champion? | #LowBuckWednesday

By Colin Wood
Mar 22, 2023 | $2000 Challenge, Chevrolet, malibu, Low-Buck Tech, 2JZ, Tire Rack, Low-Buck Racing, #LowBuckWednesday

What do you get when you cross a late ‘70s Chevy Malibu with a Toyota 2JZ inline-six engine? Stan Dorsey’s entry into the $2000 Challenge, apparently.

Like many projects, this Malibu is special to Stan, as it originally served as his first car, transporting him throughout his high school and college careers. In total, Stan added roughly 100,000 miles to the odometer since the car was first purchased in 1987.

Although the 2JZ is a more recent addition, the car’s build thread dates back some eight years to 2014. Back then, the car sported a 350 cubic-inch V8 engine and was fresh from long-term storage.

Today, though, this Malibu’s engine bay is filled with turbo 2JZ power–but will that be enough to be the fastest low-buck machine? There’s only one way to find out.

What is the $2000 Challenge? It’s our annual low-buck automotive festival that celebrates autocross, drag racing and ingenuity, which returns to Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida, on a new weekend for 2023, May 27-28.

The real challenge is in the event's name, however, as entries are required to prepare their vehicles for less than $2000. Each of these sub-$2000 cars will compete in autocross and drag racing sessions followed by concours judging the next day.

Rather see if more money equals more speed? Over-budget builds are also allowed to enter. Need more time to get your build ready? Spectators are welcome, and there will also be a Hagerty Cars & Caffeine, swap meet, model car concours and even a post-event track day at the Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park.

Think your low-buck racer or over-budget car is up to the challenge? Enter your build here, and learn more about the $2000 Challenge at 2000challenge.com.


The Grassroots Motorsports $2000 Challenge is presented by Tire Rack, in association with CRC Industries and Miller Electric, with trophies from ACI Automotive & Performance.

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frenchyd MegaDork
3/23/23 8:40 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Same power for massively less money using the trailblazer/Envoy  Atlas engine.  (4.2 liter) 

  Our own     Calvin Nelson. Made 824 hp on a stock unopened junkyard engine with 175,000 miles on it.   Just a pair of reground cams and E85 fuel. 

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
3/23/23 8:44 a.m.

There are 2Jz from the Lexus that can be had very cheaply from a junkyard without paying Supra tax. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/23 10:04 a.m.

And significantly smaller, too, which feels weird to say about the 2JZ.

The Atlas is a behemoth!

frenchyd MegaDork
3/23/23 12:25 p.m.

In reply to Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) :

Well since we are talking about various brands the  Jaguar 3.6 and 4.0  are all aluminum not a cast iron block like the Toyota  yet 4 valve per cylinder,   reliable,  and even has an optional supercharger available.   
     While most were automatics some used a ZF 5 speed. 
   Going rate for running junkyard ones is in the $400 range.  
 The advantage over the Atlas is it has solid lifters instead of hydraulic and a rear sump oil pan. 

frenchyd MegaDork
3/23/23 12:28 p.m.
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) said:

There are 2Jz from the Lexus that can be had very cheaply from a junkyard without paying Supra tax. 

I've never measured a 2JZ,  what is it's size compared to the Atlas?   How much extra does the cast Iron Block weigh?  
ps: Calvin was able to get an Atlas in a Fiat and a Datsun 260Z 


 oops I was wrong.  Going price of the Jag 4.0 Jag  is starting around $200. They come in 2.8-3.2 3.6 & 4.0 sizes   I suspect only the 3.6 & 4.0 came here.  

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/23 12:59 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I have not measured one but from a guesstimate, the bore spacing and deck height are similar to that of contemporary mid sized four cylinders.  So bore spacing in the 90-94mm range and deck height in the 220-230mm range.

The crankshaft is a work of art.


Edit: bore spacing 92mm, cannot find accurate deck height measurement but 86mm stroke + 142mm rod length + 38mm compression height = 266mm deck height, which is amazingly tall for a 3 liter.

For reference an Atlas has 103mm bore spacing and a 232mm deck height, which is also kind of shocking.  The engine height must all be in the cylinder head smiley

yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/23/23 1:54 p.m.

Also, considering the 2JZ has well known and guaranteed formulas to get them to 500-2000hp without any experimenting. And swap kits to keep fabrication and time down. While other engines might be just as stout while being cheaper. Venturing into the unknown can be time consuming and time cost a lot of money.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/23/23 2:30 p.m.

Can we just ban this clown already

MotorsportsGordon Dork
3/23/23 3:13 p.m.

There is no argument that you can  get huge amounts of power out of a 2jz and they aren't exactly a rare engine having had non turbo versions fitted in Darius cars like Lexus etc. basically the Japanese so motor. Being a g body Id also consider doing a Buick v6 turbo. They also produced a 4.1 bored out version of the  3.8 which is popular with hot rodders to turbo.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/23 3:25 p.m.

In reply to MotorsportsGordon :

The 4.1 block is quite a bit weaker than the '109 block used in the turbo 3.8s as well as the last few years of 231 production.  The '109 block is generally good to about 900hp or so before it will split up the middle, and you can do this with stock displacement and heads.  It's more fun with better heads and less boost, mind you, but in a turbo engine it is sensible to trade a little displacement for a lotta strength.

(looks at the 2.4l engine swapped into his once 2.5l Volvo)


I have played with a 4.3l turbo Buick but the only Buick parts were dimensions smiley  Seriously thick casting aluminum block with the two extra rows of head bolts like the Stage II engine, appropriate heads, etc. 

The craziest thing was that the compression was bumped UP to 10:1.  There was no noticable lag on the street, and at the dragstrip it was a ridiculous weapon.  Owner was shooting for high 9s and he found 8s instead.

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