Our Toyota MR2 Turbo, now with 100% less turbo

J.G.
Update by J.G. Pasterjak to the Toyota MR2 Turbo project car
Apr 22, 2023 | Toyota, MR2, MR2 Turbo, TCS Motorsports

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Having successfully mated our newer V6 engine with our 1991 Toyota MR2’s original E153 transaxle, we could slide it all into the car.

[How to bolt a Toyota V6 engine to a 30-year-old MR2 transmission]

Before we did that, though, there was a final addition we wanted to make to the engine bay before it was cobbled up with 3.5 liters of screaming quad-cam V6. After all, once that huge 300-horsepower monster was in place, there’d be little space left to do much work in there, right?

We’ll deal with that foreshadowing more in a minute, but we did want to mount our Derale oil cooler before we got the engine into its new home. We knew the new cooler would roughly replace the original intercooler, and replacing that with the old 3S-GTE in place was an unpleasant combination of blood and profanity.

After measuring the hole and perusing the Derale catalog, we decided on their 19-row Hyper-Cool Dual Cool Remote Cooler, which measures roughly 13x8x5 inches. This unit is completely self-contained, featuring two built-in shrouded fans and dual AN (-10 in our case) outlets.

Before we hit the order button, though, we whipped up a quick cardboard template and confirmed that there’d be physical space to mount the unit. Our preliminary testing showed that we were safe, even having some options for fitting the new oil cooler in the available hole.

Before slipping the engine in place, we finalized a mounting orientation for the oil cooler that we felt would provide easy access to the fittings plus good airflow. We fabricated a simple bracket and bolted it home.

Then it was time to drop the engine into the car–or, more accurately, drop the car onto the engine. With the rear subframe removed and the car on the lift, we rolled the engine under the car and simply lowered the chassis on top of it. We never needed to raise or lower the engine and were able to get everything bolted in by simply altering the height of the car.

The stock, left-side mount–the one that bolts to the transaxle–is retained with this swap, but on the right, a custom mount from Frankenstein Motorworks properly locates the 2GR-FE V6 in the SW20 chassis.

We actually installed the right-side motor mount after we had lowered the car onto the engine assembly–doing it without the mount precludes the need to tilt the engine–and once the car was lowered, the mount was easy to bolt in place. Coaxing it into perfect alignment took only a small bit of prybar encouragement.

We had the whole crew from Spiker Motorsports present–Jesse brought along his two apprentice techs–and completed the entire operation, including removing the rear subframe, rolling the engine in place, bolting it in the chassis, and replacing the subframe, in a little over an hour.

For two people, it’s maybe a 90-minute job. For one person, it’s still entirely doable, but you might need a few ratchet straps, an engine crane, and a bit more time. But it’s still well within the solo player’s capability.

Once the engine was in place, we realized that, wow, there’s a lot of room for activities in here. Somehow the 3.5-liter V6 is smaller than the 2.0-liter turbo four that came out. We totally could have installed that oil cooler after the engine was in place, too.

Speaking of that oil cooler, we still had to plumb it, but we wanted to wait for the engine to be in the chassis before we ran any lines so we were sure we didn’t have interference or heat issues. In addition to the oil cooler itself, we still have to plumb in a Derale oil thermostat, a manifold block from Improved Racing with a pair of ports for temp and pressure data, and a T-connection to send fluid to our Moroso oil accumulator. Our goal is to keep all these lines neat, accessible and away from any unnecessary danger.

Prior to plumbing, though, we still needed to install a few additional accessories to get the engine compartment a bit more properly outfitted. These included the axles, which–since the transmission is in the same place as before–carry over from the previous configuration.

Unfortunately, while the stock, right-side axle carrier bracket bolts directly to the 2GR block, it now offsets the axle a bit much.

This can be solved by removing 2mm from the carrier’s mounting surface, but it can be handled easier, with zero mill time, by getting the custom-built carrier bracket from Frankenstein Motorworks. While we enjoy mill time as much as anyone, we’ve also had zero issues with the reasonable cost and bolt-on confidence of the Frankenstein part.

We also wanted to have our Y-pipe in place, and for this we used a custom-built system from TCS Motorsports. Ty Saxon of TCS designed this Y-pipe to specifically mate to the Frankenstein headers, and while we were initially a bit sticker-shocked by the over $600 price tag, once we saw the piece and bolted it up, it was easily worth the expense over trying to fabricate something from scratch.

The pipe bolts right up the Frankenstein headers and fits like an OEM piece as it mates and crosses under the engine. We also opted for the hand-built adapter that passes over the rear subframe and connects the output of the Y-pipe to our existing Berk Technology exhaust.

Again, the fit is snug, but only because it makes the most of the area it has to work with. Once you wiggle it into position, it fits like a custom glove.

Now we have enough of the permanent bits in place that we’re comfortable finishing up the oil plumbing. Stay tuned for that update next time.

With a piece of cardboard and a tape measure, we were able to scope out options for mounting our Derale Hyper Cool Dual oil cooler. It looked like we’d have plenty of space, with options, in the spot formerly occupied by the intercooler.

The cooler mounts to a simple aluminum bracket attached to the car with Nutserts. At the top, the upper flange of the cooler is screwed directly to the chassis.

With the oil cooler in place, we were ready to lower the car onto the engine. The crew from Spiker Motorsports gathered around and kept watch for interference while Jesse Spiker guided it in from above.

With the right-side mount attached, it needed only a few little taps to drop right into place where the fastener could be hand-threaded.

From underneath, you get an idea of how much space there is, even with the new V6 engine. The gap from the block to the front firewall is big enough to swallow your whole head.

While we could have modified our stock axle carrier bracket on the mill, but this $125 carrier bracket from Frankenstein Motorworks does the trick perfectly without having to modify a 30-year-old piece.

The custom-built Y-pipe from TCS Motorsports costs $649 but is worth every penny once you see how cleanly it mounts to the Frankenstein headers and hugs the engine.

This adapter will let us bolt our exhaust to our existing Berk Technology muffler setup.

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Comments
Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/31/23 8:31 a.m.

you could fix that lack of a turbo problem while you are in there.

singleslammer
singleslammer PowerDork
3/31/23 10:11 a.m.

In reply to Noddaz :

There are superchargers available for that motor too. 

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/31/23 11:15 a.m.

How is the transmission going to hold up to all of that new power?

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
3/31/23 11:53 a.m.
VolvoHeretic said:

How is the transmission going to hold up to all of that new power?

E153s are notoriously robust. Which is good, because they're also in rare supply these days. But there's plenty of them out there handling 500+whp in drag cars with no issues. There's a few 700+hp cars that have lunched fourth gear, but I don't think we need to worry about that any time soon. When we had the diff installed, the trans guy when through and measured and inspected everything in there and gave it a clean bill of health. He was actually really impressed with how good everything looked.

The tradeoff is the unit itself is probably 15-20 lbs heavier than it needs to be, but that's entirely equitable IMO.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
3/31/23 11:55 a.m.
singleslammer said:

In reply to Noddaz :

There are superchargers available for that motor too. 

Bro do not even get me started. There's the Lotus-sourced one from the Evora, and supposedly a TRD unit out there as well. 

I think 300whp will be plenty for this car*

(*I'm not even going to pretend this is true, but I can't afford a blower right now)

MrJoshua
MrJoshua UltimaDork
3/31/23 12:09 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
singleslammer said:

In reply to Noddaz :

There are superchargers available for that motor too. 

Bro do not even get me started. There's the Lotus-sourced one from the Evora, and supposedly a TRD unit out there as well. 

I think 300whp will be plenty for this car*

(*I'm not even going to pretend this is true, but I can't afford a blower right now)

Rumor is the TRD one is a net power loss. surprise

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/31/23 12:34 p.m.

Thinking about making use of those looped-back cooler lines on the transaxle?

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
3/31/23 1:15 p.m.
GameboyRMH said:

Thinking about making use of those looped-back cooler lines on the transaxle?

Yeah Wilhelm Racing actually makes a trans cooler kit that has adapters for those. I'm doing all the other oil and fuel plumbing now. If there's room, I may add one.

The good news is we swapped out our viscous diff for a gear-driven Quaife, so just that change should reduce temps a bit. 

madmrak351
madmrak351 Reader
4/1/23 4:38 p.m.
GameboyRMH said:

Thinking about making use of those looped-back cooler lines on the transaxle?           Thanks for asking the question I was about to ask.

 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/1/23 5:39 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:
GameboyRMH said:

Thinking about making use of those looped-back cooler lines on the transaxle?

Yeah Wilhelm Racing actually makes a trans cooler kit that has adapters for those. I'm doing all the other oil and fuel plumbing now. If there's room, I may add one.

The good news is we swapped out our viscous diff for a gear-driven Quaife, so just that change should reduce temps a bit. 

Oh my no, Torsen type diffs add all the heat to gear oil.  In a road racing RX-7, a clutch pack diff or an open diff would see about 300F rearend temps, a Torsen elevated that to about 400F.

It is precisely because they are gear type that they pump heat into the oil, they work off of friction on some very small surfaces.

 

Gear oil temps would be neat to monitor, one way or the other.

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