By Ben Duen
Before taking action, it’s best to have a plan. So what is the plan for project MR2.0? 500whp? 11 second supercar? Rolling showcase for all things multimedia? King of hellaflush and sStance? No. Been there and done that. None of these things appeal to me anymore. Nowadays, I still love to tinker and mod out but I take a more ’enlightened’ approach to a build with only a few true requirements
Project MR2.0 MUST be uber reliable with perfect oem idle and oem running characteristics and above all else, it MUST be fun to drive. That’s it, everything else comes second. Does this mean I’m just going to buy a stock car and slap a Jade sticker on it? Hell no, of course it will get ‘built’..but the focus remains–NO hellaflush…… it will be HELLAFUN… TO DRIVE.
It’s getting hard to find completely stock unmolested examples of these cars. I lucked out- we are starting with a 91 MR2T Steel Mist Grey owned by a little old lady for the past 15 yrs (thanks to Justin for finding it). It is completely stock and never been modified. Even better news is that it has 180k miles and the drivetrain was ready for the scrap yard. Why’s that good? New motor time.
Building the stock 3SGTE Gen2 motor was out of the question. Too much needed to be done and the amount of turbo lag those old turbo motors are saddled with doesn’t make for a fun drive. Gen 3 3SGTE is head and shoulders better and certainly an option but to get the driving characteristics I was looking for, Gen 4 ( a newer 3SGTE out of a Toyota Caldina) was the ticket.
I’ve been hearing some great things about an up and coming MR2 specialty shop up north in Stanhope, New Jersey called PRIME primemr2.com.
They are rapidly becoming the place to go for GEN 4 swaps.
And a phone conversation with Justin from Prime sealed the deal for me. Their build philosophy mirrors mine. Learn more here: Primemr2.com
A few days after our conversation, they have already started on the car. Prime Stage 2 is what I opted for Primemr2.com and the end result should be a car that is capable of high 12′s to low 13′s, 30mpg hwy, weighs as light as a Scion FRS (approx. 2700lbs) with 100 hp more than a stock MR2 and more torque than a E92 M3. The true beauty of the motor is OEM idle and running characteristics w barely any turbo lag. Plus the turbo motor is literally a workhorse run of the mill Toyota motor out of a Toyota grocery getting station wagon proven to just start up and go all day every day.
Drivetrain is finished thanks to Prime. Now, time to get the car transported down here for part 2. Very excited about part 2 of the build – Volk Racing, Rotora, TRD, ARC, Greddy, and Phoenix Power are just a few big name toys coming in. UPS driver is going to have a very busy month delivering.
For now check out the pics from the engine swap…from one of the fugliest engine bays you’ve ever seen to that beautiful PRIME GEN 4 w polished piping and powdercoated engine pieces. To be continued…..