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Showcase cover image for RichieRichJP's 1991 Toyota MR2

General Information

Year
1991
Make
Toyota
Model
MR2
Color
White (Icelandic) Frost Blue Pearl
History
I originally bought this car in June 2009.
This is my first long-term project that I have committed myself to and have only recently completed it in October 2012.
Over the course of about 4 years, I have spent probably close to $25,000 and 1000 hours of personally building, repairing, sanding/grinding, welding, greasing, repainting, removing, and replacing parts. I've been pretty meticulous with it to where I would take off small brackets for polishing and painting, and even trying to replace every bolt outside of the car with stainless steel bolts.
I have planned the car from the start but as with money and fitment issues arise, thing would have to get changed.
Before starting this project, I barely had any working knowledge of being a mechanic and my father had just purchased my first 69pc. socket set two years prior. Although it didn't get much use, once I started this project, I found myself wearing those tools out and expanding my collection extensively.
I began working on this car with very little knowledge; I didn't understand torque ratings, thread pitches, or how to take anything apart. Basically, I didn't really understand how a car worked and I was scared to take apart anything. After hours of research, one project by another, I would work certain areas of the car by pulling things apart and understanding how they worked. With the help of a great online community (MR2OC) as well as picking up an official Toyota FSM for this vehicle, I would read over directions multiple times to get an understanding of how, why things are the way they are, and how they coincide and work with other parts.
To this day, I have gained enough knowledge to diagnose various issues and have done several thousands of dollars worth of repairs between 5 family member's cars.

The end result of this car was 436rwhp/354tq. The motor is, however, built to support over 900hp and would need minor adjustments to achieve higher numbers. I built this vehicle with some future planning in that it already has supporting mods and would require cheap upgrades (necessary parts) in order to get more power.

All the information about the build history and getting ripped off by mechanics are below.
Note: I have been ripped off for several thousand more on another car project.
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I originally bought this shell in the spur of the moment. I had looked into buying an SC300 or MR2 in 2007 and gave up looking because they were all priced too high. When I saw this MR2 in the for sale section in June 2008, I saw it was listed 3hrs away! Most MR2's I found are either sold in NY, TX, or CA, so I had to contact this guy. At the time, I was going to turbo my Camry with a near stock 5S head and ended up using that money on this car. In fact after spending about $20K on the parts to get the Camry turbo'd, I had the last of the money needed for upgrade parts on the cylinder head but used it to buy the MR2 shell instead. I ended up swapping over what parts I needed and sold the rest of them off. After being royally screwed over by MCS, I had also found that the internals I had weren't usable on my 5SGTE build that they were prepping. After losing a couple thousand dollars and waiting for a year for the block, I finally was able to recoup some of the money from compensated parts they gave me and went back at the project again. By this time, my cylinder head from ATS had been sitting in my closet for almost a year and I finally got the money a whole year later to purchase a 2.3L 5SGTE stroker block from ATS. It's sad to look at the potential and uniqueness the Camry once had, but I'm glad I didn't turbo the Camry!

Screw-job story:
As far as the MR2 project goes, my first screw-job was by MCS Motorsports, which is now closed. It's a very long story which I’ll keep short. As being the next best alternative to ATS Racing at that time, I went with MCS to build my block as ATS customers claimed long wait times; shops claim engine builds should take 6 weeks, but people claimed 6 months or more. I called MCS and they said they will deliver in 6 weeks for sure. Obviously that didn’t happen. 8 months later and after paying them about $6000 for parts, I find out from Nick (who was a mechanic and took customer calls) that he was planning on quitting and that he had a strong feeling that Shaun (owner) was going to shut down and take everyone’s money. He was officially correct 3 months later. By the 11th month, I finally told Shaun I was going to drive there and pick everything up. Being 1350 miles (going one way) of a drive, Shaun knew it was long and tried to talk me out of it. Nope. I was firm and decided to go there and pick everything up. Once I got there, I found out that the motor work had been contracted out to another shop. The block (which I picked up) was not assembled. Shaun also failed to tell me it was built as a 5SFTE stroker and it was dismantled because someone used the wrong bearings. I went to with Shaun to his secret storage unit where he kept an inventory of used motor parts and just gave me parts to compensate loss. Of those parts, I probably made about $1000 by selling it back into the community. So compared to the $6000 I put down, approximately $5000 was lost.

During the time of having to deal with the engine logistics and nightmare with MCS Motorsports, I was busy locally trying to find a reliable mechanic for rebuilding the transmission that was given for free with the MR2 shell. There was a local mechanic that worked at one of the towns best shopped who also did work on him off-time in his garage because he not only had the equipment, he had a lift too. After having met him through a friend of a friend, I thought I'd trust him to do some regular maintenance at the time since I found that his son loves imports and his dad works on his car. After a few regular jobs, I trusted the guy and let him rebuild my transmission. Overall, it appeared that he had done a good job - he showed me the transmission when it was completely taken apart and even showed me the damaged parts. Since he was also training a new employee at his actual place of work on how to rebuild a transmission, he said it was almost like a favor of a job... So I felt good about it. The problem was known when I got the transmission was that the gear for for the reverse was gone. Even the oil that came out of the transmission was silver because it completely disintegrated. Fast forward to the next events below with RPM garage, they did find out that the transmission was essentially stuck in gear. So much for a repair!!!
Three years later, Eric Hux took my transmission apart at one point because the car wouldn't shift into reverse when he tried to get the car on the dyno rollers. Eric found a bent penny used as a spacer for the 5th gear stack. So if you ever meet a backyard mechanic who lives on Pine Lane in Pace, FL, run far away!!

Next was from a local shop in Gulf Breeze named Real Power Motorsports (now closed down). After speaking with many people, they were regarded as one of the best shops in the panhandle. Since I am very weary of leaving work up to mechanics (strangers), I did all of the initial work possible before I had to bring the work to the shop for Justin to work on. The original setup was a log-style manifold but due to fitment complications, I decided to ditch that setup and get an ATS exhaust manifold kit. My car sat 8 weeks before I got the new setup and all I needed was the intercooler piping to be welded. So I thought. The car ended up sitting another 4 months not being worked on because Justin could not diagnose the issue of the car not cranking. On MR2OC, I read that there could have been several possible issues but I presented one in particular to him and he said he checked it. The problem was that the ignition wire was broke (under the sheath) between the ECU and the fuse box in the engine bay and he said it measured fine via voltmeter. Whatever diagnostic work Justin had done with the wiring, he screwed it up and shorted the MAP sensor. Being that this was the major issue with the car and Justin couldn't get it running, after those six months of waiting, I finally decided to show up at the shop with a tow, pay the bill, and bring the car to someone that knows cars - Eric Hux.
Funny enough, this problem that caused my car to sit for 4 months was later diagnosed by Eric Hux within 24hrs.
Moving on... I had purchased and installed a Mishimoto radiator and later found that the aluminum cap for the bleeder valve wasn't in the box. I didn't know that one was supposed to be included so I ended up ordering a -4an flare cap for it. Justin claimed that it was the "wrong size," and it obviously wasn't, but he replaced it - he didn't say how though! After Eric Hux got my car running, he saw a major coolant puddle near the front of my car. Upon inspection, he found that the flare cap I installed had been changed out for a rubber bleeder cap (like you find on brake caliper bleeder valves) and fastened by a worm clamp. I have to say that this had to be by far the worst band aid fix I've seen. By the time Eric Hux got to this point, the rubber on the bleeder cap was already crumbling.
Other "repairs" included a pinched coolant hose (running off of the main coolant bypass pipe on the block), wiring ran beside the serpentine belt, a pinched and split vacuum hose from the FPR, undone transmission-to-block bolt, axle nuts in the rear practically off the spindles, and reversed sway bar end links.
Also, what's more frustrating is that the Redline MT90 oil I had supplied Justin to fill this transmission with was not in it!! Instead, I was given some generic crap.
I later found that RPM Garage had also wired back (without the relay I had originally installed) my SPAL Engine Lid fans... INTO MY ALARM. wtf!!
The total bill came out to just over $3,000 from RPM Garage and my receipt was basically EVERYTHING that I had already done on the car worked over again. I was quite pissed to say the least.

I spent probably close to 1000 hours building, repairing, sanding/grinding, welding, greasing, repainting and replacing parts. I've been all through this damn car!

Thanks:
If it weren't for Eric Hux, this car would have never been a dream come reality. That guy is a damn genius!
ATS Racing for the amazing build!
1991 Toyota MR2 (White (Icelandic) Frost Blue Pearl)

Modifications

Drivetrain
91-92 3SGTE Cylinder Head (rebuilt): GSC Power-Division S1 Cams 268/268, Engle Valve Springs, Ferrea 6000 Series 1mm Oversized Valves, OEM retainers, guides, locks, etc., 3 Angle Valve Job, decked, ATS Racing adjustable Cam Gears, Greddy Timing Belt, NGK BKR7E Spark Plugs, OEM wire set, Cap, Rotor, Brady Motorsports Anodized Black Valve Cover Hex Bolt kit

+1998 Camry 2.3L Stroker Block: vatted, honed, decked, blueprinted, 5SFE forged crank machined to fit 3SGTE Rods, Eagle Forged Connecting Rods, L19 ARP Head Studs, ATS Racing 5SGTE Head Gasket, ARP Main Studs, ACL Race Bearings, Custom ATS Forged Pistons built by Wiseco 8.3:1 CR 88mm, Toga HV Oil Pump

Ignition: MSD-6200 (MSD 6A), MSD-8223 (MSD blaster 3 coil), MSD-8213 (blaster coil bracket), MSD-8920 (tach adapter), MSD-8823 (MSD vibration mounts).

Fuel:
Walbro 485lph fuel pump
Fuel Tank lid bulkhead modified for -8AN XRP Nylon Braid Feed, -6AN XRP Nylon Braid Return; Aeromotive A1000 13101 FPR; Aeromotive Inline Fuel-Filters 12304 & 12335
Wolfkatz Fuel Rail
Injector Dynamics ID2000 Fuel Injectors

Cooling:
A2W Cooled: X02 Racing A2W Intercooler, 2003 Ford Lightning LPF Heat Exchanger, Jabsco Water Pump, Canton Racing 2Gal coolant tank modified w/ radiator cap
Modified Cooling Outlet w/ Filler Neck
Mishimoto Turbo Radiator
EMS Powered Engine Lid Shroud
Dual 11" SPAL fans

Engine Management:
AEM EMS Full Standalone
AEM Electronic Boost Controller
AEM UEGO
GM 3-Bar MAP Sensor (x2)
Autometer 3-Bar MAP Sensor
ATS Racing GM Knock Sensor Kit

Intake/Exhaust:
Precision Turbo PTE6262 - T04SP, .63 A/R, 3" V-Band Discharge, T3; Hinmi 2.5" - 3" V-band adapter
DEI T3 Platinum Turbo Blanket
Apexi Power Intake Air Filter 500-A030
ATS Racing Top Mount Exhaust kit: Manifold, 3" Catless DP, and Dump Pipe Tungsten Coated
Thermo-tec Graphite Black Heat Wrapped (downpipe, exhaust manifold, dump pipe, b-pipe)
Tial MVR 44MM Wastegate; Black + Blue Springs @ 11.60psi
Berk Technologies 3" Dual Exhaust
ATS Racing 5L Intake Manifold w/ 75mm TB Inlet
RMR '86-'93 Mustang 5.0 75MM Throttle body (Selling: Summit Racing '86-'93 Mustang 5.0 75MM Throttle body)
BBK '86-'93 Mustang 5.0 TPS
ATS Racing Phenolic Spacer
ATP Excess Oil Accumulator (Catch Can) Kit Rev.3
HKS BOV SSQ Ver. 2

ATS Racing Chromoly Inner CV axle cages
Kirkosaurus Front + Rear polyurethane motor mount inserts
Brady Motorsports Black Anodized VC Bolt kit
RacerXFabrication lightweight alternator bracket (1lb)
Power Steering cooler

*All functional and mechanical OEM parts are new (starter, alternator, water pump, etc.) except the IACV.

Transmission:
Quaife LSD
3SGTE ACT TM1-XTR6: 6 puck, unsprung disc - Capacity: 645 ft/lbs
3SGTE Clutchmasters Flywheel
Speed-Source Brass Shift Cable bushings
Injected Performance SS Braid clutch line

Currently at Hux Racing for:
AEM EMS retune for 93 octane.
Undetermined future: E85 for ~700rwhp
Interior
EMS Powered Harness Bar
Sparco Fighter bucket seats
Sparco 4 pt 2" harnesses
Momo Shadow Shift Knob
Momo Profile black/silver shift boot
TRD Short Shifter
Autometer Cobalt oil pressure, boost/vac, EGT electronic gauges
RacerXFabrication Clutch Pedal Stop
Exterior
Poopeeroo Smoked Turn Signals Set
Audio
Pioneer
Suspension
TRD Front/Rear Sway Bar w/ Poly Bushings
High & Tight Front/Rear sway bar Endlinks
EMS Powered Sway Bay Reinforcement Plates
Prothane Front & Rear polyurethane bushing kit
H&R Springs
V-Max Performance Anti-Torque Bar
Goodridge SS Brake Lines
Carbing Front Strut Tower Bar (Aluminum, Triangulated)
EMS Powered Rear Strut Tower Bar
Toyota MR2 Spyder Steering Gear Pinion (Pending install)
Wilhelm Raceworks Suspension Geometry Kit (Pending install)
Wheel and Tire
Wheels:
Enkei RPF1's
Front: 17x8 +35
Rear: 17x8.5 +30

Tires:
F: Falken Azenis RT615 245/40/17
R: Nitto NT05 255/40/17

H&R DRS Spacers
F: +10mm

Gallery

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