Thursday, July 24, 2014

5k: Cheaper Elise: 2000 Toyota MR2 2ZZ-GE Swap

The 3rd generation (W30) Toyota MR2 Spyder was the last version of Toyota's mid engine runabout to be sold anywhere in the world.  It was a decent handling little car and I recall driving one new at a dealer's lot back around the year 2000; it was light and superbly balanced. The only finger that can be pointed squarely at the MR2 was that it didn't have the thrust from its 138 horsepower inline-4 even when the Celica had a 190 horsepower 2ZZ engine in the GT-S model.  Thankfully, folks have figured out that this swap is easy to do and suddenly the little MR2 has proper power to match its open mouth "wow" facial expression.  Find this 2000 Toyota MR2 2ZZ Swap offered for $7,500 in Austin, TX via craigslist.

Conspiracy theorists will say that Toyota never put the 2ZZ into the MR2 Spyder because they were selling them to Lotus for the US spec Elise.  With the bigger engine the MR2 Spyder would have been just as quick as an Elise with a fat passenger, but I can't imagine any sales would have been cannibalized from something like the Elise or if Toyota would have held back based on cash from a few sales to Lotus for the engine.

The engine you see in place of the original 1.8 liter 1ZZ-FED rated at 138 horsepower is the 2ZZ-GE from a Celica GTS rated at 180 horsepower.  Both engines are dual overhead cam 16-valve engines with variable valve timing, but the 2ZZ has a second higher lift cam profile at high rpms. 

The interior looks grungy in the photos and the passenger seat really looks like someone had an embarrassing accident while riding shotgun.  The seller surmises that coffee was spilled on it, but I think VVTL-i kicked in yo and the passenger wasn't expecting it.

See a faster drop top cone clipper for less?


  1. I like it. Makes me wonder how hard it would be to come up with the supercharged 2ZZ-GE from an Exige and put it in a 2000 MR-2. The result would be a poor-man's, well, Exige. With better build quality. Or, you could consider it the Frankensein-spiritual-descendant of the 88-89 Supercharged MR-2. It would be super fast.

  2. I remember the concept version of the 3rd gen MR2 (showcased around 97-98, I believe); had a seriously cool-looking sequential shifter that never made it to production. Picture Ferrari's open-gated shifter in all it's glory, but on a sequential gearbox. I liked it a lot.

    Cool cars, I always think of them as alternatives to a Miata. I'm sure this one's even more fun with the extra kick


  3. That welded up oil pan scares me. In theory all it has to do is keep the oil from dripping but you have to wonder how vibration will effect those welds in the long term.

    1. that would be a moroso oil pan... 1zz and 2zz have oiling issues, and this pan is a MUST

  4. This is perfect, grungy enough to be inexpensive and grungy enough that I don't care about the fact that I'm not going to take perfect care of it. If I had the available cash I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I currently have a Toyota Matrix with the 1zz and the engine is such a tease, it revs so smoothly that it is easy to run it up to the rev limiter in 2nd and 3rd. It is willing but there just isn't much urgency. I've always wanted to drive the 2zz but I don't need it in my family hauler, having it in my weekend toy would be perfect and would at least satisfy my desire to own an Elise without worrying about the fact that I don't have a garage.

  5. What's with the 4x4 stance?

  6. just got my 2002 mr2 a 2zzge with a gt35 turbo on it..oow..and the six speed.
    the japanese 190 hp ecm...5 psi boost...ooommmfffgggg....its a rocket now


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