Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2ZZ Powaaaaa: 2001 Toyota MR2

This final swapped car completes today's triumvirate of swapped rides, but this one is, surprisingly, an upgrade.  The 3rd generation (W30) Toyota MR2 Spyder was the last version of Toyota's tossable mid engine runabout to be sold around the world, but for some reason it was saddled with a dog for an engine, even though Toyota had a fantastic engine that just bolts right in.  Find this 2001 Toyota MR2 with Toyota 2ZZ swap bidding here on eBay for $6,000 located in Nashville, TN.

Why was the final MR2 stuck with a basic 138 horsepower inline-4 even when the Celica had a 190 horsepower 2ZZ engine in the GT-S model?  My own personal conspiracy theory revolves around the deal Toyota had selling 2ZZ engines to Lotus for their $50k Elise sportscar.  A factory MR2 with the 2ZZ power would have offered Elise performance for a fraction of the Lotus cost, but I can't imagine the sales of a few engines to Lotus would have stopped Toyota from offering that engine combo when they put the 2ZZ in the Matrix/Vibe a few years later.  I will just wave my hands in the air and scream CONSPIRACY!!!

The engine (that isn't pictured anywhere in this advertisement) 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 secondary higher lift cam profile that opens up the breathing at high RPM and completely changes the driving experience from Toyotazzzzz to Toyotaaaaaeeeeee!

See a better sleeper for cheap?


  1. Replies
    1. "...a roadster that Chief Engineer Tadashi Nakagawa commented would break 'the cycle of growth', referring to the habit of successive vehicle generations getting ever larger. Everything about the new car would be smaller – overall proportions, engine size, power, kerb weight and price. It would also be much simpler to produce, with all markets sharing a similar specification."

      "In line with Toyota’s decision to simplify production for all markets, one engine was offered throughout the world, the all-alloy 1.8-litre DOHC 16v VVT-i 1ZZ-FE unit also used in the seventh-generation Celica. With 138bhp on tap the new car was decently rapid, boasting the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class, and was particularly praised in the motoring press for dart-like responsiveness through the major control systems and its outstanding handling dynamics."

      My opinion is that, once again, a swap is pretty dumb in a car like this especially when the aftermarket has created many alternatives that are far better in every way. I'm all for personalizing but there's a point where logic ends and stupidity begins. Well over 300 horsepower is fairly easily attained from the original 1.8-litre. Here are just some of the limited edition aftermarket specials that got released. You will not see yourself coming and going in these.

      Modellista Caserta


      Tom’s W123 MR-S


      VM180 Zagato


      VM180 TRD


      I have a request. Please keep knocking these; I want them to lose more value so I can buy one and have a lot of fun with it. This is a real sports car for enthusiasts who don't give a damn what anybody else thinks.

  2. After careful assessment, agree with this conspiracy theory. I can only imagine the heyday car magazines would have had with a side by side comparison. The biggest difference maker would be the sweet Lotus looks..

  3. vtec kicked in yo

  4. Seems like a lot of work to gain 42hp. 3s or 4a that thing. Or my usual answers, lsx or 4bt.

  5. Is it any fun driving this thing or is it still outpaced by moms in minivans and camrys?

    1. This is my answer to your question; NO, they're not any fun to drive. No sir. The mid-engine config, rev the daylights out of the (basically) bomb-proof motor, light weight, drop the top with your pinky finger, zip-around-a-corner on rails, "no I can't move your living room because I own a two-seater", weird-o Japanese styling with no freakin' luggage room all equal no fun at all. You don't want one...move along, move along, move along...nothing to see here. Just put it completely out of your thoughts. Look, a squirrel!

    2. Much like when parents tell small children NOT to touch something, now I must find one.

    3. Dangit. My strategy backfired.

  6. Hey, I'm of few blocks from where these photos were taken. No one checks for these and I'm sure the enthusiasts love it that way.

    P.S. DT Crew et al; please keep the flat brimmed society and entitled hipsters that are immigrating :) to our lovely little corner of the map to STOP. LMAO they can leave their collection of vehicles when they cross the Mason-Dixon line on their way to Detroit!

  7. I owned a bone stock example. Very cool car. Perfect balance. More legroom and headroom than a Miata.
    I think the prevalance of the 2ZZ swaps is due to the shocking frequency of 1ZZ engine failure on these things coupled with the abundance of wrecked Matrices, Vibes, and Celicas. It's a very easy swap, and you get a 6MT as part of the deal.


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