If you are serious about tracking your SW20 MR2, the strength of the front hubs is something you should be at least aware of, if not concerned about. This is one that broke on my car at an autocross! What follows is a bit of a deep dive into why they fail, and my solution to the problem.
OK, confession time. Earlier this spring while working on another project, I did something dumb. Possibly the dumbest "little mistake" I have ever made while working on a car. While re-installing the lower intake runners on the 2GR-FE, I lost a nut. I'm sure you can guess where it went...
The E153 transmission from the MR2 Turbo is strong, but that strength is also it's greatest weakness. Large, heavy gears that generate a lot of heat, waste power, tear up synchros, and don't shift very nicely (especially the early boxes like mine). Plus they have become difficult to find on the used market, and rebuild parts are no longer available for the early years. There has to be another option!
The ABS system in the MKII MR2 is known to be a bit... let's just say it was the best they could do in 1990... Toyota did improve it quite substantially in 93, and I had retrofitted a 93 ABS ECU into my first MR2, but that only helped so much. But what about something more modern? Like the system from the MR2 Spyder?
For years my suspension has been basically all of the parts that I sell, but not much of it was unique. Standard geometry kit, Koni coilovers with my top mounts, the control arms were the only "custom" pieces. Spring of 2020 I found myself with some extra time on my hands, and I seriously revisited my suspension model for the first time in years. Maybe I can improve things a bit...
Almost since I first v6 swapped on my car, I have been reading about the performance benefits of a true dual exhaust with an x-pipe compared to the y-pipe I have been running. But I was skeptical. How much difference could it really make? Would I even be able to fit two pipes over the cross member? Finally I decided to give it a try.
Toyota rates the 2GR at 269hp (at the flywheel), give or take a bit depending on the application. My swapped MR2 initially dyno'd 280hp (at the wheels). Assuming 15% drive train loss, that's 330hp at the flywheel, or a gain of 61hp vs stock and a specific output of 94hp per liter. Not bad for a stock motor with intake / headers / exhaust, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement!
A few months ago I posted about a new exhaust that I built for my 2GR swapped MR2. It sounds great, it looks awesome (especially in combination with the rear diffuser that I built around it), but I very quickly found that it had one major drawback. TERRIBLE drone at about 2500rpm.
For a while now I have been wanting to build a new muffler section for my car, mostly to replace the 27lb Berk Technology muffler with something a bit lighter weight. From there the project evolved into a low profile, center exit design to better accommodate a rear diffuser that I would like to build some day. Having something unique is of course a plus as well.
When I swapped the 2GR-FE v6 into my MR2, one of the little things I did was add an oil pressure sensor hooked up to my Race Capture Pro data logger. This has allowed me to log oil pressure for later analysis along side all of the other parameters that I log on track or at an autocross.
For quite a few years now I have been tempted by the idea of ditching my 3S-GTE turbo 4-cylinder and swapping in one of Toyota's newer v6 motors, namely the 3.5L 2GR-FE. But my 3S was still running great, and I had too much time, money, and effort invested in it over the years to drop it without a good reason.
For quite some time now I have been wanting to build my own control arms for my car, and I finally did. I had three main goals here. Add some adjustability, improve the suspension geometry by lengthening the control arms, and hopefully drop some weight. Spoiler alert: two out of three isn't too bad! It all started with a design in SolidWorks (well several designs actually), and extensive stress analysis.
In the process of developing the Wilhelm Raceworks big brake kit, I have calculated the brake bias of numerous combinations of rotors, calipers, proportioning valves, pad friction values, etc. In the interest of better explaining why I make certain recommendations, the results of some of those calculations are outlined below.
I wanted to build this car from the ground up to be primarily a track car. Given that, and given how my previous car met it's end, that meant starting with a roll bar. The big "hope I never need it" mod. And of course to go with that, good 6-point harnesses and bucket seats.
The last NASA Utah event of the year, the Tres Duro. Three track configurations in one day on Saturday (Outer, East, and Full), and then Sunday a full day of running the 4.5 mile, 23 turn full track. Awesome! Earlier in the year I made a comment about my car being "nearly flawlessly reliable"...
In case you don't know me, or haven't read my "about" page, my name is Alex Wilhelm. Owner, engineer, fabricator and test driver; Head of purchasing, shipping, marketing, and also head janitor at Wilhelm Raceworks. Really, it's just me. I have been driving and autocrossing / tracking MR2s since 2005, and building parts for them since 2010.