When you think about drag racing, the two most likely cars you will probably picture in your mind are the Skyline GT-R and the Toyota Supra. These big cars with big engines can make well in excess of 1000 horsepower in the right spec and can shoot down the strip in anywhere from low 10s to mid 7s - like the HKS R33 GT-R.
However, there are always people out there who want to do things differently. We got a call from Andy Gray over at PowerVehicles.com in Japan who sounded extremely excited on the phone. "Man, you have got to come and see this," he said. PowerVehicles deals with pretty impressive machinery on a daily basis, so when they get this wound up over a car then you can bet it's really something special. With this in mind, we shot down to his shop in Kasukabe, Saitama, to see what all the fuss was about. Needless to say we were not disappointed with what we saw: a 600 horse, 2.2-liter engine and a full TRD wide body. This has to be without a doubt the most insane street-registered MR2 ever built. The owner, after spending a small fortune, decided it was time to move on and PowerVehicles took the car off his hands.
The owner of this SW20 MR2 wanted to build a competent drag car that would be equally at home on the street and on the strip. Opening the FRP engine cover reveals an awesome sight: a gigantic Trust T78 turbine sitting on top of the small 4-cylinder 16 Valve 3S-GTE. There's so much custom piping that you barely see the cam covers of the little Toyota lump. Running an immense 1.8 bar of boost, this motor can push out 600 PS and propel the 1260 kg MR2 to quarter mile times in the low 10s. The engine was fully rebuilt and sports an HKS 2.2-liter kit comprising of a full counter balanced crankshaft, H-section connecting rods and forged pistons. The extra 200cc help spool up the large turbine, which is controlled via an external wastegaste that dumps gasses directly into the atmosphere via a very loud 'screamer' pipe. Since not many drag-spec exhausts are available off the shelf for the SW20, the owner had a full titanium system made up. With two centrally mounted silencers and no catalizers in sight, it's extremely loud and conspicuous.
Cooling the intake charge is a Phoenix Power triple core intercooler mounted on the driver's-side intake. All the piping was custom fabricated and connects to the standard intake plenum. Feeding the T78 is an HKS Super Power Flow foam filter, which sucks air in from the passenger side intake. Keeping the engine nice and cool is a job for the Trust oil cooler and the front mounted radiator. The fuelling is taken care of by an in-tank fuel pump and four 850cc injectors. Managing the engine is an HKS F-Con V Pro ECU, which has been tuned to perfection; it offers impressively docile engine performance when cruising around town, as well as going crazy when that tacho needle hits 6,000 rpm.
To help the radiator cool that monster mid-mounted engine, a vented bonnet was fitted; and aero mirrors help aerodynamics at higher speeds, shaving off precious hundredths of a second in the quarter mile. The engine cover features two massive outlets that channel hot air from the motor, while a colossal custom-made spoiler keeps that rear end planted. After all, the MR2 is known for its snappy lift-off oversteer.
The ten-year-old SW20 is beginning to show its age, so the owner decided to liven things up a little with a full TRD wide body conversion. The FRP kit replaces all factory body panels and increases the overall width of the MR2 by almost 10 cm. The whole car was then sprayed in a very catching shade of metallic purple, covering the original white Toyota paint job. Reclining Recaro seats offer great comfort and support, while the full Takata racing harness is there for that extra bit of safety.
The obligatory Auto Meter tacho has been fitted to the left side of the main instrument hood and features a programmable shift-up light. An A'PEXi Rev Speed Meter has been positioned in front of the main instrumentation and offers accurate readings directly from the ECU. The owner sure liked his gadgets - as can be seen from the HKS CAMP unit that displays various engine parameters through the aging Epson LCD screen. The HKS CAMP, short for Computerized Automobile Multi Player, can be controlled via the remote control and programmed to represent the data with either numerical values or graphs.
The HKS EVC Pro boost controller, along with the HKS GCC, has been mounted at the bottom of the center console for easy access. On such a highly modified engine it is always imperative to keep a close eye on the oil pressure, which is done thanks to the A-pillar mounted HKS gauge, with the oil temperature one right below it.
Now Andy Gray faces a tough decision: Does he keep the car and enjoy what is one of the most complete MR2s out there, or sell it to someone looking for an unconventional drag car? It's a hard choice, but we know without a doubt what we would do.