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1990 Toyota MR2 - 28 Days Later

Four weeks, a tight budget, and a class record to take down

Alex Grant
Dec 8, 2017
Photographer: Alastair Richie

With its untreated surface and invite-only lineup of Australia's most experienced tuning shops, class wins at the Motive DVD Drag Battle and Nulon Nationals at Cootamundra Airfield don't come easy, and breaking records can take years of fine-tuning. BYP Racing and Developments took 28 days to accomplish both.

1990 toyota MR2 shine auto rear add ons Photo 2/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Shine Auto Rear Add Ons

The MR2 that shook up this year's event is not a big budget build, either. Picked up for $2,000 AUD (roughly $1,550 USD) without any documents and delayed until the last minute due to other projects, it's a 620-bhp road-legal mongrel, built from spare parts. A demonstration of hard-wearing high performance that, less than a month after the spec sheet was drawn up, had taken the 2WD Drag Battle title and broken the 2WD four-cylinder record by 0.6 seconds.

It's an even better result than shop owner Benny Tran was expecting. "The initial build aim was to run nines on street radials at the local dragstrip, compete at Roll Racing, and break the 2WD record at Coota. I don't ask for much," he says, smiling. "A lot of people were surprised with the times it was putting down."

1990 toyota MR2 passenger side view Photo 6/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Passenger Side View

With a workshop located not far from Sydney Motorsport Park, it might surprise you to hear that Benny's not a man known for quick Toyotas; BYP is a Honda specialist with a proven track record in the World Time Attack Challenge and endurance racing. So, beneath the MR2's decklid, there's a turbocharged K Series doing the hard work here, but a suitable chassis for drag racing would mean stepping away from the norm.

1990 toyota MR2 k series engine Photo 7/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 K Series Engine

"The idea was to promote and market a very basic package that can run a 9-second pass on street tires," Benny explains. "Showcasing over 400 bhp on street radials with front-wheel drive is hopeless, and though the S2000 could work, it would need a lot of driveline upgrades to keep it together. So the MR2 was perfect-it's light, parts are easy to find, and the mid-engine puts all the weight over the rear axles for maximum traction."

It was also relatively easy to convert to a more familiar driveline, with engine mounts and driveshafts available off-the-shelf to streamline the build and let the team concentrate on upping the power. Even on a short deadline, plans evolved mid-build. The huge Garrett turbo comes paired with a K20A head and K24 bottom end, the last-minute capacity upgrade delaying final mapping until the morning of the event. With no teething problems so far, a little more boost could push the times down even further.

1990 toyota MR2 aeroware front lip Photo 11/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Aeroware Front Lip

No regrets, then? "The K20A worked well but, having worked with a K24 for a lot of our builds, we switched the bottom end and it transformed the car," he says. "This is a development car, so we can show people who either want a K20 or K24 the potential power they make with a turbocharger behind it."

1990 toyota MR2 nardi 350 steering wheel Photo 12/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Nardi 350 Steering Wheel

Keeping the budget tight meant sticking with a manual transmission; the original K Series 'box runs drag-spec gears and links up to an adapted Mini Cooper shifter through custom-built cables. BYP managed to package the entire cooling pack and water-air intercooler in the back of the car, leaving the front end free for the 35.0L fuel cell.

It's proved effective: a 10.1-second quarter-mile at 152 mph on a surface that typically adds around 2 seconds to the e.t. you'd expect at a treated dragstrip. As per event rules, that's on street-legal rubber, with a full interior. The MR2's tiny 1,100kg (2,425-pound) curb weight, based toward the driven wheels, meant it could squeeze every drop of performance out of its offbeat driveline without needing heavy chassis upgrades. For a record-breaking car, it's a bit of a sleeper.

1990 toyota MR2 honda k series motor Photo 16/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Honda K Series Motor

"We wanted to try something different: a car you can take to the track, run a number, and then drive home. Turning the boost up should get it into the nines but, with the targa top, you can take the glass panels out and go for leisure drives in the summer. It's turned out to be a great all-rounder."

1990 toyota MR2 driver side view Photo 17/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Driver Side View

Reliable, road legal, and capable of upsetting builds put together over years and at much higher cost, the MR2 makes the start line at Cootamundra surprisingly accessible. This might be an unforgiving event, but as proof of street-ready performance, it's easy to see why Australia's biggest tuners can't get enough.

1990 toyota MR2 driver side view Photo 21/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Driver Side View
1990 toyota MR2 shine auto three piece rear add ons Photo 25/25   |   1990 Toyota MR2 Shine Auto Three Piece Rear Add Ons
By Alex Grant
19 Articles
1990 Toyota MR2 - 28 Days Later
Tuning Menu
Owner: Benny Tran
Hometown: Wetherill Park, NSW, Australia
Occupation: Owner, BYP Racing and Developments
Power: 620 bhp
Engine: K24 bottom end; Wiseco pistons; BC forged rods; K20A Type R cylinder head, oil pump kit; Prayoonto Racing stage 2 camshafts; Supertech valvetrain; Garrett GTX3582R turbo; custom top-mount turbo manifold; TiAL 60mm wastegate, 50mm blow-off valve; 3"-to-3.5" dump pipe exhaust; 4" intake pipe; 700-bhp-rated water-to-air intercooler; Aeroflow 40L fuel cell, Teflon braided fuel lines and fittings; Bosch dual 044 fuel pumps, 1,300cc injectors; P2R fuel rail, Works Engineering stage 2 fuel pressure regulator
Drivetrain: Gear-X gear set and 4.0 final drive; Clutchmaster pressure plate, flywheel; Driveshaft Shop Level 5.9 driveshafts; Mini Cooper shifter box
Engine Management: Hondata K-Pro ECU
Footwork & Chassis: GAB dampers with 4K front and 3K rear springs; HUX Racing rear lower control arms
Wheels & Tires: 15x4.5" Ultra Star 571 front, 15x9" CCW LM5 rear wheels; 24.5x5R15 Sportsman S/R front, 275/50R15 Street R rear Mickey Thompson tires
Exterior: Aeroware front lip; Shine Auto three-piece carbon-fiber rear add-ons
Interior: Nardi 350 leather wheel with blue stitching; Tunerview RD1 digital display; PLX Wideband O2 sensor; Auto Meter shift light

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