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1997 Toyota Supra RZ - Everything Changes

Multiple paintjobs, turbos, and wheels later, Marcel Lech's perfect Supra is realized

Aaron Bonk
Dec 6, 2018
Photographer: Marcel Lech

Six years ago, Marcel Lech wasn't asking for much. He thought 450 hp was all he needed to regularly enjoy the fruits of his Supra. Instead, he ended up with a 2JZ good for nearly 1,000 hp that, at best, gets used, weather permitting, only a handful of days and just two seasons out of the year.

1997 toyota supra RZ sard GT fuji m spec rear wing Photo 2/17   |   1997 Toyota Supra RZ Sard GT Fuji M Spec Rear Wing

"What I wanted changed as time went on, so the car's been through more than a few full paintjobs and exterior revisions, numerous turbo setups, two full engine builds, five sets of wheels, and the list goes on," Marcel says regarding the lengths to which he's gone to strike the perfect balance. "I was never fully satisfied."

But today, he thinks every single one of the boxes of that Supra RZ of his—a right-hand-drive hardtop model he had delivered to his home in Vancouver, British Columbia, from Japan—have been checked. Maybe. "A project car is technically never done, as there are things to always be improved on," he says, "but I consider the car done at this point."

1997 toyota supra RZ 2JZ Photo 6/17   |   1997 Toyota Supra RZ 2JZ

And by done, he's talking about the latest exterior enhancements that are made up of Varis Ridox gear and custom gunmetal paint applied by nearby Cartech Collision. But you're still thinking about that 935 whp he says the inline-six churns out—not to mention the 800 lb-ft of torque, both of which, according to Marcel, start to really come alive as early as 4,200 rpm. "The goal was to have a relatively responsive setup while still achieving big horsepower numbers," he says. "We maxed out the AEM 3.5bar MAP sensor. The car has the potential to exceed 1,000 whp with more boost."

The shop responsible for the 32 psi keeping all that combustion inside those cylinders is Evolution Auto in nearby Burnaby. "I've spent countless hours working and wrenching on the car myself over the years, but that's not to take away from the majority of work, [which] they've performed," Marcel says about the tuning firm that has an affinity for Supras and certainly knows its way around a 2JZ. Work that's included a single-turbo conversion, of which a BorgWarner unit now runs the show, forged internals, and GReddy and TiAL intercooling and boost management devices that supplant the stock pieces.

1997 toyota supra RZ varis ridox aero Photo 10/17   |   1997 Toyota Supra RZ Varis Ridox Aero

Of course, all this comes at a cost, despite the notion that Toyota's cast-iron-block 2JZ is virtually bulletproof right off the assembly line. "I think the biggest misconception is the 2JZ-GTE is cheap to make power reliably. With quality parts, it can actually get very pricey," Marcel says, before going on to hint at what he's invested on his end. "Anyone who owns a high-performance vehicle pushing near 1,000 whp or more can attest [that] it's never smooth sailing, especially if the car gets driven hard. Parts are prone to fail or break, [and] that's a part of the game."

Marcel's known this all along, though. He explains how the Supra was a childhood dream car for him and how, later, as an adult, the rear-wheel-drive, six-speed platform is what held his interest. His enthusiasm led to a non-turbo model at first, but even at 18 he knew that wasn't the Supra for him. "I never intended on owning it long-term, since it wasn't the turbo model," he goes on to say before laying down the list of cars that followed that naturally aspirated model but preceded his current Supra. A list made up of more than one twin-turbo Supra and an R33 Skyline GT-R. Despite the Nissan, the road always led back to Toyota. "Toyotas, especially in the '90s and early '00s," he says, "had a build quality ahead of their time."

1997 toyota supra RZ TRD steering wheel Photo 14/17   |   1997 Toyota Supra RZ TRD Steering Wheel

Six years ago, Marcel had no idea the Supra he'd have delivered from overseas would amount to anything near what it's become. "As the years went on, my goals always changed, and I always pushed the car to the next level." Everything changes—even when it means transcending from something good to something great.

By Aaron Bonk
413 Articles
1997 Toyota Supra RZ - Everything Changes
Tuning Menu
Owner: Marcel Lech
Hometown: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Occupation: Automotive Photographer
Instagram: @marcel_lech
Power: 935whp; 800 lb-ft of torque
Engine: Custom 10.0:1 pistons oversized wristpins, velocity stack, intake; Brian Crower Heavy Duty BC625+ rods; GSC S2 billet camshafts, titanium valvesprings; Titan Motorsports cam gears and tensioner; BorgWarner turbo; GReddy intercooler; TiAL 44mm dual wastegates, blow-off valve; DocRace exhaust manifold; 4-inch downpipe; HKS exhaust, DLI ignition amplifier; Injector Dynamics 1,700cc fuel injectors; Walbro dual 450-lph fuel pumps; Toyota Denso coilpacks; Titan Motorsports oil pump; ATI crank pulley
Drivetrain: Clutchmasters FX850 twin-disc clutch; solid differential bushings
Engine Management: AEM V2 ECU and MAP sensor
Footwork & Chassis: BC Racing DR-Series coilovers; Cusco front and rear sway bars, front and rear shock tower braces
Brakes: AP Racing six-piston front brakes; StopTech rear rotors
Wheels & Tires: 18x10 front, 18x11 rear Advan GT wheels; 265/35R18 front, 305/35R18 rear Toyo R888 tires
Exterior: Varis Ridox aero with carbon-fiber add-ons and custom rear-end; Seibon TS-style hood; Shine Auto Top Secret-style diffuser; custom Top Secret-style LED taillights; carbon-fiber Ganador mirrors; Sard GT Fuji M-Spec rear wing; dark gunmetal gray metallic paint
Interior: Recaro Confetti seats; TRD steering wheel; BTI gauge
Thanks: Evolution Auto; Cartech Collision

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