The second-gen MR2 Turbo's (1991 to '96) looks have withstood the test of time. Its smooth bodylines and sports car appeal make it a sought-after commodity all these years later, and its high-performance 3S-GTE turbo engine easily outperforms the current-generation MR-S. When Shiraz Sookralli of Elmont, N.Y., went searching for a new ride, he was immediately attracted to the tantilizing turbocharged two-seater. His search for a second-generation MR2 led to the purchase of the pristine gunmetal gray example that graces these pages.
Full-blown gearhead Shiraz was nowhere close to content with the 200 stock ponies under the hood, so he enlisted the help of Rampage Racing in Woodside, N.Y. One of the weak points of the 3S-GTE powerplant is the factory head gasket, so before any performance parts were installed the engine received a major overhaul.
With more than 100,000 miles on the odometer, the bottom-end surprisingly had little or no wear on the cylinder walls and was left alone. The cylinder head received a mild porting and polishing regime and a three-angle valve job. To ensure proper sealing, the stock valves were machined to sit precisely on the valve seats. The factory composite head gasket, which has been known to fail under heavy boost, was swapped out in favor of a 2.0mm steel head gasket from HKS. The stock cams orchestrate valvetrain actuation with a pair of AEM adjustable cam gears fitted to fine-tuning valve timing.
Then, Shiraz got serious with horsepower production. He chose the mother of all turbo kits-GReddy's T78 turbo kit. It's capable of producing enough airflow to generate more than 600 hp. The kit comes with a tubular stainless-steel manifold and an external GReddy Type-C wastegate that regulates boost pressure to 25 psi. Charge air is routed to a custom Rampage-built, trunk-mounted, air-to-air intercooler via 2.5-inch, mandrel-bent aluminum piping. From the cold side of the intercooler, boost pressure is then fed into a 70mm BBK throttle body that sits atop a custom-fabricated intake plenum. A 100-hp NOS wet system was also added for initial turbo spool-up.
Next,DRT wired up and installed a Haltech E6S stand-alone engine management system. The Haltech is configured to run the eight injectors (four 550cc primaries and four 720cc secondaries) in staged configuration. The factory ignition system was upgraded with RX-7 twin-turbo coils and a pair of MSD 6A ignition boxes to ignite the highly pressurized air/fuel mixture. On Rampage's Dynojet, the car generated 475 hp to the rear wheels without nitrous. Transferring that much power to the ground requires some serious drivetrain upgrades, which Shiraz also addressed. The factory peg-legged differential was swapped out for a KAAZ limited-slip differential and a heavy-duty, six-puck clutch from Advanced Clutch Technology replaced the stock clutch.
Shiraz also addressed the MR2's styling by adding a GReddy Gracer body kit and Bomex air scoops painted to match the factory gunmetal paint. A set of 17-inch Blitz Technospeed rims wrapped with Yokohama AVS Sport rubber supply the contact patch. A set of A'PEXi N1 coil-overs gives the MR2 lightning-quick reflexes through turns.
The interior has retained much of the factory look with the exception of four GReddy 52mm electronic gauges grafted into the dash. With a quick glance, Shiraz is able to monitor crucial engine vitals such as boost, oil and fuel pressure as well as exhaust temperature. Mounted behind the steering wheel are a 4-inch tachometer, Blitz Dual SBC boost controller and an Auto Meter oil temperature gauge.
You'd think 475 hp under the beautiful MR2 skin would be enough for Shiraz, but like all gearheads he wants more. He hopes one day his MR2 will generate 600 hp and click off 10-second timeslips on street tires. Next time you cruise the streets of New York, watch out because this "2" can really tango, and we're sure this Toyota will be the last one on the dance floor.