The Hooniverse Dream Car Garage: Project Spool – Supra MKIII 5SGTE

I’m not sure what it is about old Toyotas that I like so much, but this MKIII is a project that’s been floating around in my head for about 5 years. I bought a pair of MkIII Toyota Supras for 700 dollars back then, and though my attempts were eventually foiled and one car sold and the other parked at my father’s house. Back in 2010, though, I was a wide eyed ignorant fool who was eager to part with hard-earned dollars. You see, back then, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of making my heavyweight luxury sport coupe as light and nimble as possible. Someone on one of the Supra-based internet forums told me in no uncertain terms that ‘nobody will ever build a MKIII lighter than 2800 pounds’. There’s nothing I hate more than being told something is impossible. One day, it will be done.

Exterior –

The lead image is pretty close to what I’d be looking for. I don’t want to go with a flat-black paint job, because I think they look silly, but I would like to have some silly Jay-Dee-Emm bolt-on overfenders, some silly wide wheels, and a much lower stance. I think the car pictured is a little too low, and a little too ‘stance’, but pretty close. I also tend to prefer the 86-88 MKIII nose over the later 1989-92, so the bumper on my 86.5 would be perfect, if cleaned up a bit. Lightweight wheels are imperative, so I’d probably go with a set of Enkei RPF1s in the widest size I could get and give the car a wide square stance. In my humble opinion, 18″ wheels look too large on this car, but I do want to fit some big rotors and calipers, but I’d like to get away with 17s if possible. I’m still undecided on the 3-piece rear wing that some Supras came with, some days I like it, and other days I prefer an unfettered rear end. In order to get the car down to the goal weight of 2700 pounds from the stock 3400-ish, there will be need for a considerable quantity of carbon-fiber square footage on the outside of the car. My build car is an early non-targa non-sunroof car, which I believe is quite rare, and already the lightest car Toyota built on this chassis. The car would receive a carbon roof, carbon doors, a carbon hood, fenders, headlamp covers, mirrors, and hatch, plus polycarbonate windows on all sides. I don’t really like the idea of exposed carbon weave, so I’d paint over all of that in the stock maroon color, as it has stuck with me for some reason as a pretty color. I’ve always liked when people put those nose stripes around the front of “Mustang” Celicas, so maybe I’d put a big white one of those on there. You know, like this.

Interior –

On the inside, this is pretty much the look I would want. Everything not-necessary stripped completely out of the car, and a solid well-build roll cage built up and well connected to the chassis. The MkIII, for as heavy as it is, has a lot of issues with chassis flex, so a good roll cage is imperative. A pair of wide comfortable racing bucket seats would be fitted, and there would be a steering wheel and shifter, but not much else. I would completely strip out the dashboard, and fabricate a small panel to run a digital dashboard display. I would like to look into hacking the displays of an 8-inch Android tablet, as I think it’d be pretty cool to have a touchscreen display that runs your tach, speedometer, some idiot lights, all of your audio to a single center speaker, and navigation of course. Who needs a million gauges, when a half-pound 200 dollar tablet can now pretty much control everything. For some level of comfort, the floors of the car would be coated in a layer of perlon felt, you know, the stuff they usually use for trunks. It’s lightweight and it’s cheap, both are important.

Drivetrain –

I’m a boost addict, and I’ve always wanted to ditch the stock 7MGE straight six and bolting in a 3SGTE four-cylinder turbo. In this fantasy scenario, that 3SGTE has been replaced with a stroker 2.2 liter 5SFE block mated to all of the other parts from a 3SGTE. People always suggest 2JZ swaps, but they are just as heavy and way overplayed. The second suggestion is always LS swap, and I don’t want to be mistaken for a hill person, or someone who would outfit their home in pine furniture. A hillbilly with an LS motor is a lot like a geriatric on Viagra, they’ll stick it in anything.
The 3SGTE owned motorsport and sports cars for Toyota for a long time, they put it in MR2 Turbos, they put it in the Celica All-Trac, they threw one in the SARD TRD JGTC and Le Mans racers, they gave one to Rod Millen, and it dominated at Pikes Peak. It’s a stout engine that is capable of wicked levels of horsepower. The MR2 Turbo was pretty conservative at 200 horsepower, but Millen’s Celica was putting down somewhere around 900 horses from a 2.2 liter. I’ve seen numerous engine builds in the 700-900 horsepower range, so I’m going to be tuner-conservative and aim for 550 with my build. If I can get the car down to 2700 pounds, that would be less than 5 pounds per horsepower. Most of the time, these engines are built for front drive or mid-engine transverse applications (Celicas, MR2s, etc), but I’ve seen a few go into AE86 Corollas with a modified Supra W55 5-speed transmission. Personally, I’d rather go with the 6-Speed from a Japanese market Altezza, which should bolt right up to an S series engine.
Basically the car would be a rolling engine stand with nothing extraneous. Lights and wipers would be run from a separate circuit, and the engine would have its own custom harness running with a stand-alone engine management system.
A huge front mount intercooler, a TD06-20G turbo kit, big intake tubing, big exhaust tubing, high flow injectors, the works. It should be fun, and it should be able to roast tires all day long.
I’ve always wanted a hoony sort of car that I just don’t care about. Something close to a drift missle that is bound to get messed up and you just keep on rocking. It’ll be loud, obnoxious, probably ugly, definitely dangerous, and a whole lot of fun. Am I ever going to finish a project like this? Well first I have to buy a house, and then I have to finish my Honda MB5 project, and then my Porsche project, and then my Audi Project, and then my 68 Mustang project, and THEN I can get down to my Toyota Supra. Yeah, it’ll be years, but it WILL get done. I promise.

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  1. texlenin Avatar

    "A hillbilly with an LS is a lot like a geriatric on viagra, they'll stick it in anything.."
    That, boys n girls, is our first entry for "quote of the year"!

  2. Zedrick99 Avatar

    We gutted and caged a Mk3 for ChumpCar and barely got it under 3000lbs. 2997 according to the scales at Roebling Road with no driver in it or fire bottle. Granted, we were still using the 7MGE and didn't replace any sheet metal with composites. We got rid of anything under the hood that didn't contribute to going vrooom, had no glass at all (just lexan windshield), and zero creature comforts such as door handles or the ability to raise and lower the headlights without a speedhandle. The dash consisted of a tach mounted on what was left of the steering column and 4 tiny gauges stuck in a piece of sheet aluminum.
    Hopefully the composite body panels get you where you want to be weight-wise. It'll be a blast and a half to drive either way and something awesome to brag about : )


    Anything sub 2800 lbs is going to be very close to impossible without making a silhouette car. The basic structure is built very heavily on the MkIII. And you seem at cross purposes in your mission, on the one hand saying you want something of a missile that you can comfortably just beat on for cheapish, but on the other hand talking about custom carbon panels, which even if you make them yourself are still going to be quite expensive and something I know I'd care about if they got crunched. And the 3S-GTE is actually not at all a light engine for a turbo 4 cylinder, having an iron block. They generally weigh about 420-440 lbs, or about the weight of a stock dressed aluminum block LS engine.

    1. CABEZAGRANDE Avatar

      Also, as someone who has a fair amount of experience with 3S-GTEs, having helped a friend in college build his ~500 whp SW20 Turbo, a 450+ hp 3S is a cantankerous beast that is super finicky and hard to drive (you will not be seeing boost until 4500+ rpm, when it all comes in one big wad) and is one fueling hiccup away from blowing up. Don't let me dissuade you, but you have set yourself a VERY difficult and expensive task. To meet your weight goals in this large of a chassis, you're going to spend a LOT of money and time replacing body panels with carbon and chassis sections with tube latices. And your power goals are certainly possible with a 3S, but it's going to be at least a $8000 engine and it's going to be on a knife edge, that's simply a ton of power to make out of anything under 3L. Also, stick with the W transmissions, the Altezza 6 speed gets very weak at about 350-400 whp. A W58 is stronger, actually slightly lighter, and is a quarter the cost or less.

      1. Preludacris Avatar

        If I understand correctly, this series is all about dreaming big. Other cars written about have also had elements of implausibility. I guess this could be a beater for a multimillionaire. But realistically, any vehicle with this much work into it, regardless of cosmetics, would be hard to consider a "missile" car.
        I did find the inconsistencies a bit distracting, but would still rather enjoy Bradley's imagination than read a research paper on how to successfully and "correctly" modify a Supra. For that, there are plenty of completed build threads out there.

        1. themostlyporscheblog Avatar

          To be fair, my own brain finds my inconsistencies distracting.
          I like to dream about implausibilities. Upcoming attractions include a Ford Maverick sedan stage rally car, a Biturbo powered Audi C4 S6 Avant, and a GT3 RS 4.0 powered Cayman.
          Possible? Technically. Probably? Maybe not.
          If I win a powerball lottery, though, each and every one of these projects WILL come to fruition. That, you can bet on.

        2. wunno sev Avatar
          wunno sev

          personally i appreciate having an experienced practical perspective on an imaginary build. if we all had infinite money we could commission blank-slate engines custom-built to our purposes, and the dream build would become a dream engineering project.
          a dream build may not be based on an actual plan, but knowing the limits and limitations of the equipment helps flesh out the idea as it would be built. or at least, that's how i look at it. infinite money is no fun!

  4. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    As a former MkII owner, I am obliged to point out to you yet again that MkIIIs are porky fatty fat fats that plump it up chubwise in an obese manner.
    Also stock turbos are cheating.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Succinct. I like it.