The Cosmonauts get faster – AW11 MR2 1MZ v6 Swap

After our extreme 4AGE failure at the last race we decided to go forward with our engine swap project. After visiting the junkyard and researching online we settled on an early model 1MZFE engine. At my favourite u-pull-it junkyard (Henry’s Used Auto Parts in Blackstone, MA) there were around 25 of these engines available. Most were in Avalon’s but some in Camry’s or ES300’s. We settled on a ’97 unit which was mostly complete and had only 115k miles. Some of the Avalon’s there had over 350k, so this one should last us quite a while!

Our swap plans in bullet form:

  • 1MZ engine from a 1997 Avalon
  • Fuel rail from 1996 model – return based fuel system
  • Stock fuel injection, wiring harness, air intake etc from the 1997 Avalon (we grabbed the ENTIRE harness from two cars when we pulled the engine)
  • Transmission from 2nd gen MR2 non-turbo (S54 trans)
  • Flywheel from a 3SGTE (2nd gen MR2 turbo) modified with slotted bolt holes – we snagged an “F1 racing” unit on for cheap
  • Clutch TBD – most likely use a 3SGTE pressure plate with a 5SFE disc
  • External oil cooler and filter relocation
  • DIY accusump made from a fabricated aluminum tank
  • Deep sump oil pan with some baffles added and an extended pickup
  • Custom fabricated engine mounts
  • Axles from a non-turbo 2nd gen MR2 – should “drop in” (we’ll see!)

All the 4AGE parts went on craigslist and made back almost $500. Coupled with our residual value from the judges of $150 we should be able to easily do this swap for under a $500 total value. As of this writing we still have the old MR2 C50 transmission, 3 ECUs and a bunch of other new parts for sale.

We took the valve covers off the 1MZ and checked out the oil pan and compression. Everything looks great. No sludge at all (which can be an issue with these engines). Should be a runner! Hopefully we’ll do some test-fitting of the engine this weekend. For now it is sitting on the engine stand awaiting new cam and crank seals from rockauto (which do appear to be leaking).

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