What it cost me to own a $500 car part 17

Onto the parts acquisition. As mentioned before several times, I was an idiot in planning out my car, especially in the room to grow area. That meant quite a bit of rethink/revisits to a couple aspects namely the fuel. Being EFI and turbo that meant I needed a high pressure fuel system and a higher pressure and volume flowing pump along with a rising rate fuel pressure regulator. Along with all that I needed to purchase parts that weren’t included with the motor as well as other bits and pieces that never made it to being installed.

Parts list:

R154 Transmission


Intake manifold

Coil packs

High pressure fuel line

New fuel hardline

New fuel pump

Rising rate fuel pressure regulator





A lot of time was spent looking for setups and parts and reading about install and boy it was another couple of weeks of 100+ tabs open before I started work on the engine.


So why the 7mgte? Well after I decided on the swap I had a few requirements. I wanted a turbo/preferably factory, I wanted twin cams, I wanted the exhaust to exit on the passenger side, and I wanted something I could get parts for, the long list kind of quickly resolved itself and it was down to a 2jz or a 7mgte. I went with the 7mgte from a 1989 supra. For those unfamiliar it is the predecessor of the venerable 2jz. From newest to oldest, 2jz, 1jz, 7mgte. Tavarish actually ran a great article on the merits of the engine.


At 3.0 liters it was bigger displacement, came stock with a turbo, and had the advanced properties of a twin cam. This also meant a cross flow design which would orient the exhaust away from the clutch and brake reservoirs. The engine is known for making 400 pretty easily with a metal head gasket and arp studs.

Downfall was the very weakly torqued head bolts led to failures headgasket failures.


On my particular motor it had supposedly less then 40k miles, had ARP studs and an MLS gasket so I was off to a good start, the unfortunate part was that it was spray painted bright yellow which was flaking off and it had been left exposed to the elements with the spark plugs out and missing the wiring harness ECU coil pack, and igniter.

I was under the impression the owner was quite good with cars and I asked if he would install the setup into my car given that it already had mounts etc for a bit of extra cash. He said he didn’t want the liability nor did he really have the time, but he did have space I could use to finish the install which we could negotiate for. I said if I could move my tools in and close my storage I would be more than happy to pay him rent/help out in any way I could. Onto motor stuff.


So compression tests. With general compression tests you have two methods, wet and dry. A dry compression test involves cranking the motor over with out the spark connected to get an accurate measurement of both piston and head condition. If a chamber reads low you can add oil through the spark plug hole and read again, the oil seals the piston ring and thus isolates the leak to the head. If it tests fine then the leak is a likely result of the bottom end. If it tests low then it is most likely the head.

Wet compression went fine, dry compression yielded a low reading cylinder. Along with the shoddy paint and an admission of maybe not torqueing the studs to the correct specs that meant removal of the head.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car part 17

Closed off the important holes, and prepped it for a thurough clean. Cleaned out the oil/water mixture from the cylinders and made sure there was no gouging on the cylinder wall. No scarring indicated maybe the oil/crud mixture was preventing the rings from seating nicely. So all of that was wiped clean and the engine manually cycled a bit. If the compression is low I’ll have to come back and address it with some new piston rings.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car part 17

A couple hours with a wire brush and the wire wheel attachment on a drill and voila much cleaner

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car part 17

Having learned my lesson with the oil leak on the old motor, I went for a high heat silver this time around.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car part 17

The head went back on with a thurough cleaning and inspection.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car part 17

TDC was determined and the bolts and cam towers went in the correct order according to the FSM with a torque wrench at each step.

I even mounted the intake manifold I picked up to rid myself of the cross over manifold.

Illustration for article titled What it cost me to own a $500 car part 17

(I know very blinding, it won’t stay that way for long)

Lessons learned:

Strangers can be nice.

Some people have strange choices in color scheme.

Having a job and being able to spend money on car parts is fun.

Having said job cut into the amount of time you can work on car is not as fun.


1000 - engine + arp studs + 2x head gaskets + random bits and pieces

800 - transmission

100 - intercooler

100 - intercooler pipe kit

100 - bosch 92 fuel pump


420 - intake manifold

150 - fan shroud

100 - 3/8 hardline and earl’s fittings

100 - 6 AN lines to connect hardline to tank and hardline to fuel rail.

Subtotal: 2950

Total spent: 16235


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