En­gine swaps are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, but one range re­mains rel­a­tively un­tapped, es­pe­cially on our shores: the 1GZ-FE. It packs no fewer than 12 cylin­ders and orig­i­nally shipped inside a lux­ury limo — Nathan has gone and shoe­horned his in­di­vid­ual-throt­tle-bod­ied ex­am­ple into a one of the rarest Toy­ota sub-mod­els around.

Nes­tled away in the sweep­ing plains of the East Coast re­gion of Hawke’s Bay, which is bet­ter known for its award-win­ning wine than its cars, lives a cre­ation smoother, bolder, and much more el­e­gant than any drop you’ll pick up off the shelf down at the lo­cal bot­tle shop. To cre­ate such an art­work meant the blend­ing of two of Toy­ota’s finest cre­ations - the heart of the ul­ti­mate in Ja­panese lux­ury, and the rarest sub-model in Toy­ota’s X-chas­sis fam­ily.

What we’re talk­ing about, of course, is the cre­ation of Nathan Mes­sen­ger’s Mark II. A car­pet layer by trade, Nathan has al­ways had a love of all things low slung, fast, and loud, and, af­ter sell­ing his pre­vi­ous 1UZ-pow­ered RX30 to free up some cash, he knew ex­actly what chas­sis he wanted next. Set­ting his sights on a ’79 Toy­ota Corona Mark II (MX41), Nathan tracked this par­tic­u­lar ex­am­ple down in the own­er­ship of Rupz ‘SKOOLN’ Parbhu, who was stor­ing it away as a parts car. Ex­pect­edly, it was a touch worse for wear af­ter be­ing used as a stor­age and seat­ing area in the garage, so Nathan set about restor­ing it back to its for­mer glory as a clean, run­ning and driv­ing cruiser. “I al­ways wanted an MX41, be­cause they are so hard to find. It’s the uni­corn of the shape; so, when I found out Rupz had a spare one, I had to grab it off him,” Nathan said.

Once the body had re­ceived the much-needed love nec­es­sary to get it straight again, friend Wayne was em­ployed to lay down the lus­cious coats of fac­tory green be­fore ap­ply­ing a dust­ing of gold Xi­ral­lic for ex­tra pop. Af­ter that, the fun could be­gin. Nathan had al­ways in­tended to swap out the fac­tory en­gine that the car had ar­rived with, in favour of some­thing ‘bent’, although, ini­tially, it was meant to be a 3UZ.

Re­search­ing such a pack­age on Ja­panese auc­tion sites, Nathan dis­cov­ered two things: first, the 3UZ had a very sim­i­lar price to that of the 1GZ-FE found inside the Toy­ota Cen­tury — the lux­ury limou­sine line tar­geted to­wards CEOs and other well-to-do ex­ec­u­tives — and, sec­ond, that no one had done a hell of a lot with th­ese — ei­ther here or over­seas. What’s a ‘1GZ-whatchamacal­lit’, you might be ask­ing? It’s noth­ing short of 12 cylin­ders in V-con­fig­u­ra­tion and packs a but­t­load of torque. Nathan’s wife must have taken no­tice of his feel­ings to­wards land­ing one, as one promptly ar­rived at the door as a present for their wed­ding an­niver­sary — now that’s how you give a gift, peo­ple!

Be­ing an ’01 model, the V12 was a far-sight newer than the ’79’s clas­sic body lines, and Nathan wanted to keep the bal­ance be­tween the new and old schools even. “I got all the fac­tory in­take bits pow­der-coated and tried to make it look less ‘new’, but it didn’t suit the car at all,” he told us, con­tin­u­ing, “we also had is­sues with the dual fly-by-wire ac­cel­er­a­tor. At the time, no com­puter within the bud­get was ca­pa­ble of run­ning it; we would have had to pur­chase a Hal­tech and adap­tor box, so we de­cided that a me­chan­i­cal link­age would be used. At the same time, it was pointed out that the old ’60s and ’70’s Fer­raris didn’t have the ex­otic high-pitched sound that peo­ple as­so­ci­ate with V12s; they had a deep, 12-valve carby, open-in­duc­tion sound, which got me think­ing.” Nathan de­cided the fly-by-wire is­sue could be solved through the use of the me­chan­i­cal link­ages found on in­di­vid­ual throt­tle bod­ies (ITBs), and, with his in­ter­ests al­ready piqued by that com­par­i­son to the old greats, it only took one sum­mer’s day, a cou­ple of brews, and a chat with his neigh­bour, ‘fatty’, be­fore he was cir­cling Hawke’s Bay to pick up four sets of sil­ver­top 4A-GE ITB units.

With all 12 throt­tle bod­ies in hand, Nathan along with fatty set about de­sign­ing their own man­i­fold to make it all work. “Toy­ota had done it with four, so it was just a mat­ter of think­ing, if they [had] made a six, what would they have done? We sat there and stared at them for a bit, mea­sured the in­let-port dis­tances, and lined the throt­tle bod­ies up — which turns out [that], side by side, they are al­most an ex­act match, eas­ily within a one-mil­lime­tre tol­er­ance,” he said. To avoid run­ning stacks out of the bon­net, so as to keep the sleeper ap­pear­ance, which would iron­i­cally be given away by this ex­act un­der­tak­ing, Nathan knew that the run­ner length was al­ways go­ing to be long, so opted to run them up and over each side, fin­ish­ing par­al­lel to the edge of the rocker cov­ers for a sym­met­ri­cal look. The bot­tom plate was CNC-cut to suit the 38-mil­lime­tre in­let ports and the run­ners are a sim­ple 38-mil­lime­tre 90-de­gree bend us­ing a re­ducer to ex­pand the pipework to 50mm to al­low the 45-mil­lime­tre throt­tle bod­ies to pump air smoothly. “I’ve been asked why I didn’t run the black­top 20-[valve] throt­tle bod­ies in­stead, and it came down to match­ing the size of the cylin­der cham­bers in the V12 to the 4A-GE, which are al­most iden­ti­cal,” Nathan said. “I also looked into us­ing two RB26 sets, but the 4A-GE matched up so much bet­ter, and it kept the parts within the fam­ily.”

In­ter­nally un­opened and prac­ti­cally un­known in terms of

Renowned for tough­ness, An early model Cel­ica R154 5-speed was cho­sen to back the big 12-cylin­der. But for added in­sur­ance, it was fresh­ened be­fore ac­tive ser­vice com­menced

his­tory, he never ex­pected huge fig­ures from the com­bi­na­tion, men­tion­ing that he would have been happy with it only mak­ing the 231kW it was of­fered with stan­dard. But, af­ter Gra­ham at WRC De­vel­op­ments had a bit of a toy around to set the Link G4+ Storm in mo­tion, the end re­sult was a very re­spectable 274kW and 457Nm. In­ter­est­ingly enough, the torque fig­ure is a drop from the 481Nm pro­duced inside the Cen­tury, which Nathan puts down to the in­take change, say­ing, “The stock in­take is so long, it’s of­ten re­ferred to as ‘snakes and lad­ders’, as it goes up and out of the head, across and back, loops over it­self, back for­wards and around. In short, it’s very long. Then an in­ter­nal but­ter­fly makes the cham­bers even larger, pro­duc­ing 400Nm from 1200rpm in or­der to pull around the big, heavy limos.” Inside the 1100-kilo­gram body, what the 1GZ is pro­duc­ing torque-wise is no doubt more than enough to make things hairy when the loud pedal gets stomped on.

Pack­ing an in­duc­tion as gnarly as this, the note it pro­duces is the cen­tre point of the en­tire build. Nathan said that most who have asked to hear it imag­ine the raspy, crisp sound of a late-model su­per­car and al­most in­stan­ta­neously grab their chest when the car is revved, as the 12 ITBs suck oxy­gen with enough force to send vi­bra­tions through the air — de­scribed as be­ing very un­like the tinny Honda-style twang and more a deep ‘dort-dort’ rum­ble. There are a few videos float­ing around of test runs, yet th­ese sim­ply do it no jus­tice — it’s one of those things that needs to be heard and felt for your­self.

The car was driven to Lead­foot, a 900-kilo­me­tre round trip for which Nathan ad­mits he joined the AA — just in case — but the car took it like a champ, and he plans to head north again for the Toy­ota Fes­ti­val at Hamp­ton Downs in April. So, if you want to see the per­fect mix of old and new schools, with the world’s only ITBe­quipped 1GZ, it’ll be the place to be.

Sit­ting on SSR Longchamps, Nathan orig­i­nally built the set for his RX30. Start­ing life as 14x6.5-inch ex­am­ples, built to fit the guards, mea­sur­ing in at 14x8 and 14x8.5 inches, they were sold with the car. He later bought them back for a steal — re­tain­ing the orig­i­nal Potenza rub­ber — af­ter the new owner didn’t like the look


DRIVELINE GEARBOX: Five-speed R154, cus­tom bell­hous­ing CLUTCH: 10-inch Toy­ota 1UZ FLYWHEEL: 10-inch Toy­ota 1UZ DIFF: F-se­ries 7.5-inch hous­ing, Al­tezza 3.7-ra­tio LSD cen­tre, ’04 Hilux crown wheel SUP­PORT STRUTS: (F) BC Red coilovers, Cusco S13 ad­justable top hats; (R) BC shocks, low­er­ing springs BRAKES: (F) GX61 calipers, vented ro­tors; (R) fac­tory HEART EN­GINE: Toy­ota 1GZ-FE, 4996cc, 12-cylin­der BLOCK: Fac­tory HEAD: Quad-cam VVT-i IN­TAKE: Cus­tom in­take man­i­fold, 12 sil­ver­top 4A-GE ITBs, in­take trum­pets, cus­tom bell crank and link­ages EXHAUST: Twin 2.5-inch mild-steel sys­tem, twin Adrenalin R res­onators Adrenalin R rear muf­fler FUEL: DeatschWerks pri­mary fuel pump, Holden Com­modore lift pump IGNITION: Fac­tory wasted-spark ECU: Link G4+ Storm COOL­ING: Fenix Per­for­mance ra­di­a­tor, twin elec­tric fans EX­TRA: Wired by Rev­o­lu­tion Elec­tri­cal



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