1900CC OF FURY

BUILD­ING A 9A-GTE RACE EN­GINE

NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

When you think fast front-wheel drives here in New Zealand, there’s one New Zealand–based car in par­tic­u­lar springs to mind, one that’s been as­sert­ing its au­thor­ity for well over a decade now. Barry Manon’s 9A-GTE-pow­ered 1988 Toy­ota Levin GTZ is no stranger to this magazine, from run­ning 10s back in 2010, be­fore mak­ing the switch to cir­cuit rac­ing and fo­cus­ing on Time At­tack, to the devel­op­ment of a 400-plus-kilo­watt, 20-valve 9A-GTE turbo. Fo­cus­ing on his lo­cal Hamp­ton Downs and Pukekohe Park tracks, it wasn’t long be­fore Barry had wran­gled the sur­pris­ingly sim­ple chas­sis into the 1.08s around Hamp­ton — but this was when the surge prob­lems started. Be­ing one of the world’s most renowned Toy­ota 4A-G builders through his com­pany Manon Rac­ing Prod­ucts (MRP), Barry is no stranger to build­ing tough 9A-GTEs, but even his own cus­tom-baf­fled wet sumps were no match for the Gs, as he ex­plains: “I got away with the wet sump for a long time, but as soon as I started run­ning 1.08s around Hamp­ton, it just couldn’t stop the surge; there was too much g-force around the fi­nal cor­ner. I guess [it’s] be­ing front-wheel drive, and the sump be­ing where it is — it’s on the wrong side, like [in] an Evo — you re­ally want the bulge on the pas­sen­ger side. If it was a left-hand track, it would prob­a­bly be OK.”

For the com­ing sea­son, Barry will step up to a com­pletely new en­gine build both to ad­dress this is­sue and in the quest for more mid range with a slight topend in­crease. Keep­ing the block to­gether when push­ing over 400kW re­quires a gir­dle plate to hold the bores square, which was at­tached to the brand spank­ing new-old-stock 7A-FE block be­fore be­ing honed and line bored. Barry tells us that the 7A-FE block doesn’t need too much more at­ten­tion un­til you start push­ing four-digit power fig­ures, when you grout fill the block.

The ro­tat­ing assem­bly con­sists of a cus­tom eight-bolt stro­ker crank, and, un­like his pre­vi­ous en­gine build, this one fea­tures large coun­ter­weights in an at­tempt to re­duce har­mon­ics. It’s some­thing that Barry tells us has be­come more and more pop­u­lar with high-power en­gines, with builders steer­ing away from knife-edged cranks. To counter this added weight, the fly­wheel has been put on a diet. The bores mea­sure 81.5mm, while the stroke mea­sures 90mm, thanks to Saenz I-beam rods with DLC-coated pins. The 9.0:1-com­pres­sion pis­tons have been cus­tom-made by CP Car­illo for Barry and fea­ture spe­cial rings, ce­ramic coat­ing on the crown, and Te­flon-coated skirts. Bear­ings are ACL Race Series, with MRP-mod­i­fied mains, in an at­tempt to prop­erly feed oil to the rods. Fur­ther oil­ing up­grades in­clude ma­chin­ing the block to ac­cept oil squirters and the in­clu­sion of a dry-sump sys­tem. The pump it­self is a three-stage AT Power unit, while the rest of the kit has been de­vel­oped in-house at MRP, in­clud­ing a baf­fled dry-sump pan and bil­let mount kit.

The ro­tat­ing assem­bly con­sists of a cus­tom eight-bolt stro­ker crank, and, un­like his pre­vi­ous en­gine build, this one fea­tures large coun­ter­weights in an at­tempt to re­duce har­mon­ics

Again, a 4A-GE 20-valve head will be uti­lized, although, this time, the CNC port­ing has been taken to the next level, es­pe­cially on the ex­haust side, in a quest to build boost quicker. “We have gone with over­sized In­conel for the ex­haust valves, as we were find­ing the old ones to be pit­ted and worn due to the ethanol and heat after a sea­son’s run­ning. The in­let valves are stain­less, and we’re us­ing Su­pertech off-the-shelf springs, bronze guides, and OEM re­tain­ers,” he says. The cams are the same cus­tom Kelfords that the last en­gine ran, as Barry is lim­ited by his small 1900cc ca­pac­ity, and be­lieves that these cams strike a good bal­ance be­tween power and mid range. Hav­ing pre­vi­ously suf­fered is­sues with the head push­ing wa­ter at high boost, even with over­sized 11mm studs, the new en­gine will be clamped with 12mm items and use a TRD mul­ti­layer gas­ket with a stop­per layer.

With im­proved mid range the main fo­cus, the Tur­bo­net­ics turbo has been fur­ther mod­i­fied with larger wheels and T4 ex­haust hous­ing — “[t]he the­ory be­ing to try to keep things (charge temp) cooler with the larger twin-scroll ports,” Barry ex­plains. The old bil­let com­pres­sor wheel was max­ing its flow at 410kW, so a larger bil­let unit was also fit­ted to han­dle up­wards of 520kW. A new twin-scroll man­i­fold will be built by Dan Sal­ter and use a pair of Gen 5 Tur­bosmart 40mm gates con­trolled by the A’PEXi con­troller. The in­take side of the equa­tion will re­main from the pre­vi­ous set-up, with ported quad throt­tles with 47mm but­ter­flies and in­ter­nal bell­mouths in the two-piece cus­tom plenum.

Barry ex­pects the new pack­age to be in the car within a month and will be back on the dyno at ST Hi-tec, where the car has al­ways been dy­noed, to backto-back the graphs with the old 420kW set-up. The elec­tron­ics will re­main, with the trusty old Autronic SMC ECU and M&W CDI.

With a few changes to stiffen up the old chas­sis in­clud­ing ex­tend­ing the roll cage, new ra­tios in the cus­tom MRP dog­box, and some weight loss, Barry’s PB at both Auck­land tracks is surely on bor­rowed time.

With a few changes to stiffen up the old chas­sis in­clud­ing ex­tend­ing the roll cage, new ra­tios in the cus­tom MRP dog­box, and some weight loss, Barry’s PB at both Auck­land tracks is surely on bor­rowed time

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