In typical Toyota fashion, the JZ family of engines is well and truly over-engineered — especially when you take into account the relatively mundane tasks they were given inside big family sedans and the occasional sports coupe. Although, some 30 years on, we’ve all but clicked to what that over-engineering can mean in terms of performance, and they’re touted for their easily made power and bulletproof reputation for achieving it. They’re probably the only Japanese engine that can rival the popularity of an SR for being shoehorned into chassis they were never destined to be in, and have surprised even the harshest of anti-turbo critics.
Jim Liemburg in Timaru tells that, after buying an RX-8 with a blown Renesis back in 2010, with intentions of turning it into a hill-climb car, “I was keen to fit a V8, being old, but my son talked me into a putting in a 2JZ in instead.”
Despite its height and length, Jim tells us that that JZ didn’t require any firewall cutting or modification of the cross member — the benefit of it being offered in rear-sump option in the Toyota Aristo, with interchangeable mid and front sumps. He also notes that the hot side is on the same side as the rotary, which made dump-pipe and exhaust channelling an easy task.
“The biggest hurdle was the RX-8’s electric steering rack,” explains Jim. “We chose to ditch it and replace it with a hydraulic rack from a Mitsi L200. This was mounted lower for clearance, although it played a merry hell with the steering geometry, which was something I never really got on top of — there’s probably better options out there.”
The 2JZ is backed by a new R154–and–Quartermaster twin-plate combo, which required the factory torque brace to the diff to be shortened and a custom two-piece driveshaft to be used. After four years of abuse and two logbooks filled, the worst that Jim has encountered is a stripped third gear, a rear CV breaking, and the helical diff blowing, which has been replaced with a clutchtype LSD.
He admits that the balance has been affected by the larger and heavier motor but says that, as he became more familiar with the car, this factor was easily offset by the gain in power, which allowed him to cut good times in the street sprints and hill climbs that it was built for.
2JZ-GTE (non-VVTi) ORIGIN CHASSIS: Toyota Aristo (JZS147) CAPACITY: 2997cc CONFIGURATION: Straight-six turbo BORE/STROKE: 86x86mm COMPRESSION: 8.6:1 FACTORY POWER: 205kW WEIGHT: 270kg (complete) NOTES: Power manipulated for the now defunct Gentlemen’s Agreement, sump available in front, mid and rear options;