It all started when I came across this advert saying "Selling my 1983 Carina" on a local website. These cars are almost in the ranks of the long gone dinosaurs lately at this part of the world. But I was very much aware of what a 20V 4A-GE Blacktop can transform this piece of junk into. I started imagining and calculating in my mind and the outcome was very feasible. Moreover, I could complete this project with a VERY LOW BUDGET (the primary agenda of this project). Without thinking twice picked up the phone and set an appointment with the buyer and met him with my buddy (who is my soul mate in this project). The car looked very funny but what the hell - it's a toyota RWD and that's all that we care about!
The seller was firm on not letting it go for below a thousand bucks but we persuaded him to settle for USD 550/- You know it's not worth more than that if not worth anything at all. Since the seller was in another state it took him a couple of days to get us the export plates (due to his preoccupation or laziness I suppose). We also agreed to pay for the export fees which was USD 110/-
Our next stop was to the traffic department. Obviously we had devilish plans with the ride and didn't want to be let down during registration. Of course, we were expecting terrible results at the technical testing but to our surprise it failed only due to some real minor reasons:
1. Reverse and indicator lights not working
2. Rear right brake not balanced
3. Smog above limit
4. Seat belts not locking
Since we were excited and somewhat rushy we drove down to the nearest workshop to have all the 4 brake pads replaced and rotors/drums machined. The rear right drum was flooded with oil (not sure whether axle or brake oil) and that was the culprit but since we were there already we didn't back out. The whole replacement, including parts, machining and labor costed us USD 135/-
The following day I was on the look out for used seat belts and found a pair for USD 15/- keeping my fingers crossed that it should fit in. And voila it fitted despite the difference in the brackets BUT WHAT A WASTE - these too didn't lock on quick pulls!! I was as mad as I could get but couldn't go around it now could I? so back to square one looking for another pair and finally I found one which brought smile to our faces. We barely had an hour to make it to the technical testing and I still had to lean the carb to the fullest to get thru with the smogs. This reminds me that I forgot to mention that the original engine was 2T (not 2TG, 8 valve 75hp). Anyway, we found extra lights in the trunk to replace the broken indicator. The reverse light had a broken cable which I could only squeeze in for a quick fix. We made it to the testing department and guess what? We had it passed!
We could not wait to strip the interior and were just waiting to do it after the registration in order to avoid any fuss at the technical testing.
The next day we went hunting for some cheap insurance which was a task in itself because people were not so much welcoming for old cars. However, to our surprise we found out that the insurance company in the registration office had a good enough rate, USD 145/- For registration we paid another USD 150/- and there we were now legally registered.
Up to now all that we spent right from the time of purchase did not exceed USD 1100/-
We were pretty much determined swapping out the engine for a 20V Blacktop 4A-GE. This was mainly because of my recent experience in troubleshooting a Blacktop powered Caterham that got me so much involved that I had to study every tiny bits and pieces of the Blacktop. Besides, I also owned and tweaked to a fair level an AE101 powered by a Silvertop and just loved revving it to the fullest.
But then when I read the Carina's engine model again (2T) I recalled that the original engine that was swapped out of the Caterham was a 2TGEU laying around in the garage. The reason this engine was ditched was due to its overflowing Mikuni carbs - yes, it was converted to carbs by the previous owner of the Caterham.
So my first stop was at youtube, looking at some videos quickly to see if the engine had enough power to drift the lightweight Carina. I was rather surprised by the results - being it only a 125hp engine could do a brilliant job (at least on youtube). Next I surfed around looking for quick upgrades and found the popular 2T/3T hybrid stroker conversion (which I'll discuss later).
I then started doing the feasibility study and came up with the following conclusions:
1. 2TG will be a pure plug n play swap while the 4A-GE will also need a transmission and some minor modification to the engine brackets. 4A-GE 20V Blacktop being a front wheel (horizontal engine) when installed in a vertical layout will push the water inlet/outlets on the firewall demanding custom fabrication of metallic piping. Distributor will also smash it's head against the firewall but we can cut off it's head and do a quick and cool coil packs conversion with ease.
2. 2TGEU is FREE OF CHARGE (as it belonged to my friend) and that adds great weight to our original plan of maintaing a tight budget (or being cheap, if that's the way you would like to put it).
3. Since the mainfolds look the same we can install our 2T carbs on the 2TGEU to avoid the overflow problem. This is just a quick remedy up until we're settled with the swap and want to experiment the Mikunis.
4. 4A-GE will also demand a custom exhaust system which is essential in any swap but yet the 2TGEU will not.
5. Gas tank will not need modification and installation of fuel pump since 2TGEU is also carbed.
Now let's do some calculation on how much does it cost to drop in a 4A-GE 20V Blacktop:
1. Engine: USD 400/-
2. Tranny: USD 200/-
3. Custom works: USD 300/- (includes: piping, fuel pump, COPs, etc)
4. Exhaust: USD 300/-
I convinced my mate to go the 2TG way in order to avoid a USD 1200/- hit right at the beginning of the project. He was kind of shaky till he watched some videos of 2TG on youtube. Moreover, we had nothing to lose should this project go down the drain Next day we brought the car in to a friends garage as we have no place of our own to work :-(
Before I begin with the swap story, I would like to remind you that both me and my mate had never swapped no engine through out and this was out first attempt. Temperature here was also quite not friendly: 50 degree celcius :-(
We started by taking off the hood and that just brought in sunshine from everywhere. Next was pulling of the pipings with no mercy; pulling all the electric cables (hardly 4 to 5); not to mention that we had removed the battery before everything else. We then removed the radiator and fan shroud. Since we had no plans to have AC for quite some time we decided to pull of the AC lines in order to make life easier. Since we were planning to use the same tranny, we left the tranny in place and just undid the bolts including the clutch slave cylinder. We also removed the starter when undoing the tranny. I always use to think that the engine mounting was the most important part and found it to be a joke - just two bolts and they were undone. Next we removed the fan, removed the intake, removed the exhaust and thats it! We were now ready to pull the old man out ;-)
Then we brought in the engine hoist, hooked the chain on the 2 provided diagonal hooks and raised the engine. At this point we needed assistance from a professional to see why don't the tranny let go of the engine. He told us that the flywheel in the housing is kind of holding it back and we need to mildy pry of the housing and that worked like a charm :-) We were now done with the engine removal. Total time taken (including coffee break) was 2 hours only!!!
I then quickly removed the intake and exhaust manifolds from the 2T and started installing it on the 2TGEU. The exhaust manifold was a perfect fit but the intake broke my heart :-( Me and my mate were speechlessly looking at each other as we knew that the Mikuni carbs had overflow problems and we were quite confident that the 2T carbs will sit in. Now what do we do? ditch the project or order new Mikunis (at least USD 600) or fabricate a manifold to fit in the 2T carbs or???
Me and my buddy decided that we install the Mikunis anyway and deal with it later on. I have had some fair knowledge about carbs since I was forced to tune/clean them every now and then on the dirt bikes that we had last winter. Dual carbs are a lot bigger fuss in proportion but even that I had caught a glimpse of by overhauling and fine tuning on my 240z's SU carbs. The only thing that was killing our excitement was that we wouldn't be able to fire up the engine as soon as wanted to fire it up.
Now that we were ready to move forward with the drop in, we brought the hoist as quickly as we could and lowered the 2TGEU engine in the bay. Only after lowering it did we realize that the bell housing mating plate that goes behind the flywheel (not sure what you call it) was missing! We were laughing at ourselves for the amateurs we were. The other reason that got us laughing was because we quickly and foolishly concluded that the bell housing was different and we had failed; discovering that it was not true could only bring joy to us. Anyway, we undid the clutch and the flywheel and fixed the "mating" plate behind them and dropped in the engine.
After tightening the engine mounts and the tranny bolts the engine was technically installed (as simple as that). I forgot to mention that we had a great deal of difficulty in finding the engine mounts since both of them were totalled. Next I wanted to do the manifolds buts since the oil filter and oil cooler lines were under the intake I decided to have that tackled first. I remember seeing the oil cooler still fixed on to the fender of the Caterham and hence decided to pull it off for our use since it wasn't being used there anyway. However, I had to put it back on as it left a wide open area in the Caterham's fender. So we decided to cancel the oil cooler for the time being and hence put a hose around the inlet and outlet to recirculate the oil. Having done that we put in the filter and then the intake manifold and the exhaust manifold and connected the downpipe. Wiring was a joke (piece of creamy cake compared to EFIs): plugged in the oil pressure switch, water temp sensor, alternator cables, starter cables, signal cable from distributor to coil (I used the existing coil - please comment if not correct), starter cables and battery. Now that everything was done (some bits and pieces I may have forgot to mention but feel free to ask) I thought of installing the fan before the radiator but couldn't find it. So I decided to use the 2T fan but that didn't fit and now we had to look for an electrical fan with shroud. Pretty easily we were able to source a Nissan Maxima's twin fan that sat in perfectly with a bit of chopping here and there. Hosings were also somewhat different in size but wasn't an issue at all. Looks like pretty much everything is done.
For the fuel we had to install an aftermarket external fuel pump (not so powerful because these Mikunis don't have return lines) since the orignal 2T had a mechanical fuel pump and 2TG-EU being originally a EFI engine lacked it. Mikunis didn't have a return line and therefore I just left the return line unhooked for the time being.
I guess everything is set to fire it up, not to mention that the accelerator cable was still pending but not quite needed for startup and idle. We attempted start and just within a couple of attempts we heard it roaring. And guess what? No carb overflow!!! Our biggest worry turned out to be a myth - not exactly.The reason why I think it overflowed was due to a high pressure fuel pump that overstressed the floats and caused them to overflow. Anyway since its not our problem anymore I wouldn't want to dwell around it any further.
Here are some videos:
First start attempt:
Second start, exhaust manifold installed and carb mildly tuned