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73 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, my name is Cartography/Steve/Whatever you wish to call me. This thread is based on my 2000 MR2 Spyder or MRS, purchased with 152k miles on the clock for about $4000. The car is also swapped with a Japanese Import 2ZZ-GE engine from a Celica GTS. Swap was performed by Arnold Pacleb in Long Beach, California.

The Story Behind the Obsession
This isn't a proud moment of my life, but my love for the MR2 originally came from passing by one every other Tuesday going to Boy Scout meetings as a kid. I always saw a yellow SW20 on the way to these meetings, fully decked out with the air scoop, clean and well cared for. This would be my first memory of the MR2. As I grew older my love for cars developed as I read (yes read) all 719 chapters of Initial D. A secondary character (Kai Kogashiwa) in the series came out with a midnight blue SW20 G-Limited which I instantly fell in love with. In later chapters the MRS or MR2 Spyder was introduced as his new vehicle, decked out with a C-One kit and 2zz race engine tuned to 290 HP. The MRS piqued my curiosity. It became a dream in the lineup of weird cars I still hold an obsession with to this day. When I learned that the 3rd Gen could be had for an affordable amount, I instantly started a year-long voyage into attempting to purchase at least one of the cars I've always wanted (the list is too long to post).

The Leadup to a Purchase
I was a High School senior at the time of the purchase. I was never really into cars until reading about the love people had for these wonderous machines. I realized that cars are essentially the embodiment of freedom and also an expression of self for some people. I originally started shopping for a Mazda MX5 Miata NA or NB for a fun first car. My requirements were sub 8k and a reliable rear-wheel drive manual transmission car. I did not know how to drive a manual at the time and wished to start at the ground up with a car I'd love. I should also note that my parents imposed a sub 200 hp limit on me, so in my infinite wisdom I decided to find the lightest chassis I could with the best HP/LB ratio.

Meeting My Hero
I spent months tracking down the perfect Miata, a silver 2005 NB fully loaded with a 6 Speed manual. The guy asked for 5k straight with the car clocking in at 175k miles on the odometer. I walked out when he wouldn't come down on it. I went back to the drawing board and couldn't find anything that I could enjoy or would serve great as both a means of transportation and recreation. I started digging through alternatives and the first thing that came up in my mind was the ZZW30, a childhood crush I had neglected to search for. I was ashamed that I didn't look for one earlier and was pleased to hear that they were better performers than the NB and also a more driver-focused car. I looked at a few on Autotrader and came across a very honest Craigslist ad selling a 3p0 Absolutely Red MR2 Spyder. 2 Owners on the Carfax and 0 Accidents. The car had some issues like peeling clearcoat on the bar before the engine lid and along the top of the windshield frame. Actual owner of the car was the seller's brother-in-law who purchased the car as a recreational vehicle and wanted to sell it. I had my dad test drive it and a deal was made right after. I don't know why I had to have that specific car, but I'm glad I could become its owner.

Learning Manual and Taking a Year Long Break
I started to hang out with my dad more after receiving the car. It's not that I didn't hang out with my dad, but rather we never really had anything both of us wanted to do. Sure Boy Scouts forced us on hikes and camp-outs, but our bonding probably stemmed from our mutual hate of the activity. Having a recreational vehicle helped bring me into car culture. Long story short my dad taught me how to drive manual and I enjoyed my time (albeit short) with the car before I headed off to college. I left the car with my dad for a year since my college campus hates fun. In that year I realized that every time I let my dad drive the car something breaks. First it was an O2 Sensor, then the sparkplugs, a coilpack, the third injector, another coil, and holy f#ck the engine started smoking. 10/10 Would not forget the year of laughs I had.

Beginning Swap Research
I'm going to own up to it right now, my parents paid for the car. Sure I paid for bits and trinkets beforehand, but it was due to my parents that I was able to enjoy owning the coolest first car on the planet. I knew my alcoholic 1ZZ-FED was out when I noticed it drank a quart every 200 miles. When my dad notified me that it was smoking, I decided it might be time to look for a replacement engine, hence I started a thread on trying to differentiate the makes and models of the 1ZZ engine, both FE an FED. I'd like to thank Haloruler64 and MerryFrankster for their help along with the other members of spyderchat. Without the help of the community I would have never been able to discern engine years along with the cost of such an operation. At the end of this, I knew that I had to give in and pay someone to do the work. I have experience swapping a b20 into an Acura Integra, but I couldn't risk half-assing or guessing my way through a car I love. I needed a shop or mechanic I could trust and rely on that had experience in swaps. ETL Garage Came to mind, but they had never done a 1zz to 1zz swap before as most people went towards 1zz to 2zz. A turnkey 2zz would run me 6.2k and turnkey 1zz would run me around 3.2k. I would later find someone experienced in 2zz Swaps who owned a Spyder himself along with a few? Celicas, Arnold Pacleb. I was convinced to do a 2zz swap after being quoted $3000 for a turnkey 5 speed 2zz. I figured it would run a ballpark price of around $4500 or less worst case scenario.

Why I Don't Have 2 Braincells to Rub Together
Drove 20 miles in LA to Longbeach traffic in a smokey MR2. Even the coal roller diesel-dude behind me gagged. I parked my car at Arnold's house and went shopping for an engine that day. 20 miles cost me 2 quarts of oil FYI.

The Swap
I don't believe I deserve the financial aid I received from my parents. They gave me a 0% interest loan and allowed me to swap the car so I could keep it instead of telling me to buy another vehicle. I started amassing parts which I would purchase from all sorts of places. I agreed to pay Arnold $1500 for the swap with a $500 deposit. I used a mix of Ebay, Amazon, MWR, Mitch's Auto Parts, and Culver City Toyota. I cannot recommend Mitch's Auto Parts enough. Bought the MWR Swap Header, Dipstick Tube, and Mount Plate from them. I used Amazon to order ARP Flywheel Bolts and an EXEDY clutch kit. Ebay was used to purchase a Matrix XRS CAI to modify for the swap. The dealership was used to purchase oem gaskets at a decent price. I'm sure there are bits I'm missing, but Arnold is one of the nicest guys as he gave me regular status updates along with helping me with bits as he passed me a 2zz flywheel and replaced my passenger side axle free of charge. My swap can be considered his 15th 2zz swap iirc. Let me throw some pictures at you all.

That's a Clean Boi

IACV Before and After

Lift Bolts


It Fits

I Swear I Only Have One Because the Swap Needed It

Where I Am Now
I got a few job interviews before I even started the process of having someone swap my car. I currently work at Pizza Hut in order to pay for the engine swap myself. I sold a few of my possessions that I no longer needed and am happy with the choice I made to keep something I love up and running. I'll update this thread if anything new happens or if anyone is genuinely interested. If asked if I would recommend Arnold Pacleb I'd say that my swap worked out well and there is no reason that anyone else's swap wouldn't. Quality work was done and everything I asked for was performed. IE some welding work.

Thanks Everyone!

73 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Oh boy It's been a while since I've posted. I'm not dead, just less involved with the forum sadly. Have some update pictures on what the car has been through for the last few years.

These are older pictures back when I was messing around with wrap. I'll make another post showing the updates.
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