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MR-2 ZZW30 2001 RHD
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Hi spyderchat members!

I never really had the intention to buy a MR-2, as I owned a nice MX-5 NB 1.8.
However, ever since the day I wrecked my Honda Civic EK hatch with VTEC engine, I want another Honda VTEC. But apart from the S2000, all Honda's are FWD (based). And a decent Honda S2000 is worth 15k nowadays, which I find too expensive.
After seeing the Best Motoring / Hot version video with the K20 swapped MR-S, it is something I would like to do one day.

Fast forward to another boring day in lockdown browsing the classifieds and an MR-2 shows up at an incredible low price. Turns out the car got some water in the interior and does not start anymore. However, the owner already got the top replaced and I have a friend with another ZZW30 wanting to buy the top. The price is just a little bit too high to justify buying it for the top alone. My MX-5 came with a set of original ZZW30 wheels which I quickly replaced. They are still on the attic though... So I offer the seller 1000 euros with two catches: I pick it up sight unseen in 2 days and I bring my own wheels. After thinking about it for a few minutes the seller agrees!

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So here we have the car at home on the original wheels. The car is a UK car, so it is RHD. It is a pre-facelift from 2001 in Solar Yellow. It has the leather interior.
The previous owner already replaced the top, the clutch, the front shock absorbers, the front headlights, the ignition coils, lambda sensors, front radiator, front wheel bearings and some more servicing items. It came with over 7000 euros in bills.
We have a good look around the car and decide to save it from the junkyard. Time to get the hands dirty to fix it up!

First evening I am trying to figure out what is going wrong electrically.
The TVSS dealer installed alarm is not working and the previous owner thinks it is the source of the car not starting.
However, the TVSS does not prevent the car from starting. I also checked the immobilizer light and it goes off, indicating the immobilizer is working fine.
So first things first: rip out the TVSS! After removing the TVSS completely, the car still does not start. Exactly what I expected, but at least we will not blow fuses any more.
Next step is to diagnose the electrical issue. Quickly I find out there is not enough voltage on the starter relay, I hardwire the starter relay and the car runs!
Next day I find out corrosion got into the ignition switch and a few other connectors inside the car. After cleaning up all the connections, the car starts from the key again.
Corrosion in the ignition switch


Next step is driving the car and checking if there is any issue with the car.
I knew the car was burning oil, but I was not sure how bad the oil consumption was.
It only took one drive to find out the engine was toast. I knocked very loudly (piston slap) and the smoke screen it pulled under full load at 6500 rpm was impressive... but not in a good way.

So I sourced another post facelift engine and rebuilt it with new bearings, piston rings, timing chain and seals.
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After replacing the engine I found out all 4 axle joints had water in them.
The boots were still sealed so this is still a mystery to me. Has anyone seen this before?
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After replacement of the engine and drive shaft boots I still had small things to fix:
-Rebuilt all 4 brake calipers including rear hand brake mechanisms (handbrake cam + bearing rusted into place)
-Replaced steering U-joint
-Replaced the rubber between the A-pillar and top
-Replaced rear alignment bolts

Car passed state inspection / MOT (APK in Dutch) without any issue.
Now we stand here today:
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Still plenty of things to do on the car:
-Swap C64 transmission from a Corolla T-Sport (I already own the C64 transmission)
-Upgrade brake pads to track day brake pads
-Refresh all rubber bushes in the suspension

I am planning to do a few track days soon, see how much I like the chassis.
I also want to make a road trip to the south of Europe next year.

If I like the car I might swap a K24 into it, but for now I will live with the 1ZZ-FE for a while.
 

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2001 MR2 Spyder
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Just look at her! All that hard work shined through and violla! A true diamond in the rough... So satisfying to see it complete all in a single post. You have been busy.

Even with the great motor choices that await, I think you will like the 1ZZ, it's pretty torque-y at any RPM especially with the 5 spd and low weight.

Before you autocross, look into the moroso race oil pan. It has a baffle for 1g+ turns do not starve the motor of it's oil circulation system when it's sloshing about.

Cheers,
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Even with the great motor choices that await, I think you will like the 1ZZ, it's pretty torque-y at any RPM especially with the 5 spd and low weight.

Before you autocross, look into the moroso race oil pan. It has a baffle for 1g+ turns do not starve the motor of it's oil circulation system when it's sloshing about.
I think the 1ZZ-FE is fine for what it is. I think people forget the 1ZZ-FE is very compact and light, I think it is even smaller and lighter than a Honda D16 engine for example.
The gearbox I am not so fond of, the gearing is way too long. I cannot find my cadence through the turns and I find myself bashing the limiter or bogging the engine down on a 2->3 shifts very often. Compared to my Lexus IS200 (has the same gearbox as GT-86) and an NB MX-5 the gearbox shifting is also not great. I guess this is a combination of the long gearing and the compliance in the engine mounts. Therefore I already acquired a C64 transmission, these you find on the European 2ZZ-GE engines (sold as T-sport models). I am also looking at upgrading the engine and trans mounts.

Is oil starvation a real issue on these? I am running Yokohama AD-08R and I easily pull 1G in corners. One time I heard a slight rattle after pulling a 1G corner on the interstate, but this might have been pickup on the tires because I used the full width of the road... The dipstick is incredibly hard to read on these, was thinking of drilling a few holes in it. I think I will also overfill the oil a little bit to be on the safe side. I was not planning of pouring any money into the 1ZZ-FE, the whole car owes me less than 2000 euro at this stage.

And thanks for the kind words, I think I put 100 hours in the car in the last few months. Europe is still pretty much in lockdown, so I was happy I had something to kill the time this year.
 

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I think the 1ZZ-FE is fine for what it is. I think people forget the 1ZZ-FE is very compact and light, I think it is even smaller and lighter than a Honda D16 engine for example.
The gearbox I am not so fond of, the gearing is way too long. I cannot find my cadence through the turns and I find myself bashing the limiter or bogging the engine down on a 2->3 shifts very often. Compared to my Lexus IS200 (has the same gearbox as GT-86) and an NB MX-5 the gearbox shifting is also not great. I guess this is a combination of the long gearing and the compliance in the engine mounts. Therefore I already acquired a C64 transmission, these you find on the European 2ZZ-GE engines (sold as T-sport models). I am also looking at upgrading the engine and trans mounts.

Is oil starvation a real issue on these? I am running Yokohama AD-08R and I easily pull 1G in corners. One time I heard a slight rattle after pulling a 1G corner on the interstate, but this might have been pickup on the tires because I used the full width of the road... The dipstick is incredibly hard to read on these, was thinking of drilling a few holes in it. I think I will also overfill the oil a little bit to be on the safe side. I was not planning of pouring any money into the 1ZZ-FE, the whole car owes me less than 2000 euro at this stage.

And thanks for the kind words, I think I put 100 hours in the car in the last few months. Europe is still pretty much in lockdown, so I was happy I had something to kill the time this year.
Is oil starvation real? It can be if the level drops too low. I temporarily forgot you snagged a newer motor which is better in this regard. I see it thrown around spyderchat alot.

"Both the Lotus/Toyota 1ZZ and 2ZZ engines have oil system issues. Neither engine has adequate oil capacity or effective oil pan baffling. What that means to you is if you run your car hard, especially around corners on sticky tires, there’s a chance you’ll have oil pickup problems. The result is usually a spun rod bearing or even an exploded oil pump. "


I wish I could tell you in first hand experience, I'm 15 years late to the party as well learning as much as can to make up for lost time.
 

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I don’t know exactly where the cutoff is, but as you put tires planning to run >1g of trip you should consider oil pickup solutions at that point IMHO. More oil is helpful to a point, namely the full line; then overfilling can start to cause issues of its own. If you are looking for an excuse to do an engine swap then definitely forgo it pickup options, otherwise you are one long sweeping turn away from creating an unwanted expense if you fully utilize your significantly increase grip levels. If only driving on the street & not tracking the car you shouldn’t actually utilize the extremes of grip available.
 
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¿ what do you mean ´shouldn´t´?

‘Shouldn’t’ simply refers to being a semi-responsible adult, or at least semi-responsible man/woman-child. Aiming to drive to the 10/10 handling limit of the car on pubic streets is insane, that’s what tracks are for. Someone that regularly utilizes their upper limit of grip on the street is better off blowing an engine before they end up charged with vehicular manslaughter/homicide or worse.

Remember this is coming from someone that loves driving these cars, so much so that I’ll admit I personally don’t think they carry any value beyond driving pleasure. However, you’ve never truly driven to the 10/10ths mark until you’ve gone to the 11/10ths mark & lost control of the car...trying to gauge that limit solely on the street is a legit mortal danger to yourself, your passenger if you choose to take one, and anyone else on the road that day.

To summarize, a setup granting 1g of available grip on the track doesn’t reliably grant 1g of available grip on the streets and shouldn’t be driven to the same limits...IMHO as always
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Have you installed an accelerometer of do you log over the OBD port?
No I have not measured it. Next time on track I will put a phone with RaceChrono and a camera inside the car.
Judging from the data I have from my Lexus on track and what I have felt on the road so far, I am pretty sure the car is capable of pulling 1.0G during cornering with the Yokohama AD-08R.
I agree with FormInFunction, exploring grip levels is rarely responsible on the streets, so until I hit the track I am not going to prove it ;)
 

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Problem with the open road is that the tarmac never ever has the same high grip a track has nor is it maintaned as well, so G forces can be disappointing to véry disappointing. Over here we have tarmac that needs to withstand the southern European summer sun on a south facing slope. Also rather worn more often than not. And that is not to mention dust, grime and whatever vehicles drip on it.

As to semi-responsible driving I partly agree, partly not. It all depends.
You should not be driving any faster than the distance in which you can stop permits, with a reasonable margin for the unexpected which is afterv all a certainty.
That observed I regularly are on the limit of lateral adhesion which does not even neccessarily mean speeding...

One of the positives of Covid19 restriction is that the local industrial estate is all but deserted at the busiest of times and totally deserted at others so ideal to hunt for the snap :)

The road coming up to our village from the previous has one special corner in the middle of the nowhere between the villages. It has unobstructed view through it for over 1 km. so all one needs to do is have a go at it on a quiet moment of the day like when all are having lunch, police included.

The industrial estate is a fun test track for grip limits incl. braking performance and ´the corner´ a norm corner, a yard stick.

I consider highways to be unsuitable for all but testing ´float´ as speeds get just too high to go searching for limits of anything. Ok, bar side wind stability as you can go pass trucks on a stormy day.
 
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