Sneige Factory – JZA80 Supra Build – Part 25 -There are four lights.

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Yeah, about that…

I’ve sat down on more occasions that I can count to try and write another update on the project but for one reason or another i’ve just not been able to get past the first couple of paragraphs. Why? Well I get to about this point in the article, a paragraph or so in and have to make up some sort of bullshit excuse as to why I haven’t updated my blog in eight months. I mean shit, the car’s fucking done. It’s been done since September, went up CopHill – did a smokey rolling burn out in front of the crowd. Dropped two coal black, royal blue Supra shaped darkies up the bugger that even the most seasoned burnout wanker would be proud of. We then threw it into the first corner and it buggered off up the hill. Then promptly blew something on the box, coasted back down the other side and drove it onto my father piloted awaiting recovery truck. Meh. It’s sat under a cover for the last three months in the corner of the workshop untouched – but not for the same reason i haven’t been updating the blog.

So why have you had to wait so long to read some more of my retarded ramblings? Well let’s just say that for me, 2016 was an epic level – life changing – monumental cluster fuck of weapons grade plutonium standards. Because of that, you know a guy doesn’t really feel very fucking funny?

I was sitting down at my computer earlier on today for the first time in a while. I got about 20 minutes into the first episode of series two in ‘A Man in the High Castle’ (which is excellent by the way… Amazon Prime – top job) and thought heck – why not.

A quick recap:

Last time we caught up i’d just recently come back from Italy and a tour of the Ferrari Museum in Modena? Obi-Ben had been busy working his magic mating a 1UZ, Supra and a Haltech E2500 and not having it turn into an abortion. I’d been fitting up some of Grams Styling’s excellent front fenders and i’d introduced you to Project Malarkey. You can catch up on the whole lot back in Part 24

Supra on ramp.jpg

This is about how you should remember the car being. I must admit, we had to trawl quite a long way back in my phone photo history to find the bazillion pictures that we took of the build. As you can see from the background, the Malarkey Soarer is sitting comfortably in the background. This picture was taken in… (checks date…) somewhere around April/May time maybe and it hasn’t moved to this day – but we still have big plans. More on that another time.

The next part of our story and a part that is still very much ongoing is that of the transmission. So sit back, strap in, grab yourself a caramel macchiato and I will tell you the long and quite painful story of the Supra Transmission.

I’m going to start with a bit of advice. Are you ready? Sure? Listen good, hombre.

‘If you are going to do a transmission swap onto an engine, BUY A FUCKING ADAPTOR KIT’

No if’s, no butts, no ‘oh, it’s cheaper and we’ll learn more fabricating it ourselves’. No. Just No. Thomas Zurawski of Zurawaski motorsport in Gloucestershire does a great bolt on kit for the BMW 5 Speed box and the 1UZ. It comes with a spacer to accept a BMW 328i flywheel and clutch. It’s like £450 delivered. Buy a flywheel, clutch, box and get a prop made. Do a burnout. It’s easier than aggravating Trump supporters. Nev from F1 Moto also does a kit with a custom billet flywheel. It’s a piece of art, but at over a grand (£1,100-ish) it’s too rich for my blood. Unless you’re running BONKERS powers, it provides no benefit over Thomas’s.

We on the other hand, are using NONE of the aforementioned kits. Mathew the Workshop Monkey and I decided that we’d fabricate a custom bell housing onto a BMW 5 Speed ZF Gearbox using the good old precision ‘cut and shut’ method.

First try

We made a decision to use the BMW 5 Speed ZF box out of an E46 328i. We chose this because a) They are abundant b) They are cheap c) They are renowned for taking massive power and fairly bomb proof.  The process of building the bell housing was detailed back here in Part 20. After spending much time splitting the bell housing, fabricating the case we were simply unable to re-assemble the box. It just wouldn’t have it. I tried, Workshop Monkey tried, Obi-Ben Tried. Nothing.


So I made a few calls and upon a recommendation I dropped it to who a gearbox specialist in ‘The South East’. I won’t say who but after speaking to them on the phone they agreed that they’d be able to help me out and get it popped back together post haste.

This was in April.

They looked at it for me, stripped and inspected the box and then attempted to re-assemble. Whenever they did, it locked up – which is the same thing that was happening to me. They did some more investigating and found out that there were some internally bend pieces which was either caused by me (on disassembly) or them on assembly.

Either way, I had some spare parts and they said they could source me a selector fork. I left it with them. They said they’d come right back to me – a week later i still hadn’t heard anything. I chased them (this becomes a common theme) and they then said they could now unfortunately not find one at all – I called BMW, got one delivered next day. Who knew…

So they now had a complete box with all the bits. It took them another heap of time to put it back together and finally get it back to me. I pay them some £400 for the privilege.

Now, keep in mind that I ended up having a full box rebuild. Replaced a load of parts. It’d met their quality control and they’d given me a receipt. What I got back was a transmission that had been sealed on the mating surfaces with a Hylomar type (non-setting sealant) and upon fitting didn’t engage reverse.

Great. £60 worth of oil, £400 rebuild and multiple messing around for something that’s effectively a door stop.

So I sent it back to them in August.

They put in on the bench and apparently it selected reverse straight away. Shocker. They stripped it anyway (it’s September by this point). I get an email from them basically saying that we’d machined the mating faces of the box housings (which is correct, but they knew this right from the get go) and it had been machined out of true. Which is why the box won’t work.

Yet it worked just fine. We’d already had it in the car and it selected 1st through 5th just wouldn’t click reverse and leaked like an incontinent geriatric.  It drove round the farm just fine.

I suggested that they just put it back together as it was, now that it engaged reverse and used some silicone sealant. They said they wanted me to just come take it away. I asked for a refund as, you know – they’d taken £400 of my money, had me buy hundreds of pounds worth of parts, spend hundreds of pounds on fuel going back and forth only to now ask me to pick up in September exactly what i’d dropped off in April.

They didn’t want to do that.

I told them i’d then take them to the small claims court.

They told me that they were then going to keep my money and my box to use as ‘evidence of my incompetence’ You know, even though they’d already given me back a gearbox that they already said engaged reverse just fine and simply required the use of a readily available silicone sealant.

So I ended up several hundred pounds lighter, with almost six months worth of hassle and still no gearbox.



Sigh… and that was one of the better parts of my year. Anyway – for the short time we had the working/leaking box we managed to do a couple of cool things. Like:

Build a cool gearbox mount:

Build a really nice 2.5″ stainless y-pipe off the manifold, doing away with the cats.

I welded in a bung for the wide-band lambda sensor along with a couple of flex joints to prevent cracking. I linked all this up to the Blitz Nur Spec exhaust that was already on the car. 2.5″ Y pipe into 3″ back section. Sounds quite fruity I think…

I also had the prop shaft built, but not before a little bit of a mix up with Bailey Morris. I gave them the BMW and Supra props and asked them to make the BMW end onto the Supra prop. Simple right? Well somehow something got lost in translation and then ended up machining me a custom BMW flange on a very complicated slip joint with a BMW flange on both ends. I’d even marked everything up!

I’m not quite sure how we got so confused.

BMW prop shaft at the bottom, Supra shaft in the middle, what they built at the top.

But in all fairness to Bailey Morris and in stark contrast to our friends at the ‘South Eastern’ Gearbox company. They accepted the mistake, built me the correct one – balanced the whole prop together and it was on my doorstep three days later. They even shipped it for free as way of an apology AND discounted me some money because what i wanted was much more simple. Stunning service. As they say, it’s what happens to you as a customer when something goes wrong that defines a company. Everybody makes mistakes. This is how you put it right. Hats of to you chaps. Great bit of work too.

Aaaannnddd we made a shifter bracket for the new posh alloy blingness shifter.

Also made a bracket for the Porsche Cayenne drive by wire throttle cable. Much fettling was needed to get the position exactly right, but it’s right now. Thanks in no small part to Mathew the Workshop monkey who…you know…made it.

And with an engine, a gearbox, a prop, a shifter and the addition of a couple of other fettling bits – the Supra was finally able to move out of the workshop under it’s own steam (albeit, in one direction) to see sunlight for the first time in about a year.


Still a lot to do, obviously. Good progress made none the less. After this everything came back apart again, but more of that next time.

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