Sneige Factory – JZA80 Supra Build – Part 28: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Oh, hi?

Where have I been for a year? I bought a house. It absorbed my life. I started my own business in IT consultancy. That absorbed my life.  I’m now back and there is a SHIT load of stuff going on.  So let’s begin.

The workshop is full of S13’s. There are four in this picture. I’ll explain why in another article.


I bought a chassis spit. Whoop.


I turned into a fabricating rastafarian


Oh… and I finished the Supra (kinda).

I’m going to give you the super short version of this story as I’m trying to fill you in on over a year’s worth of tinkering with big gaps for house renovation and moving.

We pulled out off the stops to finish the car a week before the Kop Hill climb ALL the way back in September 2016.  My old friend Steve Sadler from FC Tuning mapped the Haltech Elite 2500 on the Dyno at Motorworx in Marlow and it spat the clutch pivot shaft on the dyno. Not ideal, but an easy fix. Before it spat the clutch, it was pretty awesome. Stock 1UZ with injectors, fancy ECU and plenum made 289hp and 300ftlb. Not huge figures, but remember – it’s not meant to make big power without boost. It’s meant to prove it’s reliable and work out all the bugs before we complicate things with forced induction (more on that later)


After a few more shenanigans, we finally got the car to the Kop Hill Climb and proceeded to run the car up the hill on three separate occasions. After the first run, it was immediately obvious that there were problems. The steering was terrible, the gearbox & shift were worse than an M Night Shyamalan movie and the alignment was all over the place.


Even with all the niggles, there was absolute greatness underneath. It sounded WICKED. Revved quickly and sharply. The power delivery was awesome and underneath the alignment foibles, there was a shadow of a planted feel.

On the final run of the day, we gave it full beans with a 100ft rolling burn out. Got through the rest of the course and got to the top of the hill where it promptly shat it’s unbreakable BMW gearbox. We then cruised down the hill and back to the car park in 3rd (it was stuck in 3rd)

Back at the ranch, we were left with two key big things that needed fixing.

1 – The Gearbox.

If you’re going to do this conversion yourself – buy an adaptor plate. Don’t cut and shut the housing. It’s too much work. In the end, we think the gearbox problem was caused by two things.

a) a slightly misaligned shaft (we threw one together in a rush)

b) an incorrectly sized clutch pivot rod.

We bought another complete 1UZ engine tall block. Stripped it, stuck it on its end, shimmed it absolutely plumb and then fabricated a new bell housing on the ground and off the car like a giant ZF burger. Then fitted it.

We ditched the fancy aftermarket motorsport shifter and went with a standard BMW linkage and bar. It’s a much longer throw but more accurate. It also gives a better aesthetic in the car as you can re-use all the standard trim.

This all took WEEKS and WEEKs of weekends, evenings and part-time tinkering – but I think we’ve solved it now (I hope)

2) The Steering

A couple of big issues here. The symptoms were REALLY notchy heavy steering and a loud whining pump.

The notchiness was caused by the steering column rubbing on the engine mount. We machined the mount and solved the clearance issue. We still had some notching and poor steering.

I tried three separate pumps, including a brand new one. They all whined.

In short, the issue seems to be the size of the power steering return lines used. We made them up in AN6. They seem to be too small. It’s taken a long time to get to his point and has been the bane of my life.

So you’re basically up to date.

I moved the Supra home to one of the workshops at my new house. Conveniently, the old chap who lived there before us was a massive Morris fan (and president of the Morris owners club or something?) anyway… lovely chap. He installed a pit in one of the workshops when he erected it decades ago. So I have been using that to tinker.


I’ve pretty much got the AN8 hoses ready to go on. You can see from the picture above the difference between the two. Hopefully, that’ll give us some flow and ultimately solve the steering issues.

I’m sick of ATF.

It’s Drift Matsuri at Rockingham in 6 days time. It’s become the event that kicks off the drift year here in the UK. If I can get the PAS issues sorted, fit some indicators and wire in a speedo and Haltech’s ridiculously overpriced fuel level signal converter (and get some alignment rig time) then you never know – I might just show my face.

Oh yeah – forgot to mention there is also an issue with the differential. But more on that next time.


4 thoughts on “Sneige Factory – JZA80 Supra Build – Part 28: Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

  1. Having just marathoned all 28 blog entries in a single morning I can thoroughly say, Wow! theres alot involved!

    I was wondering whether any of your headaches might have been alleviated if you had opted for a 3uz engine rather than 1uz?
    I’m thinking of doing a similar swap one day and had already planned to lean towards the more modern and albeit slightly more expensive 3uz rather than the 1uz.

  2. Hey Samwise,
    The install and wiring of the engine were really not that much of a problem. The big issues were with the transmission and other little niggly bits unrelated to the lump.

    I hope you enjoyed the story so far and thanks for your kind comments.


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