Project Sakura: 88T Resurrection

Feuerstoss

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To start, I’m a lurker. A massive lurker. I had wanted an A70 Supra for years; starting when I saw the ads on TV and the occasional glimpses on the road. Right after I graduated high school(long enough ago that I don’t particularly care to admit when), my folks sent me to a driving school. During the classroom portions I would see this absolutely beautiful ’91-’92 Turbo in brilliant Super Red parked outside where we would have lunch. I ogled that car every day, despite the fact I had its somewhat separated cousin as its first car. My ST162 Celica GT-S served me well until it threw a rod a couple of years later; the victim of my lack of knowledge on auto maintenance.

I tried many times over subsequent years to get my hands on an A70, though for whatever reason the deals always fell through. From the rod-knocking ’87 N/A I drove a four-hour round trip to look at back in 2003, a pristine 80K ’91 Turbo I test drove in 2004, all the way up to the misrepresented basketcase I looked at in 2017 that was badly milkshaking due to a slapdash head gasket replacement, I wasn’t able to get into one in the right place at the right time. I’ve owned an impressive assortment of cars over the years, including two ST165 Celica GT-Fours(one of which I currently own); despite all that I have always wanted an A70.


I finally got my chance in March of 2018. A Facebook friend of mine posted a picture of what was obviously an A70 hood badge surrounded by faded Super Red paint. As usual, I responded with a wistful comment to the effect that was one of my dream cars and I had started to save up for one. His response: “It’s for sale.” While I had wanted one in good condition and didn’t want to take on a project, this one ticked most of the boxes I was looking for. 7MGTE, Targa, the body looked in decent shape besides the paint fade, it was equipped with a K&N intake and a now discontinued Blitz Nur-Spec exhaust, and he was offering it for next to nothing to someone who wasn’t just going to pull the R154 for another project and scrap the rest.

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The bad: The engine was likely trash. It was a potential rebuild candidate, but it would have to be addressed. There appeared to be wiring issues; the EFI fuse would pop after the engine was lit. However, I decided to take the risk. These were starting to appreciate, and I’m a sucker for the underdog. The big caveat was that my friend lived about 800mi away. It took me a month or so, but I was able to get the MA70 shipped to a friend’s house(minus some jackwagon that busted off the driver's side mirror whilst in transit; I've got a set in white that are awaiting installation) and safely placed in their backyard.

June 2018 pull(PPIHC Fanfest-Magnus Walker) 053.JPG

June 2018 pull(PPIHC Fanfest-Magnus Walker) 055.JPG

The inspection began after the Supra arrived; it was immediately obvious this would be a project. The first things I noticed were a lot of brand new cooling components; a good sign that someone was likely chasing a BHG. It was obvious that the car had been sitting a very long time; oil change reminders from 2001 with a listed mileage of around 20K less than what the odometer read and a few other clues was a dead giveaway. By my estimate this car has been sitting since 2006 or so. Additionally, the inspection revealed that it wasn’t entirely rust free; a fist-sized hole had been eaten away in the driver’s side rear wheel arch. Nothing some grinding and patching won’t fix, but a gripe nevertheless. However I could say I now owned my childhood dream car despite its flaws.

June 2018 pull(PPIHC Fanfest-Magnus Walker) 068.JPG

I started gathering parts and making plans. I know that JZ or 1UZ swaps are all the rage, but those aren’t really up my alley. I don’t chase big power; I have no aspirations for hitting the track or drag strip and my need to prove my worth at a stoplight faded away years ago. I wanted to stick to a 7MGTE with all the reliability mods in place; I want a long-lasting engine that was more or less original to the car. That decision was cemented a few months later when a local-ish A70 owner put a 7MGTE up for sale for a great price. Less than $1K netted me a powerplant with around 100K, good compression numbers, dealer service history from new, and had been pulled out of what is arguably the cleanest looking A70 I had ever seen. The seller was going 2JZ. The engine had been attached to an A340E and by all respects had lived an easy life.

Dec 2018 016.JPG

And unfortunately that’s where things kinda stopped. Some personal upheaval happened, among which was a job change. My work commute significantly increased(along with using my personal vehicle for work) and I started looking for something more fuel efficient than my V8-powered luxobarge daily. Instead I talked myself into taking on another project: an AE86 SR5 that had a hole in the block. As fun as it was, I had broken the cardinal rule: Don’t take on more than one project at a time.
The AE86 took all of 2019 to finish, from completely rebuilding a 4AC to getting it running. Fueling issues fought my friend and I. While it’s in running condition right now, I’ve pretty much lost all interest. In the interim I had sold my luxobarge and a family member had passed, leaving me their pristine ’84 Hilux pickup. Between that, my ST165, the AE86 and the MA70 that means I exclusively own and drive ‘80s Toyotas. I have no regrets as I don’t particularly like most cars that have come out since the mid ‘00s or so.

That leads me to today. I have pretty much decided to sell the AE86 to help fund the MA70’s resurrection. While I understand and appreciate the history and cult following around that chassis, the AE86 isn’t my dream car. The MA70 is. Things have drastically changed in the past couple of years and I can’t really tackle multiple projects right now. I’m preparing to move sometime in 2021 and I want to make sure I have my fleet of vintage Toyotas in good order beforehand.
This doesn’t mean I have been totally idle on the MA70, however. I have been quietly hoarding parts over the past couple of years, even while working on the AE86. Some of the things I’ve found are kinda cool; I’ll reveal some of the goodies in a later post. I’ve probably spent nearly $2K in the past month on parts alone and am planning on getting a hefty Driftmotion order queued up.

As of a couple of days ago I've gotten started on the project. We pulled the donor engine out of storage and into my friend's garage and proceeded to tear it down. I am not planning on touching the rotating assembly, but I will be installing a Driftmotion upgraded oil pump, AZ sump hard line, and new block oil squirters. The idea is to get the block ready before spring/summer comes around and we're able to pull the chassis into the garage. As it stands the head and block look pretty good and I don't see any indication of this engine having a BHG; the head is getting a valve job and milling done in either case(one of the machinists there also has an MA70 so I feel confident it'll be done right).

Jan-early Feb 2020 Import 015.JPG

Jan-early Feb 2020 Import 017.JPG

Jan-early Feb 2020 Import 018.JPG

Finally, a peek at one of the goodies I picked up recently; a set of freshly powdercoated 16" 5-spoke '91-'92 wheels, complete with center caps that I will have to figure out how to noninvasively strip and paint match. This will probably give an idea of the scope of this project. I'm aiming more for an OEM+ build; I have no real aspirations to go out to the strip or the track. I want an MA70 that's solid enough to drive daily, something that I can count on for day trips, extended weekends carving up some Colorado mountain roads, or the occasional road trip out of state. My mod plans are centered around resolving common issues with the platform, increasing reliability and a modest bump in power to make this equivalent to more modern grand tourers and luxurosport cars.

Jan-early Feb 2020 Import 005.JPG

Needless to say I'm incredibly excited to start this project. While progress will be slow as I gather the final parts necessary and wait for the fickle weather out here to improve to the point of getting some real work taken care of. Stay tuned!
 

Piratetip

Far From Maddening Crowds
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Welcome!

Build it right the first time and don't cut corners.
It will bite you later otherwise.

Fun cars once they are operational though!
 

Feuerstoss

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Welcome!

Build it right the first time and don't cut corners.
It will bite you later otherwise.

Fun cars once they are operational though!
Thanks! :)

I can completely agree with that. There will be practically no slapdash here; I still distinctly remember the conversation I had with the person who owned the one I passed on in 2017 after a test drive:

Me: "You mentioned in the ad you replaced the head gasket, right?"
Seller: "Yep! It's been on there a month with no issues."
Me: "Did you send the head off to a machine shop to get it flattened to spec?"
Seller: "Nah, it looked clean, it didn't need it."
Me: *pulls the dipstick to reveal the nice chocolate milkshake surprise* "That's not how you fix a 7MGTE head gasket."

That said, I plan on shoring up everything that can be shored up. After sitting in a field for the past decade, this beast deserves to see the open road once again. :cool:
 
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Feuerstoss

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Beautiful.. I’ll be following.!!. Post lots of pics.

Thanks! I'll definitely post more in the future. Right now I need to gather some more parts(the aforementioned Driftmotion stuff) and get the head back from the machine shop before we're ready to assemble. I've also got a hard copy service manual and EWD coming in soon. At first I might do some bouncing between my projects(my ST165 needs a turbo replacement and a few other things) but I'm hoping to get work on the chassis started in May or June.
 
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debrucer

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Thanks! I'll definitely post more in the future. Right now I need to gather some more parts(the aforementioned Driftmotion stuff) and get the head back from the machine shop before we're ready to assemble. I've also got a hard copy service manual and EWD coming in soon. At first I might do some bouncing between my projects(my ST165 needs a turbo replacement and a few other things) but I'm hoping to get work on the chassis started in May or June.
For the longest time I assumed that the "What's New" label above was about the forum software and I never clicked on it. Turns out, it's about new posts, and now I see everything that is written... and I'm following the responses, too, for my on-going build. When I got to your new post above, I saw you joined in 2005 and had posted 15 times... and I thought, massive lurker!, j/k, those are your words in the first post. I'm sure I've read the thread, but I'll have to go back and look again now. There's a "My Other Car" section on here, too. Maybe you'll post about your Celica :) It's good to see you posting and I'm enjoying the pictures. That side shot of the engine is going to help me with at least two of the sensors I have to replace.... this is where mine are today...
sensors.jpg

I think you just knocked two off my list :) Thanks!
 

sinistar_xx

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Welcome. Looking forward to seeing the progress. And if you need either a cowl or steering column cover parts, I have some spares up by Denver.
 

Enraged

A HG job took HOW long??
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Welcome, I look forward to seeing more of your build. It's good to see a lurker posting a new project.
 

suprahero

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Subscribed for all the upcoming goodies. Driftmotion is one of my favorite places and Aaron is one of my favorite people. He's helped me a lot over the last fifteen years. Keep the pictures and updates coming. Everytime you have free time and don't work on the supra, think of all the people across this great Nation that you are disappointing and hopefully that will get your car done quicker. Good luck, Jay
 
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Feuerstoss

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Time for a very small bump!

Right now I'm mainly doing some parts gathering, though there might be a few surprises and a slightly different direction I'm going with the build. I should probably do a parts megapost sometime in the near future; my dining room table is literally full of Supra, Hilux, and AE86 parts(mostly the Supra, though; good thing I'm single and live alone, right?). In the meantime, a bit of a teaser:

DMShipment.jpg

Some Driftmotion action is happening; not the first time I've ordered from Aaron(I have a 50-trim upgraded CT26 that I still need to install on my ST165; I'll likely get to that before I pull the MA70 into the garage for the mother of all wrenching sessions). Not the last time I'll be ordering from him either; I am planning on a 57-trim rebuild on the stock turbo. That said, here's what I've picked up:

Modified oil pump
AZ Performance oil pump/sump hard line
New oil squirter banjo bolts
Stage 2 clutch kit(OEM disc w/Action Clutch pressure plate)
Block head bolt tap(going to chase those before installing the ARP head studs)
ARP flywheel bolts
Remote oil filter adapter(After helping a friend with a starter job on their '88T recently and seeing where the stock location is, I figure this is a very good idea)
And some little 7M love with the license plate frame. :D

I'll likely have another update pretty soon; I just received word from the machine shop that the head is finished and I should be picking it up tomorrow.
 
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Feuerstoss

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Okay, finally back. Current events being what they are basically threw a massive monkeywrench into the works. There's been some significant changes in both my paradigm and my fleet, but I'm starting to get back on track.

Firstly, I had been using my ST165 for a daily runner. For context, I work in a small mountain town that gets significantly harsher winters than where I live. Having a WRC homologation rally car was absolutely wonderful, but I had been putting a ton of abuse on a very rare car with even worse parts availability than the A70. Scenes like this were not uncommon:
Import Dec-Jan 2019 025.JPG

After a string of brake-related issues cropped up the decision was made to loot the A70 project fund and grab another daily driver; something a bit newer and capable of tackling Colorado winters without putting my Celica at too much risk. I came up with this beast:

Jan-Mar 2020(RAV4 Purchase) 059.JPG

2004 RAV4. I'm not typically a fan of crossovers, but this one is old enough to have basically the same AWD setup as my GT-Four as well as a manual gearbox(I'm not a fan of automatics). This was right before all the craziness hit and we got locked down for a while. Unfortunately issues cropped up so I had to sideline everything to get the gearbox rebuilt(a common issue with the 5th gear set). However I've now got a daily driver in the 'reasonable and practical' category which frees me up to go nuts on the fun cars. :)

During the lockdown I got the AE86 prepped; it took less than a week to sell her on to a new owner; he got his dream car out of the deal and I've now got a chance to resurrect mine. I haven't touched the MA70 or the 7MGTE yet, but that doesn't mean I didn't immediately jump on ordering parts. I broke out some of the more interesting pieces I've been hoarding, so let's get to it:

New phone May 2020 061.JPG

This is the newest set. I want new suspension on this beast. My original plan was for Koni Yellows/Eibachs, but a set of Tein Flex Z's were not much more expensive than the cost of the Koni's and new strut hardware(I already had the Eibachs). I've got Tein HA coilovers on my Celica and while they're a little stiff they're still perfectly acceptable for daily driving. Energy Suspension bushings are also part of the plan; sitting above them is a CT26 AN oil/water line kit. Next to that is a Feebay aluminum radiator; I've been running one on the Celica for the past three years and it's been working pretty well. Finally, sitting above is a Shaftmasters one-piece aluminum driveshaft. I splurged for a carbon fiber driveshaft on the Celica and flat out love it; for less than $400 and not dealing with the hassle of carrier bearings I think the upgrade will be well worth it.

New phone May 2020 062.JPG

This still isn't everything I've got for this car, but other than new gaskets, maintenance parts, and other 'while it's out' parts these are probably the most interesting. I've got new Whiteline swaybar endlinks(I've got front and rear Whiteline bars on order but they probably won't be in until July), Driftmotion's Stage 2 clutch kit(Action pressure plate on OEM disc), Cube short shifter, Driftmotion modified oil pump and AZ supply line(both very quality pieces of equipment), new starter and A/C compressor, Cometic MLS head gasket and ARP head studs, new silicone coolant and boost hoses(the Feebay kit that covers most everything on the car), oil filter relocation adapter, and finally a couple of party pieces. I forgot to include the A80 TT fuel pump that's going in; that'll be a very fun job considering the fuel tank's about 3/4 full of gas from back when Myspace was still popular.

The downpipe is a semi-divorced type from a company in the UK called Malian and was not easy to get. From what I can tell these are made in very small batches; I was on a waitlist for several months before they became available. To consolidate shipping and make the total cost reasonable, I ordered with a friend(and fellow forum member). They arrived within less than a week and I'm very pleased with the quality. I can't comment on the fitment but I did find this video:


The downpipes can be found at the following link(sold out as of this posting): https://www.kage-uk.com/product/toyota-supra-mk3-performance-exhaust-downpipe-7mgte-engine/

And the final party piece is a Feebay find I stumbled upon a long time ago by blind luck: a BRAND NEW engine wiring harness. I'm certain there's been rodent activity under the hood over the years as the friend I bought the car from mentioned the EFI fuse kept popping. My original plan was to do a Yotaconnectors rebuild but this changed plans. This was significantly more expensive than the rebuild service, but I think having a brand new harness is excellent peace of mind.

I now have nearly everything I need to rebuild this car(at least mechanically), minus some incidentals and perhaps some things I've forgotten to address(the very nature of a project car, right?). The going will be slow for a while, but tomorrow I'm heading to my buddy's place to clean the old head gasket off the block and check for any warpage.
 

Feuerstoss

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Okay, got started on the block yesterday. And, this is what is known as a showstopper:

May 2020 7M Block 001.JPG

May 2020 7M Block 002.JPG

May 2020 7M Block 003.JPG

May 2020 7M Block 004.JPG

While the block specs pretty flat there's some concerning pitting around #1 and #6; there's also another area near #6 that is also pitted(I cleaned off the tops of #1 and #6 while I was getting the old gasket off). This stuff doesn't pass the fingernail test. What this looks like to me is that while the engine I picked up didn't have a BHG it was definitely developing one. I think the safest option is getting the block rebuilt. Not something I was planning to do(or really wanted to do, frankly) but I guess it's going to have to happen.

I tend to prepare for worst case scenarios and I'm going to need some help. I know my machine shop went straight for an overbore on the 4AC I had them handle last year. While this block seems okay in that regard I want to at least have options. The potential snag I'm running into is a relative lack of overbore non-forged pistons, or at least ones from manufacturers I've heard of and had experience with. To lay it on the line I have no wish to go forged internals; this engine will never see the kind of power those are rated to handle and dealing with potential piston slap issues isn't something I relish. Does anyone have a line on decent pistons that are both available and not of the top-notch forged variety?
 

Enraged

A HG job took HOW long??
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I'd say keep an eye on the various Facebook groups, people put pistons up for sale often. I got some older design but brand new JEs for under $500.
 

andrew_mx83

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Try find yourself a set of Hypereutectic pistons, they are the best of the non-forged units.
FWIW though, my forged CP's dont have any piston slap when cold (or hot)
 

Feuerstoss

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Try find yourself a set of Hypereutectic pistons, they are the best of the non-forged units.
FWIW though, my forged CP's dont have any piston slap when cold (or hot)
I agree with you that hypereutectic would be best(IIRC stock pistons are), though I'm not sure who makes them versus who makes cast pistons. Finding OEM oversize pistons would be best, but I'm sure those have long since gone NLA.
 

3p141592654

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You could lap the block by hand using diamond paste after plugging all the holes up with grease. . How deep do you think those pits are?