So you’ve decided to replace your MR2 Spyder’s oil-thirsty underpowered stock 1ZZ-FE with toyota’s high revving 180hp 2ZZ-GE. This is an extremely popular swap and is pretty straightforward as engine swaps go. No custom work or fabrication is required since all of the critical swap parts are readily available. MWR offers complete swap packages WITH or WITHOUT Rebuilt 6-speed transmission which make planning your swap easy- just add your choice of air intake and header (see below). See HERE for additional detail
We also sell all of the SWAP COMPONENTS engines, bolt-in 6-speed transmissions etc separately for those who want to tailor the package to their tastes. Here’s what you need to know:
Parts required – engine swap
- Header – Neither your 1ZZ headernor a standard 2ZZ header will fit so you have two options. Best is the MWR Long Tube Swap Header Combo which includes a high flow cat. For a more stock-appearing setup which uses your original cat pipe (easier to get through emissions inspection in some areas) you can install the MWR swap header with your stock (or stock-style aftermarket) cat pipe. The long tube setup has been known to make 8-15 more horsepower.
- Air intake – you need the MWR COLD AIR INTAKE (best fit, coldest air temps – now included with our swap combos) or PPE 2ZZ swap air intake.
- 2ZZ engine (from any year and model) with sensors, VVT/VVL solenoids, coils etc.
- Intake manifold, throttle body from 2000-02 Celica GTS (US Market), 2005 Lotus Elise or 03-06 Matrix/Corolla 2ZZ (US market). If you have an overseas sourced engine then any of the 2000-05 Celica and 2001-06 Corolla manifolds and throttle bodies will work as long as they are cable throttle, not electronic throttle.
- Knock sensor– you can use a 2000-01 Celica GTS knock sensor or your stock 1ZZ knock sensor.
- ECU: you can use a US-spec (preferred) or JDM-spec (no OBD2) 2000-01 Celica GTS MT stock ECU or a 2ZZ Power FC. European Celica ECUs have an immobilizer feature so they will not function once swapped into a different car. ECUs from Corolla/Matrix/Vibe models will NOT work.
- Wiring – your stock 1ZZ engine wiring harness must be reused. You’ll need the MWR plug n play adapter which includes the VVL connectors. Do it yourselfers can save a few bucks by using the MWR VVL connector kit instead, it includes instructions for making several other wiring changes to the engine harness.
- Injectors– if using a stock Celica GTS ECU, you must use stock type 2ZZ 320cc injectors (yellow, grey or brown). If using a Power FC or other programmable ECU you can use any stock 2zz injectors or aftermarket injectors. 1ZZ stock injectors are too small with either ECU.
- Fuel rail– you must reuse your MR2 fuel rail so the inlet will be pointing the correct direction.
- Flywheel – you need a 2ZZ flywheel; if your engine came with a stock 2ZZ flywheel you can use that, just be sure to get it resurfaced. Most people prefer to upgrade to an MWR or Fidanza unit for quicker response and improved acceleration.
- Clutch – any CLUTCH made for 1ZZ/2ZZ applications will work. Most people install a new one during the swap.
- Cooling system – most of it hooks up pretty normally. You’ll need this CAP and if you’re using a celica engine you’ll also need 2 of this CAP. Click to see a cooling system diagram that is helpful during install.
- Belt System – you will need to transfer over your MR2 idler, or if you don’t have it you’ll need to buy one. If you have air conditioning and standard alternator and water pump pulleys you need this BELT. For other configurations see our belt selection GUIDE.
- Alternator – the 1zz alternator bolts up fine. There have been a few reports of 1zz alternator failures so some people prefer a 2zz alternator.
- Air Conditioning – your MR2 AC compressor will bolt right up to the 2ZZ engine, no changes needed.
- Mounts – the three transmission mounts are the same for 1ZZ and 2ZZ manual cars. You just need the 2ZZ engine swap mount.
- Gauge cluster – the stock MR2-S cluster works fine. The tach only goes to 8000 so the needle will stop climbing just before you hit the 2ZZ’s rev limiter.
- Dipstick tube – the stock 2zz tube points forward. You need the MWR 2ZZ swap dipstick tube which works with the stock 1ZZ MR2 dipstick.
Your stock 5-speed will bolt to the 2ZZ and work ok with no modification. The 2ZZ is normally paired with a 4.5:1 6-speed transmission with close ratios; this suits the 2ZZ’s peaky power band MUCH better and you’ll find it’s a lot more fun to drive. Upgrading to the 6-speed is obviously easiest at the time of the engine swap but if budget doesn’t allow for that you can always do it later. 5- and 6-speed transmissions use the same mounts so shifting is the one critical thing to address.
- Toyota MWR transmissions – choose from 3.9 , 4.3 and 4.5:1 final drives in these brand new affordable 6-speed transmissions which available with or without a TRD helical LSD. These transmissions come ready to install as long as they’re specified for MR2.
- Used 2000-05 Celcia GTS or 03-06 Matrix/Corolla 2ZZ 6-speed transmission – get it from a trusted source; these transmissions very frequently have synchro issues. If you get the transmission elsewhere you’ll need REVERSE BLOCKOUT and SHIFTER SHAFT (or this SHIFTER SHAFT if you have a 01-03 matrix/corolla trans)
Your MR2 is an SMT model? You will need to CONVERT to manual transmission for the 2ZZ to work.
While you’re in there
- Clutch – The 1ZZ and 2ZZ clutch are interchangeable so you could reuse your old one but chances are it’s worn. Install a new one to avoid the labor of replacing the old one when it wears out after a few thousand miles.
- Shifter cable bushings – greatly improve shifting feel and help avoid misshifts which are somewhat common with the 6-speed
Plan to go racing?
See the 2ZZ racing prep page for some ideas on easy upgrades you can and should perform before installing your new 2ZZ if you plan on road racing or autocross.
The stock 1ZZ engine makes around 117hp measured at the wheels. 2ZZ engine swaps tend to be in the 160-185whp range depending on the parts used and tuning. This is obviously a huge improvement and you’ll find the car is a lot more fun to drive and a lot more competitive at track events. If you’re in to drag racing you’ll find your times have gone from low 15’s in the quarter mile to mid-high 13’s. Around the road course you’ll spend less time waiting for the next corner to arrive and you won’t be spending all of your time waving people by in the straights. In daily driving you’ll find the engine feels a lot like your old 1ZZ until you hit 6000rpm… when the VVL kicks in you’d better hold on.
Did you get everything installed and now you find it’s difficult to select reverse? Try adding a washer between the steel bracket and aluminum shift shaft cover at these two spots to move the shift lever to the right a bit and make selecting reverse easier.
After you assemble your new swap shifter shaft and blockout with the hardware from your 6-speed’s original shifter shaft it should look like this:
Can’t get into 5th and 6th? You may have the smaller selector (piece secured with the roll pin) installed backwards. Try flipping it 180 degrees.