The 450whp recipe

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Nov 16 2017



With the publicity of Matt Farah recently driving Kenn Kite's ATS built 450whp MR2 we decided to put the recipe up there for people who want this build. The availability of E85 has made 450whp the sweet spot of bang for the buck MR2 performance. For example 450whp can happily run our $300 1200cc injectors instead of $900+ ID2000's.  450whp is also the limit of the side mount intercooler, and stock intake manifold. 450whp is also the limit for a single disk clutch, so you get a $500 Stage 4 instead of a $1400 twin disk. And finally 450whp is the practical limit for the 3S block, beyond this number we suggest upgrading to the 5S block. 


This E85 build will make about 330-350whp on pump gas. If you are trying to make 450whp on pump gas, well bad's going to cost a lot more because you need to do considerable flow modifications due to the limits of 93 octane.


The block. We highly recommend going to a 2.2 stroker motor. There is no power benefit, but there is a spool benefit and it makes the car a better daily driver. The cost difference between a stroker and a forged 2.0 is pretty minimal. So buy this and upgrade to the Eagle rods and ACL Race bearings for a little extra insurance: $2950 with Eagles and ACL Race bearings


By the way I am assuming we are doing the installation here, so no need for a core deposit.


Next thing is the Cylinder head. Buy this:


and these:


Get the Gen2 S1 cams. I don't care if you have a Gen3, Gen4, Gen5, The GEN2 S1 cams are the ones you want. They spool faster and make the same peak power at this level.


Get ATS cam gears too:


The price of cams is changing soon because GSC is going to billet blanks, but this head with cams and cam gears should be $1700 total.


Get the ATS head gasket repair kit for $325 here:

That will get you a set of ARP head studs, ATS metal head gasket and a low temp thermostat.


You will also want: Oil leak kit $34 Timing belt kit with seals $91 Tune up kit $169 HV Oil pump with gasket $188

5SFE flywheel bolt set $43

Machine stock flywheel for stroker, plus resurface flywheel $200

I don't have a water pump on the website yet, but they are $125 for genuine Toyota. I have found the aftermarket ones come as only the front half and they tend to leak.


Running total so far $5825


On to the turbo kit: ATS Racing Garrett GT3071R. This thing spools very close to stock and will make just over 500whp if pushed. $2350


The turbo kit comes with all the gaskets you need IF you can reuse your manifold gaskets. Just in case they aren't reusable here are the two: manifold/adapter gasket $39 gen2 exhaust manifold gasket $39


The ATS Top Mount Intercooler kit also includes a 3” intake that deletes the factory AFM. This intercooler is the best air/air solution available without cutting your trunk or going to a heavier and more expensive water to air intercooler package.


Get the optional Tial BOV, because it sounds cool. $1350


Running total: $9603


The ECU and fuel system is easy because I built a combo kit that has everything you need: $2345


Drivetrain: I hope your stock E153 transmission is in good shape, because rebuilding them has become nearly impossible or expensive or both. Grab an ATS Racing Stage 4 clutch and a set of our CV joints: Stage 4 clutch $499 ATS inner CV joints $349 Transmission refill kit $74


Running parts total: $12,870


We need to add about $100 for fluids like VR1 race oil, oil filter, coolant, clutch fluid.


If we do everything at once the total labor for engine removal, disassembly, cleaning, reassembly, is typically $3900, tuning for flex fuel is $900. So assuming you don't have a car loaded with gremlins and previous problems your total price is:


Grand total $17,770


450whp is approximately 570 flywheel horsepower. Flip through the latest Car and Driver and find the list of 570hp new cars. It's pretty short. Now look and see how many of them are under 3000 pounds. 570 horsepower/3000 pounds puts the MR2 in an incredible power to weight class. At this power level the car is capable of 10 second quarter mile times on drag radials, but still has the drivability and reliability of the stock car. The one pictured above was build by ATS in 2009 and is still going strong today.

350whp on pump gas and a budget

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Sep 22 2017

Recently I was asked for a recipe to take a 1991-1995 Toyota MR2 from bone stock (160whp) to 350whp on 93 octane pump gas. This is more than double the output of the stock motor. Believe it or not, it's possible. Here are the parts I would recommend:


GT3071R turbocharger kit

ATS rom tuned ecu

550cc side feed injectors

Walbro fuel pump

170 degree t-stat

ATS modified fuel rail

This is available for  as a combo for $3750 on our site


Open element air filter - Apexi, or K&N. Do not use Blitz or HKS foam filters. They degrade rapidly, do not filter or flow well


ATS throttle body inlet - 91-92 only, the 93+ already has an ample sized inlet.


3" exhaust - the Ebay ones flow great, but tend to drone on the freeway. Berk is better about drone, but twice the cost


GSC/HKS/BC 264-268 degree cams


ATS adjustable cam gears


ATS Side Mount Intercooler with fan and shroud kit - I would prefer to use the top mount, but I don't think I can squeeze the stock AFM in there. Hopefully I can update that soon.


APexi AVC-R electronic boost controller. As far as I know this is the only boost controller that offers boost versus rpm control. Under normal conditions we limit all of our pump gas builds to 17 psi, but there is a small loophole we can exploit. The knock limit of the 3SGTE is basically defined by the torque curve. Most of these cars hit peak torque about 5000 rpm. We use the rpm dependent boost controller to raise boost a couple pounds after 5000rpm to keep torque from falling off. This in turn raises the high rpm horsepower substantially.


Total parts cost is about $7000. I have done this recipe many times over the years. The worst I have seen from this is 330whp and the best I have seen is 360whp. Now, if I had a little bit more in the budget the first thing I would change is the rom tuned ECU, I would swap that for a EMU and the next thing I would change is the fuel system, I would run a top feed rail and 1200cc top feed injectors. By switching to these items you open youself up to the possibility of E85 and lots more horsepower in the future.


Additional thoughts: The cost of a new AVC-R and a rom tune is actually higher than a EMU with the rpm dependant boost control option. The catch is the EMU will require some tuning, but I think the cost difference even after tuning would be about $400 higher for the EMU.



Motor Oil Recommendations

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Apr 18 2017
This excellent article is from our friends over at Forced Performance. It is written for 4G63 owners, but it 100% applies to all CT series upgrades. We use Valvoline VR-1 Race oil in all of our personal MR2's. So for the cliffs notes crowd out there, here is the summary: Do not use Mobil1 10w30 or any other “on highway” GF-4 oil in your 4G63 motor with any high output stock appearing turbo. Use a suitable racing oil designed for high film strength and heavy pressure loading such as Brad Penn, Joe Gibbs, Valvoline VR1, Amsoil Racing oil or Royal Purple racing oil. Also remember that racing oils are detergent free and need to be changed frequently. (I need to add a note that not all Royal Purple or Amsoil oils offer race level protection)

Making Power with the 3SGTE: The Basics

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Feb 9 2017
Starting with a 100% bone stock MR2 (do those still exist anymore?).

We are also going to assume you have kept up with maintenance. So no 150,000 mile timing belts, no knocking, no overheating, no puking oil. No smoking. A few drips of oil here and there are acceptable (sometimes I think MR2 means "leaks oil" in Japanese).

Step 1: Full Tune Up

The stock ignition system is really good on a 3SGTE. You will find lots of old articles about cap/rotor wear etc. Those were wrong. We routinely make over 700whp on basically stock ignition systems, and field tons of "help me" calls about malfunctioning aftermarket coil on plug systems. Coil on plug systems are available, but require stand alone EFI and additional hardware. That adds up to money that could be put to good use elsewhere.

ATS sells a full tune up kit here (for 91-92) or here (93+). The included NGK plugs are pre-gapped a little bit too big. They will work for stock applications just fine, but we suggest dropping the gap down to .028 inches. While you are changing the spark plugs you should take the extra time to do a compression test. This is a good basic indicator of piston/ring condition. You are looking for 140-185 psi of compression. And it's very important that they are all within 5% of each other. Compression testers are available at your local autoparts store for under $30.

Step 2: Let It Breathe

Your car will be louder now. If you are not comfortable with a louder than stock car then sell it and go buy a hybrid. Removing breathing restrictions is fundamental to making power. There are some quiet exhausts occasionally available on the market, but everything will be at least slightly louder than stock.

  1. Intake: You've got a few choices here. You can go with an Apexi bolt in open element air filter like here. They flow great and still filter well. Or you can make your own with parts off ebay. Be sure you have the skills and patience to make a bracket, otherwise your filter will beat itself to death on the fuel filler pipe, quickly develop a hole, and no longer filter. Filters from HKS, Blitz foam, and Greddy Airnex should be avoided.

    What a cheap freebie? Take the stock air box base, cut or drill more openings, specifically on the front and outside sides. Remove the stock air bladder from the firewall and reinstall with a new genuine TOYOTA air filter. Be careful to leave enough base material that it can still be bolted down. This flows great, and filters as well as OEM.

  2. Exhaust: The $199 Ebay dual muffler dual tip exhaust flows awesome. We have seen 800whp from these before. Seriously. The bad news is that they are LOUD, especially when combined with downpipes and larger aftermarket turbos. The Berk exhaust does not flow as well, but is much quieter. TCS occasionally offers two exhausts: a quiet SP style exhaust that looks like a 3" version of stock. This is my favorite. It's difficult to make it fit perfectly, but it is quiet and flows reasonably well. The other TCS is the 3.5" dual muffler, dual tip, it's beautiful and BOLD (read: loud).

    Downpipes: I'll get to those later. An exhaust can be changed out in about 2 hours at home. A downpipe takes 2-3 times that amount of time. I will also note that adding performance exhaust parts like a downpipe or a 2.75" b-pipe in front of a stock muffler is dumb. There is almost no gain in power because you still have a big restriction at the end. ATS Throttle Body Inlet–hey, it's my page I can push my own products if I want–The 1991-1992 cars NEED this. It's a 4-5 horsepower gain. Want proof that it helps? Well the 1993-1995 cars have a redesigned throttle body inlet that mirrors ours.

Step 3: Cooling

You have three choices (for now) based on budget. There is almost ZERO natural...

International Shipping Update

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Oct 4 2016
International Shipping Update: USPS has lost nearly $8000 of our merchandise in the last 90 days. This is a staggering loss to a small company like us. We can no longer ship USPS daily for items over $200. Items or order totals over $200 have to be hand delivered to the post office and additional insurance purchased. Because of the extra time and costs involved we have to raise our international shipping prices. We apologize and thank you for your understanding.

New Clutch Rebuild Kits

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Apr 11 2016
NEW Clutch Pedal Rebuild kits and OEM Clutch Master Cylinders available in the Drivetrain/Clutches section under parts.

ATS Welcomes John

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Jan 27 2015
The new tech at ATS is also a great videographer: John came out from Lubbock, TX to have us tune his car in 2014. Luckily he brought along a collection of cameras. We had such a good time and were so pleased with the results (both of the car and the video) that John joined ATS Racing as a full time technician in January 2015. John did an amazing job making ATS look more like a professional shop and less like a junk yard (no easy feat, notice he has to point the camera at the ceiling a bunch, haha). His reactions to riding in his own car after our tuning, and to riding in my car at ~750whp are priceless. The rest of us at ATS are anxious to see what John comes up with for our next video project. Thanks and stay tuned.

Black Friday Specials Live!

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Nov 27 2014
BLACK FRIDAY SPECIALS are now LIVE. These will be available through SUNDAY. Don't miss out.

Return Policy Update

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Jul 3 2014
Unfortunately ATS Racing has to institute a return policy. You cannot expect to order parts for your car show/event and then return them afterwards for a full refund. We are implementing a 15% restocking fee on normally stocked ATS items. Any items with non-stocked or specialty components are a 20% restocking fee (i.e. turbo kits, pistons). Any custom items such as special compression ratio pistons, 3S pistons above 86.5mm bore, Big Bore 88mm pistons, custom work, tuning, is non-returnable. Returned items must be sent in as-new condition. Please make eligible returns within 60 days of your original purchase. We apologize to our loyal customers and ask for your understanding.

ECUMaster PnP EMU Now Available

Posted by Scott McClendon on Dec 10 2013
ECUMaster PNP EMU added to Inventory! This is a great little ECU we have been putting through the wringer for the last few months. If you are looking for a good simple ECU that just does the job, then this is the ECU for you! If you want one with all the bells and whistles, then this ECU has that as well!

Cool Tools: Our Favorite Equipment

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Jan 4 2013
Check out our new COOL TOOLS section under Engine parts. We plan to load it with some of our favorite specialty tools.

ATS Now Using My Shop Assist

Posted by Scott McClendon on Dec 3 2012
ATS Racing is proud to now be using My Shop Assist For scheduling and tracking current projects. It allows us to keep our customers up to date on their projects, and gives us a much better idea of scheduling both for customers and technicians.

Phone System Update

Posted by Scott McClendon on Sep 12 2012
The ATS Racing phone system is currently being repaired. If you have urgent requests or questions please feel free to e-mail us at If you need Aaron or Scott specifically, please e-mail either, or Sorry for the inconvenience.

MR2 Drift

Posted by Scott McClendon on Jul 30 2012
Who says you can't drift an MR2? Hugo Soto, one of customers from Spain just sent this video to us... Hugo Drifting MR2 Hugo is running an ATS 2.2L Stroker, ATS GT3071 turbo kit, Apexi Power FC ECU.

Lightning Strikes ATS

Posted by Aaron Bunch on May 30 2012
On 5/30/2012 at 11:20am ATS was struck by lightning. Everyone is OK, but our phone server has been damaged. We are working on a replacement, but phones will not be working until further notice. Please e-mail us at or my personal address at

Shipping Estimates

Posted by Scott McClendon on Sep 7 2011
Shipping Estimate now available in Shopping Cart.

ATS Top Mount Turbo Manifolds in Stock!

Posted by Scott McClendon on Sep 7 2011
ATS Top Mount Turbo Manifolds and Downpipes IN STOCK! Ready to ship. Buy now! Boost tomorrow! ATS Top Mount Manifolds

New Air Filters and Intakes

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Aug 21 2011
Air Filters and Intakes added to the Parts page. Choose 3.5 or 4" intakes for your MR2.

Shop Closed for Event

Posted by Aaron Bunch on May 11 2011
ATS Racing will be closed until May 17th. We are attending MR2 Spring Fling in Orlando, Florida. See you there!

Phone Update

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Apr 7 2011
Phones at ATS Racing are working again.

ATS Intake Manifold 700RWHP

Posted by Scott McClendon on Jul 14 2010
ATS Racing Intake Manifold makes over 700RWHP!

Welcome Scott McClendon

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Sep 1 2007
Scott McClendon joins ATS Racing full time

Horsepower from Oil Change?

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Jun 14 2007
Horsepower from just changing your oil? Yes!!

read more

Greddy-style Intercooler Shroud + Fan

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Dec 22 2006
Greddy style intercooler shroud and 9" fan available now!

Complete Builds Pricing

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Nov 26 2005
Pricing for complete buildups posted

Turbo + ECU + Fuel Kits

Posted by Aaron Bunch on Sep 22 2005
ATS Turbo + ECU + Fuel Combo kits now available. Save big!