View Full Version : Amassing info: 83 Celica V8 swap.

11-01-2006, 07:47 PM
So I just bought this 83 Celica GT fastback, just as a beater to get around with. Good car for the purpose - good mileage, handles well, good low-end torque, pickup-like cargo capacity with the rear seats folded. However, after a few days of driving around I was surprised at how good the car is, despite an engine that doesn't like to rev and a lack of un-blown shocks at the moment. Despite it's age and 200k+ miles, the chassis obviously has potential.

It just needs more power.

Were I stuck in FWD hell still, I'd be looking into motor swaps and turbo kits. That's all fine and dandy, but this is a RWD car, and after researching forever on the efficacy of various Japanese motor swaps and their difficulties (smog legality, durability, wiring hassles, having to do a ton of work just to get things right only to end up with sub-200hp under the hood) I'm just going to say fuck it and go with a Chevy small block. I'm tired of dealing with 'simple' motors that have more to go wrong with them than they're worth. Frankly, the motor swap portion of the project isn't going to be that big of a deal - this motor has been swapped into practically every car in existance at one point in time or another, and I have the advantage of being able to run a carb until wiring hassles are sorted out to my satisfaction. Whether I want to go low revs and large displacement, or high revs and lower(ish) displacement (think Chevy 302DZ as used in the original Z28), NA or forced induction, FI or carb'd, I can have my power any way I want it - and frankly, the rear tires won't care which engine is sending power their way.

I had an 83 Celica Supra at one point as well, and I was surprised to see a live axle under this car, since I was expecting the old semi-trailing-arms that came on the Supra. Surprised and delighted, actually - no one has much good to say about semi trailing arm suspensions. I did a 4000rpm clutch drop on my Supra parts car, and it was slightly embarassing to see two little 1" wide rubber stripes laid down from the rear suspension compressing and adding camber.

That, and I've recently kicked my old prejudice about live axle rear suspensions. "Live axle rear suspended cars can't handle" is a myth, not a fact - go ask anyone in a Hachi Roku, early Mazda rotaries, Panoz Esperante race cars, or NASCAR (haha, yeah, not that anyone here really pays attention, but NASCAR does road courses now too). In fact, live axles have certain advantages over IRS, and the disadvantages can be compensated for by merely adjusting your driving technique - you wouldn't drive an Integra the same way you would a Supra, for instance. That said, it took me getting down on the ground and looking under the car to notice that it had an axle.

The best part about this whole project is the body work section, or lack thereof. The car is what many manufacturers refer to as 'root beer', or what I like to call 'shit brown metallic'. With a matching interior. I'm going to try and change the outward appearance as little as possible, so it's just that much more painful when the guy realizes he wasn't just beat by an old Toyota, but a shit brown old Toyota at that.

The issues at hand are:

- How much torque can the Toyota live axle withstand, or be built to withstand? The housing looks the same as the one used in Toyota's trucks, and since they have an offroad following I'm supposing they're fairly stout. If going with a Toyota axle is a lost cause, there's always the 8.8 Mustang axle, though I'm loathe to put any Ford parts on one of my cars. That, and it's a lot of work to transfer all of the mounting points for the five-link suspension.

- Does anyone make suspension parts for these old cars anymore? Good stuff? There are ways of getting around this, but bolt on parts are usually the way to go.

- I remember from my Supra research that getting a decent set of wheels for these cars is a huge pain. I'm looking for something at least 16x7 in the proper offset - are there any other manufacturers out there who use the same bolt pattern? What about re-drilling the rotors/hubs?

While it won't be a walk in the park, most of the other work is fairly simple fabrication. Motor and transmission mounts, modified drive shaft. Brakes are fairly good for stock. Even without bigger wheels, some fairly sticky 225/60/14 tires would work and add that much more to the sleeper factor. The result would be something like a 5.0 Mustang with non-retarded rear suspension geometry, better steering and reflexes, and with a fairly silent exhuast system would fly under the radar of the police and potential prey.

Ok, now it's your turn - start poking holes in the plan. If there's a major reason why this won't work, I want to hear it. If it's been done before, I want to know how. If you're one of those psuedo-Coleman pushrod haters out there, stuff it - there's more than enough turbo kits to go around for your car.


11-01-2006, 08:13 PM
If the live axle is in fact that same one that's in the trucks, it'll hold enough power i should hope. I've seen them with stock rear ends with 350s in them, holding up just fine.

I like the idea, and i don't think it'll be insanely hard, but i do have one question...

You have the 22re engine in there now, correct? "22rte" is a nasty setup. The 22re is no joke in the first place, and people have made around 350whp on a turbo setup on these.

Just a thought, but with the 200+k miles you ahev on the car like you said, may just be worth going with the V8.

11-01-2006, 08:15 PM
well u either have a 22re or a 22r engine

engine will last forever, engine has lots of potential and decent aftermarket parts

dont throw a v8 in it, do this

13.33 @ 118mph (http://www.celica-gts.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9011&st=0)

engine he used is a 7mgte thats very lightly modded

11-01-2006, 08:21 PM
Hrmm... i didn't think of that...

7mgtes are cheap as hell, too....

11-01-2006, 08:29 PM
22re is really cheap to rebuild

11-01-2006, 11:02 PM
While it won't be a walk in the park, most of the other work is fairly simple fabrication. Motor and transmission mounts, modified drive shaft.

That's probably going to be your biggest and most expensive problem. I know that for an LSx swap, you should expect to spend $3,000-$5,000 on top of the motor for fabrication.

11-01-2006, 11:44 PM
also putting that much weight in the front is going to kill the handling, unless you do the proper susp tweaks, dont expect to auto x with it, although it does make one hell of a dragger.

11-01-2006, 11:51 PM
A 7MGTE in that would be sick!

11-02-2006, 04:15 PM
also putting that much weight in the front is going to kill the handling, unless you do the proper susp tweaks, dont expect to auto x with it, although it does make one hell of a dragger.

Not if he uses an LS1 or an LS2, they're both lighter than the 3SGTE or the 7MGTE.

Adrian Avgerinos
11-02-2006, 04:50 PM
Mr. Strange-

I'm going to send you a PM containing the e-mail address to a good friend of mine. He's in the process of swapping an LS1 into his 85 GT-S. At this point, he's got the engine and GM 6spd mounted, and most of the wiring sorted. He can probably answer most of your questions.

Since he's got a late GT-S, it has an IRS which is slightly weaker than the stick axle you're working with. That said, I believe he said the Supra (1st gen) guys have been able to put somewhere around 350 ft/lbs through that rear end without issues. On the other hand, my friend is building his car as a road course racer on street tires. This means the rear end won't need to handle the shock loading of a high RPM clutch drop on slicks so he isn’t as concerned about the rear end durability.

That said, his plan is to modify the engine just enough to fit. This will mean modified tubular headers (left bank stock exhaust manifold points directly at the steering column), and modified intake setup. With that, and an ECU reprogramming (to turn off extraneous things like ABS, emissions testing functions, etc.), I think he was estimating the car should be able to run low 12 second quarter mile runs without a hitch.

Previously he had a turbo’ed 22RE engine that was pushing 300hp (I think). While it was quick, it wasn’t tuned well (he claims fault in that for choosing a low end ECU with poor resolution), and was a bit difficult to drive around town with the lag and super lightweight flywheel. After that engine died due to detonation, he decided to go with something bigger and non-turbo. The main reason he chose the LS1 is the fact that there is a lot of support for the engine (see www.ls1tech.com), it’s extremely compact, and it makes a ton of power without modification while providing stock-like reliability and drivability. A near perfect combination for a street car, in my opinion.

Good luck with your project.



11-02-2006, 05:02 PM
It's not a chevy, nor is it solid rear axle, but this might be useful anyway.
V8 in 3rd gen (http://www.allpar.com/mopar/celica-318.html)

I wish I could help you with how much power the rear axle can handle. I have absolutely no idea. If it's any help, here's the link to a guy running 11's in a 77 celica w/ a 7mgte. His rear axle seems to be stock 77, but his actual diff is a welded mkIII supra diff. I imagine that the 3rd gens rear axle would be even stronger.
Linky (http://www.jblmk3.com/id160.htm)

For the wheels, I would check out american racing wheels. I'm not 100% sure you'll have success finding them there, but of all places I'ver searched for wheels, they have consistently had the most offsets for rwd.

Finally for the suspension, it almost pains me to say it, but there are more choices out there for 3rd gen suspension than there are for 5th gen suspension. Just go to ebay and look for what you need in general (like celica shocks would be one search). If that fails, go to 185performance.com, they have a lot for older celicas.

Good luck with the project! It's not one I would do, but I'd still like to see success with it.

11-03-2006, 04:16 AM
Well, I'd like to say that many of the responses were level headed and even tempered - I expected at least one hothead, but even those who disagree with this or that were at least nice about it. I've been verbally gang-stomped in other forums for suggesting less radical (and blasphemous) ideas.

Actually, after a long time turning the idea of import performance over and over in my head, and at times in my driveway, I've learned a thing or two. Plus, I like to be different, and if I could find a half-decent V8 third gen Nova, I'd likely leave the Celica where it is, as easily the best 'beater' I've ever had. Unfortunately, I've had no luck finding one in any kind of decent condition for under two large, which even then is going to need a tranny swap (unless some dear, dear soul would sell me a solid Nova project with a T-5 or T56 already in it), brake overhaul (to say the very least) and I'm going to have to throw a full suspension at it first thing to get it to behave. Worked, it's a very, very competent chassis, stock not so much. It's the same chassis as a first gen Camaro, which has a lot more potential as a full track car than most realize. Kicking ass on a track day in a primered Nova would be a hell of a lot of fun. Too bad it's too expensive for me to think about now.

Fabrication wise, the driveshaft can be modded by any competent driveshaft shop - this isn't rocket science. The motor mounts will take some figuring out, but once it's figured out it's no harder than putting small block Chevy mounts in any other car. Ditto for the transmission mount. I'll have to go to some car shows and make some friends - friends with welding equipment :D .

I didn't have enough time to go into it before, but I love the idea of a V8 in this car. Let's put it into perspective: most import heads would choose/support an M3 over a last-gen Z06 Corvette (comparing it to the current car would be even more unfair): however, in doing so they're supporting a slower car. In every measure of performance. Part of this in the chassis (full dual A-arms at every corner vs struts), lighter car vs heavier car, but much is in the engines - not only does the LS6 make 72 more hp, but as one mag pointed out, the V8 in the Z06 makes more torque at idle than the M3's slellar six manages to make period. Anyone familiar with this gen Celica is familiar with the advantages of rich torque: with a mere 106hp, the 22RE relies solely on it's good (for a four) torque to give the GT some go. Honestly, most base model econoboxes make a few more hp than that. Without the torque, this thing would be slower than my old base model Civic hatch (four speed and all).

The turbo idea is something I've flirted with and honestly I'd rather go NA. V8s can be boosted too, you know. And while I can manage to make a SBC smog legal in california fairly easily (TPI'd parts car), the 22RTE, or any other turbo motors, have more smog legality issues to contend with, parts aren't getting any more available (you know your jap car is old when used engine resellers don't stock motors for it anymore), etc. However, there isn't a small, podunk town in North America that I couldn't find parts for a 350 Chevy in.

Why so down on V8's? 'OHV engines don't rev'? BS - a completely stock truck 350 spins just as high as a 22R, and will make more hp and torque at every rev point, even in the very worst configuration ever offered by the factory at the high of 'smog hell' (175hp). Unless you're talking Hondas or 5 valve 4AGEs - neither of which make any kind of torque worth mentioning - most factory fours from japan have a redline less than 7500rpm. This is a very easily doable rpm for a mild small block. But lets say we bring it down to Supra level - 6500 rpm. High enough to rev on a road course but not skyhigh. Guess what - any 350 will spin that rpm with powdered metal rods. Which are crap compared to what's available out there, but easily obtainable. I could also build a 302 (327/350 bore, 283 crank) that will spin 8k all day long with a Jesel shaft rocker system and good rods. Classic short stroke/big bore power. Even huge displacement small blocks can rev - the LS7 displaces 7 liters, 427ci, and revs to 7200 rpm stock.

Now what's the problem - having every conceivable option available to build this motor anyway you wish, knowing that when you call up for parts they're going to say 'yeah, we have that in stock', being able to cook up 300+ hp on pump gas without really even trying, or is it the high cost of vaporising the rear tires with frightening regularity? Is it being able to have this power with easy to work with technology bad, somehow? I could even have an aluminum block and heads if I wanted them for this motor. Plus, the motor doesn't weigh as much as you think it does - the advantage of an OHV configuration is that the heads are tiny compared to a DOHC head. Place a SBC head next to, say an SR20DE head, or a 4AGE. Much, much more metal, thus more weight. Should I ever have enough dough for an LS1 (I'm going to do the math and figure out if this is more feasible) this will be even more so.

Gas mileage? With an overdrive gear, V8s can put down decent mileage. However, if the car was ever at this stage, it would cease to be a daily driver in all likelihood. I'm actually smitten with the car, it's a very good LA car and I'd likely pick up another one as a daily driver. Still, ever see the mileage that boosted small motors put out once they're cooking above 300hp? Not great, dismal sometimes.

Well, it's a long post, so I turn it back to you. I spent so much time on the motor I'm out of space to deal with why I want a live axle. Oh well, next time.

11-03-2006, 04:20 AM
I would love to see a V8 done this way. Someday I will own a '84 white notchback gts and drop a v8 in it.

11-03-2006, 02:09 PM
not all the gts have a crappy rear

crappy = 6.7 diff = 3.48 rear

me = optional diff = 7.5= celica supra rear = 3.90 w/lsd

solid axle has a 3.48 also

ive seen guys with the st and gt with the sra use a mk1 supra rear end cause its a hell off alot stronger , has disks, and can take a good bit of power

v8 would be nice but 7m would be cheaper to drop in, it fits the w58 trans u have , u would just kill the rear, mounts are easy to do as well, only issue would be the radiator, because some people take there condenser out , some leave it in, its easier to mount the radiator where the condensor sits, almost everyone uses the flexalite fans though

350 is a nice way to go too cuse everything is out there for it

as for the whole head thing, theres some pretty beefy 4cyl heads out there, and small v8 heads true

but my factory crankshaft is a lot beefier than any factory 350 crank,

11-04-2006, 08:12 AM
werd for 22re yo! Lemme just add something here, are we talking about allum heads for teh v8 or cast iron, cause the cast iron heads are way heavier than the dohc allum heads you were speaking off. just an observation.

11-04-2006, 09:14 AM
Point being, there is nothing out there with the support of a SBC. And I mean nothing. You will be taking a solid, proven engine, and putting it in a solid, proved car. It is never a bad combination.

I used to drag Second Gen Camaros, you have an ally here. ;)

Good luck.