Woodsport - Engine Conversion Specialists

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V8 conversions

V8 engine conversions for all three marques of the MR2 coming very soon!

A V8 engine in an MR2 has been the holy grail of MR2 engine swaps for many years now with enthusiasts in the UK and US trying to find a viable way to make this a reality. The goal is not ultimate horsepower or outright performance but rather the glory in owning a V8 powered MR2, it will also be pushing 350bhp in standard form so no slouch by any means but there are easier ways to get to 350bhp using the 3S-GTE engine. However, it's not a V8 engine! The whole sound/behaviour/experience of owning such a conversion is something so special that it has been driving people for years to find an option that works.

At Woodsport we have a V8 engine and gearbox package that will work in all three marques of the MR2, all with their own varying degrees of difficulty. All three variants will require major chassis and bulkhead modifications, this will never be a drop in swap and a lot of cutting of the car will be needed to make this work, but it can be done.

This conversion will also be the ultimate package for Ferrari replica owners (using the MR2 as a donor).

Updates on this conversion will appear on this site as they happen, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome.

All subscribed members will be notified via email with updates on our progress with this.

Update 23/04/09

We have now dummy fitted the first V8 into a Mk1, it is the Audi AHC (340bhp version) with 6 speed gearbox, this engine and gearbox combination will fit into any MR2 with enough fabrication work.

This is as extreme as MR2 engine conversions get!

Update 18/5/09

We have now sorted out the gear shift assembly at both the stick and gearbox end, all 6 forward gears plus reverse engaging as they should, this is a major milestone as we thought it would be one of the trickier aspects of the conversion. This was done using MR2 parts modified to fit the Audi selector fork.

We have also managed to sort a workable drive shaft solution, by cross referencing Toyota CV joints with Audi ones we managed to find a Toyota outer CV joint that also fits the Audi A4 driveshaft.

This has produced a complete shaft that plug n plays onto the drivers side of the gearbox. The passenger shaft was trickier, it needed to be cut and shortened but again uses the same outer CV joint as above. So both drive shaft solutions are now done, this solution will also apply to Mk2 MR2's undergoing the same conversion.

More updates to come when they happen.

Update 13/6/09

The fuel tank has now been shortened, this will be necessary on all conversions.It has been cut and shortened by about 4" at the red line.

Boxing in around the new engine position has also started, this gives strength back to the bulkhead and will also provide access panels to the front of the engine. There is a lot more work to do in this area but the proof of concept works, I fitted my seat in and there is still plenty of room.

Update 11/10/2009

The V8 project has now progressed quite well and we are still on course for producing the UK's first V8 Mk1 Mr2. Work has been completed on the rear subframe which now looks more like a Mk2 Mr2 design....

Here it is test fitted to the car, this will provide a lot more structural rigidity at the rear along with the planned rollcage.

Work has also started on the exhaust system which is a TVR T350 silencer modified to fit...

We have also had the engine harness modified and VEMS ECU package sourced that will run this package.

So we are not that far away from making this project a reality and achieving what many said was impossible, more updates soon.

Update 25/11/09

 Well we are proud to announce that the "MR8" is now born! We hooked up the ECU and cranked the engine for the very first time.


 Still a lot to do before it is roadworthy but this is a massive achievement for us.

Update 5/4/10

The V8 engine has now been removed for final detailing and engine bay preparation. The front firewall has now been heatproofed and all Evap,fuel and servo lines hard piped around the bay.

The engine now detailed to the usual Woodsport standard and nearly ready for final fitting...

Exactly the same attention to detail will go into every customers build.


Some arty pics of the complete V8 engine now ready to fit for the final time...


Update 1/6/10 

The V8 is now back in the car for final fitting and tuning.

All of the custom subframes and mountings now added.

Induction pipework and oil filter relocation kit also fitted.

Final tweaking and setting up is all that remains of this conversion. 

Update 28/09/10 

The mechanical aspect of this conversion is now 100% completed, and the car has been driven for the first time. We are now in the "let's try and break something" phase to fully test it before it ever sees the road. Video of this first stage of testing is below, and of course it's good fun!



Having proved this conversion works, very well in fact! We are now offering the same conversion for all 3 marques of the Mr2, please enquire directly by phone or email about the costs and options involved. Obviously a V8 Mr2 is the pinnacle of what owners are looking for, especially Ferrari and Lambourghini  replica owners, so we aim to cater for anyone thinking of fitting these kits. 



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Dirans 2gr-fe powered Mk1 Mr2 Testimonial 


Glorious day on 21st of May 2010 and I find myself with a day’s holiday to get the train to Durham and then coast back down to the smoke. 

I arrived within 10 min of quoted time and spotted Paul’s E36. After escaping the station we got to chatting about work at WS and the amount of comments the project had been getting (!). This was not my aim and the car is not quite show-worthy despite the high standard of WS (it needs a bit of welding and paint on the original panels that I hadn’t budgeted for in the conversion) but it’s always nice to know there are like-minded people on the scene.

Arriving at WS, the car sat gleaming in the yard and I had already failed to suppress my grinning enthusiasm, much to the amusement of Phil and Anth! Pleased to meet you both gents 

I chatted with everyone and took ”the tour” – a captioned peek around many, many tasty MR2 in various states of undress / surgery, including a couple of 2GR powered examples besides my own (Owen’s Mk2 scarlet 355 and Phil’s Vader-esque MK2), as well as Moustachio’s v. Tidy MK1 1MZ, Rexer’s soon to be 2ZZ’d Mk1 and a certain, lesser known 4.2 litre, 32 valve Mk1..... A veritable sweet shop for any petrol head!

After a quick squirt around the yard in my car (I managed not to stall but was very pedestrian so Paul kindly demonstrated the G-forces available – suffice it to say I left a crease in the seat!), I handed over the obligatory pack of hob-nobs, we said our goodbyes and I set about dismantling 260+ miles of motorway. Of course, the M1 meant a disproportionate number of 50mph average speed check zones (yawn!). Bit of a waste, but one has to get home eventually!

The driving bit:

The first 50 miles or so were spent taking things easy and undertaking the customary vigilance on temperatures and pressures etc.. I’d filled up with 97RON which the car seemed to approve of. My immediate observation was that the car felt familiar yet completely different. The throttle seemed to have zero slack and combined with the less tolerant (but still manageable clutch) and uber short 1st gear meant decisive but restrained action was need to pull away smoothly at relatively sane pace. If you try to slip it, it will chatter – better to either feed it in swift and smooth with little or no throttle, or use semi-race technique of blip the throttle and let it in all-of-a-piece. This is fun but unsubtle because the revs flare angrily if you’re clumsy. It is hugely satisfying when you get it right though and I think a couple more weeks (I only drive on weekends). 

Tip: Setting off in 2nd or even 3rd is possible and much less likely to result in skippy-type antics. The rest of the time, you just launch like a jet being catapulted from an aircraft carrier (only with a better sound track).

The car is so ridiculously over-endowed with torque that third (to get going) and fifth (once rolling) are all that’s necessary if you like. 

Better still, the noise is intoxication personified and despite our effort brazenly loud  Three-fifths air-cooled 911, two-fifths Alfa V6, with a racer-ish blare as the revs get up. It remains relatively subdued on light openings but nice and exuberant with a tickle, rising to something truly intimidating (yet still melodic) when you explore the full travel. Exactly what such performance deserves in other words!

The brakes are strong and easy to modulate although I’m taking it easy on them to bed in the discs and pads. I’m still perfecting my rev matching (something that was very easy on the standard car) due to the slightly long travel on the brake pedal – perhaps a M/C upgrade will help firm it up? – and the throttle which is set quite high and is very sensitive (a good thing, if making inconspicuous progress tricky at very low speeds!). I might try relocating the throttle pedal to help as well – I do like a bit of heel and toe. 

The Drive By Wire itself is easy to get used to (had it before) although occasionally you get the sense that the engine is “adulterating” small inputs (perhaps for emissions purposes on the factory ECU) as no matter how smooth you are going on and coming off the throttle in normal driving, it will occasionally give you more than you were expecting or cut the fuelling more abruptly. I’m sure this can be cured as time goes on or calibrated with a bit of judicious tweaking but if not I’ll learn quickly to be even smoother with my inputs!

The SW20T gearbox is short and positive in a way the factory AW11 5 speeder could only dream of (in my opinion at least). Although it’s occasionally notchy it’s nicely weighted and satisfying to use – more so than the SW20 N/A’s I’ve driven. The Final drive is clearly shorter than ideal for the engine characteristics (it could happily pull a 3.6 ratehr than 4.2) but is entirely usable – a lower rev count at a cruise would be nice but you wouldn’t need a higher top end.

There’s no doubting the engine dominates the car. It’s not overbearing but you can definitely feel the proximity of a large (for the car!) lump and hear the valves / fuel pump clicking and zizzing away. Personally, I find it generally no less refined than the standard car, although for some it would not make for a sensible city or long distance car.

The pay off is a level of performance that is borderline scary. I’ve not fully explored this fully (understandably!) but even brief instances of more than 20% throttle get MiFu lunging at the horizon like it has afterburners instead of exhaust tips. Hard acceleration is violent, as Paul described, even before you get to half throttle and it feels no less nimble or wieldy so far despite weight gain and a bigger set of boots – just more planted. It also generates nice forces in the corners, allowing you to carry huge amounts of speed (as if it was necessary given the straight line fireworks).

The sense of a small car being hurled up the road by a quad cam V6 complete with ASBO-spec pipes is one of the most surreal and gratifying motoring experiences I’ve yet had - and I’ve been lucky enough to drive some fairly interesting cars. 

It is part fierce concentration, part fear, part exhilaration. After about 3-5 seconds of acceleration, you brake (backing off gives good engine braking effect but you’ll be going too fast anyway) you just pause, hanging on the inertia reel and marvelling at the noise, the ability of the car to outsprint your internal organs and blur your peripheral vision. Then you give an evil cackle.

It is an addictive trip having that sort of performance at your disposal. Almost as addictive is making people’s eyes pop out on stalks when a tiny, girly blue Toymotah makes a noise bigger than a TVR as it rockets up the road with a twitch of throttle - 5th is sufficient; 4th is showing off; 3rd is plain offensive as far as other road users are concerned. A declaration of violent intent, if you will. 

I hope to try a few vids this weekend to give you guys another taste, although no warranties as to quality or irresponsible antics!

This car is made of pure and unadulterated insanium and I love it.

There are some compromises and some work still to do, including improving the ventilation to the rad to avoid some of the heat soak issues I’ve been suffering during town driving (it has been hot weather lately – I plan on moving the license plate and getting a vented frunk lid asap); the fact I need to address the odd bit of bodywork (25 year old car = rust spots) and work out how to insulate the trunk from the rear bank (the access panel gets v. warm!) and make the frunk luggage friendly now there’s no spare…. but so far this car is everything I’d hoped for and much, much more