There wasn’t much to power the Toyota MR2 Spyder, also known as the MR-S, in its original spec. Its 1.8-liter IZZ motor made a paltry 138 horsepower, but when Pieter Zeelie replaced the anemic powerplant with a 3.5-liter 2GR V6 force-fed by a BorgWarner turbo, the car took on a new life. With 680 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque fed through a Kaps LS7 seven-speed sequential transaxle, the car is incredibly well balanced, punchy, and responsive.
Thanks to the Motec ECU, it can use launch control to sprint off the line on-par with four-wheel drive competitors. In fact, this car launches so violently it required a set of beefier half-shafts after repeatedly snapping its stock Camry items.
Just as appealing is the APR Performance S-GT bodykit, which gives the traditionally thin-hipped Toyota a muscular, bulldogish frame and the downforce needed to keep the car planted at high speeds. Underneath the flared fenders and AST coilovers sit a set of 280- and 325-section slicks, front and rear, respectively. Lots of mechanical grip, minimal overhangs, and a short wheelbase give the car staggering agility in the slower sections of the Simola Hillclimb.
Incredibly, this car shows unbelievable stability for something weighing just 2,425 pounds and with a wheelbase of 2,500 mm. Combine that sure-footedness with an incredibly responsive engine — thanks to a twin-scroll turbo, an air intake system with shorter runners and shorter boost pipes, and a smooth-shifting gearbox, which doesn’t require Zeelie to remove his hands — and you have a car with no weak points. No wonder he looks at ease in the cockpit, despite the car obviously pulling some big stunts — which are visible from the sidelines.