Video: 680-HP Toyota MR2 Spyder Hillclimbs In South Africa

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.

Photo credit: Hillclimb Monsters.

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.

For more on this remarkable build, you can view Zeelie’s build thread or his YouTube page.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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