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Please Buy One of These Whack-Job JDM Fever Dreams (So We Don't Have To)

Road & Track logo Road & Track 10/27/2020 Kyle Kinard
a car parked in a parking lot: A 2JZ-swapped Supra and an early turbocharged Mitsubishi Evo enter the ring. © Phil Leung via Facebook Marketplace A 2JZ-swapped Supra and an early turbocharged Mitsubishi Evo enter the ring.

As America's 25-year import ban rolls along, allowing nearly any vehicle greater than a quarter century old to reach our shores, more JDM weirdness comes crawling out from the shadows. There's good and bad and ugly. Light and darkness. Agony and ecstasy. You'll find every flavor of JDM hack job on Facebook marketplace (which has sadly replaced Craigslist as our car hunting grounds of choice). In a late night text exchange with senior editor Zach Bowman, we uncovered two such examples. One is fresh-off-the-boat from Japan, the other built for the US market but neatly modified.

Which end of the heaven-or-hell spectrum do these two combatants lie? Who knows! But both clean and unique chassis have tempted us sorely.

a car parked in a parking lot: toyota supra 2jz swap for sale © Ali Alessa on Facebook Marketplace toyota supra 2jz swap for sale

In the red corner, a 1994 Toyota Supra. The owner claims the paint is original and the chassis is rust free. We see three pedals underfoot and a stick rising proudly from the center console. This is a good start. But the kicker here is a Toyota 2JZ engine swap.

For those unfamiliar, the 2JZ is a 24-valve, DOHC inline-six that lived most famously in Toyota's own fourth-gen Supra. By the end of the Mk4 Supra's run, the 2JZ-GTE developed 320 horses with help from two turbochargers. The engine's stout iron block, rugged but precisely built bottom end, and brilliant head design allowed tuners to regularly pull six-or-seven hundred horses from a stock engine.

a motorcycle parked next to a car engine: 2jz toyota supra for sale © Ali Alessa via Facebook Marketplace 2jz toyota supra for sale

As such, even modified, this '94 Supra Facebook find looks like a blank canvas. Its 2JZ appears to be borrowed from the Lexus IS 300, where the 3.0-liter mill developed just 215 hp and 218 lb-ft. That might not seem much, but add a pair of snails, a boost controller, and a jar of bravery; you're off to the races.


Gallery: The 2021 Lexus IS Is a Deftly Tuned, But Aging Sports Sedan (Road & Track)

You can find the ad here, from a seller in Bowling Green, KY.

a car parked in a parking lot: mitsubishi evo ii for sale © Phil Leung via Facebook Marketplace mitsubishi evo ii for sale

In the blue corner, a 1994 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution II. If you squint your eyes, you'll recognize this wedge as forebear to the Evo XII, XIII, and IX imported (legally) to America from 2001-2007.

This early Evo contains the same ingredients that made the later cars so desirable, but wrapped in a lighter, purer, even angrier package. The Evolution itself was homologated to FIA Group A regulations: a road car built solely to dominate the World Rally Championship. That lends this Evo extra cred, as the chassis secured third in the WRC in the 1995 season.

a car engine: 4gs3t engine from evolution ii © Phil Leung via Facebook Marketplace 4gs3t engine from evolution ii

At this Evo's heart sits the legendary 4G63T turbocharged inline-four. The owner says it's been modified with a new turbo, aftermarket intercooler, and HKS engine management. The 4G63 has proved itself a stout performer, flush with an expansive aftermarket that caters solely to the engine. While there's buckets of turbo lag with any modified 4G63, the turbocharged wallop high in the rev range is worth the tradeoff.

The Recaro seats, stripped interior, and half roll cage hint life lived hard for this Evo II, but we can't stop fantasizing about flinging this thing down a packed-gravel logging road.

a motorcycle parked on the seat of a car: evo ii for sale on facebook marketplace © Phil Leung via Facebook Marketplace evo ii for sale on facebook marketplace

Find the ad here on Facebook Marketplace. The car is for sale in Cary, NC.

My gut tells me the Supra (even with a home-brew engine swap) is the more reliable option, but the rally credentials of the Evo II tug hard at my heartstrings. Which would you choose?

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