Feathers Ruffled: The 2JZ Mopar
Think Outside The V8

When it comes to the school of automotive enthusiasm, there will always be those who feel cars should be built in a certain way with particular rules to be followed. Cross-brand engine swaps, non-period-correct parts and exteriors with patina are just a few things that might catch you some flack from the so-called establishment depending on your preferred car scene.

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It seems that one of the most vocal groups out there are those opposed to putting American V8 engines into Japanese or European sports cars. Despite the proven performance and cost benefits, they just can’t get on board with it, and many feel that a V8 engine somehow ruins or cheapens a car.

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While the great V8 debate will probably never be settled, the popularity of the swaps shows no signs of slowing. These days it’s hard to think a of a vehicle that someone hasn’t swapped an American V8 into. But how about opposite? How many vintage American machines are out there with non-American powerplants?

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The answer is not many, but they do exist – and we recently had the chance to spend some time with one of the most unconventional Mopars we’ve seen in a while. One that’s powered by a turbocharged Toyota inline six.

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The story of this 1971 Plymouth Valiant Scamp (the sister car to the Dodge Dart Swinger) begins when its owner, Dave Buckshaw, found the car wasting away in a scrap yard and decided to save it from the crusher. Dave was working with Fram Oil Filters’ marketing team in Detroit at the time and it was decided that an unusual project car might help the brand reach a younger generation of enthusiast.

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Prior to this point, Dave’s personal project cars had included unusual sleepers like a Buick Grand National powered Cadillac Fleetwood, but he hadn’t yet tried any cross manufacturer engine swaps. Even so, he had no qualms about tackling this build and quickly got to work sourcing a powerplant for the Plymouth.

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Thanks to the power of a thing called Ebay, Dave found an engine and transmission freshly pulled from a Japanese market Toyota Aristo priced at a reasonable $2,200. Many options were considered initially, but given the 2JZ’s legendary reputation among the tuner crowd, it was the perfect choice for an outside-the-box build.

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Over the next six months, Dave and some of his friends spent every spare hour in the Fram training garage putting the car together. Needless to say, there’s no swap kit for dropping a 2JZ into a Mopar A-body, so pretty much everything had to be fabricated from scratch.

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Along with the help of his buddies and the support of his boss during the build process, Dave’s personal experience working with turbocharged motors and EFI systems also helped greatly when it came to getting the 2JZ up and running in the Valiant.

Old Tricks, New Tricks
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From the beginning, the idea was not to build an outrageous pro-touring car designed to attack the road course or drag strip. Instead, the plan was to have a fast and unusual street sleeper that could be used for comfortable long distance cruising.

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While the engine choice was unusual, this car certainly isn’t one of the mega high budget pro-touring builds you see at the SEMA Show every year. There have been suspension and chassis upgrades, but they were done to bring the Valiant’s handling up to modern standards rather than make an all-out track machine.

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The suspension modifications on the car use a lot of the tricks learned from 1960s Trans-Am racers and include Firm Feel torsion bars and Reilly Motorsport tubular control arms and strut rods. New York’s Bergman Autocraft supplied custom-valved Bilstein shocks and road racing spec leaf springs for the rear. This is all in addition to the custom-fabbed front subframe and additional chassis reinforcement performed during the build.

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Braking performance has also been significantly improved thanks to a set of 13-inch front and 12-inch rear discs sourced from 1995 Ford Mustang Cobra.

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The wheels are 18-inch Mustang FR500 replicas in Anthracite gray that have actually been narrowed to correctly mate with the Scamp’s chassis setup. The tires are 245/40R18 Pirelli P Zero Neros all around.

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Exterior changes to the Plymouth have been kept simple and include a coat of Big Bad Orange paint from AMC’s 1970 color pallete along with trimmed quarter panel lips and LED light conversions in both the front and rear.

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Inside there’s a pair of power bucket seats from a 1994 Camaro along with custom upholstery and door panels from PJ’s Trim Shop.

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There’s also a Vintage Air setup, a Kenwood Bluetooth stereo deck and lots of Dynamat to help keep NVH as low as possible.

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One of the coolest things in the Scamp’s cockpit are the instruments – a set of ’60s-style gauges mounted in a custom cluster.

Mixed Reactions & Hurt Feelings
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With the build complete and essentially running the stock Aristo 2JZ, Dave set out to take the car to events like the Hot Rod Power Tour and get some exposure. Unfortunately though, changes in the company’s upper ranks saw funding pulled and Dave found both himself and the Plymouth without a home.

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It wasn’t an easy time, as Dave had invested a huge amount of his own time and money in a project that had been abandoned right when it was nearing completion. After strongly considering selling the car, Dave realized he had grown very attached to the Scamp and eventually decided to continue on with the project on his own.

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For the next stage of the build, he got in touch with Jose Valle at Kaizen Performance in Southern California – a well respected tuning shop that specializes in tubrocharged Toyota engines. Dave was already quite familiar with the performance potential of the 2JZ, and he knew Kaizen would be the perfect place to extract it.

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In its initial spec the car made right around 400 horsepower, but the goal version for version two is a streetable 700 horsepower – which anyone familiar with the 2JZ knows is a walk in the park. The car is already well on its way to that mark, with a single turbo conversion using a 67mm Comp Turbo turbine. Supporting upgrades will include an upgraded fueling system and a MegaSquirt MS3-Pro engine management system.

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Up to this point that car has been running the factory Aristo A340 automatic transmission, but another major change coming will be the installation of a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed gearbox with a twin-plate clutch.

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When asked about the kind of reactions the car gets, Dave says they are mixed. On the highway back in Detroit he often gets the thumbs up from patriotic muscle car lovers who have no idea the Plymouth actually has a heart made in Japan. When driving through parking lots he gets confused looks from people who don’t expect a bright orange Plymouth to be so quiet.

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When people do finally discover that the Scamp has six cylinders of turbocharged Toyota power beneath its hood, reactions range from big grins to downright anger from hardcore Mopar guys. A lot of people will just scratch their heads – and that’s exactly how Dave likes it.

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For as many V8-swapped cars we’ve seen from around the world, it’s always nice to turn the tables and look at things the other way. As much as tradition and age-old knowledge are part of car culture, so too is thinking outside the box and upsetting the establishment with unconventional ideas.

We really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike
mike@speedhunters.com

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

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108 comments

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1

2JZ, no shit..

2

Very surprised I haven't seen this thing cruising Woodward Ave this year! Badass.

3

There's on thing missing if they want an unusual street sleeper for cruising around, air bags. This thing would look pretty sweet riding low.

5

this is one of the coolest builds ive seen on here in a long time. gives me hope on my own build, thank god for all the AAA content, all hail SpeedHunters

6

I love speedhunters but I'd like to see someone that writes for you guys to pick a side once in a while. American v8's do cheapen a car, and as far as me being a reader goes, those swaps are very boring. This is the exact opposite. I like this car a lot. Cool sleeper.

8

respect for going through with a controversial build. love the idea of swapping a 2j-z in. wish i could see the faces of all those dumfounded v8 muscle car guys. (still like v8's too though, don't get me wrong)

10

That's pretty darned cool. Imagine showing up at drag week with this.

11

Cool build, really like the choice of color schemes and the simple interior. Probably a lot of fun to drive. 

Having said that, people who say V8 swaps ruin cars or cheapen them are idiots. I like these builds because you get to see all the 17 year olds come out of the woodwork commenting on how V8s ruin things. I have respect for all engines, they all have good and bad qualities and they can all be made to make power, however, I have yet to see an RB or 2JZ run in the NHRA, and let's not forget the Veyron was dethroned shortly afterwards by an American company using a V8. I love all cars, but to hate on V8 swaps is childish and shows a large amount of ignorance on an enthusiasts part. There's a reason why so many people use them as opposed to 2JZs etc. Cool car though in this feature. I like it.

I'm going to make some pop corn.

12

Angry muscle heads troll hour in 3..2..1

13

I agree. I don't think this car is from the Detroit area. We would of seen it around.

14

As a huge mopar fan, I find this kind of build amusing. Love it. Its not like the thing was a numbers matching hemi car, that would be a travesty.

15
Researchisyourfriend

Chris, there have been quite a few 2J powered cars in the NHRA. Im pretty sure the RB26 has see use as well, although on much smaller scale.

16

I had a '71 Dodge Dart Swinger.  It had a 340 in it and it was fast.  It weighed right at 3,050lbs.  Son of a gun could haul.  It didn't handle for crap but man it was fun.  It was a sleeper too, which helped big time.  Lowered on stock steel wheels no ralley wheels for me.  Hubcaps, gray primer and lots of attitude.  You wouldn't know what hit you.

17
Mattblackhatchback

And getting blown away?

18
Mattblackhatchback

Lovely.

19

As an 2J owner and sprouting fabricator i say - Hell yeah grandpa!

20

@Researchisyourfriend My mistake for not clarifying. I meant NHRA as in Top Fuel. A lot of the fastest cars in the world are powered by V8s was all I was trying to say. At the highest level of drag racing no one is running 2JZs or RB26s to my knowledge.

22

I want it so bad...

23

as a pretty hard-core Mopar guy that likes imports too, I'll admit I'm a touch conflicted with this car. However, the paint is great, I like the LED conversions, and the swap is clean and well done. I like it, a big thumbs-up from me.

24

Absolutely love this thing!

26

Thats my kind of muscle!

27

OnLowBoost I swear it is! I live in Livonia and built the car in Clawson, MI.  For the Feb 14' GRM story Richard Truesdell shot the Scamp in front of Hunter House hamburgers in Birmingham off of Woodward.  I decided the car could help boost my friend Jose's presence with all of the other work he is capable of since he's merely seen as a Supra specialist.

28

Many thanks to Jose Valle for shepherding the Scamp around to enough Cars and Coffee Saturdays and shows to hook up with Larry and Mike from Speedhunters.com.  It's a real honor to have my car featured along the way to hitting our horsepower goals.

29

Wasn't one of the engine options on these cars and their Dodge counterparts, available with an inline 6?  It was known as a fairly bullet proof engine itself.  Of course, it can't compare to the more modern 2J.  Anyway, the swap doesn't seem so crazy when you consider that.  If my memory is correct, of course.

30

DaveBuckShaw Love this car, I had so much fun riding in it.

31

F4H_Lightning  The engine bay looks stock almost, love it.

32

@Chris Mattblackhatchback Depends on the class though, if this can run a 10.80 all week in daily driver class then it can win easily.

33

This is my ultimate dream right here: mating a classic American chassis ('70 Chevelle) to Japanese power (RB25DET). Unconventional builds like this are my favourite.

34

@Chris Opinions are like buttholes. Do you enjoy seeing red mk2 volkswagens on bbs all the time? No, its tired and boring. But actually less boring then putting a corvette engine in anything and everything possible and then posting them in droves on the automotive blogs. imho......

35

Two thumbs up! This car is awesome, and that swap is kleeeeeeennnn!

36
RichieTipsyKariuki

I like! The wheels are a bit uninspiring for me though. To each his/her own. Great build!!

37

@Chris Mattblackhatchback It's not even the same class of car.  Just like half of the $150k Pro Touring builds that are purpose built Larry's truck, awesome as it is, just wouldn't cross country like the Scamp.  I've driven 900 miles in one day in the Plymouth averaging 27 mpg in stock Aristo JDM trim and once we get it tuned with the TKO600 it will be pretty sick speed wise.  We only need 10's... ;)

38

johnbezt I guess people do V8 swaps for practicality and power when being cool isn't a concern.

39

DaveBuckShaw Mattblackhatchback Dude...if you're getting 27mpg in this thing and you can run 10s, then you have built one hell of a car. The fastest road legal car I've been in was a Carrera GT which will run high 10s and it was ridiculous. To picture this keeping up with that is impressive. 

I like the car, I was just pointing out theres no reason to hate on V8 swaps. It will be one bad machine with the TKO600 in it. Nice car Dave.

40

2JZ, no shit?

41

AndrewCinch Now that's a combo.

42

I approve, tip my hat to this build. 
At first I was scratching my head, but as I read on...I'm impressed, very impressed.
the color, wheels, interior all fit perfectly and the 2JZ fits so well. Another great post and build.

43

That is bad ass! My best friend has a '72. I would love him to do something like this.

44

This reminds me, is one of the Speedhunters crew ever going to go on the Power tour? Is other press even allowed there? I think it'd be a cool event to see a Speedhunters write up of.

45

perfect Car ! In Germany is this a Dream...

46

ImUrOBGYN 
Yes, you could get this kind of Valiant with a slant-6. That's one thing that should calm some of the purists' souls. Personally I like this build, but the only thing I'm not too fond of are the wheels. They make the already plain and boxy looking Valiant look even more understated.

47

being anti-mainstream is always attracting various reaction, 2JZ in a Plymouth is awesome, tho

48

Love the car. Also, hate an American V8 into a Japanese or European sport car.

49

Didn't some of these Valiants come out with an inline 6 in some models? Then it is perfect!

50

Why did Toyota ever stop making that beast of an engine??

51

This is lovely - a very nice car.

52

It reminds me of the mustang from Tokyo Drift powered by a RB26

53

This reminds me of the 2jz Camaro SS I read about years ago

54
ChristopherWilmot

johnbezt Because every VW and more specific to your statement, every red MK2 you see is on BBS wheels. That's the problem with the internet and the car scene. If you've seen it a few times on the internet, "it's played". Drive down the street and look at the number of Volkswagens. Let me know how many of them are slammed/ low on BBS wheels (non OEM ones). I bet the percentage will be quite small.

55

I've seen a '32 Ford roadster with a Toyota 2T engine in it

56

Jagdroach It's pretty tightly controlled since It's run by another media outlet.

57

tim_sandmeyer holy s**t!!!!!! NO F**KING WAY!!!!!!!! U0001f631U0001f631U0001f631 that's the coolest thing I've ever seen. Hands down.

58

AstidySRT AND it'll have a manual before the year is over. And eventually 700HP

59

Puting a toyota heart in a mopar should be a crime. He raped that car. Tragic.

60

RacingPast Slant 6, not inline and also 318 V8s

61

tim_sandmeyer that was so sweet Hahha. 2JZ Mopar. That's bad ass!

63

AstidySRT It sounds like something the Aussies would do.

64

tim_sandmeyer hahah I can agree there. They say the car culture down there is HUGE!

65

AstidySRT They have an event down there every year called Jamboree. I will go one year but its all drag racing with the fastest cars

66

tim_sandmeyer man that sounds sweet!

67

AstidySRT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIVJ92_q_oA here's a short video about what goes on

68

Moparian At least it's still on the road and not in a scrap yard.

70

Wanna make your car cool? Put jz engine into it! :D

71

MoparianHow about we stop tossing the word rape around. You sound like a complete assclown. Sexual assault isn't the same as transplanting an engine from another manufacturer into a Mopar. In fact, can we remove this comment altogether?

72

i hate this car beyond belief.
not because he put a japanese engine in an american car, but because he put a 2J in it, instead of something that isn't massively shitty, like an RB. Toyota has never designed a good engine by themselves, they can't even build truck frames that last more than one or two years.

73

ChristopherWilmot johnbezt Thanks for backing me on that fellow Christopher. I agree with you entirely. People forget that at the end of the day a V8 swap is something to be driven, not looked at on the internet for entertainment. It's a bit like pokemon cards this whole "seen it on the internet 1,000 times not interested" bit. 

Well said.

74

Great car, but lets ruffle some feathers, Chrysler/Mopar is dead. Its has been for years. First the German's and now Fiat (Italian), Hellcat or not, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is not an american company.  Just wait for the the Jeep/Ferrari SUV.  So let the old diehards hang on to the old brand, which only survived because of the Jeep Wrangler and the mini van.

75

@Toyota is Bad I'm sure if the 2jz was that bad of the engine people wouldn't have been using(and still continue to use) them for all these years. It's the same with people that despise the Sr20 and how they claim it's an unreliable engine due to the weak rocker arms, etc....

76

tim_sandmeyer that's too cool man!!!!

77

AstidySRT it's stuff like this that makes me prefer Australian drag racing to American

78

tim_sandmeyer it gives it a run for it money !!!!!

79

AstidySRT it's just the variety. I love V8s, nitromethane, and superchargers as much as the next guy. But sometimes I like to switch it up

80

Larry Chen if it wasn't for the intercooler piping it definitely would look stock.  I noticed the hole in the other fenderwell just a couple minutes ago as I was scrolling down. Wonder why it's there?

81

tim_sandmeyer I couldn't agree More man. I like diversity

82

FunctionFirst Moparian OK, he murdered it.

83

@Toyota is Bad Obvious troll is obvious.

84

A pure American with JDM heart

85

Moparian RacingPast The difference between a slant 6 and an inline 6 is the oil sump and pump isn't it.

86

I would love to see a Mercedes 190e (Cosworth bodykit or not) with e46 M3 drivetrain. Now that would be a unique sleeper that would ruffle feathers.

87

RacingPast Moparian A slant-6 is a raked http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight-6... 'designed such that the cylinders are inclined at a 30-degree angle from vertical. The 30° inclination of the Slant-6 gives a lower height overall engine package, which enabled vehicle stylists to lower hoodlines, and also made room for the water pump to be mounted with a lateral offset, significantly shortening the engine's overall length. In addition, the slanted cylinder block provides ample space under the hood for intake and exhaust manifolds with runners of longer and more nearly equal length compared to the rake- or log-style manifolds typical of other inline engines. The Slant-6 manifold configuration gives relatively even distribution of fuel mixture to all cylinders, and presents less flow restriction. This, in turn, makes for relatively good airflow through the engine despite the intake and exhaust ports being on the same side of the head rather than in a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossflow_cylinder_head arrangement'.

88

coffeehatchback Moparian Oh yes, I forgot about the 30° angle too...

89

Thank-you DaveBuckShaw for allowing us to share your car on Speedhunters! You've done a fantastic job.

90

I love swaps like this as long as they are done to non collectibles like 6 cylinder cars.

91

Love it,dont follow the crowd. a bit pat on the back for being brave enough to do it

92

I love the car, but why the 10 foot long intake pipe running under the car? Why not run it behind the grill? Is the intercooler in the fender? Is this why the air intake comes in from the drivers side inner fender? Im confused

93

Apparently: feathers are ruffled...lol

94

@Toyota is Bad Feathers = ruffled.

95

JimmyClements FunctionFirst Moparian LOL

96

@greenroadster Haterz gonna hate. The guy did what tickles his fancy and not yours.

97

totophi  Exactly, that's why I just said that I love it.
Again, I would hate an American V8 into a Japanese car just I would hate a truck engine into a Mercedes Benz. I can't put my finger on it, but I just can't stand it...

98

FunctionFirst bruh stop being such a social justice warrior on a car site, honestly who cares what verb he used. it's pretty obvious your entire education comes from tumblr. god you're such a pleb please die

99

rumpledunks: Disagreed. Words and nuance are all you have to show for yourself on the anonymous Web. I'd rather trust someone like FunctionFirst than an apathetic slob.

100

OK he did something unusual and difficult. Did he improve the vehicle?  What about 1/4 times.  I think this is just an exercise in being different without good reason.

101

@AstidySRT tim_sandmeyer Aussie car culture is pretty solid. Particularly jdm stuff. Lots of big power RB's, JZ's and 4g's. 

Have a search on youtube for Powercruise, an event where people just bring their street cars to have a hoon around a racetrack with other modifieds. Run what ya brung usually has some 8 second R32/33/34 GTR's running always a good show.

102

This is what cars are about. Good build and its always nice to be different!

104
DonevanChristensen

mtnmopar a 700hp 2jz improve 1/4 mile times? Id say yes.

105

Mine is similar but different. Aussie Valiant with a turbo 1UZ. Hopefully mine turns out half as nice as this did...

106

Dave you did an awesome job on this car, the 2J swap was a great idea, light, powerful and reliable big HP! Ive seen this car in person, its a riot. I got my feather all ruffled because the tasteful choice in parts design of this project. Im not much of a fan of this type car in the past or general, but this build gave it a whole new and better perspective to me. Larry Chen did a great job as usual on the photos.

107
Lord Mopar the Great

Ruined and Dave is a total tool

108

Is there any pics of the motor mounts?

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