The Toyota Supra is a legend largely because of the engine that went into the fourth-generation Turbo model, the 2JZ-GTE inline-six. With its two sequential turbochargers, this 3.0-liter six made 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque—big numbers for 1993. But it wasn’t just what Toyota itself did with this engine that sealed the Supra’s place in history.
It didn’t take long for the aftermarket to realize that this engine could be tuned to make way more than 320 horsepower with seemingly no detriment to reliability. It’s not uncommon to see modified Supras pushing out well over 1000 horsepower with no problems. Even a conservative tune can turn a Supra into a supercar-rival with relative ease. For this reason, the Supra became a tuner icon, in turn earning it a place in the first Fast and Furious movie and in the hearts of a generation of car enthusiasts.
But why was it so good? Engine builder Stephan Papadakis explains in this teardown video of a 2JZ-GTE. The main reason? This engine is strong as hell.
For starters, all versions of the 2JZ used a cast iron block. That’s not great where weight is concerned, but for ultimate strength, it’s ideal. Papadakis also points out that the 2JZ is a closed-deck engine, which means the cylinders themselves are quite strong. This is why the 2JZ-GTE can handle a ton of turbo boost pressure. You can force a lot of air through those cylinders without having to worry about the basic structure of the engine.
The 2JZ-GTE also benefits from a well-designed three-layer steel head gasket that can withstand high boost pressure without blowing. Then, there’s the forged steel crankshaft, which is particularly strong. And finally, Papadakis notes the girdle at the bottom of the engine, which helps add rigidity to the block.
Essentially, Toyota went completely overboard when designing this engine. It shares a lot of design characteristics with a high-compression turbo-diesel truck engine, but it’s a gas-powered sports car engine. It’s almost as if Toyota designed the 2JZ with boost-hungry tuners in mind from the outset.
Be sure to watch the full video from Papadakis. It’s a fascinating look inside a legend, and full of valuable information if you ever take one apart yourself.