I dropped the engine, now what?

After a grueling 10 hour struggle and bucket loads of oil, coolant and grease residue in my hair and other parts of my body I managed  to drop the engine (my chain hoist died mid-way and I had to juggle it down using two floor jacks – a nightmare!)

I had finally lost my engine removal virginity. I was tired, smelly, dirty, bruised and battered – but i felt awesome. It was my first engine removal on any car ever. And I did it completely on my own, AND with a chain hoist that decided to get faulty when I needed it the most.

Once I saw the engine sitting on the floor I realized something. Since I went through all this trouble getting the damn thing out, I might as well make the most out of it and in addition to rebuilding it completely I should spice it up a little bit, eh?

Dark thought started passing through my mind. The tasty yet poisonous juices of insanity started bubbling in my mind. I know people do crazy things with the 4age, maybe i should as well?

I am not interested in power figures at all. I really don’t care if an engine makes 150 or 1500 HP. I care about what it makes me feel like.

In order to make my decision on how to improve the engine I decided by eliminating that which I don’t want /cant do.

I will not turbo the engine.


 I don’t like turbos.

Its very complicated.

 Its expensive.

Its unreliable

I doesn’t suit the car somehow.


I will not do an engine swap.


Importing an outdated engine into my country is a nightmare. It needs more paperwork than a mortgage. Plus I want to keep the original engine.


This means: I am keeping the original bigport 4age 16v t-vis and I am keeping it naturally aspirated.

What I want?

I want an engine that is very responsive, very rev-happy, that can rev up to 8.000 and that begs you to push it to the redline and hear its glorious sound.


After some research I realized the following.

  • What I want is accomplished by an engine build that eh 4age community considers „mild“ (Turns out I wasn’t crazy or bold at all. Interesting.)
  • The aftermarket support for the 4a-ge is huge and I have a lot of options to achieve what I want
  • I will have to import almost everything and spend a lot of money on shipping and maybe even some on taxes.

After an obscene amount of research, a lot of thinking and even more question asking  and annoying various people on the forums I decided what I would do with my lovely little 4age (God bless her!)

My engine build – a rev happy, responsive, 8k redline, hopefully reliable joy machine!

What I plan to do:

  • Installing new camshafts – Tomei Poncams 264 intake / 264 exhaust, 8.1 mm lift (I copy pasted the numbers. I have just a vague understanding of what they mean. I was actually hooked by a cheap marketing slogan : Easy drop in installation and a true NA feeling all the way to the redline – kudos to you Tomei marketing department. You got me).
  • Installing adjustable camshaft gears
  • Installing improved valve springs
  • Installing cast iron (no need for forged here) high compression smallport pistons. 10.3 compression as found in the later generation 4age smallport
  • Replacing the conrods with forged H-beam conrods. (Brian Crower, CX-racing, will have to research a bit).
  • Balancing the crankshaft and flywheel. I will need to travel to another country for this. I must be insane.
  • Replacing the flywheel with an aftermarket lightweight one.
  • Replacing the clutch. Don’t know which one yet.
  • Shaving the block and head slightly
  • Deburring the combustion chambers, polishing the intake ports and slightly porting and polishing the exhaust ports
  • Maybe getting Mega-squirt plug and play later on.

And of course

  • Replacing all the gaskets – using a Toyota engine overhaul gasket kit. Bloody expensive. However, worth it as Toyota OEM gaskets are better and last longer compared to other stuff – according to people in the know.
  • Replacing crankshaft and conrod bearings
  • Replacing piston rings
  • Removing rust and painting what needs to be painted.


I am building this car for the street. There are no track days here since there are no tracks. There is a track in a country nearby which means I might have 1-2 track days per year mostly. I am not that interested in track-racing anyway.

I am building a street car purely for my own pleasure and enjoyment and this plan should yield my with an engine that should slap a huge smile on my face. Something that I can fire up early satruday morning and roar down a curvy road.

To excitement I say hello

To my money I say farewell



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