When it comes to refurbishing some of the old classics, most prefer to keep it in the family. Others, however, like to push boundaries and give a one-fingered salute to some of the old timers who sneer at the idea of using anything other than an American V8. This Model A not only uses a six-cylinder engine, but one of Japanese origin. The heralded 2JZ-GTE engine which powered the fourth-generation Toyota Supra, among others, has endeared itself to die-hard domestic fans thanks to its durability and potential for power. As far as six-cylinder engines go, it must be one of the best sounding, too.
While big power is always a prerequisite for a rat rod, this monster delivers that power in a very different way than the typical Model A build. The 3.0-liter inline-six is fed by a massive Garrett GT42 turbocharger which might not offer the response of a big V8, but once that snail is spooled, few engines have a top end that can match.
Powering a Rat Rod Model A With a Toyota Turbo 1
With the wastegate, intercooler, dump valve, manifold, turbocharger, and exhaust hanging out the side of the car, the observer is in for a treat. Not only will the turbo glow red and illuminate the underside of the car as it drives by, the screamer pipe will blow any leaves or rocks away from the vehicle and emit a frightening noise, as the name implies, as it scorches down the street. Certainly a menacing package there.
Powering a Rat Rod Model A With a Toyota Turbo 2
The engine is mated to a five-speed R154 transmission. While this transmission isn’t the strongest in the Toyota catalog, it’s common and cheap. With this lightweight platform, it’s under less stress and therefore capable of supporting the 700+ horsepower on tap. Though the Ford doesn’t overload the scales, a set of disc brakes were thrown in to keep things safe with that amount of thrust under the hood.
A custom subframe and air bags at all four corners get this car sitting on the floor, even with giant, five-spoke rims. Those massive rollers aren’t the only flashy, unique details either; anyone willing to flaunt convention in this fashion must be capable of a few quirky touches. The interior is simple but the shift lever - a sword handle - is a show-stopper. Additionally, the 2JZ’s valve cover is adorned with a horde of bright blue stars, which bring a little more attention to the unconventional choice of motor, if the whooshing and popping didn’t already suggest there was something a little bizarre about this build.
Powering a Rat Rod Model A With a Toyota Turbo 3
The rest of the car is no less unusual. The car has been converted to right-hand drive, and instead of a racing fuel cell or something a little more modern carrying the fuel, a couple of kegs have been rigged to feed the thirsty 2JZ. Standing proudly inside the fabbed cab, they may steal the show, despite the remarkable iron-cast engine sitting defiantly at the other end.
Powering a Rat Rod Model A With a Toyota Turbo 4
The Model A is a platform used by so many to fulfill their own rat rod dreams. While this particular build might ruffle the feathers of a few grumpy old crows, it is without question one of the most exceptional. Big power, a distinctive noise, a jungle of turbocharger bits and manifold runners in the engine bay, and a stylish-yet-Spartan interior make this a unique specimen. Hopefully that combination of classic looks and 21st-century performance will motivate a few more rebels to try something outside of the ordinary.
Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, Tommy worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school and tried his hand on the race track on his twentieth birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, he began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a trackday instructor and automotive writer since 2012 and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
1 Comment on Powering a Rat Rod Model A With a Toyota Turbo
What part of England does he live in?
How do the English like his “Right hand drive” conversion.