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Old 07-31-2013, 08:13 AM   #1
Jaster83
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Default Looking at an '87 Supra for sale. Help please!

A local car dealer took in an 87 Supra as a trade-in... It's a little rough, but it all seems cosmetic, and I don't mind putting some money into it over the course of a couple years.

The problem I am encountering is I don't know what's been done to the car, all I have is a VIN. which is JT2MA70... which from the research I've done means it's the NA version, except it's got a big ass intercooler with hard pipes that read Supra Turbo on them, and that's about all I can decipher, seeing as how this is the first Supra I've laid eyes on. It also has a straight pipe on it, and an expensive one, too.

Obviously the dealer doesn't know any specifics about the car's modifications. It runs good, idles well and um... has no problem doing donuts. (The salesman was a younger guy who readily pointed me to the nearest large, empty parking lot at my request and my wife's demands to let her out. =D).

What I'm worried about is that whoever did the conversion (still not sure it is, as everything under the hood except the hard pipes looked like it'd been there a while, had the same amount of dirt accumulation, anyway.) didn't do it right, especially with the NA engine having a higher compression ratio. I've searched and searched, but haven't been able to find anything to put my mind at ease about if changing pistons is required when converting the NA to a turbo. If it is necessary to lower the compression before boosting, what is a safe range?

Information that would really help is how to read the sticker inside the door to identify the transmission that came in the car, the location of the VIN on the motor, where the boost gauge would be located (honestly I can probably find the gauge... but on the test drive I was just omfg this is FUUUUUN!) I read somewhere that the boost gauge replaced the voltage gauge on the 87 turbo. I'd also like to know if there's anything that would help me figure out if the gauge cluster has been swapped out, as well. Also, I read somewhere that the number of blades on the fan can indicate turbo or na?

Any help is very much appreciated, and I'm really hoping all of my fears are unfounded, this car is absolutely a ton of fun to drive.

Last edited by Jaster83; 07-31-2013 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 07-31-2013, 02:29 PM   #2
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Not every turbo had a MA71 VIN code, I've had a factory turbo with a MA70 VIN. There is a plate under the hood on the firewall on the drivers' side. This gives you some key codes, such as what engine, transmission, and differential came in the car (see this link here). If this is a factory turbo car, it should say 7MGTE for the engine, and then either R154 (standard) or A340E (automatic) for the transmission. Hope this gets you going, and good luck with the car

Oh yeah, the boost gauge is on the right of the gauge cluster, next to oil pressure and fuel
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Driftmotion 57trim CT26, Upgraded Intercooler, 2.25" Hard Pipes, 3" Turbo Back Exhaust with Test Pipe, HKS VPC w/GM 3 bar MAP sensor, APEXi S-AFC, Walbro 255lph fuel pump, ProSport EVO Series Boost / Fuel Pressure / AFR gauges, Lotek a Pillar Gauge Pod, HKS Type 0 Turbo Timer, Eibach Lowering Springs, Tokico Illumina II TEMS struts, custom powder coated Motegi Racing TrakLite wheels
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Old 07-31-2013, 06:20 PM   #3
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Thank you for the info, that's exactly what I was looking for. When I go look at it (probably tomorrow) if it says 7MGE and not 7MGTE should I walk away from it, or is it still worth $3000?
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Old 07-31-2013, 07:35 PM   #4
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I personally am not against an engine swap. Many backyard mechanics can accomplish a clean swap and not have any problems (I've done this). If they put a turbo on a 7MGE, then I myself would pass. The problem is that it can be incredibly difficult to determine whether they added a turbo or swapped an engine. I think that you should have an independent, reputable shop who is knowledgeable about Supra's (or a trustworthy enthusiast) drive / inspect the car prior to purchase. Be sure to voice your concerns with the engine so they can find out what has been done.

By the way, a 7MGE has one knock sensor under the intake, a 7MGTE has 2. That may help you determine what engine is there (or at least how much work they put into it). And as far as I know, there are no identifying marks on the engine itself to determine if its 7MGE or 7MGTE; most critical differences are internal (low compression pistons, oil squirters, camshafts).
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1989 7MGTE R154 Targa Top White Package w/Blue Interior
Driftmotion 57trim CT26, Upgraded Intercooler, 2.25" Hard Pipes, 3" Turbo Back Exhaust with Test Pipe, HKS VPC w/GM 3 bar MAP sensor, APEXi S-AFC, Walbro 255lph fuel pump, ProSport EVO Series Boost / Fuel Pressure / AFR gauges, Lotek a Pillar Gauge Pod, HKS Type 0 Turbo Timer, Eibach Lowering Springs, Tokico Illumina II TEMS struts, custom powder coated Motegi Racing TrakLite wheels
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:44 PM   #5
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Newbie question, I know, but how can I tell if it has two or only 1 knock sensor? A pic would be great, if no pic I can probably find an engine diagram showing where it is.

Thank you guys for the advice.
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:55 AM   #6
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Yeah, I don't have a pic of them. They're really hard to see when they are in the car. You basically need to grope the engine just under the intake manifold to find them. They're large, as far as sensors go. They're closer in size to a sending unit then a sensor.
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1989 7MGTE R154 Targa Top White Package w/Blue Interior
Driftmotion 57trim CT26, Upgraded Intercooler, 2.25" Hard Pipes, 3" Turbo Back Exhaust with Test Pipe, HKS VPC w/GM 3 bar MAP sensor, APEXi S-AFC, Walbro 255lph fuel pump, ProSport EVO Series Boost / Fuel Pressure / AFR gauges, Lotek a Pillar Gauge Pod, HKS Type 0 Turbo Timer, Eibach Lowering Springs, Tokico Illumina II TEMS struts, custom powder coated Motegi Racing TrakLite wheels
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:57 AM   #7
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Actually, i just remembered that i have a 7MGTE sitting out of a car in my garage. I'll head out there in a little bit to see if i can snap a pic of the sensors
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:22 AM   #8
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So the pics I took are too large to upload, so I can't help you there. I can tell you that on a 7MGTE one sensor is located on the block about 1" below the No. 2 intake runner, and the other is about 1.5" below the No. 5 intake runner, just in front of the starter. I believe that the GE's 1 sensor is about 1" below the No. 3 and 4 intake runners.
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1989 7MGTE R154 Targa Top White Package w/Blue Interior
Driftmotion 57trim CT26, Upgraded Intercooler, 2.25" Hard Pipes, 3" Turbo Back Exhaust with Test Pipe, HKS VPC w/GM 3 bar MAP sensor, APEXi S-AFC, Walbro 255lph fuel pump, ProSport EVO Series Boost / Fuel Pressure / AFR gauges, Lotek a Pillar Gauge Pod, HKS Type 0 Turbo Timer, Eibach Lowering Springs, Tokico Illumina II TEMS struts, custom powder coated Motegi Racing TrakLite wheels
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:26 AM   #9
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That gives me everything I need to know to figure it out and is probably better than a pic. Amazing info thank you, sir.

Turns out the person who was supposed to relieve me at work today had an emergency and so I ended up pulling a double. 1pm to 7 am, thus pushing back when I'll be able to go look at the car until Friday morning before work. I will report back my findings sometime Friday. Thank you for all the help.

Out of curiosity, if this engine turns out to be the 7mge variety, you looking to sell that 7gte you have pulled out right now?

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Old 08-01-2013, 07:45 AM   #10
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Well, it's actually my buddy's engine. He was looking to buy a clean shell to swap the drivetrain from his totaled Supra into, and we found this one that had an engine in it. We didn't start it up because the previous owner scavenged a few parts from it, but we were told it has a horrendous rod knock and would need a rebuild to be operable.

If you are still interested, I can ask him if he wants to sell it. I don't imagine he would want much, but the cost of shipping from here in Billings, MT to where you're at may make it more worthwhile to source a JDM engine or an engine from a local salvage yard.
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1989 7MGTE R154 Targa Top White Package w/Blue Interior
Driftmotion 57trim CT26, Upgraded Intercooler, 2.25" Hard Pipes, 3" Turbo Back Exhaust with Test Pipe, HKS VPC w/GM 3 bar MAP sensor, APEXi S-AFC, Walbro 255lph fuel pump, ProSport EVO Series Boost / Fuel Pressure / AFR gauges, Lotek a Pillar Gauge Pod, HKS Type 0 Turbo Timer, Eibach Lowering Springs, Tokico Illumina II TEMS struts, custom powder coated Motegi Racing TrakLite wheels
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