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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Mike O'Brien's 1986 MKII Supra

With so many great build threads going on, I decided to sum all my future and present projects into one mega thread. Expect millions of pictures at huge resolution, and wordy documentation of my secret projects I have been working on for the past few weeks.

To start off, a little bit of history on my car:
When I was 16, I wanted nothing more than a late 60’s El Camino SS or 50’s Chevy panel van or Dodge power wagon. I would stalk the Auto trader and Deals on Wheels free magazines looking for a cheap project car to start with. The Supra I have was actually found on accident by my father. He was driving home from work one day when he was passing a lot that people commonly park their cars that they are trying to sell, due to the heavy traffic that goes by. He saw the car, and pulled into the lot to look at it, because he actually thought it was a fox-body Mustang! He was surprised when he got close to see that it wasn’t, but was pleasantly surprised when he saw the full maroon leather interior, decent paint, no rust and low miles. He came home and asked me if I wanted to go look at a car he just saw. When he told me it was an old “Celica,” I was skeptical and didn’t want anything to do with it, but he urged me to look. When I saw it however, I wanted it more than anything! Sporty, classic, and in great shape, It was a cool car that a high school kid would be lucky to own. We called the number, and had the owner out by the car within the hour. There was a fire under this guy to get rid of the car. It turns out that he was originally from Florida, a military man stationed down south. He purchased the car from the original owner in Florida, and had just brought the car up to Iowa a year earlier when he was reassigned to our local Arsenal. Turns out, he was moving again, to Texas, and had to get rid of the car ASAP, as he had purchased a newer Mercedes while up here in Iowa and did not want to take both with him. Needless to say, when we almost kiddingly threw out the number 2500, he took it and wanted to handover the title the next day! Talk about the right place at the right time! I found a car that spent nearly its entire life in a garage in Florida, 100% rust free and in great shape and a great price. My father and I were very happy. The test drive was sketchy, as it was my first time driving a stick, but it felt so great to finally be behind the wheel of a car I could call my own.

The rest was pretty much history. I bought the wrong offset wheels, put some JDM Hotness Ebay tuner seats in to replace the damaged leather, and drove it though all of high school. Using graduation money (Stupidly) and other funds, I bought the Erebuni ground effects kit and had the entire car repainted Tornado red (Volkswagen Jetta red). I then ventured on to my first rebuild, and catching the turbo bug mid-build, slapped a ct-26 and manifold on the side. After getting the first rebuild finished, I needed to explore fuel supply options, and decided to go with the Megasquirt standalone ECU. While doing some mild wiring, I began to notice a lot of the front car harness has been childishly cut and hacked and rewired previously, which gave me a bit of a challenge to move on through wiring a standalone ECU while only 18 years old. Due to this shotty wiring and I suspect a melted/damaged main fuse block, a fire started one day in the engine bay at the distribution block, and set me way back. The harness was toast, and I was already attempting some heavy re-wiring, so I manned up and decided to re-wire the entire car. I bought a painless universal wiring harness, and went to town. The car was down for nearly a year of spaghetti wiring, and standalone planning. Finally I had the wiring up and running everything in the car that I needed, and I got the car running decent on the new ECU.

After two ct-26 rebuilds, and a tired motor, I moved on to my second motor rebuild, which can be seen in some detail here:

This motor runs great still, but I am again board with the current setup, and ready to move on to a more advanced and powerful build. This is where I am as of early 2010. I was tired of the mismatched interior, huge sub box taking away all my room in the hatch, frustratingly poor wiring routing under the dash, and slowly collecting parts for a mega motor build. I decided to start with the interior. I was able to source a nice entire black interior (Thanks Leon), and started fabricating some nice add-ons to set the car off (You guys know I can’t leave anything alone and stock! ;) )

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Motor, Drivetrain and Performance

New Motor:

-4.0 Liter 32 Valve Quad Cam Aluminum 1UZFE V8 (95 LS400 Donor)
-Borg Warner S300SX3 Single Turbo
-Everything Else ;)

Current Transmission:

-W58 Transmission, rebuilt many moons ago
-1UZ Auto Bellhousing to W58 Adapter
-1UZFESWAPKIT.COM's Steel Flywheel for the 1UZ (Thanks Brandon)

Old Motor:

-Polished Everything, LIPP Boss Turbo, Megasquirt II

Rear Suspension and Differential:

-Ford 8.8 IRS Housing From Lincoln MKVIII
-Ford 8.8 IRS Inboard CV Stub End
-Ford Traction-Lock LSD Carrier From 2003 Mach 1 Mustang
-Ford Motorsports 3.73 Ring and Pinion
-Custom Designed and Fabricated Trailing Arms, Diff Cradle, Eccentrics, and Swaybar Mounts
-C6 Corvette Rear Hubs and CV Stub End (Hub Side)
-QA1 Proma Star Coilovers, 220 lb Springs
-7/8" Splined Sway Bar and Splined Arms

Other Rear Suspension:

-Custom Designed and Fabricated Triangulated Strut/Coilover Tower Brace

Front Coilovers:

-Struts Chopped, New Perches Welded and Refurbished
-KYB AGX Adjustable Front Dampers (MR2 Rears)
-Custom adapted Allstar Performance Coilover Sleeves
-T3 Camber Plates, Needle Top Hat Bearings, Gland Nuts, and RCA's
-QA1 350lb Springs

Other Front Suspension:

-Rebuilt and Manual Converted Rack
-Refurbished Control Arms and New Poly Bushings
-Starion 5 Lug 5x114.3 Hubs with New Bearings

Front Brakes:

-Nissan 350Z Track Edition Rotors
-Wilwood Forged Superlite 4-Piston Calipers
-Custom Designed and Fabbed Caliper Brackets

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Exterior / Appearance

-Repainted in 2006: PPG LP3G (1996 Volkswagen "Flash Red")
-Erebuni 631a Four Piece Fiberglass Ground Effects
-New OEM Toyota Moulding and Trim
-15% Tint
-Deleted Wipers, Antenna, and Billboard Sticker

New Wheels and Tires :

-Varrstoen ES221 18x8.5 +22 Front, 18x10.5 +15 Rear (5X114.3 Pattern)
-Hankook Ventus Evo K110, 245/35/18 Front, 295/30/18 Rear

Old Wheels and Tires :

-XXR 513 16x8 0mm All Around - Matt Black w/ Red Stripe (4x114.3 Pattern)
-Nexen N3000 245/45/16 All Around

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Interior and Electronics

Interior Restoration:

-Swapped Burgundy to Black Panels
-Custom Center Switch and Gauge Center
-Shaved and Recovered Door Panels
-Custom Gauge Cluster, Autometer Gauges
-Nardi Steering Wheel
-Recovering Stock Seats

Current Audio:

-Alpine Head Unit
-Alpine M1000 Amp
-Single 10" Solobaric Sub
-3.5" Front Speakers
-5" Rear Speakers
-Custom Rear Seat Delete Sub Box

Old Audio (LOL):

-Fiberglass Rear Seat Sub Enclosure
-Fiberglass 6x9 Speaker Pods in Rear Side Panels
-Cheap Junky Overpowered Subs
-I am glad to have outgrown this...


-Entire Car Rewired With Painless Wiring Harness
-Battery Relocated to Trunk, Custom Battery Box Fabricated
-Custom Engine Harness For Megasquirt II ECU
-Fabricated Brain Box in Place of Glove Box
-Switches Relocated to Center Council
-Custom Switch Center for Engine Electronics
-Keyless Entry

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
As I stated, I found a real nice black interior to swap out, and was ready for a matching interior set in tuxedo black to help set the car off. I wanted to stay with a sort of classy “old school” look, and not go overboard with newer styles. The first thing I did was throw away the old sub box I had, which was an entire hatch enclosure. Thing was heavy. You might not be able to tell from photos, but this whole setup was made out of two entire sheets of ¾” MDF, Plexiglas, and covered in vinyl. It took my brother and I both just to lift it out of the car with no speakers or electronics inside it! We got it out, and it was thrown into a fire.

A picture of my old setup for reference:

Stealing an idea/setup from another member (sorry Scott!), I removed the rear seats as they never get any use anymore. I wanted to build a box that would house two 12” subs, and something “extra.” I also wanted it to stand apart from just a rectangular slab taking place of the rear seats, and aim the subs more towards the glass for better quality. Using cardboard to create a template for the seat delete, I cut a test piece out of cheap 1/8” plywood to check the fit and clearances, and then moved on to using ¾” MDF. I positioned the subs where I thought I would like them to be, then cut base rings and supports for them to be positioned while fabricating. I then began working on how I wanted to mount my “secret weapon,” and well…. the following pictures should tell the rest of the story.

No, that is not nitrous. I am not daring enough to play with that stuff, but am inept enough to play with CO2. That is a five pound bottle that is angled correctly when the box is in the car. The rest of the kit includes an activation solenoid, braided lines, and an intercooler sprayer. I will cover the install of this kit in depth when I do the motor rebuild/ engine bay freshening.

If you couldn’t guess it from the structure, I am fiber glassing the entire box. This being my first time using a “fleece” material to fiberglass something, I tested out a piece of the cloth on a small frame to see how much resin the cloth would need to absorb, and judge it’s strength versus how much fiberglass needed to be added on top. I quoted fleece above because it is not actually fleece, but a microfiber chamois material that stretches very well and can easily be manipulated. I picked some up a t a local textile store for 7 bucks a yard on a half off sale. The box is draped with two yards, but I believe one would have done the job if I was careful.

Resin soaked cloth:

Two layers of fiberglass added on top:

The entire frame was prep sanded, cleaned and ready for covering. All seams were liquid nailed before covering to ensure an air tight bond around all mated wood sections. The wood sections were also dowel pinned, glued, and screwed together to assure they do not separate at the seams:

I draped the cloth over the frame and began stretching the material to the contours of the framing. It is held in place by ¼” staples:

I precut the fiberglass to save downtime when applying resin:

I also pre poured about 12 batches of resin ( 8 ounces each), and set them to the side. I took a deep breath and committed, and about an hour later I had the structure I wanted. I am not stranger to working with fiberglass, but this was the first time I have done something on this scale. So far here are the results:

Its fits very well in the rear seat’s vacancy, and it is mounds lighter than the previous box. I didn’t get a chance to move much forward with this, as it rained nearly the entire week I was home between Spring and Summer classes. I don’t like sanding fiberglass inside the garage, and couldn’t do much with the constant downpour outside. With the poopy weather outside, I moved on to other things on the car that needed attention. I will add a picture of the mounts I welded together it hold it in place later If I remember.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

I started to focus on the inside of the car, prepping to swap interiors. Most of the rear of the car I will not swap out until I am done with the sub box, and I don’t want to ding up the nice black panels moving the box in and out of the car. One of the biggest issues I have with my dash is not the outside, but what lies underneath. When I rewired the car, I left all the HVAC system in the car, and simply strung the wires around it with a thousand tip ties mounted to anything and everything. This is a messy slop, and looks horrible! I spent nearly three days of my vacation doing nothing but 10 hours per day of cleaning up wire routing and connections:

The before… YIKES!!!

First thing first was to throw all the unneeded junk out. Who needs heat in the summer?

All the interior panels were removed and set aside.

If I was going to restore this interior, the details should be sorted out. One of the biggest eye sores in mine (And I suspect most people’s interior) was the surface restated exposed metal mounting pieces that hold the dash together. They look horrible, and needed to be dealt with! Evertyhing got a trip to the blasting cabinet where I tried to remove every spec of rust that I could:





The same goes for the other side, and the steering column and main dash support bar units:

Once they all cleaned, they are treated to several mist coats of Rustoleum stain black to keep the rust away, hopefully for good!

I began to tackle all the wiring under the dash now, routing and looming them together like I should have in the first place.

More progress:

Being tired of the alarm system just sitting under the radio bunched up with all its wiring, I decided to make a mount to attach all the pieces to and clean up the wiring:


Components are added to plate. Below is the alarm brain box, and the welded tab was for the door control relay to sit:

Shock sensor and relay center added:

The way I had previously routed most of the wires under the steering column was behind the jute padding. But the wires were directly in was of the clutch pedal travel, which is dangerous as over time the pedal could rub the shielding off the wires and cause a short! A tab was bended to assure the wires are clear of the clutch pedal travel:

The picture is deceiving, but the wires have some wiggle room (They are not being squished by the tab), and are now clear of the clutch travel.

The relay board I was using for the Megasquirt by default used set screw style clamps for all engine wires, and then a DB37 relay cable to the ecu. I didn’t like this. It looks weird and I was always afraid a wire was going to pull out of the set. I de-soldered the set terminals, and soldered wires directly to the board that went to connectors for easy removal.

Before, YIKES!!



This was how the engine harness was connected to the relay board before…..

Big improvement. I also build a better relay cable to go from the relay box to the MS unit.

Starting to look much cleaner now.

Next up was something I was cooking up for some time. I didn’t want to drill any holes into the new dash I am using, and needed room for more gauges and switches. The prime real estate was where the center vents and hvac controls use to be, as I no longer needed them. Why not go for the fighter pilot style of the MKIII/MKIV dash?

I again started with cardboard to get basic panel dimensions, moved on to cheap plywood to test fit the sections, and then used ½” MDF to create the panels I needed. The top piece is shown below, with a beveled edge so it rests against the dash more uniformly.

Then the swoop down, where I tried to mimic the lines of the cluster cover as much as possible to tie in the design:

The Ribbed center of the shifter council needed a routered panel to clear this center rib:

Starting with cardboard, working my way to MDF:

A lower mount is constructed to add support to the two lower columns, and mount the unit where the stock rubber surround would:

Routered to clear the rib again, the front trim is cut with a band saw to trace the shifter opening:

Once these have dried enough, I move on to the main side panel up the upper dash unit:

These are epoxied into place, and temporary mounts hold them in place until they dry:

Once dry, I use fiberglass resin and some fiberglass sheeting to reinforce the joints and fill any transitional edges:

A quick cardboard template is made for the center panel (Upper):

Body filler is used for large imperfections and transitions to be sanded smooth and even:

The dash is then protected with plastic and duck tape for the “Molded edge” process:

Any where that there is an exposed gap, the gap is soaked with resin and stuffed with fiberglass strands for a strong fill media that molds well with the MDF panels:

I take a break from the dash, and move to the center panel while the ‘glass dries and cures. Using the cardboard template, I cut the bottom support out of ¼” lexan, and scuff the surfaces well so fiberglass will stick.

I create the panel for the switches, indicators, and push button start (Cause I’m fly like that):

Then using two inch PVC and plastic bits strategically glued in place, I mount the gauge housings. I say strategically because I want to break these out easily once the fiberglass has cured.

The unit is stretched with nylon, and resin is applied to the top until it almost cures:

Since I don’t care how perfect the outside will be, I actually apply the reinforcing fiberglass to the inside of the frame (Less sanding on the outside for an even transitional face). Supports are broken out, and later (Sorry but no pics) the excess base material is removed for full clearance to the gauges and switches:

After some sanding magic, only one low spot is found and filled. I test fit the for clearance issues and to assure their fit:

Once the dent is filled, the mounting bracket is tested on the new “hood”, and the clearance is measured around the switch/gauge holder. I want around 2mm of clearance all the way around from the media I will be finishing the panel with.

I am done painting all the interior pieces I make now, as I have finally found a media I love for vinyl covering. This new four way stretch vinyl lets me move the material around some complicated surfaces, and still retain its “grain” texture” while being stretched very far. One side is fastened, and then spray adhesive is sprayed to both parts to mate:

Then working my magic and speed, I stretch all sides and surfaces for a smooth as butter covering. Screws help hold the material to complex curves while the awesome (Expensive) adhesive makes a secure bond:

Once dried, a quick ring of super glue on the inside edges off all cut out holes (Before cutting) fuses the vinyl to the edges. This is just a precaution so that the vinyl doesn’t move is the glue becomes weak. All switches and indicators are added, edges are pulled and trimmed, and the final product is stellar:

The dash hood is now finish sanded, and test fitted with the switch/gauge holder for a clearance check:

The dash hood is now painfully wrapped using the spray adhesive, superglue, sore fingers, razorblades, and three hours of my life.

(Clearance Testing)

It also ends up coming out stellar. It is not flush on the bottom pic because it is not fastened at the lower mount:

I don’t have a pic of the upper mount for the hood, but here you can see the support bar I sadly welded that it mounts to. It bolts in place of the center vent’s mounting tabs.


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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
A quick recap on how much the wiring was cleaned up before I left for school again. I will be back in a week to do more work, but here is how I left it:

Yes, that is my engine harness in a zip-lock baggie. It is mounds simplified and cleaner than before. With all the hvac out, I have pleanty of room for better component orientation and new "extras".... :)


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dude love the gauge cluster!!! is that push button starting???? but how much would you charge to make a exact replica?? without the switches or big "shiny" red button??

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
dude love the gauge cluster!!! is that push button starting???? but how much would you charge to make a exact replica?? without the switches or big "shiny" red button??
I am way too busy to build these projects on the side for other peeps. Plus, if you wanted that cluster/switch housing, you would need the pilot hood I made to go with it! And there is no way in hell I am making another one of those. Talk about time consuming! I have nearly 30 hours alone in the switch/gauge housing and pilot hood.


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oh dang man...well alright. i was just wonderin, looks sweet tho!!! its worth 30 hours!!! wish i had the time and money to do what you are doin!! but i do what i can lol

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
A few more pictures cause I'm going to whore this project out for a while. All the energy that went into making it makes me want to get my time's worth out of it in justifying pictures!

The slight notch that was placed on the left side was to clear the cruise switch. It flows very well around the side of the cluster hood, as you can see in the above pic.

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yes, that big red button is for push button starting. It is relay activated through both an ignition and switch triggered relay, and an immobilizer relay through the alarm system.

I am most likely going to ditch that cheap unit, and go with a genuine Honda s2000 unit (only like 40 bucks new from dealer).

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