By on June 21, 2013

Picture courtesy LSXTV

Last year, the women wept and the teeth were gnashed when we refused to award the Scion FR-S the title of Bestest New Car Spending Marketing Money And Flying People To Fun Places Of 2012. Although we enjoyed the little Subaru to no end — an impression your humble author has since had multiple chances to reinforce at various race tracks and fast roads around the Midwest — it just didn’t bring the heat from one corner to the next.

The good news is that this problem has now been fixed — at a cost of only eighty pounds and perhaps $15,000.

LSXtv has the story on the first LS-swapped Subarota.

For $3,000, Weapons Grade Performance will sell you a “basic” kit, which includes the motor mounts, transmission mounts, driveshaft, oil pan, and clutch master cylinder… This kit will get you started, but for $9,000 the Complete Kit will include all of the above, plus an exhaust system, cooling system, wiring harness, and everything else you need except for the actual engine and transmission… Ask if there were any plans to drop, say, a supercharged LS9 engine into the BRZ, Doug smiles. “Right now hood clearance is an issue,” he says. “But we’re working with a supplier to get a Z06-style hood that should allow us to run a supercharger.” A 638 horsepower Subaru coupe? Yes, please…

Seven thousand dollars will get you a 430hp crate LS3 engine. Figure another three grand for a Tremec TKO. The resulting combination weighs slightly under 2900 pounds. Building it out on top of a new BRZ would cost a total of about $40,000 assuming you needed a little help with the labor.

Thus equipped, the LS3-powered BRZ literally has no effective competition in the marketplace. Comparisons with the Miata or Genesis become ridiculous when you more than double the power under the hood. The Coyote-powered Mustang GT feels a little chunky and slow all of a sudden. The base Corvette Stingray C7 is twelve grand more and will weigh perhaps four hundred pounds above the LS-swapped Japanese coupe.

With that said, if you really want a V8-powered American coupe, you have forty thousand dollars to spend, and you aren’t too worried about a warranty… would the “Weapons Grade” BR-Z stand a chance against a $39,800 used Z06? In a straight line it might be close-ish, but around a racetrack the Vette would use its superior mechanical grip and power-to-weight ratio to walk that sucker. And every possible upgrade you could do to the Subaru’s new engine would be just as easy on the Corvette.

If nothing else, however, the guys at Weapons Grade should put a little fear into the hearts of overconfident Miata drivers at the local road course. Unless, of course, they’re packing as well

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63 Comments on “Okay, the Subaru BRZ Is Now Perfect...”


  • avatar
    jco

    LAWN DART

    would much rather have a 2JZGTE (supra/aristo turbo 6)-swapped version. been done quite from quite a few different shops now

    edit: 2JZ and LS3 are close in weight, though the V8 is maybe 50lbs heavier. but i bet it pushes the distribution to a little above 60:40 f/r

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      I’m curious how they manage to stuff an I6 in an engine bay designed around an H4. The LSx looks like it’s trying to burst out of there as it is.

      • 0 avatar
        jco

        http://www.speedhunters.com/2012/06/the-86-x-build-pt2/

        rear-mount radiator, for one. so maybe this V8 is more practical somehow?

        haha ok, after reading more, the V8 version has a/c too. how is it they only increased the curb weight by 60lb?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The all-aluminum versions of the LS engine family are very well packaged, designed for light weight and compact dimensions. Nearly fully dressed, a partner and I can lift one up by the manifolds onto a stand.

          Because of the weight and packaging, and being cheap and plentiful, they’re being swapped into just about everything these days.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Here is where the pushrod V8 really shines, compact packaging.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            If one wants to tune the Toybaru for dedicated track performance, it actually makes some sense, but not at the prices mentioned here (one would be better off buying a more powerful car with warranty intact for that kind of money).

            I state this because – and this is not born of any type of hate filled agenda, but experience – the Toybaru twins are among the most uncomfortable cars I’ve ever driven on even moderately bad roads (and there are a lot of moderately bad roads everywhere in modern day USA).

            In fact, the Toybaru twins are obnoxious cars to drive on even smooth roads, as daily drivers, due to the constant and extremely loud road noise, god awful interior quality, and suspensions that were apparently tuned by someone who believed the only way to give these cars street cred was for them to inflict literal pain on the driver and passenger when driving over a pebble.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Having driven them both, I found them to be no louder or less comfortable than other sports cars; the seats felt above average. YMMV. Yes the interior is cheap, but so is the car.

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            “I state this because – and this is not born of any type of hate filled agenda, but experience – the Toybaru twins are among the most uncomfortable cars I’ve ever driven on even moderately bad roads (and there are a lot of moderately bad roads everywhere in modern day USA).”

            obviously you’ve never driven a (Neon) SRT-4.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      I’m not so sure about that, the LSx V8s (not the LSX) in all aluminum trim are around 500 pounds dressed with the heavy as hell dual mass flywheel. Everything I read for a 2JZGTE fully dressed in Supra trim is damn near 600 pounds. The LS3 dressed sans flywheel is 420-440 pounds.

      The 2JZ block alone is around 185 pounds compared to the LS block which is around 90 pounds.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    MOTHER OF GOD.jpg

  • avatar
    NotFast

    I fail to see how this is better than an actual Corvette. If you want a reliable V8 ‘supercar’, then buy a used vette.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Or find an RX7 with a blown engine and do the LSX swap. Then the car you start with is a heck of a lot cheaper bring the cost of the whole “Great handling Japanese car with an American heart” down tremendously.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Yeah…if I wanted a LS powered RWD Japanese car, I would find a FD RX-7 with a trashed motor and a 4th gen Camaro with a trashed body and mate the two together for a great deal less than this.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        You guys realize you’re comparing a near-20 year-old FD (or a used Corvette) with a used powertrain, to the price of a brand-new Toyobaru with a brand new LS and associated parts, right? Not to mention you’ll have a brand-new H-4 and transmission left over in the parts pile.

        That’s not to say that the first two don’t give great bang-for-the-buck, but it isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, is it? Assuming this kit is done right, a brand new car with brand new engine boasting 400 hp at $40k seems like a pretty stonking deal to me, even if you won’t have a warranty to speak of.

        Once there are used, depreciated cars available and maybe a market to sell the stock engine to – this will seem like an even better idea, I think.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Still $10K cheaper than the base Corvette without having to be seen in a Corvette.. It’s the essence of Hot Rodding, man… Corvettes are too much “The Man”. Or the Corporate Hot Rod.

  • avatar
    JasonH

    Seems like it would be great until the diff explodes, or half-shafts destroy themselves. Or the whole shebang just twists itself out of the car.

  • avatar
    Illan

    Nice! but can you crank it up to 15 and drop a 7.0L LS6 there?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      You must mean the LS7 as the LS6 was a 5.7L not a 7.0L. In which case yes, the LS7 is virtually the same on the exterior in crate form.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        I thought the LS6 was the big block 454? Is my memory card completely wiped?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          It was! They recycled the code for the gen III aluminum 5.7L used in the C5 Z06 Corvette and first gen CTS-V.

          GM has done this again with the gen V hi-po engine by calling it LT1. That’ll be the 3rd time that code has been assigned to a different generation small block. Gen 1, 2 and 5 all have an LT1.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    The weird thing about engine technology is that outside of gas mileage almost any car is better with an LS engine. They are light – make tons of power down low – sound nice and best of all are cheap.

    It’s not just the Japanese and their low torque cars/high revving cars – but plenty of German cars would actually be improved with one of these. I think the problem in Europe is the anti-displacement laws that steered engine development away from high displacement push rod to small displacement high turbos. The sad thing is they amount to the same thing – with the high displacement set up being more driveable. Not to mention that to my ears V8s just sound so much better then a turbo I4 or boxer 4.

    That being said you can turbo these guys up to 420 hp and 500lbs of torque if you really wanted to. Not sure you are going to have any low end with that setup though.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Even fuel mileage is good with the LS swap. With reasonable gearing and tune, this BRZ combo should net 30mpg on the highway without much trouble.

      In cases where the LS replaces a rotary, fuel mileage and power are significantly improved.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Mileage is good if you have the gearing that allows the Vette to basically idle along at 65. But compared to the stock BRZ motor, in-traffic economy will be murder.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Question is…can I get a 396 LS engine?

      We’ve got a 427, but no 396.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        If you used the crank from an LS7 in a 6.0L block, you’d end up with 402ci, which was close enough for Chevy to label as a 396 going into the 70′s. This is assuming the right connecting rod combination exists.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          Hmmm… I know the factory LS7 rods would be pricey but I wonder if it would be cheaper to just get a set of custom pistons and find a good steel rod sized for an LS7 rather than searching for a proper length rod to fit off the shelf pistons for the smaller bore LS engines?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            It’d take some research, but that’s the beauty of the GM LS engines. Because of their keen sense of detail for homogeneous production and assembly processes, mixing and matching with engine parts from the 4.8L through 7.0L versions are like playing with legos.

            I wish Ford had gotten on that badwagon with their engines at some point, but they always seem to make each model of engine different in some critical way, even the same engine made in different plants.

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          didn’t they actually label it as a 402 in a couple of models for like one year? memory may be faulty but I seem to remember seeing that a long time ago.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            If the internet is correct:

            “Introduced in 1970, the 402-cubic-inch (6.6 L) was a 396-cubic-inch bored out by 0.030 in (0.76 mm). Despite the fact that it was 6 cubic inches (98 cc) larger, Chevy continued marketing it under the popular “396″ label in the smaller cars while at the same time labeling it “Turbo-Jet 400″ in the full-size cars. The 402 label was used in Light Pickup Trucks.”

  • avatar
    thesal

    Sounds pretty cool on paper, but I have to wonder about a few things:
    - Diff? Can it handle 400ftlbs vs the 150ftlb put out stock?
    - Brakes? Get up faster, need to slow down faster
    - Tire Space? A C5Z06 with similar power numbers weighs ~3200lbs and runs pretty big tires stock. Guys at the track go as far as running 315 R-comps on the rears and still look squigly! I wonder what these wheel wells could take..

    I know all these things can be added, but then it’s no longer a $40k car…so whats the true cost of extracting the performance out of such a setup? Might be similar to just buying a new corvette.

    However, if you leave the stock streets on there, oh man, it would make the most ridiculous “Dori-Dori” machine out there!!!

  • avatar
    b787

    Sounds great, but I’m afraid the additional weight of the V8 makes the BRZ a bit front heavy.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      All of 80 lbs heavier. LSx converted 911s weigh about the same or a couple lbs lighter than stock. With the same center of gravity with the accessories mounted down low.

      • 0 avatar
        b787

        Assuming all of the additional weight is in the front, we can calculate the weight distribution of Weapons Grade BRZ to be 54:46, which actually isn’t bad.

  • avatar
    Prado

    “Thus equipped, the LS3-powered BRZ literally has no effective competition in the marketplace. Comparisons with the Miata or Genesis become ridiculous when you more than double the power under the hood.”

    The obvious “effective competition” is a LS powered Miata. I believe FLYINMIATA.com sells the cars/kits. ..and you can find current NC Miatas cheaper than the FRS/BRZ. The NC Miata has been around since 2006.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Baruth linked to Flyin’ Miata right in his main article, although there is no V-8 conversion kit for the NC that I know of – NA and NB only, which are much older, flimsier cars than the Toyobaru, and it looks like a turnkey version of the Miata, which is now a minimum of 9 years old, wouldn’t be that much cheaper than this new one, out the door. That’s not to say I’m not a fan of an LS Miata, but this car sure does seem to make a case for itself.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve often thought that there are many good cars that would be great with the addition of a small block Chevy.

    This may be one of them.

    As for me, I’d still like a Mallett Solstice…

    http://www.mallettcars.com/solstice-conversion.htm

  • avatar
    Quentin

    LS swaps are unimaginative.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      So is vaginal sex, and yet it also remains popular.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Well, you only really have two options on that half of the body. It is less about imagination and more about limited choice. The LS isn’t the only V8 you can get.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          A pushrod 5.0 would probably fit with no real problem but I doubt any of the MOD motors would as the DOHC engines range from 29-30 inches in width (maybe 28 with the DOHC 4.6).

          I don’t know about Fiat’s pushrod hemi engines though. I guess I’ll have to check into that.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          the LS is just the best bang for the buck, certainly can’t blame anyone for taking that route.

          If money and swappability complications were no object, I’d swap gen 3 Hemis into everything. Availability, bolt in swappability with factory parts and the aftermarket just isn’t there for those motors yet as compared to the LS. The Hemi has more potential, but that can be made up for with all the money saved on the LS to build even more power.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “LS swaps are unimaginative.”

      so is criticizing how other people choose to spend their money.

  • avatar
    Ion

    We have a saying at work “If it’s RWD somewhere somebody shoved a small block in it”

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I would be OK with just another 500ccs in the flat 4 to be honest… or maybe 2 more cylinders and the revival of the Supra

    300HP 3.6L NA
    450HP 3.0L turbo… sounds good to me

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      sportyaccordy and Jack – - –

      Doing this $15K enhancement does NOT make a perfect BRZ, IMHO.

      It’s simply too much. It changes the whole nature of the car and its intent. And it will cause other problems, such as brakes, differential, frame rigidity, cornering ability, and so on (as others have suggested).
      As others have also noted, if you want to go down that road, a BRZ is not a good beginning platform: just get a CPO Corvette and go from there.

      All the BRZ/FR-S needs to be “perfect”, and still stay within its design intent (again, IMO) is:
      1) Remove the “M”-shaped torque curve from the engine, with its 10% midrange drop-off;
      2) Increase displacement and intake efficiency slightly to get about 230 HP (a 15% increase);
      3) Improve weight distribution away from its current 53/47 (F/R), to be closer to 50/50.

      If Toyobaru had to charge another $2K for this, so what? It would be more than worth it.

      ——————-

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        a lot of this is Chicken Little

        you know you can buy bigger brakes and better shocks sways etc. – since this isnt a cheap thing i’d expect someone who puts in a new engine can afford new brakes lol

        i’m expecting everyone should know the drivetrain is IS300 and that size.

        adding power to chassis doesnt suddenly make it rubbish (unless it was severely under engineered to begin with)

        and the weight balance… everyone has a fit over 4% when its well known anything can be tuned out

        hell, how do people put up with Audis!

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          TonyJZX – - –

          Chicken Little screamed “the sky is falling”.

          No, the sky would not be not falling if you do the $15K thing on an FR-S. But, in order to get this to work properly, you’re looking at a lot more than $15K added. In which case, why do it? Get a Corvette.

          Re Audis: this particular “people” does not put up with Audis, for precisely the reason of poor weight balance, anesthetized steering, and WWD (wrong wheel drive). Take a look at Audi sales vs BMW or Mercedes sales on “goodcarbadcar.com”: seems that most Americans agree.

          —————

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The weird torque curve is about par for the course for modern NA cars… Forces you to upshift early and cruise at lower rpm. It also matches the EPA driving cycle better. No way is Toyota removing that on a car that needs to pass EPA.

        What I don’t get is, since the maps are very xomprehensive, why manufacturers don’t have a separate WOT curve that doesn’t use that trick, because most people aren’t driving at WOT to save gas.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Well for the Supra they would definitely have to do more than just throw an engine in and leave it at that. But I highly doubt it was Toyobaru’s intent to have a hole where this car’s midrange was supposed to be. With good tires the chassis “outpowers” the engine handily. It needs a better torque curve to really solidify its performance and legacy.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It’s very cool, but putting in a 2UR-GSE (which I think has been done in Japan) or the EJ20G would seem a bit more appropriate.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Agreed. There are loads of great Subaru and Toyota engines out there to choose from.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        yes, and implementing them would be over 9000 times more complicated at least from the electronics side. LSx swaps may be “unimaginative” (whatever the f*** that means) but GM will sell a turnkey crate motor with PCM to anyone with the cash.

  • avatar
    bodayguy

    You can buy a bolt-on turbo or supercharger kit for like $5,000. That gets you up to 250-300 hp. That’s all these need, and something to get rid of the torque dead spot at 4,000 rpm.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      The wrx conversion is already starting and are about the total cost of an LS crate engine. To me, for the money I mind as well buy a used Cayman. An older one (06-08) is the cost of a normal BRZ a newer (’10+) one runs into the LS-fitted one. The point of the car is to be small and fun. If you want pure power you’re better off with a corvette or Cayman.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    With aprox. 100 lb heavier front end and roughly 400 more HP, this “BRZ”‘s primed to be the ultimate drift machine, joyously letting you “crack the whip” right off road into traffic/lake/hillside/whatever.

    Enthusiasts, enjoy. Others, beware.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I’m just wondering what the 3800 would be like, especially the sc version. Gotta to be cheaper than an LSx.


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