Hellish Mantis

When Jerry Harpe first bought his 1998 Toyota Corolla, "Mantis", he probably didn't realize at the time just how far he would take this car. It wasn't long of course before he started to make some changes. Jerry's first modifications were to help out the exterior which had too much of that "secretary's car" sort of look. A nice bodykit, spoiler, custom paintjob, and rims were on the list, and a carbon fiber hood made the look complete. Next up the engine bay needed some dressup. A powdercoated intake and valve cover sure helped things out, along with a Freedom Design strut bar that stiffened the front end.

A custom exterior and some engine dressup got the car's looks up to speed

To help out with some more high end power, a high flow exhaust was installed, along with a custom intake. Next, putting his priorities in the right places, Jerry knew the handling needed to be improved before more power surged though the car. A set of S/T struts and TEIN springs were just what he needed.

The TEIN and S/T combination gave the car improved handling
along with an aggressive, lowered stance

When it came down to it though, Jerry knew that Mantis had one fundamental flaw: The 130hp 1ZZ-FE attached to a four-speed automatic transmission. He had some options, but Jerry wanted his car to have something unique. He needed something different, something that everyone told him he couldn't have.

He needed the 2ZZ-GE.

Toyota's 2ZZ-GE was first released in 2000 with the Celica GTS, making 180hp with VVTLi. Later, it was added to the Matrix line with the XRS making a wider 170hp and then in 2005 with the new Corolla XRS. However, when asking about the possibility of a 2ZZ-GE swap, Jerry kept running into the same response. It can't be done. You're better off turboing your stock engine. It would be too expensive and require a lot of custom work. Thankfully, he's one of those guys who doesn't give up that easily. And fate had it in mind for his path to collide with the man that could do the job: Phoenix Tuning's own Dr. Tweak. Jerry first heard about Phoenix Tuning from a short ad on the Northeastern Tuners website, and at the time he was just trying to get rid of his "autotragic" transmission. A few emails later and Jerry was set to have a 5-speed swapped into Mantis, getting it ready to be driven the way it begged to be. But fate had another suprise in store for him: a totalled Matrix XRS for just the right price.

The difficulties of a 2ZZGE swap were lessened with the purchase of a complete Matrix XRS

When Jerry found out about this car while at a import meet, he didn't waste any time. Phone calls were made and he jumped on the deal: a complete Matrix XRS that was in a fairly minor accident, but enough for it to be totalled. The owner needed it to be gone, and Jerry was happy to oblige. Two weeks later it sat safely in his garage. But who would do the extensive work to swap this engine into a 7th generation Corolla with no documentation of it ever being done before? Some more contact with Phoenix Tuning, and the problem was solved, Dr. Tweak was on the job. Both cars were transported 6 hours to Phoenix Tuning, where the swap began. First order of business, yank out that 1ZZ-FE, shortly followed by the Matrix' 2ZZ-GE.

The 1ZZ-FE was carefully removed from the car, along with the new engine

Like the majority of Toyota engine swaps, wiring is one of the greatest difficulties. The 2ZZ swap was certainly no exception, as the wiring harness was designed completely different than the car's original. The harnesses needed to be stripped down and every wire labelled. The 2ZZ engine is fitted into the engine bay requiring significant modification to the engine mounts. About the same time, the clutch master cylinder, clutch pedal, and shifter cables were installed to start the 6-speed conversion.

Top, the wiring harnesses are stripped and labelled.
Bottom, the 2ZZGE is fitted into the engine bay

The front hubs were converted to 5-lug to make use of the Matrix wheels, along with the larger brakes. A local machine shop assisted by building some custom parts that were needed to make it all come together. A bracket was built and the Matrix 6-speed shifter assembly was temporarily installed in preparation for a custom interior. The engine mechanicals were finished up. The stock 2ZZ exhaust manifold couldn't be used, so it was altered and a new head pipe fashioned.

The front hubs were converted to 5-lug, and the Matrix 6-speed shifter assembly was installed

After lengthy work sorting through the wiring harnesses and making many modifications, the engine was hooked up to be started for the first time. The Matrix TRD intake was hooked up just to give the MAF a place to read the incoming filtered air while awaiting a custom intake. The engine started on the first try. Then it was time to loom the wiring harness back up to protect it from the elements. The axle shafts were modified and then sent to Moser Engineering for new custom ones to be built.

The engine was started and tested, and then the harness was loomed back up

Now that the engine was running, it was time to get this job finished up. An aftermarket tachometer was installed to keep track of the engine's speed, and the finishing touches were made to the engine bay. The rear brakes were then modified and converted from drum to disk with a 5-lug pattern, and the Matrix wheels were fitted.

The rear 5-lug/disk brake conversion is completed, and the engine bay is finished up

Finally the car is completed! With improved braking, a big performance boost, and the looks to match, this car is ready to tear up the streets!

The engine bay is signed, and the car is completed!

A complete discussion of this swap can be found here

© Copyright 2005 Phoenix Tuning - Contact