GUIDE: Cost Effective Beams Swap

Well… This seems to come up every now and then.

People complaining that the beams engine is too rare/expensive.

So here’s my guide, on how to go about getting a 200+hp 3SGE, for the least amount of money!

Firstly, the gearbox: Your standard gearbox is more than fine. LSD is fun, but definitely not needed.
Standard hubs/axles/etc are fine too.

Clutch: You cant use a 5SFE clutch/flywheel.
One from a gen 2 or gen 3 3SGE is fine. (note: gen 1 3S clutch will not work!)
The PCD of the flywheel bolts/crank is slightly larger on the 3S.

You can use a 3SGTE clutch cover plate and flywheel, but you need the clutch disk from a certain type of Hilux to make it work. As the input shaft spline diameter is different between turbo and NA gearboxes.
Although of course if you’re running a turbo gearbox (Which I dont reccomend) You need a clutch disc to suit an E153 gearbox.

Alright this is a big call, but: Screw the redtop!
Basically, you’re paying a premium for an engine that isnt as rare as people make it out to be, and, according to CelicaRA45, who has had one of each and pulled them apart, the ONLY DIFFERENCE to a caldina ‘greytop’ engine, is the fact that the rocker covers arent red.
Worth an extra $3k? I dont think so!
UPDATE: I’ve now learnt, that there is a difference between the redtop and greytop models… The greytops have the catalytic converter built into the headers! As opposed to near the muffler for the SW20 and Celica. Which probably accounts for the 10hp difference. So get a decent set of headers, and you’ll more than likely get your 10hp back.

Caldina GTs are fairly common, definitely a lot moreso than SS2 celicas, or gen 5 SW20s! I see one at least once a day here in NZ.
Look to get one imported from a country like New Zealand, I think you’ll pay less of a premium for the engine/shipping than from Japan.
Also Caldina GTs are getting to the age where they are no longer in Japan all that much, so countries like NZ are getting flooded with them.

Okay, now here’s the biggest problem with running a Caldina engine.
Basically, they’re all autos.
I dont know how expensive a wiring loom is to suit an SW20 from toyota, but I’d imagine it’s prohibitively expensive.
I’m not sure how hard it is to run it with a manual transmission, as I’ve never tried. I believe there’s a way you can fool the auto trans computer with resistors or some such thing.

UPDATE: The way to go about this, is to earth out the pin that leads to the auto trans, which makes it think that the car is in neutral. I’m not sure which pin exactly this is, but that’s how you do it. There’s a guy in oz running a caldina beams auto engine in his AW11, and this is what he did.

The biggest advantage of getting a beams engine from an SW20 to swap into an SW20, is that the wiring is all virtually plug and play, barring one or two small items which are easy to solve. (Well it may be more complicated, if your car started life with a 5SFE)
Using a caldina loom, may take a significant amount of time tracing wiring etc.
I wouldnt reccomend using this engine, to someone that isnt familiar with wiring etc… You’d end up spending more than the cost of a redtop, just getting the wiring redone, etc.

I dont know for sure, but it’s possible that the auto ECU is tuned for 190HP instead of 200hp.
I would imagine because it’s got to pull around a lardy 4WD wagon instead of a light sports car, perhaps they have to retard the ignition or some such thing.
I’ve also heard that compression ratio is 10.5:1 instead of 11:1, but I cant say for sure. CelicaRA45 says they are Identical, and he knows what he’s talking about.

UPDATE: See above… 10hp difference is more than likely thanks to the catalytic converter being built into the headers.

Tacho signal/speedo signal.

Two ways to go about this. If you have a gen 2+ car, use the electric speedo signal from your existing gearbox.
If you have a gen 1, you can either use the cable, or convert it to electric. No problems either way! I’m using a cable, and the ECU still gets the speedo signal.. As I’ve still got the 180ish KPH speed cut in place.

For the tacho signal, you can either get a rev counter mechanism from a 1997+ toyota that has the same rev counter scale, or alternatively, get a tacho signal adaptor, to make your existing tacho work.

Basically, the problem is that the beams engine runs coil pack ignition, and the gen 2 or 3 3SGE or 5SFE doesnt.
So the ‘old’ signal runs at 20 volts or so, as it comes straight from the distributor.
The ‘new’ signal runs at either 5 volts or 12 volts, as it comes straight from the ECU or coils.

I’ve done a few things the hard way along the way with mine, so I thought I’d compile a list of things that might make it easier for someone else.

This documentation in no way replaces the Toyota MR2 Repair Manuals. The purpose of this content is only to provide supplementary information to fellow MR2 enthusiasts. Midship Runabout and its contributing authors will not be held responsible for any injury or damages that may occur as the result of practicing any of the methods or procedures described within this website. Article and photo submissions are property of the contributing author.

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2 Responses

  1. says:

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  2. Paul says:

    Is the standard BEAMS ECU going to be looking for a ignition key code

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