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Discussion Starter #1
So here's the big question I' like some help with making a decision. Do I rebuild the 16v or get my hands on a 20v to swap in?

A little back story: My '87 MR2 has gone 3 years bouncing form used car dealership to used car dealership. When I got it, the fuel pump was shot. I put one in. Got it started. Found out the clutch is shot and it has mysteriously disappearing coolant. Last week, I snapped an axle. Today I just did a compression test on my '87 mk1, and it looks like I've got a blow head gasket. #1 cylinder is at 180psi, 2&3 at 140psi and #4 is at 60psi. Yuck.

So, just about everything needs to be ripped out to be rebuilt. So I'm figuring, hey, good time to 'upgrade'.

But, I'm scared that a 20v Silvertop will put out too much power, and all I'll do is get into trouble and wrap my deuce around a tree. I have only driven it about 150 miles since I got it. So, I still have a deep respect for the capabilities of this car, and an understanding of my complete lack of familiarity it it.

I'm torn. One day I'm thinking a 20v swap would be perfect, but the next day thinking rebuilding the 16v is the best idea.

So, any insights from more experienced mk1 owners for a mk1 n00b would be much appreciated.
 

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I'd say the disappearing coolant is the head gasket's fault more than likely. Do you have any white smoke coming out of your exhaust? Weigh how much money it is going to be and which is going to take more time? You could always just get a 16v that is still functional and throw it in for the time being. Then you could save up and get everything together to either speed along the 20v swap or rebuild the 16v.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
TeaBagofDeath said:
I'd say the disappearing coolant is the head gasket's fault more than likely. Do you have any white smoke coming out of your exhaust? Weigh how much money it is going to be and which is going to take more time? You could always just get a 16v that is still functional and throw it in for the time being. Then you could save up and get everything together to either speed along the 20v swap or rebuild the 16v.
No white smoke. Did the 'yuck' test to the exhaust, no sweet taste. The coolant problem has been dogging me for a month now.

Since it's still winter up here in Wisconsin and I have a daily driver, I'm not planning on getting it on the road until April/May anyway. I've just been taking it out on the road when they are clear (of snow and salt) for shakedown runs.

Any tips on finding a good used 16v, for cheap?
 

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i pretty much have the same predicament. Ive been reading that its easier to make 200hp out of a 16v over the 20v. and more parts are readily available for the 16v. things like miscellaneous gaskets for the 20v you cant get from a toyota dealer. things like that turn me off about doing the swap. and plus id feel alot more acclomplished if i built the 16v to make the same power as the 20v instead of just buying the engine and dropping it in.

according to your post im not so sure your looking for power. when i think of "upgrading" from a 16v to a 20v i usually think more power. so i guess my opinion if you dont want to much power rebuild the 16v. maybe do the common intake upgrade, seen that alot, and a better flowing exhaust.
im by no means an experianced mk1 owner, i just recently got my baby a week ago. ive just been reading a lot about others experiances, doing research, trying to figure out where i should spend my money. hope that helped somehow?

EDIT: adding on to your lost compression, if you have similar compression through three of the pistons and the 4th one is a jump off a cliff then i wouldnt say its a head gasket, i would lean more towards blown piston rings.
 

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You're probably an hour down the road from me.

Personally, I'd tear things down before making a final decision. If you get any used engine regardless of it being a 16v or 20v, you should probably freshen it before dropping it in anyhow. Determine the damage on your engine and go from there. I've always heard that the wiser choice is to rebuild an engine that has no horrible damage than to take potluck. The cheaper choice may be to take potluck and see how long it holds. Going 20v introduces part/repair availability issues as well as wiring changes.

Don't get too excited yet, but I've got a few spare engines in the garage--none in any shape to go into a car. I was planning on rebuilding a 16v, so I got one from a local MR2 owner that took it out of an '86. It's an earlier 3-rib, and I have full electronics for it. However, it seemed to run very rich and did smoke evidently at high RPMs. This means that it probably had some ring wear. Now I'm going to go with a 4A-GZE swap... and I have that engine as well in bits and pieces. The engine in the car now is my old 143K 4AGE from an '87 NA. It comp tested well and fired on the first shot in December when i dropped it in a non-rusted chassis. I just redid all the seals. I might part with whatever I don't use, but only after I'm done doing a buildup... probably by next winter. I have multiple MR2s here, so I'm also keeping some parts as spares. Unfortunately, that's going to be too late for your purposes I'm guessing.

If I can get done with a caught up with a few projects, I'd be willing to meet up.

All of my MR2s are off the road until April/May due to salt & insurance coverage being off of them for 6 months for storage. I've got an '87 NA that is going to be my gf's now that I completely rebuilt it, '89 SC, '93 T, and my father has an '89 NA. It's quite the fleet :)
 
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