Video: Stuffing A 1JZ Straight-Six In A Track-Spec Fox Body

The gracefully-aging Fox Body has divided the audience a little. It’s cheap and accessible, parts are readily available, and it has a brickish shape that makes some vintage fans swoon. It’s also reasonably light, so it’s a decent candidate for a road course build. However, there are newer Mustangs that are better suited to cornering, some with independent rear suspension and stiffer chassis. The old Fox still has its own appeal, even if much of that is cosmetic. Who doesn’t like louvers? However, this Fox has a twist with a 1Jz engine.

An Odd Mixture

Availability makes the Fox Body a perfect project for a slightly hazardous build, as was taken by the open-minded metalworker John Vossler. Perhaps his creative vocation has strengthened him as an outside-the-box thinker, because his track car build is a little unusual. His Fox is equipped with some useful retrofit items from the Ford catalog: namely the IRS from the SN95 Cobra and a Ford Trak-Lok limited-slip differential to help put down the power. That sort of modification is appreciated, since the engine makes somewhere around 500 horsepower.

But that isn’t supplied by a small-block. It’s a 2.5L Toyota 1JZ. Originally a twin-turbo engine, this straight-six has been fitted with a Borg Warner S300 turbo and a few other supporting mods to keep it cool. Its weight and length don’t necessarily help cornering, but it’s reliable and makes plenty of power without much effort. Controlled by Haltech Elite 2500 ECU and spitting its power through a 5-speed transmission, the powertrain is potent and reliable. Thankfully, the powerband is fairly broad, too. Why? Even though it has a 4.10 rear end, it doesn’t run through the gears like a track car should. The torque does compensate for its unnecessarily long legs, though.


Wheelspin really isn’t a problem in third gear, especially if there’s a crest involved.

It’s a bit of a drifter, but it doesn’t look wayward. If it is, Vossler’s got masterful reactions and the right kind of throttle prodding to keep the engine on-song. Whether that’s true or not, it’s undeniable that getting a turbo engine like this to work on a road course with lots of long, medium-speed corners is a busy process. His quick hands definitely help.

The reason this is feasible is not only of Vossler’s imagination, but because there’s a decent aftermarket supporting this engine, which, in turn, is supported mostly by drifters and drag racers. It’s a long, heavy motor that still fits in the engine bay without much hacking, and the availability of swap kits makes the prospect of such a swap less daunting.

Keeping It in the Family

“So what about the Barra?”

For those who don’t know, the Ford Barra is another straight-six that works with forced induction and has proven itself with plenty of Australian and Kiwi drag cars, and the location is worth inspecting. Sadly, it only was released in the those aforementioned countries. It displaces 4.0L and its thick walls and plentiful ribbing make it very happy to handle boost. Later versions came with variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust cam, whereas the 1JZ variant only had VVTi on the intake cam.

Well, unlike the Barra, the 1JZ has had more time to establish itself. It has been around since 1989. As it is a torquey twin-turbo engine, it was appropriate for both sports cars and luxury cars. The Soarer had it. So did the Crown, Chaser, Verossa, Mark II, Cresta, and Supra. It also was much more widely produced and the markets it found itself in were numerous. There it’s been fairly priced—at least until recently.

The Barra came in the Falcon, a sports coupe/sedan with several sportier variations, as well as the midsize SUV Territory. Clearly, it was fairly well-developed over its fourteen-year run, with the most powerful variant making nearly 450 horsepower from the factory. From what some tuners have said, the Barra makes more power, pound for pound, than the 1JZ will.

The Barra is far from perfect, though. It is larger, taller, and heavier than the 1JZ.  The knowledge and parts availability surrounding the Barra are not as common in comparison to the venerable Toyota six cylinder. It’s the relative ease of getting a well established motor in this odd creation that drove him down the Toyota path, but when the Barra and the tuning culture which surrounds it on the other side of the Pacific start making their way stateside, the industry will follow.


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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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