The ‘Gutz’ to be different

Gregory Gutzmore, of famed South Florida tuning shop Machines Gone Wild, turned his daily driver, a 1986 Toyota Corolla SR5, into a V6 nitrous powered beast by swapping to the 3.5-litre 2GR-FSE out of a 2014 Lexus IS 350.

When you run a performance shop called Machines Gone Wild (MGW) it goes without saying that your personal car can’t be mild, and that’s the case with MGW co-principal Gregory Gutzmore and his daily driver, a 1986 Toyota Corolla SR5.

Having tuned cars up to four-digit-wheel-horsepower numbers in his South Florida shop with business partners Don Pottinger and Matthew Ho Lung, Gutzmore started things on the softer edge after buying his Corolla SR5 in 2015.

“It was a birthday present to myself,” he said. He purchased the Toyota in excellent condition as he’s always loved that make and model of Toyota. “The AE86 is one of my favourite Toyota chassis. This car had one previous owner and was lady driven,” he said.

This engine swap has only been done by one other person in the world, and Gutzmore’s car makes thirty wheel horsepower more than that installation.

Of course pumping out some of the fastest street and race cars in South Florida through MGW there was only one eventuality. “Stock wasn’t fun enough,” he said.

Having a whole host of tuning solutions at his disposal, Gutzmore went a lot wilder than expected, taking a route only one other person in the world had done with the Corolla. The weedy four-cylinder found itself in the trash heap, replaced by something more than double its displacement and having two extra cylinders. In a world where everyone is putting the famed General Motors LS series engines in everything under the sun, at least Gutzmore kept it in the family so to speak. Now sitting under the bonnet of the Corolla is a more modern and powerful motor from Toyota’s upscale brand Lexus. He said, “It’s got a 2GR-FSE from a 2014 Lexus IS 350.”

That means in the engine bay resides a 3.5-litre V6 rated at 306bhp and 276lb-ft of torque, adequate in a family luxury sedan, absolutely ballistic in a sub-compact commuter car that weighs only 2,200lbs. Remarkably he didn’t have to cut his precious ride up in any manner to get the new motor to fit. Despite the size it was still small and light enough to fit. A set of custom engine mounts located it perfectly. From there, it was just another set of custom items, the intake and exhaust manifolds, and oil pan to finish the job.

Keeping things in line with the understated exterior, Gutzmore kept the interior simple with just a Bride racing seat and Sparco steering wheel.

“It took a lot of fun-filled weeks,” Gutzmore joked. “It has only been done by one other person in the world and their engine is slightly different. Mine makes 30 wheel horsepower more.” That’s because along with the engine swap, Gutzmore added a 100 horsepower shot of nitrous oxide. That last part put the stock engine computer to bed. Now running the fuel and ignition show is an AEM Infinity 506.

“I chose the Lexus engine because it didn’t want the lag and lack of throttle response from a turbocharger.” Since the new total output is way beyond what the stock drivetrain could ever handle, he turned to the unlikeliest of places, Ford, to get the power to the ground without turning the transmission and rear differential into useless containers of metal bits every time he hit the throttle. A Mustang T-5 five-speed gearbox is connected to a Ford 8.8 rear-end underneath the backend of the Toyota. Racers will recognize these parts as popular in the drag racing community. The T-5 is lightweight while the differential is basically bulletproof. It may still be naturally aspirated, but big power is big power. Up front AP Racing brakes make sure the Corolla can stop. Suspension pieces from Techno Toy Tuning and high performance tyres on 8-inch wide 15-inch diameter XXR wheels help the car stick to the road, straight or curvy.

The engine wasn’t the only thing to go. The significant increase in power meant the driveline had to be upgraded too, so the Toyota now has a Ford 5-speed transmission and rear end.

“It drives like a dream. It just needs power steering, but I’m not sure if I’m going to add that as it’s such a blast to drive. It has so much control I don’t know if I want to mess with it.” Of course he’s going to mess with it, a little bit. “I’m going to add an AP Racing rear brake kit when I can, and get some new gear ratios.”