2jz-gte-engine mods

Best Toyota 2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrades

Austin Parsons

Meet Austin

Austin holds a technical writing degree and has 5 years of experience working as a Technical Product Specialist at BMW. He is an avid car enthusiast who is constantly watching F1, consuming automotive content, racing on his simulator, and working on his Toyota’s and BMW’s. Austin’s technical writing skills, extensive automotive knowledge, and hands-on experience make him an excellent resource for our readers.

There are very few engines in the world that have the same widespread acclaim as the Toyota 2JZ-GTE engine. Its placement in the Mk4 Supra unquestionably upped the 2JZ’s notoriety in the tuner scene. However, it can be argued that the Supra’s legendary status can be largely attributed to the 2JZ itself. The 3.0L turbocharged inline-6 is an icon for a few key reasons. Most importantly, it is one of the most overbuilt and overengineered production engines ever made, giving it immense power potential. With the right combination of 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades, it is possible to meet pretty much any power goal that you want.

Since the 2JZ-GTE has perhaps one of the largest aftermarket communities of any engine, it can be hard to distinguish exactly what you need to meet a certain power threshold. For that reason, we’ll break down the most popular 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades to meet specific power goals.


Toyota 2JZ-GTE Power Potential

Before we jump into the specifics, let’s first talk about what the 2JZ-GTE can actually handle right out of the gate. The bottom line is that the Toyota 2JZ-GTE is one of the most tolerant engines out there in terms of supporting massive power. The secret lies in the 2JZ-GTE’s engineering, or more accurately, overengineering. Pretty much every component was built to withstand far more strenuous forces than what the factory engine encounters, giving it a massive amount of headroom for additional power.

A lot of that boils down to the actual architecture of the engine itself. The 2JZ-GTE was designed as a closed-deck, square geometry engine with a relatively low 8.5:1 compression ratio, which are all hallmarks of a sturdy engine. 

The 2JZ-GTE’s bottom end is one of the strongest to ever be placed in a production vehicle. The cast iron block is known to support 1000+ horsepower without breaking a sweat. The rotating assembly is also extremely strong. The 2JZ-GTE features a forged steel crankshaft and forged rods that can also safely withstand 700+ horsepower. While the 2J’s pistons are cast, they are also incredibly resilient and can also safely withstand around 700 horsepower. 

The 2JZ-GTE’s factory connecting rods are typically the first parts to fail on high horsepower builds, followed by the piston wrist pins. While there are plenty of guys running 800+ horsepower Supras with factory internals, it is generally a good idea to build the engine if you plan on running those kinds of numbers for an extended period.

If you’re interested in learning more about the 2JZ-GTE’s specs, construction, and common problems, take a look at our complete Toyota 2JZ-GTE Engine Guide.

Toyota 2JZ-GE vs Supra 2JZ-GTE

While on the surface, the 2JZ-GE and 2JZ-GTE appear similar, there are some key differences that make the GTE the far better engine to modify. Both engines are 3.0L inline 6 engines with closed deck iron blocks and aluminum cylinder heads. Obviously, the biggest difference between the 2JZ-GTE and the 2JZ-GE is the GTE’s use of sequential twin turbos. The GTE’s use of forced induction also necessitated multiple other changes in the engine’s design.

One of the most important differences between the engines, as far as modifiability is concerned, is the 2JZ-GE’s higher 10.0:1 compression ratio. The 2JZ-GE uses higher compression pistons to give it more power in naturally aspirated form. As a result, the GE can’t withstand as strenuous internal forces as the GTE with lower compression. Generally speaking, the 350whp benchmark is about the peak horsepower that you can expect from stock internals. While building a 2JZ-GE might be able to push around 450-500 horsepower, it doesn’t come anywhere near the 2JZ-GTE’s power potential.

If you want to learn more about the differences and similarities between the Toyota 2JZ-GE and 2JZ-GTE engines, take a look at our Toyota 2JZ-GE vs 2JZ-GTE Engine Guide.

Other Upgrade Considerations

Before you go rushing into a 900+ horsepower 2JZ-GTE build, there are some considerations to take into account first. 

One of the most critical things to consider is the state of your 2JZ. With most of these engines being released over 30 years ago at this point, there’s little chance that any are still operating at showroom performance. While the 2JZ-GTE has a fantastic reputation for reliability, it isn’t immune to poor maintenance and upkeep, just like every other engine. For that reason, it would be a good idea to perform a compression and leakdown test on the stock engine to ensure that there aren’t any glaring issues before jumping into an expensive build. 

It is also important to discuss the difference between VVT-i-equipped 2JZ-GTEs vs non-VVT-i engines and how that can impact modifiability in the future. If you aren’t familiar with Toyota VVT-i, it is essentially their version of variable valve timing. VVT-i was introduced on the 2JZ-GTE in 1997, giving VVT-i-equipped 2JZs a bit more low-end power. However, VVT-i models also have a specialized cylinder head and cam setup to accommodate variable valve timing. As a result, VVT-i models are a bit trickier to tune. There is slightly less availability for some VVT-i parts, including cams. Just something to think about if you are still looking to buy a 2JZ-GTE.

2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrades

When it comes to aftermarket support, the 2JZ-GTE is perhaps one of the most widely supported engines under the sun. From air intakes to upgraded turbos, there is truly an endless library to choose from when it comes to 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades. 

Of course, the right modifications for you depend entirely on your budget and power goals. Even with some basic bolt-on modifications, it is possible to see some impressive power gains. Due to the fact that the best 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades are so dependent on power goals, the rest of this article will be separated into the best mods for a specific benchmark.

350-400whp 2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrades

Accomplishing 350-400whp on a 2JZ-GTE Supra is not only attainable but extremely easy. Ultimately, as long as the starting engine is up to snuff and doesn’t have any underlying issues, you won’t have to touch any of the factory components to reach this power threshold. Reaching 350-400whp on a 2JZ-GTE is simply a matter of a few bolt-on modifications and some changes to factory boost levels. 

  • Downpipe
  • Cat-back exhaust
  • Boost controller
  • Boost cut controller

In the 2JZ community, this combination of parts is known as a BPU, or basic performance upgrade, setup. With four simple components, it is possible to see gains of nearly 75 horsepower. That puts the 2JZ-GTE’s output at or slightly over 400whp.

1) Downpipe

An upgraded 2JZ-GTE downpipe is perhaps the most important performance part in a BPU build. It provides the biggest exhaust flow improvements and yields the biggest results. Most upgraded 2JZ-GTE downpipes get rid of the first catalytic converter in the factory manifold. They are also much larger in diameter, which allows exhaust gasses to flow more freely into the rest of the exhaust system. An upgraded 2JZ-GTE downpipe also reduces backpressure behind the turbos, which allows them to spool faster and perform more efficiently. In some cases, an upgraded Supra downpipe can yield as much as 35-40 horsepower.

Generally speaking, most 2JZ-GTE downpipes are similar in construction and all serve the same purpose. For that reason, there isn’t a go-to 2JZ-GTE downpipe that the majority of Supra owners choose to run. It usually boils down to what is cheapest and has the best fitment. Powerhouse Racing is a popular manufacturer that supplies a quality MK IV Supra downpipe that is built for use with the stock twin turbos.  

It is also important to mention that JDM and USDM 2JZ-GTEs require different downpipes. JDM 2JZs experience overboosting issues when a catless downpipe is installed, so they need a restrictor ring that limits potential damage from occurring due to overboosting.

2) Cat Back Exhaust

Continuing with the same theme as an upgraded downpipe, optimizing the exhaust system is the best way to get the most out of the 2JZ-GTE without moving on to more in-depth modifications. An upgraded cat-back is a crucial mod for the MK IV Supra. In general, the idea is the same here, get the exhaust gasses from the engine as efficiently as possible. In most cases, upgraded Supra cat-back exhausts typically feature either 3.5” or 4” piping, which pairs well with a downpipe of the same diameter for maximum flow.

Supra 2JZ Exhaust Upgrades
Supra HKS TI Exhaust

Unlike the downpipes which didn’t have a clear manufacturer of choice in the Supra community, it is pretty much universally agreed that HKS builds the best cat-back exhausts for the MKIV Supra. The 4” HKS TI in particular is the most popular exhaust for the 2JZ-GTE by a long shot. The piping is made from 304 stainless, while the muffler is made from titanium for both sound and strength. The HKS TI has also shown time and time again that it provides the best performance benefits of any Supra exhaust on the market.

3) Boost Controller

A 2JZ-GTE boost controller plays the most important role in extracting the most performance out of a BPU Supra. In essence, a Supra boost controller increases the boost produced by the stock sequential twin-turbo system. There are multiple different types of 2JZ boost controllers available, but the most common types are manual boost controllers and electronic boost controllers.

Manual boost controllers are attached via vacuum lines to the wastegate actuator on turbo #1, which allows for manual control of the boost supplied to the engine through an internal manual valve. While it does work to increase power and torque output, manual boost controllers also have drawbacks. Since manual controllers are only routed to the first turbo, target boost can’t be hit until the second turbo comes online at around 3,800 rpm. Additionally, boost cant be changed on the fly, as the controller is located in the engine bay.

The other, far more popular option, is to install an electronic 2JZ boost controller. An electronic boost controller give you more granular control of boost levels and can even be programmed to meet specific boost targets at a particular throttle Position, RPM, vehicle speed, and other parameters. Electronic boost controllers also give you on-the-fly control of boost targets, as they are mounted in the cabin.

4) Boost Cut Controller

The final puzzle piece in a 2JZ-GTE BPU build is a boost cut controller. The factory 2JZ-GTE ECU is a very temperamental one. We’ll get into details about that in a later section, but it really hates to be messed with. If you attempt to raise boost targets with a boost controller, the factory ECU will cut fuel to the engine, preventing higher than stock boost from being reached.

The workaround for that is installing a boost cut controller. In essence, a 2JZ-GTE boost cut controller is a device that prevents a TPS (turbo pressure sensor) signal from reaching the ECU. At that point, the ECU doesn’t recognize that the turbo is producing excess boost and doesn’t cut fuel as a result. While a boost cut controller isn’t the most exciting 2JZ-GTE mod, it is necessary if you’re building a BPU Supra.

400-600whp 2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrades

While building a 350-400whp Supra is relatively inexpensive with only a few necessary parts, it is a bit more difficult and expensive to reach the 400-600whp threshold. While the 2JZ-GTE’s block and factory internals would have no issue with handling 400-600 horsepower, that is about the limit in terms of the factory fuel system and the stock twin-turbo arrangement. 

Generally speaking, the USDM 2JZ-GTE’s factory twin-turbos max out at around 400 horsepower. At that point, you’ll have to start thinking about what you want from your upgraded turbo setup. While there are some hybrid-twin setups that will work well at the 400-600 horsepower level, most people swap to a single turbo setup.

As a result of upgrading your 2JZ-GTE turbo setup, you’ll have to begin thinking about how to best optimize your 2JZ’s fuel system to be able to keep up. That mainly consists of upgrading the fuel pump/fuel pumps, injectors, fuel rail, and other related components. Beyond that, you’ll also need an intercooler that can effectively cool the additional charge air. A standalone ECU is also necessary, as a piggyback ECU doesn’t have the functionality to be able to manage everything on its own.

Here are the basics of what you need when pushing a 2JZ-GTE Supra into 400-600whp power levels:

  • Upgraded turbos/turbo
  • Upgraded FMIC
  • Upgraded Fuel Pump and Injectors
  • Standalone ECU

Upgraded 2JZ-GTE Turbos/Turbo

The topic of picking the right upgraded turbos for your 2JZ-GTE is a very long and nuanced one. There is no shortage of upgraded turbo options for the 2JZ-GTE Supra and the variety of choices is truly staggering. There are upgraded twins, hybrid turbos, and single turbos available for the 2JZ that will easily reach this power goal. The most important thing that you need to consider is what you want your turbo characteristics to be. 

Ultimately, the decision hinges on if you prefer less turbo lag or want to build in room for more power in the future. The smaller the turbo you choose, the less lag it will have. Conversely, large turbos will have more lag but greater power potential. 

2JZ-GTE hybrid twin turbos are one potential route. SupraStore sells a hybrid twin set for the 2JZ-GTE which modifies the factory turbo housings to support GT28 internals. They are a direct replacement for the factory turbos meaning that you can keep your factory ECU. They also retain the factory sequential turbo characteristics of the factory 2JZ, although they can be run in parallel as well. The downside is that they max out at around 650whp, meaning that there isn’t much room for expansion after that.

2JZ-GTE single turbo setups are far more common in this power range and allow for further expansion if you want more power in the future. Precision turbos are unquestionably the most popular in the Supra community. The Precision 6266 is a tested turbo in the 400whp-600whp range that provides rapid spool with very little lag. The slightly larger Precision 6466 is another very popular option that has a bit more lag but also quite a bit more headroom for more power in the future. 

Upgraded Intercooler

While an upgraded 2JZ-GTE intercooler technically could be a part of the recommended modifications for the earlier 350-400whp tier, an upgraded intercooler is one of the most critical 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades at this horsepower range. With an upgraded turbo setup, you’ll need an intercooler that provides better cooling efficiency anyways. 

The purpose of an intercooler is to cool down the charged air coming from the turbo before entering the engine. Cool air is denser than warm air and provides better combustion properties resulting in more power and better performance. While the factory 2JZ intercooler is sufficient for the stock twins, it isn’t able to keep up with the performance of an upgraded twin or single turbo setup. 

Aftermarket intercoolers provide a larger surface area for air to enter and a larger overall volume. That leads to better cooling properties. There are multiple benefits of running an upgraded Supra front mount intercooler. For one, it prevents the likelihood of heatsoak if you intend on driving your vehicle hard for an extended period. Additionally, due to the lower inlet air and charge air temps, an upgraded Supra FMIC allows for higher boost targets without risking engine damage.

Size is a very big factor in choosing the right Supra intercooler, with the main consideration being thickness. Intercooler thickness plays the largest role in airflow. As a result, it is important to pick the right thickness for your power goals. While a larger intercooler flows a greater volume of air, too large of an intercooler can have a negative impact on turbo responsiveness and spool time.

Fuel Pump and Injectors

The factory Supra 2JZ-GTE fuel system is pretty capable around the lower limits of this power range. The stock 550cc injectors and factory fuel pump are capable up until around the 550 horsepower mark. However, it isn’t the best idea to push the stock fuel system to its absolute limit for an extended period. If you do intend on making around 500-600 horsepower or beyond, an upgraded fuel system is a good idea.

That is especially true if you are upgrading your turbo setup and leaving room for additional horsepower in the future. Injectors are entirely dependent on the power goals that you are shooting for. While it isn’t a consistent metric across all engines, it happens to work out that every 1cc injector increment equates to 1 rear wheel horsepower of support. For example, 800cc injectors are generally rated to support around 800 horsepower. It is typically a good idea to go for injectors that can support slightly more horsepower than your goal.

You’ll also have to start thinking about your fuel pump setup as well. A Dual Walbro fuel pump setup is one of the most common arrangements for 2JZ-GTEs in the 500-600 horsepower range. With that setup, one pump uses the factory fuel feed line and factory filter, then a -6 line from there to the fuel rail. The other pump feeds right to a -6 line and an aftermarket filter, then onto the rail. To make that setup work, you’ll also need a dual-feed fuel rail.

Standalone ECU

One of the primary limitations of making a lot of horsepower on the 2JZ-GTE Supra is the factory ECU. The stock Supra computer doesn’t allow for any engine parameter tuning. That severely limits what can be accomplished with aftermarket modifications. While piggyback ECUs work well to a certain point, they become more hassle than they’re worth with the advanced modifications that it takes to reach the 400-600 horsepower mark. An upgraded fuel system and upgraded turbos are a bit too much to manage with a piggyback ECU alone. 

As a result, this is about the time that a 2JZ-GTE build needs a more advanced standalone ECU. A standalone ECU replaces the factory computer entirely, allowing for nearly unlimited control of engine parameters. That is absolutely necessary to get the best results from advanced mods like fueling upgrades and turbo upgrades. 

There are a few popular 2JZ-GTE standalone ECUs on the market that, for the most part, do the same job. The AEM Infinity 6 is perhaps the most common standalone ECU for the 2JZ Supra. It provides all of the functionality to dyno-tune your 2JZ-GTE and optimize engine parameters according to your specific modifications and goals. Regardless, a standalone ECU is one of the most critical 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades at this power level.

600-800whp 2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrades

From this point onward, it is important to keep your budget in mind. This is where modifying a 2JZ-GTE can get insanely expensive. Ultimately, the difficulty that it takes to reach the 600-800whp figure from a 2JZ-GTE depends on how well you set yourself up when shooting for 400-600whp. For example, if you opted for hybrid twin turbos or a smaller single turbo to breach the 400 horsepower mark, you’ll need a larger single turbo at this point.

The same goes for the fueling modifications, albeit, fueling mods get a bit more extensive around this ballpark. If you opted for 1,000cc or 1,200cc injectors earlier on, you should be fine at around 600-800 horsepower. However, if you plan on continuing to run pump gas you’ll have to implement a methanol injection system. Even running a meth setup with pump gas at 800whp is extremely risky. Most 2JZ-GTE owners recommend only running E85 or race gas at those power levels. 

While the 2JZ-GTE’s factory internals are still relatively capable around the 600-750whp mark, longevity isn’t guaranteed. That is around the horsepower level that factory rods start to bend and piston wrist pins begin to break. For that reason, it might be worth thinking about building the bottom end. Most Supra owners pushing closer to 800whp also decide to port and polish the head for additional flow. Here’s what is generally required for a 600-800whp 2JZ-GTE Supra build:

  • All of the modifications listed above
  • E85/Meth Injection
  • Even larger single turbo
  • 1,000-1,400cc injectors
  • Head work

Supra Meth Injection/E85

The 600-800 horsepower threshold is where more extensive fueling modifications enter the conversation. If you plan on running pump gas around this power level, you’ll have to introduce some kind of fuel addictive to keep engine temperatures down and reduce the risk of detonation. That is where water/methanol injection can help. 

The high octane content and lower combustion temperatures of methanol allow for higher boost targets and advanced timing than could be achieved with pump gas alone. Methanol injection typically is introduced to the intake system downstream of the turbo and after the intercooler where it evaporates before reaching the combustion chamber. The methanol fuel mix has a higher effective octane and burns cooler, preventing engine damage.

Methanol injection is a good option for 2JZs running in the 600-700whp range. However, its benefits generally aren’t enough to help beyond that horsepower range. At around 750-800whp, E85 or race gas is typically recommended for engine safety. Like methanol, E85 burns at a lower temperature than pump gas which prevents detonation. It also allows for higher boost targets and advanced timing, it is just slightly more predictable and stable than a meth injection setup. It is important to note that you’ll need a Flex Fuel sensor to be able to run an E85 blend.

Head Work

At around the 600-800 horsepower mark, the rest of the 2JZ-GTE’s engine setup can start to be throttled by fundamental components of the engine itself. For one, the factory 2JZ cylinder head isn’t optimized for that kind of power. By design, the Supra’s intake and exhaust valves are relatively small, hampering flow. That can have a negative impact on the performance of your turbocharger at high boost loads. 

The common solution is having your 2JZ-GTE cylinder head ported and polished by a reputable company. There are a ton of companies that provide porting and polishing services for 2JZ-GTE cylinder heads. The most popular options are Titan Motorsports and Power Dynamix. The porting and polishing process consists of removing airflow restrictions within the intake and exhaust ports and smoothing them for better airflow. Most 2JZ ported and polished heads are also built with slightly oversized +1mm valves, improving airflow even further. 

There are plenty of high-horsepower 2JZ-GTEs running factory heads. However, porting and polishing a 2JZ cylinder head allows for more peak power at the same boost pressure while also significantly reducing turbo lag. 

Performance Cams

Camshaft upgrades are another one of the most common 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades around the 600-800whp mark. Like with turbo upgrades, there are a lot of options and considerations when choosing upgraded 2JZ cams. With that being said, the best camshafts for your 2JZ build are the ones that pair best with your turbo. It is important to remember that upgrading to performance 2JZ cams has an impact on how power is delivered.

GSC S1 and S2 performance camshafts are the most popular option for high-horsepower 2JZ-GTE builds. The S1 cams are a step down from the S2 cams, with the S1s fit for use with 57mm-67mm turbos. The S2 cams are meant for use with 67mm+ turbochargers and can support between 800-1,300 horsepower. 

Other 600-800whp 2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrades

At this point, we have already discussed upgraded turbos and upgraded fuel systems. While some 400-600 horsepower turbo setups can be pushed into the 600-800whp range, including the Precision 6466, other smaller single turbos will need to be upgraded at this point. Most 71-74mm turbos will get the job done pretty easily with some room to spare.

If you are planning on running E85 on your 600-800 horsepower 2JZ build, you’ll also have to get beefier injectors. Since E85 produces less energy when it burns, more of it needs to enter the combustion chamber. As a result, you’ll need around 30% larger injectors to support E85 than you would on regular pump gas. For example, where 800cc injectors would normally be appropriate, you will need 1,000cc injectors for E85.

800+whp 2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrades

If you are venturing past the 800whp mark, you are in for a truly extensive project. While the 2JZ-GTE is known for its power potential, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t expensive and difficult to get the most out of it. At this point, we have pretty much covered everything that you need to surpass the 800whp mark on a 2JZ-GTE. However, everything that we have covered essentially needs to be turned up to the max. 

800 Horsepower Garage Revolver Supra photo credit to MotorTrend

At this power level, it is crucial that the setup itself is of the highest quality and that everything from the turbo installation to the tune is handled by a professional that knows the ins and outs of high horsepower 2JZ-GTE builds. Obviously, the turbo and fuel system setups need to be optimized for the power level that you are gunning for. That means an appropriately sized turbo and appropriately sized injectors. 

At 800whp and beyond, it is necessary to build the bottom end if you are hoping for any longevity. The most common internal upgrades include forged pistons, rods, and head studs. It is also important to mention that most people upgrade to higher compression pistons and head gasket at this power level. While that seems counterintuitive to running extreme levels of boost, a built 2JZ-GTE can easily withstand running a 10:1 compression ratio with a big turbo. 

2JZ-GTE Engine Upgrade Summary

The Toyota 2JZ-GTE is unquestionably one of the most celebrated engines to ever grace the engine bay of a car. The 3.0L twin-turbo inline-6 was built for power, with one of the strongest factory bottom ends in a production car. Whether you are aiming for moderate bolt-on power gains or to create a sub-7 second quarter mile demon, the 2JZ-GTE is up to the task.

Of course, the right 2JZ-GTE engine upgrades for both of those goals are quite different. With basic performance upgrades including an upgraded downpipe, cat-back exhaust, boost/boost cut controller, it is possible to break into the 400whp range on a budget. Stepping up from that point can get costly, as you’ll have to start considering turbo and fueling system upgrades. The jump from the 400-600whp to 600-800whp threshold is perhaps the most intensive and difficult, as an upgraded turbo and serious fueling mods are a requirement. Above 800whp is where your entire setup needs to be truly optimized. 

Ultimately, there are very few better engines to modify than the 2JZ-GTE. Despite being a 20+ year old engine, it is still one of the most popular engines for high horsepower builds across the world.

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