This car crossed my Instagram feed the other day and I didn’t think much of it. Oh, cool, I thought, another 2JZ swap. Whatever. Oh, but I was wrong. No JZs here. This is a 1FZ, a giant 4.5-liter iron-block truck motor that few Americans think about.
I like a lot of odd Toyota engines, for reasons beyond my understanding. The Yamaha-designed 1G straight six of the mid 1980s that you could get supercharged from the factory is interesting. The Group B rally-spec 4T-GTE turbo four-cylinder from the start of the decade. There is no value in me knowing about these things, but I keep them close to my heart.
So I’m happy to add another oddball engine to my collection.
The 1FZ actually came up today in a comment on another story I did wondering why the first-generation Lexus IS only ever got a naturally-aspirated 2JZ engine, but never got it turbocharged like the Supra. When it needed to give the IS more power, what Toyota did instead was pull out the six and stick in a V8, first as a concept car and then as the IS-F.
Reader HammerheadFistPunch recalled that the same thing ended up happening to the Toyota Land Cruiser, which was also sold in America with luxury trim as the Lexus LX. Rather than develop the car’s big straight six truck engine, Toyota went with a V8 to smooth out American highways:
So this got me looking up the 1FZ.
I didn’t realize that this is, well, maybe not the most interesting engine of its day, certainly an interesting engine now. It ended up becoming Toyota’s last straight six, outliving not only the geriatric 1G but also the towering 2J. Both of those engines stopped production in 2006, while the 1FZ lasted to ‘07.
The most powerful 1FZ made a bristling 240 horsepower at a sky-high (lol) 4,600 RPM, along with 300 lb-ft of torque. That’s down on power but up on torque compared to GM’s under-appreciated 4.2-liter Vortec I6, though that debuted in the early 2000s while the 1FZ was a product of the 1990s. It debuted in 1993, though it got updated in 1998 with things like longer intake runners and better fuel injection. Redline appears to have been around, uh, five grand.
It was always a dual overhead cam engine, though you could get it with a carburetor (code 1FZ-F) with all of 190 HP. I wonder what that carb looked like.
Oh wait, I can look that up. Ah. That looks... complicated.
While the JZ family of engines went into sports cars and luxury sedans, the 1FZ was strictly a truck engine, just going into the Land Cruiser and the like. We got these in America in the 80-series generation, the only car in the world.
Sitting at my computer, I wondered what might have happened if the Land Cruiser had stuck with the straight six after 2007 instead of switching to V6s and V8s. But then I realized that if Toyota didn’t update it, certainly the aftermarket would pick up the slack. And certainly it has. Straight-line drag racing Land Cruisers (along with Nissan Patrols and whatnot) is popular down in the Gulf States, so there’s something of an aftermarket supporting big boost turbo versions of these things, given that they have bigger displacement than 2Js but are still iron-block.
And that directed me back to the little Toyobaru coupe at the top of this post. It’s a 1FZ de-stroked down to 3.9 liters for even more strength, boosted up to now 2,000 horsepower. It claims to be the fastest import car on drag radials in the world, running in the 6s.
Australia’s Nikki Hepburn put down a 6.98 in mid-2017 but has gotten things down to 6.55 competing here in America this year, which is right around what I’d call “hilariously fast.”
At the dyno it made a very tidy 2003.6 horsepower, looking like it was trying to vault itself into space.
Certainly you can make that much power with more readily-available parts with a 2JZ, but they don’t sound quite as angry, nor are they as unique. Again, I don’t know why exactly I like this thing, but I do and I’m not going to worry about it too much.