Ryan Shaughnessy is a huge fan of both the Toyota RAV4 as well as the Toyota Caldina GT-T—a mad station wagon made for the Japanese market only. So he swapped a 256-horsepower Caldina GT-T 3S-GTE engine into his 1998 RAV4. The best of both worlds makes for some great snow-conquering hoonage.
Shaughnessy describes the ST215-generation 3S-GTE he swapped into his RAV4 as a “baby 2JZ-GTE”—sharing a lot in common with the legendary Supra engine, only it’s an inline-four instead of an inline-six. While Toyota’s claim of 256 hp from the 3S-GTE may not sound like an outrageous number, first-generation RAV4s only had a listed curb weight of between 2,524 and 2,789 lbs. This RAV4 weighs less than a Porsche 944 Turbo, but packs more power. (Worth reiterating: in a RAV4.)
As you can see, that much extra power in a nice tall little baby-truck makes it an all-weather delight. It’s manual, it’s all-wheel-drive, and it’s turbocharged. What more could you want?
Shaughnessy also documented much of his build on YouTube. Here he is grabbing the intercooler and ECU from the Caldina GT-T and doing a lot of prep work for the swap:
As you can see, he not only has to feed the wiring through the firewall and install the necessary connectors to make it a clean swap, but he also has to take some time to pet the cat. (Very important!)
Here’s the video of him pulling the engine out of the RAV4 to make room:
Skipping ahead, here’s the moment of truth: the RAV4's first start after the engine swap:
You can follow the RAV4's adventures and wrench vids on Ryan’s channel here.
Why drive something people expect to go fast when you can build a quirky little sleeper?