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:. Projects/Mods .:. Supra SMIC .:

Tools Get From:
·Drill and drill bits any hardware store
·Die Grinder or Dremel tool any hardware store
·Reinforced cutoff wheels & grinding stone for dremel/grinder any hardware store
·Steel or Al. Bar Stock ~$10 - Home Improvement - etc.
·Steel or Aluminum "L" metal ~$15 - Home Improvement - etc.
·MkIV (93-98) Supra SMIC ~$50-$125 - Varies
·2.5" Couplers ~$25/ea RRE
·2.5" Mandrel U-Bends ~$20/ea Jegs

UPDATE 2003/04/08 - [ After having run this intercooler for a little while, and now coming into the warmer spring months, I am as happy with it as ever. It continues to impress. That said, my original version of the piping is not. When I installed the Forrester intake manifold, I had the UIC rebuilt by TEC in Golden to fit more properly, so that is now fine.

However, the low-hanging position of the IC, and specifically, the lower intercooler pipe, has turned out to be quite problematic, even with careful driving. I've ruined two couplers, and popped the pipe off a few times by bottoming out on things. Looking at the problem closer, I believe I can fit a pipe up between the front cross-member and the overflow tank, to help keep things from being so low. If you're installing the IC, I'd suggest trying something along those lines. I'll be going back to TEC when funds allow to have the intercooler re-mounted as high as possible, and change the intercooler piping to help fix the scraping/bottoming problem. Good luck! ]

A lot of folks have asked me if I know a good place to get these intercoolers. Logically, look for a place where there are lots of Mk IV Supra Owners. Namely, the Wanted/ForSale forum on Supra is a good place to start. Also check The Parts Trader. Even though you may not use all of the mounting points (indeed, some folks grind some of them off completely), make sure that the core you're getting has all of them intact, to leave all of your mounting options available.

Installation is pretty tough, at least it was for a wanker like me. Folks on the coDSM list claim they've done it in around two hours. For me, start to finish, it took probably close to 10, but that included a lot of little detail stuff, head scratching, turbo-clocking, and my new IC piping. I apologize for not getting a lot of pictures taken, there was so much going on that I slacked a bit with the camera. I will try to add some later. Don't tell or SteveW will beat me. ;-)

That said, it is 100% worth it. I'll keep you waiting to see some impressions/results until the bottom of the page. The short version - it's a great upgrade!

Before I dive in any further, you should check out the Supra SMIC Install VFAQ on (what else) There are VFAQ's for installing this core on 1g's and 2g's, so pick your poison. There were a few things about his install I didn't care for, mainly the bracketry, and piping solution, so I decided I'd take a hack at it on my own.

Install Preparation
Two things to do before you get to installing the IC, or munging with the car.

First, take a bunch o' gasoline and dump it in the core. tape off both tanks so you can slosh it around for a while. Repeat this until the gas comes out clean.

Second is flipping around one of the tanks so that they're in a configuration that will work on a DSM. The Supra IC has plastic endtanks held on with a bazillion metal "fingers". On one end of the intercooler, pry each finger up a skosh, until the end tank is loose. There is a black rubber o-ring underneath that you will want to be careful with. You may even want to lightly oil it when putting the tank back on (opposite direction this time!) to ensure a good seal.

For getting the fingers back down, I had the best luck getting a nice tight clamp with a pair of medium sized vice-grips. It was tough to get the right angle and pressure with just pliers or Channel-Loks. Do what gets you a nice tight squeeze back down. Compare to the other side if you're curious how far to push them back down.

There have been mutterings on various lists about folks having problems with sealing after flipping the tank, and it simply shouldn't be a problem. I've tested mine to 25psi with no leakage whatsoever. If you are seeing leaks, then you should see if you can crunch down the fingers a bit more.

Install - Cutting

This IC just barely wants to fit in the wheel well of a 1g DSM. As such, remember that when you're cutting, you're trying to get every last bit you can to fit 'er in there.

The VFAQ is very good at outlining the changes, so I'll just enumerate them somewhat quickly.

First is the cutting to the front fascia. On the inside, where the seam would be visible from the outside, is small reinforcement 'fin' that sticks out around an inch or so. Cut this back flush with the rest of the bumper cover. I found it easy to simply cut it with a razorblade, rather than busting out the dremel. (fig. 1)

There are small bits of sheetmetal under the car that serve no apparent purpose other than to impinge on your IC install, and a good chunk of that has to be removed as well. It will be pretty obvious where to cut when you try to stuff the IC in there. Remember, you are trying to get it as high and far forward as possible.

Third, you will have to hog out the hole where the IC outlet comes up through the fender well quite a bit. Tin snips or a whole bevy of reinforced cutoff wheels for your dremel will serve you well here. The outlet of the Supra IC comes up rather more laterally (outboard) than the stocker, so you have to cut quite a bit towards the outside of your car. The problem is that you've got a big fat wiring harness in the way, held on by white plastic clips. Take a set of pliers on the end of the clips, squeeze them, and they will pull right out of their holes - that way you don't have to break them. The harness can now be moved safely out of the way. (fig. 2.)

The last bit of cutting I did, and I've seen this vary on a few installs, was to my passenger front tow-hook. I cut the bottom and back half of it off, to let me put the IC's outlet up as high as possible, and to get the back of the core as far forward from the tire as possible. I left the top and front there to provide a bit of protection. (fig. 3)

Those are the four biggest notes about the cutting to be done. Other than that, it's just a matter of stuffing the sucker in there repeatedly and seeing what you need to cut to get it where you want it. Rememeber to watch for tire clearance as much as possible. I kept going until the intercooler didn't extend past the plane of the bumper cover. The 2g VFAQ shows the folks grinding off the small flanges on the edge of the core to get another 1/4" of room - that might be worthwhile to help get the core mounted even a little bit more inboard.

Install - Brackets & Mounting
I'm not 100% happy with my brackets, but they seem to be doing the job. We're helped by the fact that the IC is held pretty tightly in place by the upper and lower IC pipes.

There are a lot of ways to try and do your brackets, so don't be limited by how I did things, by any means. Removing the stock IC leaves three nice threaded holes to work with, and there are a few others down there that I'm not really sure what purpose they used to serve.

I was partially limited by a core that was missing two bosses on the back of the top core, which would have been very useful for an additional top bracket. Ah well.

My setup has two brackets holding the IC in place.

Up top, I have the IC mounted in two spots with some aluminum "L". The front of the top of the intercooler has three mounting points very close together, and a fourth on the other side. I drilled a hole in one edge of my "L" to fit all four of these holes. The IC does not mount perfectly straight in the car, so I used a few washers under the bolts to get the correct angle, so nothing was being stressed. Those plastic bosses are rather weak, so I was hoping to maintain as much structural strength as possible. (figs. 4, 5)

My particular "L" was about 1/4" thick, which turned out to be very beneficial. On the opposite edge of the "L" I drilled and tapped two holes. Into those holes I threaded two 8mm bolts (spares from my parts bin o' Mitsu parts) that now act as studs. If you look in your engine pay, in front of where the upper intercooler pipe pops up from the fender well, you will see that there are two small holes in that sheet metal, partially hidden by the wiring harness. I poked the studs up through these holes (required a bit of enlarging), and threaded two nuts on top of them to keep everything in place. (fig. 6)

If you've taken care to get the IC as far up and forward as possible, it will not be perpendicular to the plane of the metal that these bolts/nuts are now into. To fix this, I used some nuts as spacers below the studs, so the metal wouldn't be pulled unduly.

At the lower part of the IC, there is a bolt hole where the stock IC used to bolt in. (in front of the Supra IC). I used that hole, along with a piece of 2x1/8" steel bar-stock to make another small "retainer" bracket. One end of the bracket is held near that hole by a 10mm bolt. The bracket extends backwards, is bent at a 90* angle just behind the intercooler, and extends for another 3" or so. It holds the IC forward from getting whacked by the wheel - i don't think mine ever gets less than 2" or so from the wheel, even at ride-height. (fig. 7)

Install - Piping
As far as piping, since the Supra's outlets are 2.5", and the stock IC piping is about 2", at best. In a perfect world, we'd all have perfect 2.5" bends running to a flare off of the turbo. Ah well :-)

I imagine most of you will be retaining the stock turbo configuration (outlet pointing up and forward). For this, you'll be kinda on your own, as I clocked my turbo to make the piping easier. However, at some point, you will need a few 90* bends, as indicated in the VFAQ. I wanted things to 2.5" for as long as possible. As the turbo outlet is somewhat small, you'll need an expansion joint at some point along the way.

Your best bet is to go to Autozone or similar, get a small length of ~2" pipe there that will fit inside your stock lower IC hose. Take it to some exhaust shop, and have them expand half of it from whatever size you've bought to fit a 2.5" coupler. Then you will have a pipe that fits inside your stock piping, and will allow a 2.5" coupler on to it. Very clean.

For couplers, RRE is always a good choice, and DSMMotorsport stocks them as well. I've found standard heavy-duty worm-drive clamps to work just fine - no need for all the fancy t-bolt stuff.

To build my lower IC pipe, I got a 2.5" 180* U-bend 3.5" radius from Jegs. This worked out well for the clocked 16g, which I had done in anticipation for a larger 20g style (outlet pointing down) turbo. I cut the U-bend in half a the bottom of the U, and then played with piping until everything was where I wanted. I then put a ton of packing tape on the mandrel bends, marked their position, and took it to an exhaust shop to have welded up. The result is a 2-piece lower intercooler pipe. There's still a bit of 'give' to the system, but it gets to 2.5" quickly. By some lucky coincidence, I ended up not having to change/cut my pipes at all for the L1R.


So, what do I think? Here it is installed - ends up looking quite nice! (fig. 8)

The short version is that this core rocks! Previous to this, I had had an RRE 1g FMIC kit on my car. Previous to that was the stock sidemount. I have an intake temp sensor in my throttle body elbow, so I could compare the various results. With the Supra core, even compared to the FMIC, I see intake temps 20-30* colder than with the RRE kit. I have yet to see an intake temp above 130*, whereas I saw above 150* regularly at high boost with the RRE kit, and above 200* at times with the stock IC.

Boost response is outstanding - much better than the long piping of the RRE kit allows. I imagine it does sacrifice a bit to the stock sidemount, given the near fourfold increase in volume the core has over stock.

My primary motivation for this core was to alleviate overheating problems (big achilles heel of these cars) while running at Second Creek, which this has done completely. However, instead of a compromise, it's turned out to be a great upgrade.

Downsides? the only thing I have noticed is that since the piping must run under the front crossmember, it ends up being quite low. My car is on the low side (although not in the weeds), since it has coilovers for racing, and I have to be quite careful or I will scrape my piping. Fortunately, the compliance I've built into the system allows it to move, rather than be damaged. As well, the core is large enough that, at least for my install, it precluded me from putting the fender cover back on. When driving with my race stickies, enough crap gets thrown up to bend up the rear facing fins a decent amount.

For roughly $150, you can't beat it, and you can spend hundreds of dollars more and not do as well. Great upgrade, IMO.

fig. 1

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fig. 5

fig. 6

fig. 7

fig. 8

Final Pricelist

Item Cost From
Supra SMIC $110 shipped
Metal Barstock $25 Home Depot
2 2.5" silicone couplers & clamps $55 RRE
TOTAL: $190