The Build Blog: Introducing Turbosmart’s Toyota 86


Occasionally, a car comes along that redefines a market segment. The Mazda Miata did it for roadsters in the late ’80s, the Subaru WRX did it for performance sedans in the ’90s, and the MK5 VW Golf GTI did it for hot hatchbacks in the 2000s. In the 2010s, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins brought back a type of car that many of us thought was consigned to the automotive history books – the cheap, light, rear-wheel-drive two-door coupe.

These cars have exploded in popularity, thanks to their low price, enjoyable handling, and sporty styling. Like any enthusiast-friendly platform, the Toyobaru – although only in its infancy compared to legendary platforms like S-chassis Nissans – has become a popular base for modification.

So when the guys at our Australian HQ decided we needed a new street car on which to develop and test our products, we arrived at this little four cylinder coupe. The car we know in the ‘States as a Scion FR-S is sold Down Under as a Toyota 86, which is what we have here.

We know what you’re thinking. What’s Turbosmart doing with a naturally-aspirated car? What are we testing, naturally-aspirated BOVs for that authentic turbo noise on non-turbo cars?

Well, no. This 86 isn’t going to stay naturally aspirated for long. We will be installing a turbo kit, along with the full suite of Turbosmart gear to back it up.

The work is already well underway. We picked up this bone stock white 2014 model 86 GTS, and instantly began messing with its brain. We’ve installed an aftermarket ECU to keep an eye on everything. Next, we bolted in a coilover kit from Australian manufacturer MCA Suspension.

While our 86 will primarily be a street car, these coilovers will let the car perform well on the track when we want it to, but be a compliant daily driver every other day.

To finish off, a set of Enkei RPF1s on sticky Michelins replacing the economy-focused OEM tyres help get the car looking and handling as it always should have.

The small drop in ride height and wider wheels make the car look much more muscular in appearance.

We hope to keep you updated throughout this build, so stay tuned for the latest on the Turbosmart 86.

Speed Demon: The world’s fastest piston engine, wheel driven car


Four hundred miles per hour is typically jet engine territory. After all, a Boeing 737 cruises at 485 mph. It seems ludicrous that any ground vehicle with a piston engine sending power to the wheels could exceed the 400 mph barrier. Only a handful of vehicles have achieved this feat. With a record smashing average speed over one mile of 439.024 mph (and a top speed of 462 mph) the Speed Demon is the fastest piston engine wheel-driven car of them all – and it uses Turbosmart blow-off valves in an unbelievable way.

Last year, a shock crash at nearly 400 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats destroyed the car, but miraculously left driver George Poteet without any serious injuries. A testament to the strength of the Speed Demon’s engineering, Poteet walked away from that crash – literally walked – with barely a scratch.

The car, however, was predictably a wreck. The record-breaking car is now undergoing a rebuild to cement its place in the record books for years to come. Poteet and co-creator Ron Main have gone back to the drawing board with a new engine and refined design, with the aim to go even faster.

Five hundred miles per hour is the new target. That’s a speed that would beat any wheel driven land speed record, including turbine-engined efforts.

Powering the Speed Demon to that new target is a 368ci (6.0-liter) twin-turbocharged Small Block Chevy V8. The Small Block was chosen for its compact size, as it needs to fit within the Demon’s narrow chassis, which was originally designed to house a four-cylinder engine. Three injectors per cylinder make sure the engine’s hefty thirst is quenched, while a Liberty air powered seven-speed transmission gets the SBC’s two-thousand-plus horsepower grunt to the wheels.

Since the engine only runs for a few minutes at a time, the Speed Demon crew do not run a conventional cooling system with a radiator. Instead, there is a single aluminum tank filled with 14 gallons of chilled water, which provides all the engine’s cooling needs. However, the team had experienced problems with the set up. If the engine blows a head gasket (and in this kind of racing, it often does), the water tank was instantly pressurized to the point where it exploded.

Enter Turbosmart USA’s General Manager Marty Staggs, who came up with a novel use of two Big Bubba blow-off valves to solve this very serious problem. With the Bubbas mounted on the water tank, the valves will open when the pressure builds too high in the water tank and release it to where it is needed, such as at the cylinder heads. A pressure transducer on the tank talks to the car’s ECU, and when it senses 45psi or more, solenoids switch to remove the manifold pressure reference, and the blow-off valves open, releasing the excess pressure.

The Speed Demon is a testament to the never-give-up spirits of its creators, and the engineering brilliance of the team behind it. To get any land vehicle to this kind of speed takes a lot of skill. Turbosmart is immensely proud to be involved in providing technical assistance for such an exciting vehicle.