It was way back in August 2016 that we first strapped down Jeff Minnion’s JZX110 to our Dyno for some Diagnostic Testing. Jeff came to us with the suspicion that his freshly imported 2001 Toyota MK2 JZX110 was having some knock issues. Sure enough whenever we added some load to our Dyno-Mite Chassis Dyno, that ever distinctive crackle came booming down through our Audio Monitoring system. We were never comfortable enough to even complete a power run that day – we had some work to do.

Fast forward to May 2017 and Jeff was back ready to tackle the Knock, and try and get a reasonable tune on this car for the first time since it had hit Canadian shores. He had done a great job of babying the car over the last 9 months but that was never going to be a sustainable solution.

Our initial outset was to install an ECUMaster DET3 Piggyback ECU, Fix Knock and see what we could do boost wise. The car already had a custom turbo back Exhaust and Front Mounted Intercooler but was stock otherwise. We hooked up the DET3 and started to dial in the spark advance. It required a significant amount of Ignition Retard added to the OEM’s Spark Map to eliminate the Knock, but finally we could load up the VVTi 1JZGTE and start doing some Power Runs. We were able to achieve 244 WHP and 252 WTQ at 14 PSI of Boost. Unfortunately after just a hand full of Power Runs we had a problem. We had lost all boost and the exhaust note had changed. The only way forward here was to start removing things so we could inspect the Turbocharger system. It didn’t take long for us to confirm that OEM Turbocharger’s Ceramic Turbine Wheel had failed.

This is somewhat where this story really starts to begin. It was decided that the OEM Turbo would be replaced by a Custom setup from Chris Scremin at Spectrum Motorsports in Langley. It wold be a bolt in style turbo, utilizing the factory housings with a highly custom core. We had already seen that both our Injector and MAF limits were looming with the factory ECU and a set of 550cc Injector’s were dropped in replacing the OEM 370’s.

Unfortunately the change of Injectors reduced our effective Ignition Retard range on the DET3 Piggyback ECU. No matter what we tried the Knock had crept back into the picture and we were effectively back to square one. With the returned Knock issue and now with a quest for more power, it forced our hand towards a Standalone ECU.

Jeff’s JZX100’s 1JZ-GTE has both VVTi and a Drive By-Wire Throttle System. The OEM ECU is also located in the Engine Bay rather than inside the Vehicle as on previous Toyota’s. The new ECUMaster EMU Black was a perfect fit for this application as it has built-in VVTi & DBW control, as well as being IP65 Certified. It is an ideal ECU for use in an Engine Bay environment.

The DET3 was removed and the EMU Black was installed Pin by Pin in the OEM location. All said and done we had used nearly every input & output on the ECU, with the addition of features that included A/C control, Boost Control, Wideband Control, Knock Control & even Launch Control. We were able to maintain the Factory Tachometer, Fuel Gauge and Speedometer/Odometer but the Coolant gauge run’s off Toyota’s proprietary BEAN network and had to be replaced.

Now having full control over both Fuel and Ignition tables we were finally able to get an idea of what made this 1JZ tick. It was now apparent more than ever that this engine combination is very Knock Limited in the lower to mid-range RPM’s. Scremin’s Turbo was spooling fast and strong but our timing numbers at those RPM’s were miles away from MBT (Maximum Brake Torque) and it wasn’t able to shine. With this new setup we had great control and reliability but on 94 Octane Pump Gas we were still only at 296 WHP and 298 WTQ. After so much time and effort had been put into the build it was disappointing to say the least.


As with any Knock Limited engine combination, Octane is king. It’s the reason that Race Gas exists and that E85 has boomed with tuners all over the USA. E85 would have been a great option here if the total number of Gas Stations supplying E85 in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland wasn’t 1. Race Gas for a street driven vehicle is costly and requires a large amount of safe storage. We’ve used AEM’s Water Meth Injection system a lot and it would come to our rescue again here.

Water Meth works in two ways. The Water cools the Intake Charge Temperature causing a cooler Cylinder Temperature which in turn, requires less Octane to reach MBT. The Meth (Methyl-Hydrate) is used as a fuel, and as it has a very high Octane level, increases the overall Octane in the Cylinder. It’s reported that Water-Meth’s Injection system can have a compound effect similar of that to Race Gas with an Octane of 116.

With our Failsafe’s setup in the EMU Black and our WM Injection active we were not only able to increase Ignition Advance but also increase boost a few PSI at the same time. The final results show a great example of how Octane plays a major factor when it comes to power output and how you can have similar setups with similar amounts of boost with very different results.

In addition to the AEM Water Meth kit we also installed an activation switch, as well as some fail-safe relays that help protect the Jeff’s 1JZ in the event of a Water Meth system failure. With this setup it takes just one flick of a switch to Arm the Meth, Increase the Boost and Advance the Ignition Timing. A simple LED keeps Jeff up to date with Fluid Level and System Activation.

What started as a simple Piggy-Back install and Tune turned into a few weeks of pulling hair and putting together the right pieces to take this Luxury Toyota Sedan to its next step. It kicked, it whined and it screamed along the way, but the results are one of the nicest power bands I’ve seen to come from a Daily Driven JZ setup. We have a few tweaks left to do this coming spring but I’m sure you’ll see this car eating up highway near you soon.


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