There aren’t many of us out there who early on, began a bond with a certain manufacturer right from the outset, never venturing from their chosen brand, or in this particular case, a certain chassis code within a brand. For Barry Manon of MRP Performance Ltd, the Toyota Levin AE92 is that chosen chassis, which back in the early 2000s were extremely potent packages thanks to their low weight, and powerful, easily upgraded 4A-GZE engines. Barry’s third and current example didn’t stay 1600cc for long though, as in 2006 he upgraded the engine using a 7A block bringing the engine capacity up to 1800cc.
The new-found capacity worked extremely well with a large frame turbo, and in no time at all the Levin was producing a staggering for the time 330kW at the wheels. “At this power, it was used as a daily driver to get to uni,” Barry went on to tell us, “We then took it to the drags and on its first outing it ran an 11.7-second quarter mile. From there we modified a few things to get the car to hook up better and we ran a 10.8-second pass.”
What you might not know about Barry, is that as long as there have been cars on the roads, Barry’s family has been racing them on the circuit. Barry’s grandfather Shack Manon used to race Mini Coopers back in the ‘60s, competing with Kiwi greats such as Jim Richards. At one point Shack even teamed up with the legendary Kenny Smith in an endurance race. This passion flowed on, hurtling Barry’s father Bruce into a world of motorsport and in no time at all, he began racing and tinkering.
It was during the ‘70s and the ‘80s that Bruce really got into motor racing, taking on the infamous TransAm class New Zealand had on offer at the time. With hardly any restrictions, much like the NZ Superlap Series and the current GTRNZ series, Bruce began to stray from the norm by building a turbocharged Ford Escort which according to Barry, was quite the eye-opener back in the day.
Growing up around hardcore racing and modifying it was only natural for Barry to progress and grow in a similar manner. After completing a bachelor in engineering mechatronics, Barry founded his very own business MRP Performance Ltd to produce high-performance components for Levins and the 4AGE series of engines.
This need to push the envelope steered Barry toward time attack style racing which didn’t exist in New Zealand until 2007. After competing in the very first Superlap event at Pukekohe, Barry was hooked and ever since then the Levin has been a dedicated street time attack machine, driving to 99-percent of rounds.
In 2008 Barry won Superlap outright after driving to and from the circuit, four hours from his home at the now-named Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park. “Then from 2014 we decided more power, better suspension and aero was needed in order to keep up with the current trend of racing. So a heap of mods were done so we could enter and compete at the top of its class in the Superlap events,” Barry explained. With stiff competition, it would take a couple of seasons for Barry to once again dominate the pack, but only because horsepower numbers began to climb dramatically. Enter the billet ages…
In its current guise, Barry’s Levin features more billet components than anything we’ve ever seen. And, it has been a process of eliminating weak components as they break during testing. Still using a 7A block, the Levin now runs a custom MRP Ltd ‘9AGTE’ stroker kit, bringing capacity a touch lower than 2000cc. To strengthen the bottom end a billet MRP crank girdle has been used, alongside a Toda oil pump, and an MRP baffled race sump.
Up top, the factory 16-valve head is no longer. In its place is a 20V blacktop head that has been CNC-ported, with custom MRP cams that make the most of the variable cam-timing. The upgraded head, cams, and bottom end now spool a hefty Turbonetics turbo which is managed by twin 38mm TiAL external wastegates. After deciding to switch to E85 (as many have) Barry made the move to twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, 1650cc Xspurt injectors, and an AEM E85 lift pump to handle the 28psi of boost pressure the Turbonetics pumps out on its highest boost setting. The result? On high boost; 450kW at the wheels.
“Reliability plus better design to allow for high HP numbers is the reason I chose billet components. If we want to keep up with the Evos and Skylines we have to make reliable power. Since there is no one else in the world making billet stroker components for our engine type we decided to design this and make it available worldwide,” Barry told us, after we queried the numerous billet components.
So, how does one get 450kW to the ground through a front-wheel-drive Toyota gearbox? Why billet components of course — the factory E52 gearbox is no longer factory after breaking several components with the power increase. A Tilton twin-plate clutch and MRP billet steel flywheel take care of clamping pressure and custom billet driveshafts get dealt the full 450kW thanks to the Kaaz LSD.
To keep this hyper Levin on the ground, a combination of Fortune Auto 510 series coilovers matched with Swift springs were used with gigantic 18x10-inch Enkei RPF1s up front and 17x9-inch RPF1s on the rear. Not able to skimp on tyres with this much power, the 10-inch fronts are paired with 295/30R18 Hankook Z221 front tyres and the rears are shod in 255/40R17s. At the final round of Superlap, Barry struggled to get heat into the rears which are a common problem in front-wheel drive cars. With a bit more wing angle, Barry managed to get more heat into them and ran a personal best at Hampton Downs Raceway with a 1:08.8.
The braking package on the MRP Levin is more than up to the task of attacking New Zealand’s wide range of circuits. Afco four-piston Superlite calipers have been installed up front paired with 330mm Nashin two-piece floating race rotors. And Hawk DTC60 pads.
“Getting the tune right has been the hardest thing for us lately. E85 with our engine type takes a bit of time to tune correctly. It's something we have to outsource for others to do for us so it's hard for me to have any control over it. Everything else mechanical wise I look after so I know what's going on and how I want these parts to work,” Barry continues, “If I had to start again with this build, I probably would have stripped the body right down, lighten everything and had a full cage done at the beginning.” We can’t wait to see what Barry brings us next season. Knowing him, it’ll be faster than ever, and it’ll have even more billet components than ever before. With the pace he’s now travelling at, we hope he comes back with a full roll cage too!
- Engine: 1900cc 9AGTE, 7AGE block, MRP stroker kit, MRP billet crank girdle, Toda oil pump, MRP Baffled race sump, 20-valve ‘Blacktop’ CNC ported head, Kelford cams, custom MRP two-piece intake plenum, 20-valve ITBs, Turbonetics turbo (62mm compressor, 62mm turbine wheel and twin-scroll housing), twin 38mm TiAL external wastegates, 50mm TiAL BOV, twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, AEM E85 lift pump, custom surge tank, M&W CDI, Magnecor leads, Denso spark plugs, Evo wasted spark coils, 3.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system, HDI GT2 intercooler, 2.5-inch intercooler pipes, Setrab oil cooler, Audi radiator with swirl pot, Autronic SMC ECU, Peterson external oil pressure relief valve
- Driveline: E52 five-speed Levin gearbox, Tilton twin-plate clutch, MRP billet steel flywheel, Kaaz LSD, custom billet driveshafts
- Suspension: Fortune Auto 510 series coilovers, Swift springs, MRP roll centre adjusters
- Braking: Afco four-piston Superlite calipers, 330mm Nashin two-piece floating rotors, Hawk DTC60 pads, braided brake lines
- Wheels and Tyres: (F) 18x10-inch Enkei RPF1, 295/30R18 Hankook Z221 (R) 17x9-inch Enkei RPF1, 255/40R17 Hankook Z221
- Body: Metallic blue paint job, custom carbon fibre front splitter, custom side skirts, APR carbon fibre GT250 rear wing, 75mm and 50mm flares
- Interior: Border bucket seat, deep dish 350mm steering wheel, Autometer gauges, half cage
- Performance: 450kW at the wheels on high boost
- Thanks: Fortune Auto, ST Hitec, M-Spec, Edgell Automotive, Millers Oils, Manon Butler Motors, Carl Robertson, Chris Burrett, and my wife & kids