Some people truly don’t give a damn. Others merely give a damn about inciting a riot whenever possible. Matt Schnicke prefers to do both at the same time, and his budget-friendly, 5.3-liter LS-powered rebuild of a Toyota Supra mirrors this approach.
Matt is no stranger to unorthodox swaps. Previous builds sporting his signature approach to high-performance hedonism include a Fox-body Mustang with a nitrous-fed, big-block Chevy engine, and a twin-turbo LS-powered MKIII Supra. Apparently, building bizarre cars for little reason other than to make something that is both badass and bizarre is what forces Matt’s hand, and this Supra is no different.
Photos By: Torque Spec Photography
Originally outfitted with a highly coveted 2JZ twin-turbo engine and a manual six-speed gearbox combo straight from the factory, Toyota’s vintage flagship is equal parts old-school and awesome to most Japanese car fanatics. While this particular chassis came into Matt’s possession in late 2017 with a single-snail configuration –a conversion that remains commonplace in the Supra community — it was everything else about the car that caught Matt’s eye.
Forget all of the power mods that were done in good taste — finding a MKIV Supra in this condition with over 150,000 miles on the odometer is like finding an all-you-can-drink bar in Tokyo that only charges ¥1000/$10.00 an hour. They do indeed exist, but you have to do some serious snooping-around. So essentially, Matt Schnicke had stumbled upon a Japanese dream machine, and after purchasing said car for what he refers to as a “killer deal,” returned home with a sinister grin smeared across his face.
While the majority of people purchasing vintage Supras might immediately get to sourcing carbon aero components, or beefing-up the cooling side of things, Matt had plans for his car that to some borderline on blasphemy. Gutting the engine bay, and ditching the turbo inline-six for a 5.3-liter V8 out of a 2001 Chevy with a big-ass turbo had been Matt’s plan since day one, and dammit if his decision didn’t piss people off.
Hate came from every direction imaginable. Supra fanboys thought the entire build was an utter atrocity, while GM purists immediately discredited both operator and automobile due to Matt’s decision to utilize a “rice burner” chassis for drag racing. Since obtaining his Supra, Matt says that he has been banned from numerous forums and Facebook pages, and has seen a mass exodus of “friends” on social media. Needless to say, the controversy surrounding this build remains fierce to this day, and Matt says that the backlash from the Supra fanbase has easily been the most intense
But this is a builder and driver who doesn’t give a damn about what other people think. He bought his Supra for the sole purpose of “making a great car even better” and to own a booty that is worth remembering, as his Supra’s bubbly ass pulls away from the competition one fraction of a mile at a time.
A lot has changed over the years for this 33-year-old mechanic. A guy, who like many of us, started with dirt bikes and quads, and grew up watching Chip Foose and Boyd Coddington builds on TV. It was not until Jesse James arrived on the scene in the early 2000s that Matt got the inspiration to take things to a whole new level, and break as many rules as possible along the way. Modding cars the way he wanted, and not because there was a fad or an opportunity to earn followers on social media, quickly became the norm, and over time Matt’s creations have improved both in build quality and overall capability.
Circling back to the Supra, Matt tells us that this build has been about breaking boundaries and generating breakneck amounts of power for an affordable price since day one. Therefore, like many genre-bending creations, this drag monster required intensive amounts of one-off creativity, which, for a guy like Matt Schnicke, is practically second nature.
Take the wiring harness, for instance, which Matt admits to tackling entirely by hand in his garage. While the monotony of twisting pigtails and crimping connectors surely grew wearisome over time, there were plenty of other hurdles with this Supra that had to be considered.
Matt tells us that making all of the mounts from scratch and getting the entire setup to sit at the right angle ended up being far more challenging than previously predicted. Since this isn’t your typical off-the-shelf swap, aftermarket support is limited at best, which translates to sellers asking asinine amounts for basic conversion components. After discovering that motor mounts alone were going to set him back a jaw-dropping $2,000 a set, Matt says that he decided to fabricate all of the Supra’s mounts and piping internals.
Money saved, and time invested, Matt had his over-bored block loaded with high-strength internals, like custom Wiseco pistons and Lunati VooDoo connecting rods. Meanwhile, the upper end of the engine received a one-off Brian Tooley Racing BTR turbo camshaft and intake manifold, along with 210-pound injectors, and twin Aeromotive A1000 fuel pumps with a matching regulator.
Boost comes courtesy of a Garrett Motion GTX-5533R that has been affixed to a Huron Speed hot-side exhaust manifold, which forces air toward a G-Plus 102mm throttle body. On the pressure-relief side of things, a 50mm Tial Q blow-off valve vents excess alongside a duo of 46mm Precision Turbo wastegates.
Drivetrain-wise, Matt has ditched the Toyota six-speed for an FTI Performance Pro Series Level 5 Powerglide racing transmission and outfitted it with a custom PTC 9.5-inch billet torque converter. Out back, you will find an IRS 8.8-inch rear end filled with 3.55 gears, and affixed to Driveshaft Shop Pro axles with billet hubs and studs. Gearing selections are made possible by a B&M Stealth shifter assembly.
While HKS Drag coilovers handle suspension needs alongside TRD sway bars, Prothane poly bushings and Megan Racing adjustable control arms help dial-in the car’s geometry. Wheels come courtesy of Weld RTS76 alloys all around, with Firestone Indy 500 tires in a 245/40R18 configuration up front, and Mickey Thompson ET Street Pro drag radials are resting out back in a 275/60R15 size.
Foregoing frills, Matt has kept the exterior of his Supra relatively stock, all save for a Seibon carbon fiber hood and a shrouded side-port exhaust on the passenger side of the front bumper. Internally, you’ll find race-ready goods like Sparco seats, TRS harnesses, dual Holley 7-inch and 3.5-inch displays, and a Cody Phillips Racing carbon-fiber dash. Much like the piping, swap mounts, and wiring on this car, Matt tells us that the Supra’s cage is also 100-percent his creation, and meets modern homologation requirements.
While some people may prefer going to the spa or receiving a deep-tissue massage, we learn that building cars has become Matt Schnicke’s form of decompression. All told, it took over a year and a half of intense “relaxation” to build this beast, with Matt spending a few hours each night in order to button things up. Like most of us, a full-time career and family obligations left the man with limited time to work on his project, forcing him to turn wrenches well after the rest of the house was fast asleep.
Supra successfully swapped, Matt has unleashed his drag-monster upon the earth — a car that generates 812 horsepower on just 8-pounds of boost, and 671 lb-ft of torque to boot. Supported by a pair of stiff middle fingers, the unabashed lover of all things “grudge racing” takes a no-prep approach to hitting the 1/4-mile. When asked what the car feels like to control, Matt explains that it drives and handles more like a performance street car than a drag menace — a much welcome change after years of piloting persnickety race machines.
With 162,000 miles on the odometer, but just 100 miles on the entire build itself, things are off to a solid start for Matt Schnicke and his LS-swapped Supra. With goals of seeing his boosted LS motor rocket him into the low-8/high-7 second pass bracket, Matt has been pleasantly surprised with how many feelings he has hurt to date with his Supra.
Although future modifications may include things like hooking up the nitrous system and swapping in a Gen 2 Garrett turbo, the 1/4-mile mark is already being breached in 8.78-seconds at 154 MPH. With laughing gas attached, and a larger turbine spinning, you can expect these times to drop drastically; just like the jaws of all the haters in the stands, as Matt blasts past, middle finger brazenly pointed out the window.
1994 Toyota Supra TT/6 speed
2001 Chevy 5.3 cast
Crankshaft: Stock 6.0-liter
Pistons: Wiseco custom spec from BTR
Connecting rods: Lunati VooDoo
Engine Built By: Performance Engineering Jenison, MI
Camshaft make: Custom BTR turbo cam
Cylinder heads: stock 243
Air and Fuel
PCM: Holley Dominator
Engine tuner: Jon Capizzi, Holland, MI
Injector Size: 210lbs
Pump: Dual Aeromotive A1000
Intake manifold: BTR Equalizer
Throttle body make/size: G-plus 102mm
Headers: Huron Speed
Nitrous Oxide System: Nitrous Express Dry System
Turbocharger System: Garrett GTX-5533R gen1
Blow Off Valve: Tial Q 50mm
Wastegate: Dual Precision 46mm
Boost PSI: 20
Hot side piping size: 3-inch
Cold side piping size: 3.5-inch
Type: FTI performance level 5
Clutch / Converter: Custom PTC 9.5 billet
Shifter: B&M stealth
Type: Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) 8.8
Axles: Driveshaft Shop Pro Axles
Front upper/lower control arms: Stock with Prothane bushings
Front shocks/struts: HKS Drag
Sway bar: TRD
Other front suspension mods:
Rear upper/lower control arms: Upper stock with Prothane bushings, lower Megan Racing adjustable
Rear shocks: HKS Drag
Other rear mods: Solid differential bushings
Wheels & Tires
Front: Weld RTS76
Rear: Weld RTS76
Front Tires: Firestone Indy 500 245/40r18
Rear Tires: Mickey Thompson ET Street Pro Drag radials 275/60r15
Stock Supra Twin Turbo Brakes
Current color: Son Of A Gun Grey
Hood: Seibon Carbon Fiber
Upholstery: Cody Phillips racing carbon fiber dash and Sparco seats
Roll Cage: Custom built by Matt
Other interior mods: Full custom Painless wiring kit
Gauges: Holley 7” display and 3.5” display
Best Quarter Mile ET: 8.78
Horsepower: 812 at 8-pounds of boost
Torque: 671 lb-ft of torque