#4 Engine Restoration in Search of Lost Power: Part 1

A preserved S-type engine

The Toyopet Racer is a cigar-shaped open-wheel racing car that Toyota developed over 70 years ago. Only two vehicles were produced in this first round, and they no longer exist. The restoration team began by reviewing old photos and drawings to build individual vehicle components from scratch, including the chassis, suspension and bodywork.

Luckily, the team found a genuine component they could refer to: the first-generation Toyota S-type engine, now housed in the Toyota Automotive Museum. The Toyopet Racer used this engine, which began production in 1947. The museum also had a Toyopet Model SA touring car, one of the roots of the legendary racing car.

Toyota began designing the Type S engine in September 1945, just after the end of World War II. This 995 cc inline 4-cylinder engine, with a long stroke (bore/stroke: 65 × 75 mm) and a compression ratio of 6.5, remained in production until August 1959. Toyota’s engines previously used overhead valve configurations that allowed for smaller combustion chambers with better power output and fuel efficiency. However, for the S-type, Toyota opted for a simpler side valve mechanism that was easy to produce and maintain, given the limited availability of materials and equipment. In fact, it is the first and last side-valve engine in the company’s history.

Three members were assigned to the engine team with the mission of restoring the Type S engine which had lain dormant at the Toyota Automobile Museum.

Diverse trio teams up

Shuhei Suzuki, Jiei Nakahodo, and Megumi Ishikuro were assigned to the engine restoration team.

Shuhei Suzuki was in his first year at Toyota when this project started, making him the youngest of the three. He designs engine structures within the Powertrain Development N°1 Division. While in college, Suzuki participated as a mechanic in the Formula Student competition, held by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, to cultivate future talent in the industry.

The passionate advice of a master craftsman

The engine team had a reliable partner in Shinmei Industry, a Toyota partner company established in 1949.

Shinmei is involved in automobile maintenance, production of specialized vehicles, development of prototypes of new models, and manufacturing of equipment and molds for car manufacturing plants. Their work also includes restoring historic cars at the Toyota Automobile Museum, as does the Toyopet Model SA.

Minoru Ishikawa, who ran Shinmei’s catering division and now serves as an advisor to the company, offered the team instructions. Ishikawa is a legendary mechanic in the world of historic cars. The 83-year-old started working when he was 15, giving him almost seven decades of experience. Ishikawa has been awarded a yellow ribbon medal by the Japanese government and is recognized as a contemporary master craftsman in the field of automotive maintenance.

Restoration work began with the dismantling of the stored engine down to every bolt and gasket. Each piece has been carefully checked to determine its condition and determine how to make it fit for reuse.

Unlike Ishikawa, who experienced the story of the S-Type Engine in real time, all three members were seeing it for the first time.

Working with another discovered engine

Shortly after disassembly work began, the team was blessed with a major boon: they found another S-type engine. They could use the unit as a guide to restore the disassembled engine.

Shinmei Industry had restored historic cars for Leaders II, a television drama that aired in March 2017 and is based on the life of Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota Motor Corporation. Luckily, Shinmei still had a restored S-type motor for filming in stock. The members dubbed the engine “Leaders” after the drama, and the original as “Suzuki” after the team leader.

Some engine components had to be disassembled very carefully; if the disassembly went wrong, they could never be reassembled. The trio carefully disassembled the engine under the guidance of Ishikawa. Once this was complete, the next step was to clean and polish all usable parts.


Toyota Motor Corporation published this content on July 14, 2022 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on Jul 14, 2022 7:33:02 PM UTC.

Public now 2022


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