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The truth about ST215 3sgte engine

Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:15 am

Hi, maybe you have heard about the 3sgte gen 4th, an engine from the Toyota Caldina ST215. This swap has been done on some celicas since last 3 or 4 years. I buy this engine too but I discover after that there is not a lot of information about this engine. So I decided to make a big file that include pics of the engine, some differences between this engine and other generation of 3sgte.

First of all, the 3sgte gen 4th come off a Toyota Caldina GT-T ST215 make in 1997 to 2002 in Japan. This car can has automatic or manual tranny (very rare). Here’s a pic of this car.


This engine is similar to other generations of 3sgte. Here are the main differences :

-the turbo is a CT20b (as on ST205 3sgte)
-the turbo and the exhaust manifold are casted togheter (its impossible to remove only the turbo)
-this exhaust manifold will not fit any other 3sgte head because it doesnt use the same bolts pattern (7 bolts)
-the turbo exhaust housing does’nt use the same bolt pattern (so the downpipe is different)
-the intercooler is air to air
-the injectors are 540cc/min
-the ignition is different : no distributor. There is one coil/spark plug. This system is more known as COP ignition (coil-on-plug). The ECU control the ignition timing using two Variable Relocutor sensors. One is triggering a toothed wheel at the crankshaft pulley, the other is triggering a little arm at the end of the intake camshaft.
-The intake manifold is side-feed manifold.
-The oil pump is different because it has to locate one VR sensor.
-The head is slightly different because the exhaust ports are bigger (look at the drawing)
-There’s no EGR or TVIS system because its a JDM engine. (more pollution but… does’nt matter ;) )

Here’s the specs of the ST215 engine and the one of the ST165, ST185 and ST205 :

1986-1989 8.5:1 1998cc 182hp@6000rpm 185lb-ft@3600rpm ST165
1990-1993 8.8:1 1998cc 220hp@6000rpm 225lb-ft@3200rpm ST185
1994-1999 8.5:1 1998cc 241hp@6000rpm 225lb-ft@3400rpm ST205
1997-2002 9.0:1 1998cc 255hp@6200rpm 240lb-ft@4400rpm ST215


1-Does it will fit my tranny?
Answer : This is an « S » engine so, any tranny that come off this engine family will bolt-on as 5sfe, 3sgte, 3sge, 1mzfe and 3mzfe too.

2- Does it use the same engine mounts?
Answer : Yes, it does because its again an « S » engine.

3- Can I fit an other 3sgte ECU to run it?
Answer : No because the stock ECU is needed to control the ignition.

4- Does this swap has been done?
Answer : Yes, it has been done. There are maybe 10 of them. There’s one in Russia, Toysport have done one, Dr Tweak has done one in a 6th gen Celica, two or three more on ST185s in USA. There’s one done here in Quebec but I have never seen him. And I’m currently doing mine.

5- Does this swap cost a lot more than other 3sgte?
Answer : I’ll say a little more but you will have a better block, a newer engine, the ignition is better, you will get a CT20b turbo (really better than CT26), you will get more stock boost (14psi stock).

6- Does the parts are hard to find in America?
Answer : A little more, but now, with internet, you can found everything you want. That’s how I replace my broken PCV valve, I met a guy from UK on the net and I told him if he was able to get me the PCV valve, he said yes and he send me the part after receiving the money.

TIP : If you want to swap a ST215 in your car, be sure to get a front clip or be sure to have the whole wire harness and the right ECU. You will need to add maybe 2-3 feet of wire for the wire harness because the engine came off a right hand drive car. If you can, get the manual ECU, it will be easier to swap.

Here’s some pics of the engine and other components :
the exhaust manifold and the turbo exhaust housing casted togheter


bolt pattern for 3sgte’s

drawing with measures to show the biggers exhaust ports and 7-bolts pattern

pic of the engine and the intercooler


For them who wants to know what my swap will seem, I’m swapping a 1999 3sgte gen 4th into my 1991 ST184. I will use a Megasquirt Standalone ECU and a custom wire harness to replace the missing ECU and the cut stock wire harness. I will replace the stock CT20b turbo with a t3/t4. I will replace the exhaust manifold with a equal leght tubular stainless steel one that I will customize to fit my 4th gen head. I will use a custom stainless steel 3 inches downpipe. I will build a 3inch exhaust all way long with a N-1 style muffler with a 5inch tip. I will use a Type RS Greddy blow-off valve, a HKS 38mm external wastegate. I will use a front mount intercooler and 2.5inch piping. I will use the Ford EDIS ignition system to trigger my ignition timing. I will use Magncor KV85 ignition wires too.

My CT20b turbo is for sale here :


I have for sale the stock intercooler and the stock ST215 differential

The fabrication of the manifold and the downpipe will begin after Christmas. Everythingelse is set. I’m suppose to put the engine in beginning of March. It will be ready for this summer. I plan to reach 320hp to the wheels at 16-17 psi of boost.

Finally, I hope this file helped you to know more about the ST215 engine. As I think, It’s a nice engine and I don’t know why people dont like it. They prefer buy a ST185 one and buy some bolt-on aftermarket parts. For me, I prefer a newer engine than an older one with 5k$$ of aftermarket parts.

So, if you have some question about the ST215 3sgte, you can email me at : glaia50@hotmail.com


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Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:13 am

A good read, but I have a question. The CT20B is good up to 15 psi or so, when supposedly the ceramic can shatter right?

So whats the point in swapping a stock 215 motor at 255 crank hp with no room to turn up the boost? You can easily (and most cost effectively) build a 2nd gen 3S-GTE to 255 crank on its stock turbo.

It seems a little counter productive to do a swap that seems require a custom exhaust mani to up the power.

Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:00 am

thanks alot for the post it was a good read. But i got a question for you...does the 4th gen 3sgte have alot more after market support when compared to the 3rd gen 3sgte.

Fri Dec 22, 2006 9:06 am

TheAutoholic wrote:A good read, but I have a question. The CT20B is good up to 15 psi or so, when supposedly the ceramic can shatter right?

So whats the point in swapping a stock 215 motor at 255 crank hp with no room to turn up the boost? You can easily (and most cost effectively) build a 2nd gen 3S-GTE to 255 crank on its stock turbo.

It seems a little counter productive to do a swap that seems require a custom exhaust mani to up the power.

I would think the reason would be to have a newer engine with new technology, but since he's going with full EMS and a new turbo set up, i really don't know. However, i learned a lot.

btw, CT20b's can boost alot more than 15psi. a local 205 swap run 22psi on his when he races...

Fri Dec 22, 2006 11:39 am

Does the turbo from ST215 even has ceramic turbine?
I have seen CT20B from 3rd gen that come with steel turbine.

Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:19 pm

that wouldnt be a traditional ct20b. The ct20b came on ST205's, and was not cast to the manifold. This new turbo, though may share a lot with the ct20b, is not a ct20b.

ct20b is more efficient than the ct26, and can thereby efficiently support more than 15psi. 18psi can be fine with proper tuning.

Also, shattering turbines are *extremely* rare. Heat has a significant role in that...

Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:24 pm

For answering Gary, the ST215 CT20b turbo has a steel compressor (intake) and a ceramic turbine (exhaust).

For answering TheAutoholic, I think that the limit of the CT20b can be a lot more than 15 psi, as Denver_whiteST185 said. I'm sure that with some cooling mods, you can handle a lot more psi than 15.

For answering suprakid95, I can find all the aftermarket parts that I need easily. For example, the Fidanza or HKS cam gear will fit, as well as HKS 264/264 camshafts, as well as HKS valve springs and Ferrea stainless steel valves. The forged pistons and rods for the other generation of 3sgte will fit too. An aftermarket metal head gasket will fit too. The only problem is the turbo system because you need to relpace everything. The problem is essentially the cast turbo/manifold setup. But if you plan to change your turbo, just build a custom manifold and a custom downpipe and you can put every turbo you want on this engine. The other problem is the ignition, you can't add MSD parts or some racing spark plug wires because there are no wires on this engie ;).

Ask me if you have more questions.



Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:38 pm

Why drop the coil on plug which is superior to the old distributor ignition?
One friend here has a CT20b (steel turbine) in his ST185CS and boosts up to 1.5bar which is 21.75psi.

Sat Dec 23, 2006 1:50 am

Tres Bien!

Une question svp...do you know what the cams specs are for the ST215?

FYI GEN2 heads are large port - poor for velocity, compaired to small port GEN3/4 heads - good for velocity. Also GEN2 heads need to have shim under bucket or shimless bucket conversion as well as machining and stiffer springs for higher lift cams - GEN3/4 heads do not.

Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:11 am

For answering you abraxxa, I can't control the Coil-on-plug with my Megasquirt ECU, I need to use the Ford EDIS module with a 36-1 trigger wheel to make the ignition work, that's why I will remove the stock coil-on-plug and use this module with spark plug wires and coil pack. Megasquirt is suppose to release a special chip to control coil-on-plug, it supposed to be release this summer. I'm waiting it.



Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:49 pm

What about AEM and Autronic, are they able to power the Gen4 COP setup?
I'm looking for a COP ignition for my Gen3...

Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:29 am

pit_celica wrote:I can't control the Coil-on-plug with my Megasquirt ECU

Double check that. I thought the MSnS-E firmware, with a few mods to the board, would control four coils. If you have the MSII processor, then that support may not be there yet. I haven't been following the development lately so I'm not sure.

Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:22 pm

For answering you ___Scott___, I think that the MSnS-E extra firmware work only with the MSI and I got the MSII. I know that if I add three more VB921 ignition coil drivers, I'll be able to control 4 independant coils in wasted spark mode, but I don't want wasted spark mode, I want sequential mode. Soon, a board that can control sequential injection or sequential ignition will be released. This board will be very useful, but it will be release on this summer or next year only. So, I'll do my swap using the Ford EDIS4 ignition module. It will work well.

For answering you allblackalltrac, I'm sorry, I don't know the spec of the cams for my ST215, but i think they're the same as other gen of 3SGTE.

For your information abraxxa, I'm selling my four stock coil-on-plug with connectors because I will no longer use them. Tell me if you need them. If you add a trigger wheel to your crankshaft and an EMS that control ignition timing, you will be ok to use them.



Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:24 pm


__Scott__, the name of the board that I'm talking is the router board. Look at it on www.msefi.com

Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:43 pm

Is it possible for you to pull a part number off the cam seeing how you got the most of the motor disassembled?
I would guess that if they have different parts numbers than others they must have different durations and lift charcateristics. After all the Gen4 does have more HP compaired to the previous gens and they all had different cam profiles so if I use that same logic it must have different cams....but a part number would help varify that theory.
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