While Axis provided the car and NuFormz provided the forced induction, the actual engine tuning was carried out by another of Chen's associates, Loke Je-Kin; we'll call him Luke. Luke also handled the electronics and fuel supply side of the project, fitting the existing fuel system with the aforementioned S2000 injectors, which now produces 65 psi fuel pressure, a MSD in-line pump to feed the injectors and an SX regulator to ensure smooth operation. Additionally, at Luke's behest, an array of electronic monitoring equipment was installed in the car's cockpit to allow fine-tuning of the air/fuel ratio and boost from inside the vehicle. Two system-monitoring boxes from Split Second collaborate on supplying the correct air/fuel mixture. The Split Second ARC II fuel calibrator allows the larger injectors to be assimilated smoothly into the system and provides for comprehensive fuel mapping from idle to full throttle. Working in tandem with the ARC II, a Split Second ESC I (electronic signal conditioner) allows for the transition from naturally aspirated to positive boost conditions and fools the ECU into allowing open loop fuel mapping under boost. Rounding out the interior electronics are an APEXi turbo timer and AVC-R boost controller, the latter specially mounted inside the glove compartment along with an APEXi Peak/Hold boost gauge and a Split Second air/fuel ratio meter.

With phase one of Project MR2 Spyder under wraps, Chen and Axis turned their attention to the handling side of the performance equation. Fortunately, this is the one area where the mid-engined Spyder is brilliantly competent directly from the factory assembly line. While it's a fact that convertibles do tend to flex more than solid-topped coupes, word is the MR2 Spyder is as solid as they come. To put any potential problems to rest, a chassis brace kit from TRD, including upper strut braces and lower braces front and rear. APEXi World Sport coilover springs and strut assemblies drop the car above 17-inch Axis VPD five-spokes wrapped with Yokohama A520 rubber, sized 205/40-17. The Axis VPD wheels are the company's latest performance offering and incorporate high-quality alloy construction for great strength and incredibly light weight; the 17x7-inch wheels on the Spyder weigh in at a mere 16 lbs each. Axis also offers the VPD wheel in a 13-inch diameter for drag applications and you can bet the Spyder has a pair of slicks ready for when the time comes to hit the strip.

Which brings us to the Axis Spyder's overall performance. While on the phone with Chen, he threw out a few performance measurements gleaned from the car's track test day. Running 8 psi boost pressure, the topless Toyota vaulted down the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds-without the slicks-ran 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and clocked 73.9 mph through the slalom. More recently, the Spyder spun the Dynojet rollers at Swanson Performance in Torrance, Calif., to the tune of 282.5 hp; that's more than double the factory rating. Currently the car is under the knife again, and the motor is out; this time it's getting cracked open to see what can be altered within the block to allow for even more power. Chen said the 1ZZ-GE will probably benefit from new pistons, rods and possibly cylinder sleeving in order to bolster it against his ultimate dream of turning up the boost, while keeping the engine's compression ratio at the 10.0:1 factory setting. Given what has already been accomplished, it should be interesting to see what falls out of the Axis sleeve this time.