"Basically, I wanted a bad ass car that's light in weight," said Chen. "I wanted a Miata, but the Miata is played out."

The MR2 Spyder, on the other hand, is a different story. It's a brand new platform and, while a number of high-horsepower mods have cropped up for the Miata in the last decade, no one we know of has gone public with any such trickery with the Spyder. Until now, that is.

As we all know by now, there is but one route when planning to squeeze high horsepower numbers from a small displacement four-cylinder engine; it's spelled out in big letters on this magazine's cover. The task of developing a turbo system for the MR2's diminutive mill was handed over to Shaun Carlson of NuFormz.

"I've known James for many years," Carlson related. "He informed me that he was going to be getting an MR Spyder and that he wanted to turbocharge it." Actually, to hear Chen and Carlson talk about it, the task wasn't as hard as they imagined. Located immediately behind the cockpit, the Spyder's engine bay may appear to be pretty cramped at first glance, but Carlson and NuFormz managed to squeeze a custom straight-through exhaust manifold, custom exhaust, turbocharger and intercooler inside.

"When the stock muffler's out, there is a pretty good amount of room in the engine bay," Carlson assured us. That's good, because NuFormz needed the room in order to keep the header straight to reduce backpressure in what would soon be a volatile, high-compression, turbocharged engine. The tubular manifold and corresponding exhaust system is a nice piece of work, all constructed from 321 polished stainless steel with CNC cut flanges and heliarc-welded seams. The NuFormz manifold drives a single Garrett T28/T3 hybrid turbocharger with integral wastegate. An APEXi blow-off valve assists in maintaining proper boost pressure. From the collector, the charge passes through a Spearco liquid-to-air intercooler system via custom-bent plumbing (all provided by Spearco), then returns to the factory Toyota intake manifold, which has been fitted with modified Honda S2000 injectors to provide the increased fuel flow needed for boosted operation.