The Internet has become an integral part of car culture. Parts can be compared and bought online and fellow enthusiasts can be tapped on the shoulder cyber style and asked about engine power, style, maintenance and other important issues facing today's performance-minded boost junkie. Amidst the details regarding everything from wheel backspacing to valvetrain geometry, not to mention the fellowship of sharing, there is a dark side. There can be a lot of smack talk, usually based on heresy, sometimes heresy that's three or four parties removed. The problem is ignorant people type away with no consideration of the significant damage that can be made in the real world. The Supra community is highly competitive and when these skirmishes surface they can move like wildfire. There is a group of enthusiasts with the clout to see through the hype and cut-throat tactics and set the record straight. One such beacon of reason is Ken Henderson.
When it comes to Supras, Ken has done them all. He started with a 5M, which he ceremoniously boosted with a Cartech turbo conversion kit. He jumped to the 7M-GTE, which gave him a factory turbo platform to tinker with, and in 1990 Ken became SP Engineering's first customer, working with owner Alex Shen, when Alex wrenched out of his home garage. Both had an eye for detail, lust for boost and a desire to push the limits. Ken bought his JZA80 new in 1994 and continued as one of SP's loyal customers. Alex had yet to establish SP Engineering (the shop opened in 1996) and, in the early days he used Dynamic Autosports' Dynojet.
We first spied Ken's Toyota at the Supras Invade Las Vegas III event. Its glistening one-off aluminum intake set-up caught our eye. We lined up a feature. The 2JZ was fitted with GReddy TD05H-18G turbos and tuned with the traditional array of HKS piggyback computers. Initial dyno testing for the article netted 577 whp, well short of the 600-whp goal set forth by Ken and Alex. The boost was cranked up but the TD05s couldn't keep pace and both units simultaneously failed on the dyno.
Ken recalls, "Alex said, 'There was only one thing to do' and I said 'Get bigger turbos,' finishing the thought for him." And so began their high-anxiety thrash to special order new turbos from Japan, have them shipped to the United States, installed in time to post a 600-plus-whp run and meet Turbo's publishing timeframe-no easy feat when you consider all of Japan was on vacation (Golden Week) when the first plaintive faxes went out. They got lucky. A Trust/GReddy employee in the right department was working during part of his vacation and he arranged to air-ship two new turbos to SP Engineering in record time. The GReddy TD06L2 20G 8cm2 turbochargers were bolted on and with additional custom fabrication by Advance Design Fabrication of Whittier, Calif., the car was finished in time and laid down 666 whp and 551 lb-ft, just in time to make the December 2000 edition of Turbo.
Ken's Supra appeared again in Turbo, December 2001 when he was kind enough to bring his car and convince a friend, Nils Leufven, the founder of www.to4r.com, to bring his Supra to the BFGoodrich Ultimate Street Car Challenge, an event where Primedia titles brought street cars and put them through their paces at The Streets of Willow.
While other magazines brought ringers, or rather trailered-in ringers, Team Turbo had legitimate street cars; Nils drove from Las Vegas and placed very well. Ken's car would've done as well or better but a broken power steering pump sidelined his black beauty. At this point the TD06s had been fine-tuned to 690 whp.
The Supra's next chapter saw the addition of a Veilside intake manifold and an HKS Racing Titanium exhaust. A VeilSide fuel rail with 1000cc Denso fuel injectors and an HKS F-CON V Pro engine management system were also added. Ken wanted to retain his twin-turbo setup and experimented by performing the Extrude Hone process on the compressor housings of his GReddy hairdryers. All of these changes resulted in new power numbers-789 whp and 625 lb-ft with Unocal 100-octane unleaded, and 801 whp and 633 lb-ft using Sunoco 104-unleaded GT Plus. Finished yet? "I thought so," said Ken, "I really did." Events proved otherwise.
We knew Ken was installing a then brand-new Do-Luck Type II body kit at 20/20 Auto Body. If any of you are news buffs, you'll remember a debilitating longshoremen's strike going on up and down the West Coast at the time. Suffice it to say, after a very round-about trip from Japan, the container wound up in Mexico, where the body kit was unloaded and made its way to the state of New York before it was tracked down. The car was then delivered to 20/20 Auto Body Tech. Ken, Tommy Lin, the owner of 20/20, and David Huang, also of 20/20, plotted a strategy to meet Ken's fit-and-finish goals. "It wasn't easy," said Tommy Lin. " First off, the car was black and Mr. Henderson had about the highest standards we had encountered." Added David Huang, 20/20 Production Manager, "Ken and I, plus the worker assigned to his car, had many, many discussions about how his goals could be met."
Ten long months later, the car rolled out of 20/20's facilities....and into Primedia's space at the 2003 SEMA showsporting the first Do-Luck kit in the U.S..