1983 Toyota LiteAce KM20 3.8L Holden V6 Manual from Australia and New Zealand


A comfy van, and the new V6 gives it lots of go


At 16500km the fuel pump went, stranding me between Sydney and Melbourne, my mate came up from Wagga and we did the change on the side of the road!

The carburettor accelerator pump went at 120000km, and was replaced with a whole new fuel injection manifold from a 4K-E

If you are wondering why everything started to fail prematurely, its because the engine saw itself over 5000rpm most of its life, plus I really thrashed it.

The 4 speed Toyota gearbox started to wear out and eventually failed completely on the motorway at 140000km. Was replaced with a 5 speed Toyota Supra gearbox and custom shift kit to fit a van.

The valve on cylinder 4 got stuck and resulted in a costly fire that destroyed the manifold, injectors, wiring and part of the cylinder head

The engine finally died at 194200km and was removed for a V6 conversion.

General Comments:

After the engine fire, the 1.3 litre engine was replaced with a 3.8 litre V6 Holden engine that was lifted from a write-off VN Commodore. I have had no trouble with the V6 at all. Adapting it to the Toyota Supra 'box was easy, I bought an aftermarket bellhousing to fit.

The diff gears had to be made taller with the extra power also, from 5.125:1 to 3.55:1

I had the engine mounts fabricated by an engineer and the radiator swapped for a Holden V8 radiator on its side to fit and the hose connections and cap relocated, a thermo fan was fitted too.

A big jump of power was made from 70kW to 140kW!

The LiteAce is very quick and handles well, after I put Brembo 4-pot disc brakes all round.

My previous car was a Holden Torana with the Opel 1.9 litre engine and 4 speed crashbox, was pretty slow even on a good day, the Liteace is faster with the 4 cylinder in it than the Torana.

I retrimmed the interior and just made it neat and tidy and gave the exterior a respray in Metallic Cobalt Blue and fitted 15" CSA alloy wheels.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th April, 2005

4th Nov 2007, 08:10

I am very interested in this engine swap, due to having a 1982 Lite-Ace with a tired 4k engine. I have a mechanically excellent 1976 Celica with a Toyota 18RG (2 litre twin cam, 2x twin solex carbs and extractors), but rusty body and was trying to find out about the possibility of putting the 18RG into the Lite-Ace. When I saw the article on V6 engine I thought Wow! I see the brakes have been upgraded - I guess this had to be done to comply with laws? Would you know if my brakes have to be upgraded from the current ventilated discs to allow the 2 litre engine to be legal? My brakes have just been repaired/serviced - new discs and pads front, new drums and shoes at the back. Any info would be appreciated, thanks A.H.

10th Dec 2009, 23:49

3rd Jun 2010, 07:21

Thanks for the feed back on fitting the 18R / 18RG into KM20 - been rather busy, no time to respond.

In the time since my last entry, I have found that the rear brakes are the same as Celica, front brakes on KM20 are ventilated, Celica's are not - I think brakes are essentially better on KM20.

I have picked up a 4 speed gearbox and bell housing from a Hiace with 18R motor - found gearbox to be the same as Liteace but with 18R bell housing - will fit, no problem once hydraulic clutch converted to cable as in Liteace.

18RG has electric fan, so clearance with radiator should work.

Sorting out the mounts shouldn't be too much bother for me, next is to see if 18RG head with side draft carbies and extractors is too wide for engine bay.

Thanks A.H.

1994 Toyota LiteAce GXL 5k from Philippines


Knocking sound when engine heat, previous experienced of oil not circulating due to dirty oil screen.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 1st December, 2004

14th Oct 2005, 07:33

I am a 15 year owner of a Liteace. It is cheap on gas and maintenance. Just watch out and avoid an engine overheat which happens when the radiator cap is improperly placed. The van will not give you problems as long as you limit your driving speed to below 90 kph. Where can you enjoy the flexibility and capacity of a van with the maintenance of a small car because of its 1500cc engine. I love it and plan to make it last beyond 20 years.