One thing I love about the car community is… the different people you run into. I walked into a machine shop in a small town in Kentucky. There was only a little signage on the building, except for an old business decal on a steel door. All the windows were covered… and you would think I was walking into an episode of Breaking Bad. However, you could hear a muffled sound behind this prison door. The oh-too-familiar sound of a 2JZ going through its paces. Is this heaven dressed up like hell? Let’s talk about Brangers Racing Engines…a small shop that churns out colossal production.

What is Brangers Racing Engines?

Brangers Racing Engines are engine builders, a full-service machine shop, engine dyno… and the only place I’ve ever seen turnkey 2JZ engines. Actually, it’s the first place where I’ve ever heard of offering a turnkey “JDM” engine. Taking a tour through the business, I was honestly in awe. The area is a maze of CNC machines with engines at each station, in different states of progress. All the engines were tagged & bagged with what needed to be done.

Similar to a restaurant’s cooking line… 

It may look like chaos to the untrained eye, but to a car guy, there is a flow of engine-building mastery. Two separate sections for heads & blocks harmonize in the engine room. This is where the magic happens (as they used to say on MTV Cribs). Once assembled, it’s off to the dyno room. Brangers has their own dyno room because, as mentioned, they sell turnkey engines. And a prerequisite to being turnkey… is that it comes with everything you need to put it in your car, add gas, and simply turn-the-key. ECU, fuel system… and it comes to your door tuned. In fact, each turn key setup comes with run sheets for your assurance.

Who Is Brangers Racing Engines?

Roughly five people are involved at Brangers: Justin, his two sons, his wife, and his sister-in-law. His sons are young, so they are still in school. They help during the week, and the ladies run the email and socials. In a way, it’s a one-man wrecking show, at least on the mechanical end of things. But that’s good, because ‘1 man’ means that there only been 1 set of hands that’s been on an engine. In other words – no confusion, no finger-pointing, and no ‘fuzzy memories’ like you might get at some shops. When I arrived at the Brangers, Justin was one letting me in. He is 6’5… a big dude. Country strong is the term I would use. He also greeted me as such, with a solid southern but educated accent. Then we started talking about racing & cars. 

Justin has been to some wild places & done some exciting things to help his customers…

For instance, he built a jet car for a customer. To test the purge system + a general systems check… he tested it outside his shop in a residential area. For those that have never heard a purge from a jet car, think of a shotgun going off right next to you each time it “burbs”. It’s hard to explain, so take a look at this: Jet Car at Santa Pod. You feel it in your chest when you are 5-600 feet away at the drag strip. And oh yeah – it also shoots smoke out the back for the show, which extends over 200 feet. And the cherry on top is a 10ft flame coming out the back. The funniest part of this story is: The police showed up because the elderly lady across the street, bless her heart, thought her house was on fire. Do you know what Justin said to the police when they asked what he was doing and what that thing was?

“Can we possibly shut down the highway in front of the shop for a few minutes?”

They sternly declined, but Justin did get permission to test it at a local airport. 

Where are Brangers Racing Engines in the Wild?

Being a one-man dictionary on 2JZ stuff means that he isn’t being productive if he has to talk to you lol. I’ll take a quote from Justin,

“I hate when people call me for $5,000 worth of knowledge for a $50 purchase. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

However, his wife and sister-in-law do a great job answering basic questions on Instagram & through email. Fun fact, I was cruising through eBay when I found them. I was looking for a 2JZ locally, and one of their turnkey engines popped up. Then a few days later, while I was looking at Import Vs. Domestic coverage, I found out one of my favorite S14s also runs one of these engines. That S14 makes well into the four digits, and I’ve always had a soft spot for manual drag-raced 240. You can also catch Brangers engines in the wild at Formula D… in Ricky Hofman’s S-chassis. 

Which package is Right for you?

Brangers offers different packages for different needs. You can get a short block rated for 800hp, 900hp, 1000hp, 1200hp, 1500hp… and the completely ridiculous ones that just say 1500+. For long blocks, you can respectfully rate them at 500hp, 700hp, 900hp, 1100hp, and 1400hp. The killer packages come in as the turnkey stuff. You get the same ones in long blocks with variants for GTE or GE, but then there’s the shit that makes you all tingly – the 2500hp+ stuff. They offer a compound turbo setup that’s good for over 3,500hp in a drag racing application. Simply put – they have a range that can cover your application. 

Our Plans…

I’ll be honest. Getting Justin to work with me on this project took a bit of convincing. Brangers typically only works with people using one of their packages. Which makes sense. They do it to avoid the oldest tale in racing regarding why an engine blew up: The tuner blames the engine builder, & the engine builder blames the tuner. This is why Brangers sells turnkey packages, after all. Can’t blame the tuner if you are the tuner lol. Luckily for me, I got on Justin’s good side, and the parts that I’m using in this build are some that he would also recommend.

So what are our plans exactly? The goal is to live at 650whp for Time Attack purposes… with the ability to turn-up to around 800. I also plan on doing patriotic, all-American quarter-mile drag racing. I aim to crack off an 8.90 one day, but I’ll be running a 10.0 index class near me. An index class is when there’s a target-time that you can’t go faster then. In this case, 10 seconds in a quarter mile. But it’s still whoever gets there first. It’s a blend of heads-up and bracket racing. And I wanna do this in full Time Attack trim, of course.

Officially Goated? 

This engine is a crucial step in my pursuit to be officially goated as the greatest S2000 of all time. Don’t @ me lol. However, I don’t want to worry about the powertrain, and with Brangers Racing Engines, I feel at ease about this. Next time though, I plan to get into the blueprint of what’s inside the 2JZ GE, and if I’m lucky, I might get to put it on the dyno. The knowledge that I soaked up from Justin and his son was well worth the trip to Brangers. It’s so valuable, and I’m glad there are great car dudes like them around. There may be hope for the car community after all. 


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