About two years ago I started with a very similar build in mind. My engine is a later model bigport (redtop) and its in a aw11 and this being my first engine build ever. My build was pretty much based around the tomei poncams. I didn't really know why, they just sounded good. I think the advertising is spot on. My difference was I decided to go for 10.3 smallport pistons instead of forged ones, mostly because of money issues and I didn't want to increase the compression as high as 11.0 to risk pinging. http://www.driving4answers.com/4age-street-build/
Here you can read the details on the build I had in mind.http://www.mr2.com/forums/threads/10190 ... reet-build
Here's is my entire build thread. 22 pages of a lot of questions and a lot of good advice from experienced people wiling to help and explain things. It is a stupidly long thread but there's a lot of useful info there.
Long story short I decided to downgrade my build. Why? Beccause I realized the actual future purpose of my car. I build my engine for a very similar purpose as yours "the 86 is purely intended for countryside driving and enjoying mountain roads."
And here's where what jondee86 said is extremely important "I would suggest that you consider carefully the kind of driving you will be doing
in your car MOST of the time."This is so simple but it is overlooked so often its unbelievable. We all start researching stuff online and get dazzled by the fancy parts and imagine how fast and amazing our car is going to be. In our heads, more hp equals more fun. I know about a dozen of people who have worked really hard and spent a lot of money to complete the build they thought
is what they wanted, only to end up with a car they actually hate and then desperately try to sell later on. They hate the car because the idle is horrible, the car is a terrible pain to drive around town, it fails emissions, they need to take out parts and put in different ones just for emission testing, the car requires constant fiddling and tuning to run right. I'm not saying their builds are perfect, but the main culprit for the unsatisfaction is that they didn't quite know what they wanted.
After realizing that I downgraded my build into something more tame. I paid the same amount of money I would have paid for the poncams for a cam that has smaller duration and lift. I got 2x exhaust catcams from the first catcams package which are 8.0mm lift and 244° duration. I also got 10.3 smallport pistons, (final compression is approx 10.5) bored the block 0.5mm, got a blacktop flywheel, hks valve springs (just to be safe), ported the head a bit myself, got t3 adjustable cam pulleys, used a stock head gasket, did all the headwork, replaced conrod bolts with arp ones, got oem new head and crank bolts, got all new oem crank and conrod bearings, and had the entire rotating assembly balanced. As you can see there is nothing extreme here, the goal was to make the engine a bit more lively and give it some more grunt while maintaining streetability. I maintained the engine non-interference (which is definitely a good idea for your first build) and am getting 36.6 mpg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw2UJnnqs9Y
Here you can see my engine coming together. But you probably stumbled upon this already if you googled 4age
How does the engine feel? I have to say I absolutely love it. I feel like I hit the sweet spot for a street engine in terms of the balance of performance and user-friendliness. I love the rev-happiness and the stronger pull and better throttle response compared to when the engine was stock, but I also love the fact that the car doesnt feel like it will shake itself apart when idling at a traffic light. Here's another interesting thing, the 7.6k redline of the 4age was one of the things that I was most obsessed when I bought it and dreamed about driving such a high revving car. Highest rpm I ever drove before on a daily basis was the usual 6.5k rpm. Here's the funny thing, the aspect of my 4age which I mostly enjoy while driving a mountain road is the 4k - 6.5k rpm range and the strong pull the the engine generates in that rpm range. I very rarely get to 7k and beyond and that is mostly on straight parts of the road where I do it just to hear the engine. You really have to drive like a maniac on twisty public roads to hit 7k and beyond and you very quickly get into the territory of not being safe anymore. I know I sound like my mom, but it is the truth. These are old, light and genuinely fast cars even when they were bone stock from the factory. When you upgrade the power they become even faster, but to achieve their full potential they need to be floored, which is why setting their full potential at very high rpm when they will be driven mostly on the street doesn't make sense. I actually ended up fidling with my adjjustable pulleys to move more power to that 4-6.5 k rpm range, so that I can exit corners better and overtake with less effort.
I of course don't know your priorities, experience, desires, budget, etc. but if you want something that is a pure tracktoy and you want to compete with it, sure, go all out, maybe go even wilder than the poncams. On the other hand, If this is your first 4age and your first engine build and you want something to enjoy mountain driving I can say that keeping it on the mild side definitely does not mean loosing out on the fun factor. These engines are genuine fun even bone stock, so even a little bit goes a long way to spice it up. This turned into a really long post, but I thought some background was necessary to get the point across better