My first post! So the best place to start, why should you choose the mk2 mr2
There has never been a better time.
Starting production in 1989 and an ending 10 years later, these cars now ageing gracefully. The popularity and long production run means that getting a hold of one is not too hard though, a fair condition n/a model can be picked up from £1000 with the more desireable turbo models now fetching around £3000.
On the other side though, the early ones are now 29 years old. Meaning a lot of them will have their share of problems, the main killer being rust and with that, many are being used for donor cars or scrapped. This does mean though that the lucky models than have been looked after and maintained over the years are finally starting to creep up in value, especially the turbo charged models. These are now coming on for classic car status and can be considered an investment. Why spend £20,000 on a dull box on wheels and lose £3000 each year in depreciation alone when you could buy an MR2 turbo (a car that when new could out accelerate a Ferrari 348 TB) and likely sell for 50% extra in only a few years?
Smiles per Gallon
You may have heard the reviews saying that the sw20 mr2 is the least fun, least sharp and heaviest of all the generations. Which yes, is a fair point. I have driven all of them, the mk1 has an amazing driver feel to it, you know exactly what’s going on as you drive and the mk3 which yes does lose some feel due to power steering but other than that is simply amazing around some bends. So saying the mk2 is not as sharp or responsive as them does not mean it’s a bad or numb feeling car in any way.
The second generation may be the heaviest but all in all, it’s still a fairly light car, especially considering with the higher power, they can compete with the likes of Supras or Skylines in many ways, both of which weigh around 200kg more.
Being mid-engined, well-balanced and only a few driver aids, they are still definitely “drivers cars”. What other choice can you get if you want a reasonably quick, fun mid engined car without having to spend tens-of-thousands of pounds?
Even an n/a 3s-ge can be quick, higher powered revolutions came with around 173hp in the UK. That’s a lot of power for an old 2.0 engine even for todays standards and for the mid 1990s is around twice as much as an average family car! Put that in a well sorted solid chassis and for as little as £1k, i cant think of many cars in that price range that are half as fun.I
Old cars are unreliable?
Nope. Toyota are well-known for the reliability, especially the 1990s. There was a couple problems with early models as every car will have but mechanically you can certainly do much worse!
Main things to look for on them are as with most cars. Timing belt needs replacing every 60,000 miles or 5 years, rust spots tend to be the sills, arches, around the bottom of the doors, if you go for the t-bar (especially) the seals will have a good chance of being worn enough to let water through and into the cabin and with the layout of the engine far from the radiator the cooling systems are more complex than a standard FF layout, so make sure signs of new coolant and a properly bled system are present. Earlier revolutions did have a weaker transmission and developed synchro mesh problems on occasions but as a whole the cars are generally above average for reliability.
If you are the kind of person who is looking to modify and work on your car, don’t be put off by the mid engined lay out. Access is hampered by the engine being in the middle and there being a large storage area behind the engine bay but not an issue worth talking too much about, especially if you have a two or four post ramps at your disposal.
Modification wise, there is a massive amount of parts to choose from so that is not a worry at all! The 3s-ge was used in many other awesome cars like the Celica and Altezza, both of which are also big with the modification scene. Hopefully in the weeks to come you shall see that choice on this very website as well!
There is a vast following for these little Toyota almost worldwide and access to information is always available online or even better through books!I
The downside of owning the first and last model MR2 is that when looking for parts / information / online fan groups, you will always get excited and think you have found what you are looking for, then 90% of the time it will be all Mk2’s you have found.
The fan base is huge and although the cars themselves becoming rare now are still a regular sight on the road today, this means you can meet your new friends and discuss with them their own ideas, information and feelings of MR2 ownership life.
What do you think?
Overall, my opinion is it’s never been a better time to buy a fun, cheap, reliable car. With new cars becoming ever more similar to each other and losing character and older classics shooting up in value and near impossible to get a hold of a good example, a Japanese 90s icon offers all you need, a low risk car with plenty of parts and available knowledge around with the reality of appreciating in value.
The mk2 MR2 is not too complex or complicated, not too rare yet still a head turner all with that Toyota badge to show it’s been designed and built properly and when looked after will always look after you in return.