Toyota MR2 MK1 – Journey so far

OK, so this website is called “sw20modified” and a mk1 is a not an sw20 but I feel the need to post something new other than another product review to keep it interesting. Over this post I will go over how my mr2 is doing and the plans it has for the future.

Buying it

Well, it began as I was ideally looking for a van, then got massively distracted and ended up choosing between a Suzuki Cappuccino and the mr2. Both of which I would never recommend as a vehicle to use as a van! But i am young and dumb so ended up purchasing the 1984 mr2 for £1500 back in October 2016 with around 104000 miles (yes progress has been slow)

I was so excited about buying it, that I didn’t even check much and had to borrow a trailer to get it back to Scotland. The main reasons not for driving it though were the seized rear brakes, leaking engine coolant and the fact it has set for around 10 years, so nothing major in terms of work but many fluid changes would be safe to do first.

Other than that, it was so far just a car that I probably should have haggled the price on a bit, not great value but not a terrible deal anyway.

First Inspection of My New Car

With all cars I buy, unless there’s good proof of previous work, I like to give it a good service and once over for peace of mind. Even with the awkward mid engined layout these cars are fairly easy to work on coming from a simpler time. Cambelt kit, water pump, engine oil/ filter flushed, cleaned out and renewed, other filters changed, cooling system given a massive clean with vinegar (which really does the job amazingly, is cheap and evaporates out the system easily to remove) then replaced the rubber hoses with a new kit then obviously the seized rear brakes got new calipers, disks and pads.

This got it at least roadworthy for the time being without spending a huge amount of time or money on it. This gave me a bit of time to enjoy it until starting to look more in to the car for more expensive or serious problems. Not really the best way to do things admittedly but life is for living and I wanted some fun out the car at least!

After the MOT Runs Out

At this point I wasn’t in the position to have any benefit of it being on the road or the position that I wanted to spend extra money on, tax and insurance so I put it on a SORN and had began stripping the interior of the car as even as this was not a T-bar model they are still known or leaking and even then finding some rust on a 34-year-old Toyota would not be a surprise.

After removing the seats, carpets and linings there was quite a few small spots behind the drivers seat and down along the sill but nothing to major other than a what turned out to be a rather large hole just before the pedals on the drivers side foot well. Some crusty patches along the roof to sort and nothing much more to worry about there.

THE FRUNK THOUGH! I knew about this before as it was immediately clear but in short the previous owner seemed to of left the brake fluid reservoir cap off and a lot had spilled over to sit in the frunk floor and rot through it. I had noticed this as I bought it and had it “fixed” by a welder but this ended up more being the rusty metal being taken out and a flat section stuck on the bottom, it did the job but it wasn’t tidy or nice to look at.

Arches and sills surprisingly good, only thing to mention here was the nearside rear arch had a previous repair that needs doing again but actual rust was minimal. The bottoms of the A-pillars on both sides however did show signs of corrosion as well as were around the bonnet hinges near the corners of the windscreen.

While doing some unrelated work, taking a cross member off at the front and then the front anti-roll bar off the captive nuts inside the chassis snapped off which is a common thing on these cars and then usually involves cutting open a part of the chassis to get the once captive nut n=and either welding it back in and welding the cut back up or just using threaded inserts instead. I noticed that I did not need to cut open the chassis as at each side there was some nice rusty holes exactly were I needed to access, while technically this was handy it was another place to add on to the list of work.

As my car is stored at my parents house, 3.5 hours drive away this work takes some time to get through but now is under way! Slowly.

Upgrades to the MR2

I decided to freshen up the springs and damper inserts on each corner whilst I had the chance to get some dampers free off “my boss who isn’t actually my boss but gives me a large percentage of my work so kind of my boss” person and a set of springs from the interwebs.

New drop links and anti-roll bars were ordered but the mk1B set came which i am yet to figure out if they are interchangeable so is still a job to complete with new rubber bushes all round.

New front brakes aren’t needed to be honest but would help plus some proper wheels and tyres (195/50/15 on 15×7 et35) is also on the shopping list. Then boom! Ready for an MOT with no advisories, maybe.

The Other Issue

The other expensive part is the paint work, and as it seems to be a non-standard pearlescent paint and with new different colored doors, it is an issue. But this is something I plan on learning later on and doing myself or with help and will have a write up on here once completed or maybe even a video on it too!

Any questions or advice for me please leave me a comment below!

Many thanks 🙂


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