1 2
Robert Bowen
Robert Bowen
4/15/13 8:00 a.m.

How would you like a sleek, mid-engined roadster for the price of a used minivan stinking of spoiled milk and dirty dogs? The Toyota MR2 Spyder may be your answer. As an added feature, it’s built like a Toyota.

The MR2 was the Japanese giant’s most notable on-again, off-again niche sports car. First introduced for 1985, it was an inexpensive, mid- engined two-seater based around the Corolla engine and transmission. A light curb weight and low polar moment of inertia made it thrilling to drive despite its low power and humble origins. A car this fun—and this impractical—was unexpected from Toyota and became an immediate media darling. Sales followed the praise, and the first MR2 sold well during the four years it was available in the States.

The original, sharp-edged car was replaced by a new, more aerodynamic MR2 for 1991. The second-generation model was also larger and more powerful than its predecessor. A powerful turbocharged variant was sold alongside the base model, and its 200 horsepower pushed performance to new levels. Unfortunately, the market was changing. Like the Mazda RX-7, the Nissan 300ZX, Toyota’s own Supra and the Mitsubishi 3000GT, the MR2 was too sophisticated, too expensive and in too small of a niche to win the favor of Japanese automakers. Their halos moved to more profitable, broad-market SUVs and other cars. The MR2 was discontinued after 1995, and that slot in the lineup was left vacant.

Read the rest of the story

NickD
NickD PowerDork
9/16/19 9:41 a.m.

Good lord, are you guys reading my brain? I drove one of those last weekend at an autocross in E/Street (he had just wheels and some BFG Rivals on it, no sway bars or exhaust or brake work) and it was such a delightful car to drive. So, now I've been out looking for cheap ones so that I can retire my supercharged Miata from autocross and have my PAX work for me instead of against me.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
9/16/19 9:47 a.m.

Am I the only one who likes these?

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
9/16/19 9:55 a.m.
Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
9/16/19 10:25 a.m.

In reply to sleepyhead the buffalo :

Good news! 

NickD
NickD PowerDork
9/16/19 10:45 a.m.

In reply to Jordan Rimpela :

I also really like these. Of all the Mister2s, I want one of these. Also, forum member Carbon has a badass ~225whp, ~1800lb one that I've ridden in. It's a little rocket ship

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/16/19 1:34 p.m.

This one's always puzzled me as to why it never left the factory with the 2ZZ-GE to begin with.

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
9/16/19 3:01 p.m.

I have a E36 M3ty MR-S and a E36 M3ty pile of disassembled 2zz engine.  Some assembly required. blush

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
9/16/19 3:03 p.m.

In reply to Vigo :

Still waiting for that 1980 T&C build thread...

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
9/16/19 7:16 p.m.

I love these... sadly they are really expensive when I see them for sale. 

Carbon
Carbon UltraDork
9/16/19 7:55 p.m.

I have a pair of them, a 1zz turbo one and a 2zz turbo one. Both are ridiculous fun. Both have been very reliable despite copius track use and hard street use. Both are ftd cars at most events.

I took another 6lbs out of the silver car, it weighs (with a 1zz turbo and a six speed/lsd swap) 1929lbs. Ready to drive, in street trim, with stock seats. A N/A one with a 5 speed would be even lighter. 

Carbon
Carbon UltraDork
9/16/19 7:57 p.m.
CyberEric said:

I love these... sadly they are really expensive when I see them for sale. 

Wait..... what? Theyre all over the place for between 3k and 5k. Thats cheaper than any rust free miata I can find. 

Carbon
Carbon UltraDork
9/16/19 8:00 p.m.
NickD said:

In reply to Jordan Rimpela :

I also really like these. Of all the Mister2s, I want one of these. Also, forum member Carbon has a badass ~225whp, ~1800lb one that I've ridden in. It's a little rocket ship

The one you rode in was the heavy one (1929lbs) lol. It got a trd lsd/ and six speed, and a bigger turbo (tomei arms 7660) since you rode in it. 

BlindPirate
BlindPirate Reader
9/16/19 8:01 p.m.

So, what are they like to work on? Would it be tough to do some stuff in the garage on jack stands? I have been eyeing these for awhile but mid engine maintenance has held me back.

Carbon
Carbon UltraDork
9/16/19 8:47 p.m.

Theyre not bad, its like working on a backwards carolla. 

BlindPirate
BlindPirate Reader
9/16/19 9:12 p.m.

Who is the Flying Miata of the MR2 world?

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
9/16/19 9:20 p.m.

Pretty sure there isn't one, per se. 

Dootz
Dootz Reader
9/17/19 1:48 a.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

So that people would have a reason to buy its platform mate the Elise

NickD
NickD PowerDork
9/17/19 5:18 a.m.
BlindPirate said:

Who is the Flying Miata of the MR2 world?

At least for the MR-2 Spyder, I would say Monkeywrench Racing. They sell turbo kits, all sorts of 1ZZ internal upgrades, 2ZZ swap kits and Honda K-series swap kits.

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
9/17/19 6:20 a.m.

I was discussing somewhere else that one of these (probably w/ the 2zz) would make an interesting GLTC car... since it's lighter/wider/lower-drag and mid-rear compared to the miata which has 'semi-dominated' GLTC so far

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
9/17/19 9:07 a.m.

back in 1999 when I bought my one and only new car. It came down to the MR2 spider and a Hyundai Tiburon. The only reason I went with the Tib was because I needed the storage space the MR2 lacked. I was doing 20,000 miles a year as a video editor and I was often carrying equipment with me. If it had a rear trunk like the previous two MRs, it would have been all over it

Carbon
Carbon UltraDork
9/17/19 6:18 p.m.
NickD said:
BlindPirate said:

Who is the Flying Miata of the MR2 world?

At least for the MR-2 Spyder, I would say Monkeywrench Racing. They sell turbo kits, all sorts of 1ZZ internal upgrades, 2ZZ swap kits and Honda K-series swap kits.

They are definitely not on par with fm in terms of quality or service imho. But they’re ok, and they support the platform consistently for decades now. 

CyberEric
CyberEric HalfDork
9/17/19 7:35 p.m.

In reply to Carbon :

Really?! That’s great to hear because in my area they are hardly ever for sale, and when they are, they’re Toyota-taxed like crazy. Miatas are half the price around here (SF Bay). I can pull up a half dozen nice-ish NBs for less than 4K. Not a single Spyder for sale. Last one I saw was $6k. Where do you see them so cheap?

BlindPirate
BlindPirate Reader
9/17/19 7:52 p.m.

I have been spoiled by the Miata aftermarket and the info out there. In my limited research today on a mostly street suspension what info I found was a bit confusing. Tire size, staggered set up or square, a good spring, shock or coilover seems to be you are more on your own to figure out.

Niannone
Niannone New Reader
9/17/19 9:45 p.m.

I went from an NA to a spyder. The aftermarket is absolutely frustrating. Seems to be only low tier coil overs or custom crazy expensive stuff. Currently running BC coils which I really dislike and make the car a handful to drive. The car has been extremely reliable though. 

1 2
Our Preferred Partners
0HL18dBiTarKRrn5wEvU8mWOhTCjR8kguq0nO96qqllsSaEu5Y0vyATvhIcMxthm