arsine New Reader
March 17, 2013 4:31 p.m.

picked up a shiny new '89 mr2 and thought i'd say 'hi' to all the aw11 owners here. it seems to run pretty well, biggest problem are the windows. i think the gears in them are shot and the driver's side window creeps down by gravity alone. the biggest hole i found was about the size of a nickel although i haven't taken the rocker panels off yet. visions of 20v swaps are swirling around my head but right now i'm going to work on getting it cleaned up. anyway, any of you guys (gals) have any tips on thinks to look out for, etc?

Slippery New Reader
March 17, 2013 4:42 p.m.

Have not seen one of these in south Florida in ages ... are you planning on painting it?

GameboyRMH UltimaDork
March 17, 2013 4:43 p.m.

If it has a water-to-oil cooler make sure the two aren't mixing, T-tops leak, and see if it pops out of 5th when you shift into it from the redline in 4th and go back to full power...apart from that these things are pretty reliable, it's just the rust you have to look out for. The distributor is the engine's weak point.

arsine New Reader
March 17, 2013 4:56 p.m.

slippery, i was thinking about doing it next paycheck. when i was at fau (late 90s-early 00s), someone had one. they also had ferrari stickers on it too :/

gameboy, ill add new ttop seals to the list. i did find a small damp spot in the rear boot when i bought it but i havent noticed any signs of water on the inside. ill check around under the carpets. i had read about that gear popping out but i had thought that was for earlier gearboxes, ill give it a try next ride

PHeller UltraDork
March 17, 2013 11:07 p.m.

Curious what kind of MPG you see out of it.

stan SuperDork
March 18, 2013 4:32 a.m.

I think that description should be "shiny", but I still kinda like it. If it's relatively rust free do what can to keep it that way. One place to look is behind the front wheels around where the wheel well meets the rockers. This area accumulates all kinds of stuff and unless cleaned out will lead to rust. Of course.

Klayfish Dork
March 18, 2013 6:47 a.m.

Nice pick up, love the MK1. Had 3 of them over the years. Check for rust in front of the rear wheel, that triangular shaped molding. Water likes to pool there.

They are such fun cars for zipping through corners. They have their share of known issues (wiper switch, headlight motors, etc...), but the drivetrain is dead nuts reliable.

arsine New Reader
March 18, 2013 8:55 a.m.

i haven't seen any rust around the fender wells, but i should take off the plastic covers to dig a little deeper. i'm going to take the rocker panels off to check under them too. I've only had it a couple days so i don't have any real mpg info, i know toyota was claiming 26/31 back in the day but you need to wind that engine to get it to move so real driving is probably going to be lower. just about everything inside works, even the clock. the power windows are the only real problem, im hoping its just that big gear and order some from 2srus. other than than just need to get some new trim pieces and t-top covers, the sun is brutal in south florida without them. thanks for all the feed back

Tyler H SuperDork
March 18, 2013 9:02 a.m.

If that front lip is an indication of the condition of the rest of the car, you're good. Mk1s always seemt to have ratty/torn front lips.

I use the front lip, c-pillar trim and radio surround as a barometer for the rest of the car. If they're in good shape, it's probably a good one.

pinchvalve UltimaDork
March 18, 2013 9:07 a.m.

I have found that racing them without oil in the motor will spin a bearing, but I don't think that is unique to the MR2.

As for rust, mine was a Pittsburgh car and rusted everywhere, but the common areas seem to be around the rear wheels. both in front and behind. There are patch panels available for both areas. I found that my bumper internals were also toast, but an easy replacement. Front fenders are a bolt-in replacement IF you can find a set. They are becoming hard to find. Lift up the carpets inside to check the floors, especially passenger side.

As for the motor, it is bulletproof (with oil inside, as previously mentioned) but could probably use a good flush of the coolant. Read how to do this because it is tougher with this setup and the bleed screws are plastic and can snap. With fresh plugs, a cold-air intake and a header, these engine easily make 300HP.

Sorry, that was a typo, I meant 3HP more. OK, so they are not a powerful car, but the TVIS should kick in around 4500RPM. The system is vacuum-operated, so if you are not feeling a kick in that RPM range, check all of the vacuum hoses and maybe take off the TVIS plate and get the butterflies clean and moving freely.

OH, did I mention keep oil in it? And there is an oil gauge on the dash. That should be looked at every once in a while. Like before you hit the track.

Matt B Dork
March 18, 2013 9:27 a.m.

Always good to see another aw11 on the board. Sounds like you're on the right track with addressing any existing issues. Engine-wise - aside from a distributor, an alternator, and routine maintenance, mine has really only needed work on a myriad of leaks. Which actually means I've had to replace just about every rubber piece and gasket on the engine, plus the brake and clutch hydraulics.

So in other words, it's taken a lot of work but none of it was very expensive since I did it myself. Gaskets are cheap. Just a bunch of R&R to make sure everything kept fluids where they're meant to be. Also, all that work happened over the course of 7 years, so no biggie. They're almost 30 years old, so really anything is going to start leaking at that point.

Just keep a close eye on the brake and clutch cylinders int he frunk. Obviously, when they start to leak they take the paint with them.

PHeller wrote: Curious what kind of MPG you see out of it.

I've gotten a solid 30-32mpg in the summer months, no matter how I drove the car. I used it for dd duty and it saw 5Krpm+ all the time. For the record, mine is an 86NA with 180K on a stock motor. Only mods to the car are the suspension and wheels.

Also, I'll give the obligatory nod to mr2oc.com if you're not already aware of that forum. Those guys have been incredibly helpful to me online and off.

stan SuperDork
March 18, 2013 9:41 a.m.

Another thing you might attend to: if you're EVER going to take off the undercarriage plastic pieces spray something on the screws and bolts weeks before you do. Otherwise you'll break a lot of them and won't be able to put the plastic back on without drilling (and maybe cussing) a bunch.

I did get around 36 mpg on mine, but that was mosting freeway driving.

Jerry Reader
March 18, 2013 10:06 a.m.

Welcome to another MK1 MR2! I love mine, bought Dec 2011. And yes, the front lip is cracked... (Also both window motors sound like heavy bolt guns firing when I try to raise them.)

GUNDY Reader
March 18, 2013 8:14 p.m.

In reply to arsine: I have molds for fiberglass panels : engine cover/trunk as one piece fender flares front trunk front bumper, two different styles

you are only 45 miles from me

JFX001 UltraDork
March 18, 2013 8:25 p.m.
GUNDY wrote: In reply to arsine: I have molds for fiberglass panels : engine cover/trunk as one piece fender flares front trunk front bumper, two different styles you are only 45 miles from me

Any pics of the finished products?

arsine New Reader
March 19, 2013 8:05 a.m.

thanks for the feedback everyone. i hadnt heard anyone bring up the distributor so ill keep that in mind and read up on that. brake and clutch cylinders seem to be doing ok, will have to drain the fluid and clean the crud out.

gundy, thats something for the future. im waiting for next payday to get registration and insurance. i was up in your neck of the woods saturday looking at another mr2.

im not sure if the underpanels are still on it, havent had a chance to get under the car

GameboyRMH UltimaDork
March 19, 2013 9:11 a.m.

The distributor is the weak point on all the Toyota 4A-series, if you rev the engine high regularly they'll need a new set of bushings and seals maybe once every 3-4 years. If you're going with a standalone ECU consider a CoP setup, 1ZZ-FE packs are the usual candidate, they plug right in and you just need to make/buy a panel that goes in the valve cover valley to support them.

Dr. Hess UltimaDork
March 19, 2013 10:57 a.m.

And look for rust in the front luggage box. Pull the rubber carpet thing up and check.

I think I still have a good dash and rear deck (trunk) lid.

jimbbski HalfDork
March 19, 2013 11:39 a.m.

Ho Hum. Another Mr2. Funny when I go to race my VW and meet up with my friend who races his Mr2 he is sometimes joined by 3 others! In our race group after the Miata the MR2 is the second most common model raced. Good car for ITB.

March 19, 2013 4:31 p.m.

enjoy it...

arsine New Reader
March 19, 2013 7:11 p.m.

im lovin it, already spending my last nickles and dimes on trim pieces

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