steven_loe New Reader
May 12, 2012 11:13 a.m.

A while back, I drove a 3rd gen MR2. I loved the light steering and good vehicle dynamics. But given the price, I figured I could buy 2 Miatas and have $$ left over. So I bought two Miatas.

But I'm still interested in the second gen MR2. Please school me. Poor man's Elise or nothing like that? How's are they to own? To work on? How are the factory turbo cars? If you had it to do all over again, would you?

Lof8 New Reader
May 12, 2012 7:51 p.m.

In reply to steven_loe:

Theres a spyder at the local autocross that has a gutted interior, low coil-overed suspension, wide sticky tires, and an ecu flash. He got FTD out of about 65 cars. Pretty impressive!

bmw88rider New Reader
May 12, 2012 8:08 p.m.

I've got a 91 turbo. Good car and really comfortable. You really can't think Elise. Think more GT than that. It's definitely not as tossable or playful as a miata. Trust me I know. I just finished 6 years of miata ownership.

To work on there is some stupid toyota engineering in it. Let me give you one. They didn't provide a cut out to remove the brake line. So when you pull the strut, you have to remove the brake line too. It is a bit more difficult to get to some stuff but it's not horrible.

It's a boost controller and a fuel cut defeater from about 220 WHP.

The hardest thing is to find one that hasn't been messed up. I paid a lot more for a car that was really behind on maintenance to get one that wasn't messed with.

Would I do it again?? In a heartbeat. I only wish I could have found a hardtop turbo. I may have to make one at some point.

fast_eddie_72 SuperDork
May 12, 2012 8:45 p.m.

bmw88rider is right. Not an Elise. But a fun car. Mine is an E Stock N/A.

Brake line cut out? Meh. I just pulled the clip and made one. Took about five minutes on each side with a hack saw. That's pretty typical Toyota. Did the same on Tom Celica.

Much bigger difficulty is doing darn near anything on the engine. Typically step one is "remove engine from car". lol Okay, not quite, but close. I know this, only car I ever paid someone to put a water pump on.

But I really like mine. It was cheap and has given me more smiles per dollar than just about anything I've ever bought. Super fun car.

92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
May 13, 2012 8:18 a.m.

A nice 2nd gen Turbo will run about the same as a nice 3rd gen Spyder.

Both are very solid cars, but totally different. In my opinion, the 3rd gen does what a Miata does, but better, as long as you're ok with giving up some utility.

The 2nd gen really has all the makings of a budget supercar. They're stable, they're heavier, and get REALLY fast in a hurry.

Curmudgeon MegaDork
May 13, 2012 10:17 a.m.

I'd like to have a slicktop version myself. At 5'11 1/2" I can fit in a 2nd gen much better than a first. There is the potential to easily swap a V6 from a Camry. And yes Camrys were available V6 and manual transmission.

evildky Dork
May 13, 2012 4:05 p.m.

we had an ES n/a local that used to top pax on a regular basis

if you get a turbo, get one with a gen3 motor, they made a lot of improvements making it easier to service, and the sw20 engine bay is fairly spacious but many operations will still be simpler to just drop the engine

also the second gens won't fit a 6-6 driver

Will Dork
May 13, 2012 6:37 p.m.

I bought a 91 naturally aspirated car back in December, and I've really enjoyed it so far. I have one of the lighter Mk2s, (hardtop/non-PS) and it's still 2550 pounds, so it's not exactly Miata light. But it's a blast to drive, gets 30+mpg, and it looks awesome. Yeah, I'd do it over again if I had to.

singleslammer Reader
May 13, 2012 7:55 p.m.

I have had a MK2 and currently own a MK3. Totally different cars. I can pretty much reinforce what everyone else is saying. The MK3 is getting to be cheaper than the MK2, especially the turbo (my MK3 was only $6k). If you want a touring car, there are probably better choices than the MK2. If you want an upgrade from the miatas than a MK3 is a great option. Very well balanced and, in my opinion, faster and more comfortable than a NB.

mad_machine MegaDork
May 13, 2012 7:58 p.m.

I would like a slicktop 2nd gen.. without the rear spoiler

Dr. Hess UltimaDork
May 13, 2012 8:02 p.m.

Anyone have a parts car? I'm kinda looking for a shifter mechanism (the part in the cabin). Like, er, Cheap. MK1,2,3, whatever, doesn't really matter.

PDoane New Reader
May 14, 2012 1:35 p.m.

Check out

Tyler H Dork
May 14, 2012 2:49 p.m.
Curmudgeon wrote: I'd like to have a slicktop version myself. At 5'11 1/2" I can fit in a 2nd gen much better than a first. There is the potential to easily swap a V6 from a Camry. And yes Camrys were available V6 and manual transmission.

I'm in the process of putting in a 1MZ-FE from an Avalon into a 91 Turbo chassis. You could say this is a well-documented swap, but I would call it more "common" than "well-documented." I've run into a lot of incorrect or outdated info.

To that end, I'm keeping a build diary over here:

These are great cars and a very robust platform. There is a reason they are 2600-2900lbs for such a small car: they're solid. The components seem to be overbuilt rather than exactingly engineered.

I've had a bunch of these cars. The electric power steering is nice, and the variable assist seems to cut out over parking lot speeds. The faster rack is worth the added weight. The PS shares circuity and power supply with the ABS, so a PS car will have ABS also.

Nothing to look out for other than a hard life from neglectful POs.

May 14, 2012 4:41 p.m.

I drove a 2nd gen turbo for seven years as a daily back when they were new, and I loved it. It was not without issues, but they were not severe and not often. The biggest were the hose from hell and a warped manifold. Once the springs and shocks were changed, it was a great driver too. I also had a hardtop '91 NA for a few years, and if you have a choice, the hardtop is the way to go.

If I were buying now, it would only be the turbo. I liked both, and truth be told, the NA is the better driver due to less weight on the back of the car, but the turbo is so much more fun. Neither are particularly stable at high speed (the turbo is good for almost 150), and both need better spring rates and good shocks. I view this as a neccesity and not an option. As a daily driver, each work really well.

The spider is infinitely more tossable. A spider is like a teddy bear where the turbo is like a psycho girl friend. At less than half tread in the rear, it's the only car I've ever owned that could swap ends going in a straight line in the wet. If you like to pitch your car around like a Miata at an autocross, the MR2 Turbo is not the car for you.

It rewards neat and tidy lines, and slow in fast out. On a road course you can balance it with the throttle, but there is a fine line between making a fast lap and getting out the checkbook. I personally love to drive a car with the throttle, but if you don't, look elsewhere. In that sense, it's nothing like the Spider or an Elise. They are both more "gentle" on the edge.

Of the dozen or so MR2's I've owned, only a couple are still in existance. Most were wrecked within a week; my turbo car was totalled an hour after the new owner took delivery. Don't want to seem negative, but I love MR2's and hate seeing them go to an early grave!

icaneat50eggs Reader
May 14, 2012 11:08 p.m.

I heard WWII vintage radial engines drop right in....

May 14, 2012 11:32 p.m.
icaneat50eggs wrote: I heard WWII vintage radial engines drop right in....


icaneat50eggs Reader
May 14, 2012 11:47 p.m.

Reference to an epic build for a lemons race where a guy but a 5 cylinder radial airplane engine in one. I'll try to find a link

icaneat50eggs Reader
May 14, 2012 11:49 p.m.
May 15, 2012 12:22 a.m.
icaneat50eggs wrote: Jalopnik report




Feedyurhed Dork
May 15, 2012 6:06 a.m.
icaneat50eggs wrote: Jalopnik report

I am guessing that wouldn't pass any emission tests.

Bill Strong New Reader
May 15, 2012 10:23 a.m.

I have all three gens. My latest toy is a 1MZ-FE V6 swap that is going to be my "Daily" race car. (for use in ChumpCar and Lemons) Much more fun than the turbo 2 liters. Torque is the winner here. Ya, you can make a gazillion hp with the turbo setups, but in the end the most fun is with the sixers.

My street daily driver is a 2ZZ-GE powered hardtop 2001 MR2 Spyder. I yanked out the soft top as I hate soft tops. I put a Toyota OE hard top on and love it now. As I am getting older I really don't like having to wring the crap out of the engine to go fast. So once I get caught up on my bills after the yellow car build I am going to stuff a newer 3MZ-FE into the Spyder. A 2GR bolts in as well, but that is a bit beyond my bank book now.

Bill Strong Owner Racing Strong Motorsports and the

Dr. Hess UltimaDork
May 15, 2012 10:41 a.m.

Hi BIll. Long time no hear.

Bill Strong New Reader
May 15, 2012 10:44 a.m.
steven_loe wrote: But I'm still interested in the second gen MR2. Please school me. Poor man's Elise or nothing like that? How's are they to own? To work on? How are the factory turbo cars? If you had it to do all over again, would you?

Poor man's Elise or nothing like that?

I have driven both. Though the Elise I drove was a Supercharged version. Quick yes. I would not call the Spyder a poor mans Elise. It is different. I would own an Elise, but where I live glued together cars, deer, rough roads, farm animals, trees, road kill do not go well together. Hell the 2nd time I drove my Spyder after installing the 2ZZ I hit a freaking deer at 60 mph. It held up well. I welded on new sheet metal, installed new hood and fender, installed new head lamps, installed a new windshield and was on my way.

How's are they to own?

The MK3 Spyder is fun to own. I drive it daily to work which is 45 miles away. I drove it out to Califonia last summer and had a blast. Bulletproof. Got great MPG and never worried about driving a 10 year old car with 100,000 miles across the deserts of the south-west. It was a blast. Travel blog is here -

To work on?

The MK1, MK2 and MK3 are all easy to work on. I hear little girls crying on the Internets because they are having such a hard time working on the car. But once you sort out the little secrets to doing things, and follow the Big Green Book (Toyota manual) you will find the car easy to diagnose and fix.

How are the factory turbo cars?

That is the real secret. They will run forever if they stay "FACTORY". Once you start pushing the envelope is where lots of people get into trouble. Stock these cars are fun, easy to maintain, and reliable as all get out.

If you had it to do all over again, would you?

Hell yes. I love the MR2. I want a 911. But I know with my employment with the University of Virginia I will only ever be able to own mid-engine power from Toyota.

Bill Strong New Reader
May 15, 2012 10:50 a.m.

In reply to Dr. Hess:

Hey man! Been a long time. I have stacks of MK1 shifter assemblies. You just need the whole plate that bolts to the tunnel that includes the shifter? email mail me at just a few bucks to cover shipping and packing.

ultraclyde Dork
May 15, 2012 11:43 a.m.

I've been daydreaming recently about finding someone who'd like to even trade my Mustang for a late model MRS. Not sure it's a good idea, but this thread really isn't helping.

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