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Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
5/24/21 9:42 a.m.

woman standing next to a white 1985 MR2 AW11 with palm trees in the background

We bought this car from JG Pasterjak back in 2015 because I, admittedly not knowing much about cars at the time, thought it looked cool and would be a fun project. We replaced the blown head gasket and got it mostly sorted in other ways, but then it got brushed to the side in favor of more urgent projects.

Well, this past weekend we found ourself in need of a cool car to drive to Amelia Island, and found that the MR2 was the most intact classic we had on hand. I was forced to confront the reality of my mostly-abandoned project car and trauma-bond with it on the highway in infamous Jacksonville rush hour traffic. The windshield broke. I got dangerously close to heat exhaustion. A lot of time was spent on the shoulder of the road.

I entered it in the Concours d'Lemons for fun and got to be modestly proud of it for a few hours (etiquette side note - if you see a woman standing next to a car at a show, PLEASE consider the possibility that she is the owner and try not to be rude). I met a lot of other MR2 fans, felt my love for the car's aesthetics validated, and let go of most of the hard feelings that had developed during the perilous commute.

At the end of the weekend, I drove my little AW11 home with a newfound appreciation for it and plenty of motivation to restart my restoration efforts. My end goal is to get the car looking and feeling more or less like new, with all the correct trim and decals on the outside. It also needs a new dash — this one has a pretty significant crack that has resisted my best vinyl repair efforts — and some driving comfort improvements such as a working stereo and softer suspension. This car will probably never be concours-quality, but I'd like to make it into something that would fit in and be comfortable to take on a road tour.

If anybody has any tips on where to find MR2 parts and how to go about restoring a car from this era, I would appreciate advice! I'm already aware of Twos R Us and will probably be ordering some things from them in the near future. smiley

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
5/24/21 9:45 a.m.

I still love you even though you want to take those sweet Kosei K1s off your car. cheeky

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
5/24/21 10:03 a.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

I might make an exception for wheels. I'll admit the originals don't thrill me. The Kosei K1s look nice but are peeling in spots. There's also those basket weaves...

oldeskewltoy
oldeskewltoy UberDork
5/25/21 10:04 a.m.

faceebook MR2 sites have folks from all over the world... and many are now 3D printing oddball parts....   They also will help a great deal.   You can also join the MR2 forums - believe it or not there is a LOT of good info in these forums.

 

And if you want something under the engine lid with a bit more umph, I'll be happy to build you a head, and offer advice/recommendations.

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
5/25/21 11:02 a.m.

In reply to oldeskewltoy :

Thanks! I just requested to join a bunch of local MR2 FB groups and will probably register for the forum on MR2OC later today.

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue Reader
5/25/21 3:01 p.m.

Alright. Any official AW11 content is a good thing.

Longtime AW11 owner here. Coming up on 17 years in mine. Every so often i think I'm ready for a change, but I'm not. This is my car and I am its person. Mine is also an '85. It's the best year, in my entirely impartial opinion. 

You missed the golden age ofMR2 forums by about ten years. MR2OC got sold to a corporate owner who turned it into a banner farm and priced sponsorship out of reach of many small vendors, including myself, who supported the community, and the forums sort of fell apart.  There's still some activity, and a ton of good archived information, but it's not what it used to be.

Facebook groups captured the kids with short attention spans, and the signal to noise ratio is pretty poor sometimes. I go occasionally to see what vendors are offering but tend not to participate.

Twos R Us is the default source for many things. There are others but David has been around a very long time, and buying from him is part and parcel of MR2 ownership.

There's also still a surprising amount of OEM stuff (mostly hard parts) available from Toyota dealership parts departments, provided you have a relationship with someone there who a) is willing to look up parts for older cars, b) has enough experience to use the catalog correctly, c) knows at least a little bit about MR2s, and d) doesn't mind checking availability on part numbers when necessary.

Oldeskewltoy knows his way around the 4A-GE. More power is not as easy as bolting on a single keystone part and unlocking fifty secret horsepower. You have several obstacles to address in making power out of a 4A-GE, and these cars aren't as light as they could be. But even at stock power they're a lot of fun.

Burp the coolant!

 

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress Reader
5/25/21 7:21 p.m.

I can't remember the guy's forum handle, but one of the frequent 2k challenge competitors seemed to have multiple aw11's and a good bit of knowledge. Pretty sure he bought the 2018 parking lot build and was 1/2 of a miata team that won the challenge.

Trauma bond is a great phrase-good luck!

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/7/21 6:24 p.m.

Been too busy to make a whole ton of progress on this lately, but I did finally get a local auto glass guy to give me a quote on a new windshield after being repeatedly ghosted by Safelite, so I'm halfway to getting that fixed.

Mostly wanted to jump on here and plug a small business that I learned about recently: onehellofatown.com (OHOAT! for short). I bought some nice prismatic stickers from them and was very excited to receive the USPS alert that they'd been delivered today. So basically, today's update is that I removed some of the old window stickers that JG had applied and put my own personal touch on the car. 


In reply to Nicole Suddard :

Those are AWESOME!!! I love that they're prismatic too, so retro. 

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/7/21 8:57 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress said:

I can't remember the guy's forum handle, but one of the frequent 2k challenge competitors seemed to have multiple aw11's and a good bit of knowledge. Pretty sure he bought the 2018 parking lot build and was 1/2 of a miata team that won the challenge.

Trauma bond is a great phrase-good luck!

Mrjoshua if I'm not mistaken.

I probably shouldn't have sold it either.

 

Derick Freese
Derick Freese UltraDork
6/16/21 2:21 p.m.

Have you gotten around to the dash crack? Have you considered filling the crack and wrapping it with something like pleather? It looks like it doesn't have many complex curves to worry about, so that should be easy. You also mention having a good stereo. I see the speakers in the dash are in great positions for imaging. Looks like the factory radio in those is a double DIN, but it looks like it's in a terrible place to use that as a backup camera. Maybe something period correct here, too. Plenty of nice vintage head units around that you can set up with bluetooth or an aux cable.

I saw your car up at HQ one day on my way home from work and thought it was awesome and wanted to know more about it. Cool that you're doing a build thread on it!

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/17/21 2:22 p.m.

Fresh and clean with a new windshield! Took a bit longer than expected because the auto glass place ordered the wrong one for my first appointment.

Now I just have to keep the new glass whole. That's a challenge in itself, since the frunk hood corners REALLY want to be friends with the windshield. We're considering modifying the hinges so that the hood can't open far enough to intersect with the glass, but until we have time for that, the solution is Don't Open It.

As for the dash crack, I actually took a shot at fixing that last September and forgot I'd taken pictures of it until now.

It's not a perfect fix, but I'd say it's pretty good for one done with a vinyl repair kit meant for couches and seats

 

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue Reader
6/17/21 2:39 p.m.

You shouldn't have to modify anything to keep the frunk lid from contacting the glass. The rearmost corners of the frunk lid will be within about 1/4" of the glass when opened as far as the hinges allow, but should certainly not make contact.

It is both possible and likely that either the frunk lid is too far back on the hinges or the glass is installed incorrectly. These cars suffered the twin indignities of being both cheap and odd for a very long time, and decades of being owned and serviced by the lowest bidder have taken their toll.

 

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/17/21 2:40 p.m.

In reply to Derick Freese :

Thanks for reminding me I never posted about the dash crack! Pic in my last post. Just used a standard 3M Vinyl & Leather repair kit to fill and paint the crack. It was a little tricky because of how deep the crack was and the fact that it was on an edge, but it turned out ok.

I don't think I'll ever put a backup camera in this. Right now there's something funky going on electrically on that side of the dash, (my evidence: the stereo, clock, and cigarette lighter all don't work), so once I figure that out, I'm going to swap in an old radio that, iirc, we have laying around from one of Tom's past Spitfire projects. I haven't seen it yet since it's stowed deep in the attic, but I've got my fingers crossed for a CD player (I currently have many CDs and nothing that plays them) and maybe an AUX jack. That's as modern as we're going to make it.

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/17/21 2:56 p.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

The glass guys tried their best to keep the new glass out of the way and even apparently tried to adjust the hood (without asking me first - they're clearly operating on a different side of the forgiveness/permission debate than I am, but I digress). I've had a few people who know what they're doing look at it, and there doesn't seem to be a good way to move the hood forward without creating some weird gaps. Still considering all options though. Haven't done anything yet.

Derick Freese
Derick Freese UltraDork
6/17/21 3:01 p.m.

Devious idea for the hood, what about making the hinges and latch mechanism from something like a 2nd gen Prelude fit? Those are front hinged hoods, and they still pop up at the junkyards from time to time.

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue Reader
6/17/21 3:06 p.m.

In reply to Nicole Suddard :

Interesting. The factory used a "dam kit" (basically a roughly 1/4" square section foam rubber standoff) to space the glass off the body, and two retainers (sort of hook shaped objects bolted to the cowl and holding  the lower edge of the glass) to keep the glass from sliding down the pillars. Odds are that the glass shop didn't procure or even take notice of either of those, so glass might be slightly out of place. Let me know if you want measurements of any kind to compare.

 

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/17/21 3:15 p.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Oh, that's very interesting. I would bet good money the glass shop had no idea. 

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue Reader
6/17/21 3:23 p.m.
Nicole Suddard said:

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Oh, that's very interesting. I would bet good money the glass shop had no idea. 

I'm not taking that bet. In my limited experience, most glass shops use only glass and urethane. And beer. But factory parts? Naw, only nerds and amateurs use that stuff.

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/17/21 9:47 p.m.

After much midship running-about this week, I'm pretty confident the next priority for this project is going to be softening the suspension. JG set this thing up to Go Fast™️ with Koni/Ground Control coil-overs, but I don't think I'm ever going to autocross it again (I know, insert sad trombone here) and I'd rather have a more comfortable ride for around town.

DarkMonohue
DarkMonohue Reader
6/18/21 12:08 a.m.
Nicole Suddard said:

After much midship running-about this week, I'm pretty confident the next priority for this project is going to be softening the suspension. JG set this thing up to Go Fast™️ with Koni/Ground Control coil-overs, but I don't think I'm ever going to autocross it again (I know, insert sad trombone here) and I'd rather have a more comfortable ride for around town.

Oh, now you're just teasing me!  My '85 runs Suspension Techniques drop-in springs w/ Konis, and it's a little jittery.  My  impression is that it wants more spring to match the dampers.  Any idea what the spring rates are on those coilovers?

Spring rates for stock and Suspension Techniques springs are listed here.  Not sure how accurate they are.  Subjectively, stock is soft and ST is firmer, but reasonable, depending on the damper and wheel/tire combo.

I should still have my stock '85 springs and probably an extra set of strut housings with factory spring perches intact.  Might be worth discussing some sort of trade if you were interested in stock springs or those STs.  You could probably also go to softer springs on the coilovers if that makes sense.

Mine is also on 205/45R16 tires and fairly heavy Rota wheels, which aren't helping matters.  It was happier on the 205/50R15s it had previously.

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/18/21 8:47 a.m.

In reply to DarkMonohue :

Not sure about the exact spring rates on the current coil-overs, but definitely stiff af. Need to take a closer look, hoping to have time this weekend.

Preliminary plan is to just put softer springs on the coil-overs. But my Brain Trust (ok, mostly Tom) on this stuff has been out of town recently working on much more pressing projects, which means I've had limited time to discuss options/what we have/what we need/how expensive it will be. 

singleslammer
singleslammer GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/18/21 9:13 a.m.

Keep it up! I finally think I figured out the oil leak on my SC MR2 am may be able to pull it into the shop to work on installing the Microsquirt soon. AW11s are great. I always love them in white. 

Do you have the stock triangle wheels? 

Nicole Suddard
Nicole Suddard Marketing Coordinator
6/18/21 10:14 a.m.

In reply to singleslammer :

We have an assortment of original and spare parts that I think includes the stock wheels. About 70% sure on that.

A big part of the next actual work day on this thing is going to be taking inventory of everything MR2-related we have stored in the attic, since it's been a few years, a college graduation, a garage build, a wedding and many many other project cars since we brought this and all its accoutrements home

Derick Freese
Derick Freese UltraDork
6/18/21 10:50 a.m.

I'd lean toward different rate springs on the existing coilovers.

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