I wasn't looking for this if I am honest. What I really hoped to find was a completely stock Toyota MR2 Mk2. It's a shape that just sits right with me and grows better and better with age. The Mk1's ever-eighties angularity didn't offer the same appeal - until now. But that's the funny thing about car curiosity: you get drawn to something that previously failed to buzz the dopamine dispenser and, 30-minutes later, there you are, still fawning.
In this instance, that close attention threw up two interesting facts. Firstly, in France and Belgium it was known as the MR, because MR2, or M-ER-Deux as it would be, sounds a bit like...well...Merde. I was also unaware that Roger Becker had a hand in its chassis development. And that's a fine pair to have left their mark on any car. Having joined Lotus as an assembly line worker, Roger's talents came to the attention of Colin Chapman who put him to work on vehicle development - a vocation that he didn't relinquish until he retired, post-Evora.
Back to the MR2. It's always a treat to see a fulsome set of pics and these are just so. They show the perfect colour combo of red with black and, to my - admittedly untrained - eye, a very original-looking example. I never bought Max power because, well, modding cars wasn't and isn't my thing. I like originality, except in exceptional circumstances, which is why this one floats my boat.
I cannot fault the exterior, the rear-window reflector, which beams 'Toyota' onto the rear screen (I've always thought that was a smart piece of design) is clear, as are all the plastic lenses. Inside, the leather, including the side bolsters, looks unworn and, just as importantly, has the appearance of being still supple. If that's the case, that's pretty good after more than three decades. The dashboard is so Japanese. Conventional, yet unconventional at the same time. Everything's where you expect it to be but made to look different in that we're-doing-this-just-for-the-sake-of-it Japanese way. I love it.
This is a later AW11 car and has the DOHC 16v 1.6-litre with variable inlet manifolds. Pre-cat, that meant 128hp, which is a tidy sum in a car weighing less than 1,000 kilos. And 50,000 miles is naff-all for any Toyota, even one pretending to be a supercar with its engine in the middle. Plus, if you think the tally of seven owners is a black mark compared with a one- or two-owner example, I learned something early on in my sales career to challenge that notion. One-owner cars can be great finds, of course, but seven owners (or more) mean seven fresh flashes of enthusiasm bestowing love and kindness on a car. Each new owner (and dealer, if it passed through one) will more than likely have done those little bits here and there that, let's be honest, when we've had a car for a while, we say we'll get round to but never do.
What you should get around to doing it looking through the pictures, as I did. And if you're really smitten, then go one better and bag it for yourself. I can't think of many other mid-engine sports cars that are almost guaranteed to not give you classic-car grief or look this fresh without a restoration - even I know MR2s suffer from is rust, but this one doesn't look like it's been eaten by tin worm. The advert describes it as having required recommissioning, including a full service and timing belt. Let's hope it gets used and brings joy to someone soon.
SPECIFICATION | TOYOTA MR2
Engine: 1587cc, 4 cylinders, naturally aspirated
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 128@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 105@5,000rpm
0-60mph: 7.7 sec
Top speed: 119mph
Year registered: 1989
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £12,495
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