PH Fleet: Toyota MR2

It was a month ago, almost to the day, that I drove up to the Midlands and returned with a Mk1 MR2 T-bar, and although my blog on the trials and tribulations of car buying shortly afterwards did introduce it briefly, I didn’t really say an awful lot about the car itself. A PH Fleet entry has been overdue for some time and now with the festive season done and dusted it’s time to give the little Toyota a proper introduction.

Once SOTW, now a Fleet member
Once SOTW, now a Fleet member
That said, this particular MR2 is no stranger to PistonHeads. Those of you with a particularly long memory might remember a Shed Of The Week back in 2010, featuring a Mk1 MR2 that looks surprisingly familiar. I had no knowledge of its prior appearance on the site until after I’d picked it up, so as coincidences go, it’s a good’un!

I gave a tad more than shed money for it - £1,500, to be precise – but then again it has had some TLC lavished upon it in the interim. The paintwork’s been attended to, and it’s had the absent roof spoiler replaced with a brand new one. What’s more, it came endowed with nine months’ MOT, a couple of months’ tax, new brake discs and pads and a rather pricey custom-made stainless steel exhaust system. Oh, and half a tank of fuel.

Original bill of sale is a nice touch
Original bill of sale is a nice touch
But what about the rest of the car? Well, it’s a 1989 model, so a Mk1b – in other words, built after the 1987 facelift. It isn’t a concours example and it needs a few jobs doing but let’s start with the good stuff. 83,000 on the clock, with a few bits of history that seem to back that up, as well as the original bill of sale. The original tool kit’s still there, too, as are the oft-lost bags and screens that go with the glass T-top roofs. The interior’s in good condition, with no broken trim, although the leather’s started to split on the driver’s seat. And outside, the paintwork’s a glossy red, rather than a faded pink.

Rust? Yep, it has some – it's an MR2, after all. The rear arches have been taken care of, but it’s starting to go along the sills, so they'll need to be dealt with before it takes hold. The clutch needs doing, too, and as that’s an engine-out job, I might as well get the timing belt replaced at the same time. An oil and filter change is also on the list. I think I’ll also need to spend some time playing with roof seals – contrary to the original Shed advert, the roof has now started to leak when it rains hard.

Angles, pods and levers: welcome to the '80s
Angles, pods and levers: welcome to the '80s
A few jobs to do, then, but all factored into the haggling process and I reckon once they’re done I’ll be left with a clean, reliable and low-mileage example that I can keep aside for sunny days and weekend hoons. It seems to be a perfect budget second car thus far; it’s remarkably cheap to insure (thanks in part to an exceptionally good deal from Adrian Flux), sips fuel and, of course, it’s enormous fun to drive. With the sun out, the roof off and the windows down, it’s at its best, and now that I’m used to the lighter steering inherent with a mid-engined car, I’m revelling in the balance and the way it flows neatly from corner to corner. The little 4A-GE powerplant sounds fantastic, too, and while it isn’t the quickest thing in the world, the variable intake system makes it truly rev-happy. Rarely do I return from a drive in it without a silly grin plastered across my chops. All of this before we’ve even got to the wedgy looks, the achingly retro interior, or the childish joy of having pop-up headlights to play with. Ahem.

It’s thumbs up so far, then, for this former Shed. And once those bits of work have been done, I’m hoping it’ll be transformed from a good car into a great one. If the weather plays ball – we can but hope – then summer 2013 should be a lot of fun.

 1989 Toyota MR2
Run by: Scrof
Bought: Dec 2012
Purchase price: £1,500
Last month at a glance: Bought it, drove it, loved it.


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Comments (64) Join the discussion on the forum

  • V8 FOU 02 Jan 2013

    Clutch, engine out?? No. done loads of these. quite an easy 'box to remove.
    But if you are having the belts done too, then it would make sense. Nice car. Like these a lot.

  • Captain Muppet 02 Jan 2013

    I miss my mk1 MR2s, both of them.

    I fixed my leaky T-bar roof with some silicon grease

  • TinyCappo 02 Jan 2013

    Looks tidy.

    worth tracking down a magnex for this they sound wonderful on the 4AGE.

    If you want really retro change out the instrument cluster for one of these from the Trueno.

    Then either keep the engine till it goes bang and drop in the 20v 4AGE engine with the 6speed LSD gearbox with the added benefit of ITBS as standard!

  • only1ian 02 Jan 2013

    Glad to have found your car... When it was a shed :-)

    It looked a good one then and seems even better now. It will only ever appreciate.

    As a 3 time MR.2 owner the simplest fix for a leaky roof seal is to carefully remove check area underneath is of free of rust, deformaton and to rub them liberally with none diluted fairy liquid. They often dry out and this can "moisturise" back some supplety so they seal properly. Worth a try before you start replacing them!

    Good luck. Beware the RWD and small tyres in the wet...

    Edited by only1ian on Wednesday 2nd January 12:42

  • pSyCoSiS 02 Jan 2013

    Thats sounds like a lot of fun.

    Didn't realise these were RWD?!

    Are they quite lairy in the wet then?

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