A Restored Toyota MR2 That Lives For the Twisties
Story by Mike Reed & Photography by: Cullen Cheung
I have to be completely honest, I’m born of the Fast and Furious generation. I saw the movie as a freshly-licensed 16 year old, and it changed my world for the better—or at least that’s what I’d like to think. After that movie, I started scouring the internet researching cars, motorcycles, planes, you name it. I think that’s when I found my real love: playing with machines.
About 3 years ago, I had finally saved up some spending money and started throwing around the idea of a project car. I only knew that I wanted something AWD or RWD…and didn’t really have any preferences from there. When I found this beat up, left for dead Toyota MR2, I saw the potential instantly.
It helped that they were so cheap: I picked mine up for $1,700.
Once I had the car, I soon found myself seeing how much potential these autos have. They are truly designed after supercars. The mid-engine layout, the gas tank location for best center of gravity, balanced weight distribution, and even great features like the T-Tops got me hooked. This car was also in perfect rebuild condition, everything was shot on it…but with no rust! It was begging for a restoration.
I’m most proud of the fact that I have literally restored this car completely by myself. The first motor swap, suspension, braking, interior, paint and body work, and now second motor swap were all performed by myself on nights and weekends, in a dinky little garage. I take a lot of pride in that, especially since it’s my first and only MR2.
I’ve learned a lot about this car by just getting into the garage and going at it. I’ve also documented my build from the very beginning with a rather long thread on one of the main MR2 forums. The link can be found here: www.mr2.com
I’d like to think of my car as an aggressive street car, without being too over the top. It still has most creature comforts, like a full interior, stereo, etc., but has the acceleration, braking, and suspension tuning to outperform cars many levels above in price and power.
I have a few “secret” roads up in the Cascades I frequent on nights and weekends. Most have beautiful scenery, great pavement, and a lot of turns. You can go out on a nice day and enjoy its characteristically great handling, hear the turbo spooling behind you, and think about nothing but, “What gear I should be in for the next turn?”
It’s a great release. I’ve also been bit by the track day bug recently, and really enjoy Pacific Raceways, and The Ridge Motorsports Park.
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