A Toyota MR2 That Keeps On Ticking
Story & Photography by: Ross
Far from the very fashionable rear-engined Porsche 911 and 912, the mid-engined 914, BoxI bought this 1987 AW11 Toyota MR2 not long after I got my license, back when I was 18 (the legal driving age in my state), as I needed a car. It was a trade-in at a car dealer near my college.
It was also 18 years old at the time, and I bought it at a point in the mid-2000s where it was just a cheap old sports car—not new enough to generally be desirable, yet not old enough to be cool.
I drove this car anywhere and everywhere for the first few years of ownership. I have done at least 100,000 km in the car, with it now having more than 400,000 km on the odometer. It has also taught me so much; countless spins and the occasional (unintentional) off-road jaunt gradually taught me how to handle its combination of a short wheelbase and mid-mounted engine. Having the car slowly turn matte-pink not long after purchase forced me to learn how to care for single-stage acrylic paint, and as a constant photo subject, I’ve slowly learned to take pictures that aren’t terrible!
It really would be hard to guess just how many photos I’ve taken of it…it’s safe to say I’ve burned the image of what the car looks like into my head! I’d comfortably be able to recognize it blindfolded—a totally useful skill, no doubt.
It’s never been restored, but definitely “aggressively maintained”! By around 2010 (and at 350,000 km), it needed a fair bit of work, with almost everything rebuilt or replaced over the next couple years. I’ve never had any intention of selling this car, so have been more than willing to sort anything I’d otherwise have to fix down the track anyway.
Nowadays, it appears overall as it did back in 1987, minus the tartan-trimmed Recaro LX-C seats and Fujitsubo exhaust, with a bunch of other fun bits added, including a warmed-over 4AGE, Quaife LSD, quicker steering rack, and so on—mostly, the modifications stay out of sight!
The paint is 15 shades of red, and mostly worn through—and there are plenty of other scratches, chips, marks to the trim bits, wheels, and so on, but it all adds character. I’ve just always done my best to keep it clean…and it’s pretty amazing I haven’t washed it away!
I’ve grown up on the outskirts of Melbourne’s Yarra Valley winery region, so have always had plenty of great roads to drive on. I look forward to many more years of my MR2 by my side.
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