My MR2 Story
Bought in January 2016, pretty much untouched. Car was imported in 2009 (need to check) and had been in dry storage for about 2 years, had roughly 92’000kms on the clock so for 1997 the car it is remarkably low mileage (kilometerage?).
At the time I had no real idea what kind of car I was going to buy, was always going to be a car that wasn’t going to get used as a daily driver due to me travelling for University/work every day. Had toyed around with the idea of Civic Type R’s, Impreza’s and 350Z’s but when I seen this car come up in the “Car and Classic” classifieds I just had to go look.
I went to view the car, but the one thing that I was still questioning in my head was the colour “Emerald Green”, prior to seeing it i couldn’t possibly imagine a green MR2 looking good especially when I had never before seen one in this colour before, nor did the listing show the colour up at all, just looked black. But I was pleasantly, proven wrong and to my taste, I think the colour is probably the best these were produced in, though I may be biased. It also had some factory options that I’ve seldom seen on MR2’s, Recaro SC3 Confetti seats and TRD 300KPH clocks. It had a few modifications carried out by a previous owner in Japan, a set of staggered fitment 17” Volks Rays CE28n’s, a Fujitsubo Legalis R catback exhaust system, HKS gauges (boost, oil temp and oil pressure).
After a quick drive around the local roads, I knew that I had no option but to buy it. As a young driver, this was one of the first times I had driven a car with any reasonable power so always had in the back of my head that it was just a honeymoon romance. It was not.
No sooner had I got the car home, had I ordered a new catback exhaust system, from Japspeed to replace the one that was on the car. Fancied something louder, however the note off the Fujitsubo system was very refined and certainly by no means a bad sounding exhaust if subtlety is what you were looking for. I also replaced the indicator repeaters, and later smoked them out. This quickly was followed by a Blitz Venturi blow off valve, for that fan boy turbo shhhhh.
When I bought the car originally, I was more focused on enjoying it. So for the first year, this was as far as the changes went. I had lots of big plans for the winter of 2016/17, of course being a final year University student got in the way and my winter “upgrades” didn’t begin to happen until around the start of the summer, so of course by the time I had completed what I wanted, the gritters were almost out again signaling hibernation for most JDM toys.
During the course of summer 2017, I firstly got the CE28n’s refurbed, I thought the silver looked a little tacky and had started to flake so were definitely due a tidy up. I decided that I was going to go for a stealthy look for the car so I got NuLuk Wheels in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland to mix me up a custom “Smokey Grey” colour, and these really came up looking the part.
A set of brand new Tien Street Basis Coilovers were fitted and set up, these transformed the handling of the car. The ride was made no more firm than it was with the standard suspension but has made the car feel much more stable, confidence inspiring and not to mention how much less body roll is in the car with the reduced centre of gravity. At the front, 5mm H&R hubcentric spacers were required, as the wider than stock, wheels and the slightly larger projection from the adjustable spring seats of the Coilovers would have been occupying the same space. A new timing belt and water pump were fitted for peace of mind due to their age, my mechanic recommended replacing oil pump seals and camshaft seals while access had been created to carry out the work as the originals were weeping slightly, so these were sourced from my local Toyota dealership.
When I originally bought the Midship, it had a cracked from splitter that a previous owner had done the ‘drifter want to be’ cable tie stitching after a filler repair had opened up again. I replaced this with a replica Greddy splitter and thought while the car is at the bodyshop (AG Automotive), why not get a few other bits done. So, I purchased a set of Border style side skirts and a replica TRD2000 rear wing (all from MR2-Ben) which the bodyshop made me custom Carbon fibre end plates for the spoiler which really set it off. The side skirts ended up being a shockingly poor fit, so these were not fitted, however I think it probably looks better without them.
That is my MR2 story up until now, I have a few other small things that the car will get over this winter (I mean it this time), properly painted brake calipers, rear arches professionally rolled as the wide rear wheels occasionally catch the arches over large bumps and the retracting aerial repaired/replaced so that it actually retracts.
For anyone considering buying an MR2, don’t be put off by the stories of “snap oversteer”, if you treat the car with a degree of respect and learn to drive the car to its characteristics rather than how you might drive a front engined-rear drive car, you will have zero problems. The standard drivetrains are not overwhelmingly powerful, and a good place to start if you are going down the fast car route. Lastly, value for money wise, you will really struggle to find a car with similar performance for similar money.
If you have read this far, thank you for sticking with it and I hope there was something of interest in it and I haven’t wasted your time. Has been something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and definitely something I’d like to do more often in some way or another, if anyone has any suggestions hit me up in the comments.
Thanks for reading.