Buying an Mr2? this may help you choose the right model

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If your reading this then you are considering buying an mr2 (Mid engined, Rear 2-wheel drive)..

Now you have a choice, 'an old box shape one', 'the one that everyones got' or the 'new hairdressers shape one'...

  the old 'box' mk1 is a very light mid engined car that came in 2 forms, the naturally aspirated engine  or the supercharged, the latter is the best of the 2 but are getting rarer and rarer..they dont need a lot of money putting into them to make the engines rather quick either....they can be found reletavely cheap and are cheap to maintain, a lot are rusting now and finding a decent one is going to be hard. You can find them very cheap (£300-500) on ebay but beware of rotten ones underneath, subframes and struts are a classic wear and tear area. To find a mint enthusiast-owned one expect to pay around £1200.


MK 1- 1.6 N/A-  a lot are rickety/rusty to say the least. to find a good one your best looking the owners club (

MK 1-Supercharged 1.6, if you find one for less than a grand snap it up very quickly!

MK2 is the better shape and was totally reformed with smoother lines and better traction with bigger wheels and  tighter suspension,  that coupled with a choice of a 2.0 litre GT  engine(145bhp) or a 2.0 turbocharged(225bhp) engine, meant a whole new world for the mid engined baby supercar. There was a G-Limited model released in Japan, some were brought over here as imports but to be honest are not much different to the 2.0 GT UK car.

The turbo version was only available as an import from Japan, officially 'GTS' model,  but beware that grey imports will make your insurance a lot more than a UK car..Fuel economy is a major issue with the turbo, all owners will tell you that, as they naturally run rich and need to be run on the super unleaded as the fuel used in Japan is a higher octane than ours (100ron)... people normally run them on super unleaded a sthis the nearest you'll get to it (98ron)

    For the money these cars are perfect for a 'poor mans ferrari' and have been classed as such for a number of years.. they are very quick and handle superbly ... when you have a bit of knowledge on how they mechanically work they are rather easy to maintain and fix... what will kill you is the price on parts as Toyota charge extortionate amounts for new, and breakers yards are wise to how rare they are to get hold of..The mark 2 comes in 5 different 'revisions', They go like this

  • Revision 1-  Oct 89 -Oct 92
  • Revision 2,  Nov 92 -Oct 93
  • Revision 3, Nov 93 - May 96
  • Revision 4, Jun 96 - Oct 97 
  • Revision 5, Nov 97 -  2000
  • There were slight differences in the rev1-2 models some air pipes in the engine, sterring wheel, etc.

    The rev2-3 change saw a smaller garrett CT20b Turbocharger (spools up quicker) and boosts for longer, and Toyota got rid of the MassAirflow Meter in the Air intake box, there were issues with this item even though Toyota spent almost £12m developing the air flow system in 1990.


    £500-£800... will buy you a taxed and MOT'd mark 1 or a tatty mark 2 GT requiring work.

    £1000 or so... should get you a taxed and tested naturally aspirated rev1/2 on around a G,H or J reg, unless its been 'tuned' or 'modded' then it may have a little extra horses for you to play with, then expect to pay around £1500...... (it would be wise to get a standard one then put a straight through exhaust and pipercross/K+N air filter on it for an extra 25bhp), again beware of doing the air filter unless you want to spend a fortune on fuel, Toyota actually spend £12m on designing the air intake system. adding more air means adding more fuel to compensate!

    £1500-£2000 ... a good clean N/A on around a J,K,L or will buy you a standard turbo version on around a G,H,J,K plate, unless it has aftermarket parts and maybe if they're running a lot of horses they can fetch £3000...

    £2500-£4000...the newer ones( L,M,N,P,R,S reg) are fetching a bit more, sometime up to £5000 as they are probably very low mileage, the japanese tend to use their Grey imports for around 40,000 miles then Export them to the UK.

    The new mark 3 toyota mr2 is a redesign again and a lot of mk 2 owners will tell you its not really an mr2.. as Toyota turned it into a hairdressers car... they are very economical though and benefit from great handling! some turbo engined nk3's are very very quick indeed and they do an awesome Ferrari kit for them which'll cost around 4 grand to fit.

    There are a masses of aftermarket parts and bodykits for the mark 2, but beware of a lot of them on ebay! things like cheap electrical superchargers are a massive NONO. Your car will enjoy it as much as a fart in a crowded lift!

    If you are lucky enough to own a Turbo model, the first thing you should do is wheels, tyres, exhaust and dump valve.. make sure its the twin piston type mr2's dont like the single piston type.

    kits?? BORDER, VEILSIDE, TOMS, AUTOPISTA are all good names to go for, but definately buy original, I dont know how many I've seen that dont fit right and have been bodged on with gaffer tape!

    The engines virtually bulletproof and can take a good revving on the track (or road), and lots can be bought to increase the horsepower internally, some expensive, some not, but make sure you contact an MR2 specialist on whether it's any good!



       all makes have them and these are no different, mark 1/2 suffer from collecting water  in the boot, so lift the carpet and check for signs of dampness.

      Electric antennas are a bugger too, the internal cogs werent that good.

      Throttle cables are prone to fraying at the engine pulley side.

      Handbrake cables commonly stick inside the armoured cable at the rear of the car, and theyre £40 each to replace, some will free with WD40!

      Front Brakes calipers binding on the discs is very common due to rust, but are relatively easy to change given you know the basics of mechanics and have a caliper windback tool. You can service them yourself if you have caliper a recondition kit!!

      Door seals, T-Bar seals and boot seals are prone to leakages.

      Air intake flow meters (AFM) on the imported turbo cars are common to fail, erratic idle and hunting is a sure sign of this.

    OVERHEATING!!!!  Cooling is a massive issue on mr2s, Toyota didnt give them quite enough room to breathe!! Check for signs of overheating on the left hand side where the water filler cap is. also bubbles in the coolant is a sure sign of head gasket defect! (a £500 job)

    Ensure you check the engine warning light on ignition! it should go off when you start the car, if it doesnt light up on ignition it means the bulb has been taken out! which means big problems!!

    Original stereo systems are rather rare nowadays but if it has one check that it doesnt spit out CD's, they were a nightmare for this.

    All in all the mr2 is a great drivers car and will give plenty for your money but when things go wrong they often cost a bit to repair, fueling issues are the most common, but these can all be answered with symptoms. lack of boost is common on imported turbos, this could be a few things but easily sorted.

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