There has always been a distinction between the characteristics of American made cars and Japanese made cars. American cars were often described as large and stylish while Japanese vehicles were seen as small, practical and economical. This is probably the reason why the introduction of the Toyota MR2 came as a surprise to many. Sure, the Toyota MR2 was made by a Japanese auto manufacturer and it was small, but there was little practicality in the car and neither was it economical. The Toyota MR2 was sporty and stylish; something that looks like a hybrid between an American car and a Japanese car.
The Toyota MR2 is a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seater sports car that was manufactured and sold by Toyota from 1984 until the present. There have been three generations of the car; the first two were coupes while the last was a soft-top convertible. Because the body style of the third generation Toyota MR2 was distinct compared to its predecessors, it was also specially named as the Toyota MR2 Spyder (Toyota MR-S in Japan and Toyota MR2 Roadster in Europe).
So what's the story behind the not-so-Japanese style of the Toyota MR2? The vehicle wasn't really supposed to be a sports car, or at least not when the project to design the car started. The car was supposed to be a new Japanese car concept that is fun to drive yet economical. Along the design process, however, new ideas sprouted up, and the car eventually became the mid-engine, rear wheel drive sports car Toyota MR2 that we know today.
So, was the Toyota MR2 a failure for the Toyota design team? Certainly not! While Toyota may have failed to create the fun to drive economy car they want, they ended up creating an impressive sports car that was definitely better than what they originally had in mind. Equipped with high quality Toyota MR2 parts, including the powerful engines and lightweight body parts that all three generations of the car were geared with, the Toyota MR2 impressed the world with its one of a kind performance.
Three Easy Tips to Maintain Your Toyota MR2
As a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car, much is expected from your Toyota MR2. This two-door coupe takes pride in its light body, superior handling, and compact engine. If you think that its features and looks are enough to justify its capabilities, you're wrong. You should never compromise and take for granted its performance; it should be impressive just the same. When driving your MR2, you should take note that, just like any other car, it will succumb to wear and tear over time. So, as early as now, you should be aware of how to take care of your vehicle. Here are three easy but essential tips to keep your Toyota MR2 on the race track, and off the car shop.
- Replace your ignition key by 100,000 miles.
Aside from the oil and your filters, the ignition key is among the important components of your vehicle that should be replaced when your odometer hits the 100,000 mileage. The ignition key has a tendency to wear out faster than the other parts of your vehicle due to frequent and careless use. You should take your vehicle to the technician to have the key inspected for signs of damage. You may opt to have it replaced it as soon as possible to avoid further problems. If it is already worn out and you insist on using it, you might encounter problems with your door locks and your ignition switch. It would definitely be a hassle, so it is best if you will act on it immediately.
- Change your shift control solenoid by 120,000 miles.
Once your car has reached the 125,000 mark in your odometer, it is important to check the shift control solenoid in your transmission to know if it is up for replacement. This part is responsible for facilitating the smooth operations of your gears. When taken for granted, the solenoid can cause problems in shifting your automatic transmission. Replace it as necessary. While you're at it, you may also want to check if the throttle position sensor needs to be adjusted. Over time, these parts can fail and affect your vehicle's performance. You don't have to overhaul your automatic transmission completely if you will replace your shift control solenoid, which can save you a lot of money.
- Check your valve clearances regularly.
To maintain your vehicle, it is important that you take time to inspect its components, specifically its valve clearances every 15,000 to 20,000 miles. This is to ensure that the exhaust valves are not too loose and not too tight. When your valves are not tightened enough, they can get burnt, leading to damage and failure. When this happens, you wouldn't like it because it is very expensive to repair. Make sure that you do the necessary precautions to keep you from reaching that point. Good thing, it is as easy as doing regular inspection. If you already hear a noise from your valves, then it means that you have failed to check the clearances.
Toyota MR2: Proof that Form and Function Can be United
When Toyota decided in 1976 to make an economical car that’s both stylish and fun to drive, the company did not think of manufacturing a sports car. Practicality eventually took the backseat after the prototype design evolved, and the first mass-produced Japanese-made sports car was introduced to the world. The Toyota MR2 (the acronym stands for Mid-engined, Rear-wheel drive 2-seater) is Toyota’s most exciting invention by far and is proof of the Japanese manufacturer’s ability to bring to life an exciting car concept without negating the needs of average car owners.
1984 – 1989: First generation (Origami-inspired)
Best known for its sensible car models, Toyota astonished the world with the introduction of the MR2. Released after a successful unveiling of the concept car in 1983, the MR2 sported designs not intended for family use. The MR2 was made for tough road competition, which earned the vehicle the praise of renowned American car magazines such a Car and Driver and Road and Track.
With origami-inspired folded angular lines across the body, the MR2 was a pleasing sight on the road. However, appearance is not the most significant feature of the vehicle. The Toyota MR2 is lightweight (Japanese models weigh only about a ton), and it conquers the road with its excellent handling and supercharged engine.
1989 – 1999: Second generation (The poor man’s Ferrari)
In 1989, the Toyota MR2 went through a major redesign. The second-generation MR2 weighed 180 kg—20 kg heavier than its forerunner. The new MR2 looked fiercer than ever, and it bore resemblance to the Ferrari F355 and Ferrari 348. Because of the similarities in exterior design (more curvy than angular), the second-gen MR2 was dubbed the “poor man’s Ferrari.”
Similarities in physical attributes aside, the Toyota MR2 brought more excitement to the road, thanks to its turbocharged engine. Delivering 112 horsepower, the MR2’s 1.6-liter inline-4 engine makes for a thrilling ride on the streets. The Toyota MR2 was offered in different market trim levels: four trims for the Japanese market, three for the European market, and two for the US market.
1999 – 2007: Third generation (The new Porsche Boxter)
As part of the Toyota Project Genesis (a plan that targets a younger generation for car sales), the Toyota MR2 bore different names for each of its market. In Japan, the MR2 was called Toyota MR-S. In other markets, the vehicle was called Toyota MR2 Spyder (US) and Toyota MR2 Roadster (Europe).
However, the name change was not the most significant development in this generation’s design. To attract the younger market, the MR2 sported a true convertible soft top instead of a hardtop roof. Because of its new design, the MR2 was compared to the Porsche Boxter, a mid-engined, two-seater roadster that enjoyed popularity in the late 90s.