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Toyota MR2 Mk1: Buying guide and review (1984-1989)

Toyota MR2 Mk1: Buying guide and review (1984-1989) Classic and Performance Car
Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989)
When Toyota launched the MR2, it was entering a market that was in dire need of some rejuvenation. Mid-engined sports cars dated back to the likes of the Porsche 914 and Lotus Europa, but heading into the 1980s, only the rapidly ageing Fiat X1/9 soldiered on. The traditional sports car market was also being squeezed by the rampant evolution of the hot hatch, which offered most of the thrills with more practicality.
 
Toyota began development as far back as 1976, launching the finished MR2 (Midship Runabout 2-seater) in 1984. Here was an affordable mid-engined sports car, with the bonus of Toyota’s excellent engineering and reliability record. It was a breath of fresh air, and it went down extremely well in the UK. 
 
Fitted with a revvy twin-cam engine, and a close-ratio five-speed transmission, Toyota’s sportscar turned out to be a great steer too. Although relatively soft riding, the MR2 was precise and well balanced on the road – finding favour with many road testers at the time. The combination of a 122bhp engine and low 977kg weight, the MR2 was genuinely rapid, managing a sub-8.0 second 0-60mph time.
 
The positive press also helped to turn the MR2 into a strong seller, but it also helped to spawn a one-make race series in the UK, although a proposed Group S rally car never came to fruition due to the cancellation of the series. 
 

Which MR2 to buy? 

 
For the easiest experience, your best bet is to stick with an original UK car. All U-market cars originally came with a removable sunroof, which could be carried in the front luggage compartment, however there was also a T-bar roof option from October 1985. This added a removable glass panel above each occupant. While a desirable option in summer, the the glass roof can cause problems with leaks during the wetter months – something to consider if you can’t garage the car. 
 
As always, you should find the lowest mileage car you can. Although the biggest concern is rust, it’s also worth taking into account the most common mechanical issues that commonly strike at around the 100,000-mile mark. A higher-mileage car with all the work done might ultimately be the cheaper option. 
 
Although they require a more careful eye, as well as some more extensive searching, some of the imported models can offer considerably more than the UK-market cars. Two popular versions are the Supercharged and G-Ltd models. The usual pitfalls of imported cars apply, meaning you should beware of clocked examples, as well as poorly converted cars. They were also even more prone to rust due to less protection than the UK-sold counterparts. We’d also recommend avoiding the 1453cc cars sold in Japan originally, as they have just 83bhp – although if you find one of these in exceptional condition for sensible money, it might make a smart buy. 
 

Performance and specs 

 
Toyota MR2 Mk1
Engine 1587cc, four-cylinder
Power 122bhp @ 6600rpm
Torque 105lb ft @ 5000rpm
Top speed 119mph
0-60mph 7.7sec
Fuel consumption 29mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2320mm
Length 3925mm
Width 1665mm
Height 1250mm
Kerb weight 975kg
 

Common problems

 
• As it’s not a difficult car to spin on wet roads, you must check for badly repaired crash damage. A big giveaway is mismatched paint as well as badly aligned panel gaps. 
 
• Expect rust, especially in the rear wheelarches. This is the biggest killer of MR2s, as a rusty car can be difficult to rescue once the rot has spread to far. 
 
• Look at the rear quarter valances and the rear wings too. 
 
• Pull out the spare wheel, and check the seam that runs across the bulkhead as this rots, especially on the pre-1987 cars. 
 
• The front valance on early cars also gets stone chipped and rots out, although later models used a plastic valance. 
 
• Open the rear boot and carefully check for corrosion in the corners, as rust can star here and spread. 
 
• Check the bottom of each A- and B-post, as corrosion in these areas is likely. Things will be made even worse in a T-bar car with leaky seals, which could potentially flood the interior. Pull up the carpets if you can, as there may be rust holes. 
 
• The front wheelarch liners can also trap leaves, which then absorb moisture, leading to rotten A-posts. If the car has been parked under a tree, then these should be cleaned out and inspected for rust. 
 
• Check that all the bungs are in the various holes on the underside of the chassis, in particular the areas under the footwells and seats, as water can enter here through damaged underseal and go undetected beneath the carpets. 
 
• Engines clock up 150,000+ miles if the oil is changed every 6000 miles. The cam belt should have been changed at 60,000 miles or every five years. 
 
• Check the colour of the coolant, as it should be a deep red colour. This would indicate that the correct Toyota anti-freeze has been used. If this becomes too dilute, the cylinder head gasket could potentially blow 
 
• The system should be bled (which can be difficult) to avoid air locks, which can fool the various temperature sensors, causing the revs to fluctuate between 600rpm to 2000rpm, when at idle. 
 
• The five-speed transmission is reliable, the only likely problem being worn synchromesh on second gear. Some Japanese cars got an automatic gearbox, and even then it was available only with the smaller engine and also as an option on supercharged cars. 
 
• The manual gearbox can develop fifth-gear problems after 100,000 miles, so check for it jumping out of gear. This can sometimes be repaired cheaply, but if it’s been damaged for a while it’s likely to need a replacement or rebuilt gearbox. 
 
• Knocks from the front suggests either the roll bar drop links or the steering rack bushes have worn. Both are easy to replace on a DIY basis. 
 
• The MR2 has disc brakes all round; rear callipers can seize because of worn handbrake cables and/or worn seals. 
 
• The alternator is prone to overheating, which shortens its lifespan, so make sure it's charging properly. 
 

Model history

 
1983: MR2 Prototype is shown, badged SV-3, at the Tokyo motor show. 
1984: Production MR2 is launched in Japan. 
1985: First cars arrive in the UK in March. By October there’s already a minor facelift, with colour-keyed bumpers, spoilers and skirts plus central locking. 
1986: A T-bar roof is now offered, while all models get a deeper front spoiler, longer nose plus revised tail lights and air intake. There are also suspension tweaks while a 145bhp supercharged edition is introduced for markets outside Europe. 
1988: Leather trim is now standard on the T-bar MR2. 
1990: The Mk2 supersedes the first-generation car. 
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• www.mr2dc.com
• www.mr2mk1club.com
• www.mr2oc.co.uk
 

Summary and prices

 
The MR2 has always offered a lot of fun for not much money, but due to the surprisingly rare nature of these Japanese classic prices have unsurprisingly soared in recent years. Today a top condition car could cost more than £5000, although there are still great cars to be found from around £2700. If you’re handy with a welder, then there are still plenty of cars out there for around £1000.
Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989) Toyota MR2 Mk1 buying guide (1984-1989)
Last updated: 31st Oct 2016
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Toyota MR2 cars for sale

18 Search results
Toyota MR2
800 6995 GBP
  • Toyota MR2

    £3,795 £3,795

    6 speed, ABS, Alarm, Aux/Mp3 Input, Cd/Stereo, Colour Coded Body, Elec/Heated mirrors, Electric Windows, Front Fog Lamps, Full Leather, Height Adjustable Seat, Power Steering, Remote Central Locking, Soft Top, Sports Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Twin Air Bags, 15'' Alloys Finished in Tyrol Silver with Full Red Leather trim. ONLY 74,000 Miles with Full History. A Superb Example. Part Exchange Clearance. Great Value.

    • Mileage: 74000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
    Meadens of Hythe
  • Toyota MR2 1.8 VVT-i Roadster 2dr 2004 (Convertible)

    £1,195 £1,195

    Toyota MR2 1.8 VVT-i Roadster 2dr 2004 (Convertible) Cat C - light front damage only - repaired 74000 miles - 3 previous owners Long MOT - Expires: 05 September 2017 Last serviced at 72168 on 07/02/2017 Will consider sensible offers - £1395 ONO Please fee free to contact for any questions

    • Mileage: 74000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
  • Toyota Mr2 1991

    £2,095 £2,095

    All original rev1 Mr2 T-BAR with full leather interior in excellent condition through out, loads of service history and recent new plugs, oil and filter change.Starts first time, goes like a train and handles like a go cart. If you are looking for one of these then this is the one to get unless you want to pay over 3 grand. Don't be put off by the mileage the engine is still very strong ,battery is only 2 years old. Call anytime for more information I could say loads

    • Mileage: 159000 mi
    • Engine size: 1998
    For sale
  • Toyota Mr2 1991

    £2,495 £2,495

    Super original condition, very low mileage for year, always garages, lots of service history, always looked after, detachable large sunroom. new cambelt recently fitted. seats recovered, excellent tyres,  etc etc etc

    • Mileage: 72400 mi
    • Engine size: 1998
    For sale
  • TOYOTA MR2 2002

    £3,995 £3,995

    Finished in Silver with contrasting black leather interior and chrome trim. Immaculate condition throughout, recently refurbished wheels. Radio/cassette/CD player. Mot'd until Nov '17 (no advisories). This lovely low mileage modern classic has been garaged all its' life, been beautifully maintained and now ready for a new owner to enjoy and use!

    • Mileage: 64000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.794
    For sale
  • Toyota Mr2 1991

    £800 £800

    MR2 for sale SORN since last MOT, project I have not got round too. Engine in good condition, major service and cam belt done new alternator, brakes and pads. genuine reason for sale. Note Clic car insurance is available on this car making it very cheap to insure for young drivers.

    • Mileage: 124000 mi
    • Engine size: 1990
    For sale
  • Toyota Mr2 1995

    £1,800 £1,800

    Non turbo, ABS, Alarm, Immobiliser, Sun Roof. UK car, all original, very good cond. Very well maintained car. Always start first time, never driven on a cold engine. Previous lady owner for 12 years. The gearbox and clutch are in excellent cond. The car has many newer parts (in last 2 years only covered about 4000 miles): timing belt, back box, catalytic converter, lambda sensor, all filters, distribution cap, ignition leads, spark plugs, intake manifold gaskets, battery, front suspension top with bearings, front and rear break pads. New MOT (incl welding – see the picture), spend £300. Part service history. The honest points: there is no heater, just a little rust on wheel arch…hence the price. Any inspection welcome. Price is 1800£. The car is listed somewhere else, so the offer can be cancelled at any time... Cash on collection only, please. Cheers. 07512542556

    • Mileage: 92333 mi
    • Engine size: 1998
    For sale
  • Toyota Mr2 2002

    £1,950 £1,950

    Two new tyres, New disks and breaks all round. Two front  coil springs two new lamba Eng. censers. low mileage for the year. no marks or rust. great car  comes with hard top. summer or winter use. used in the summer  months only. Will come with a new12 Months full MOT.

    • Mileage: 108000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
  • Toyota Mr2 2004

    £2,495 £2,495

    2004 Toyota MR2 Roadster for sale. The car is a low mileage model showing just under 87000 miles and comes with service history and log book in my name. Everything works as it should. New clutch and alternator plus auxiliary belt in the last 3 years. Full service by Toyota 5000 miles ago. Original radio/cd player all working . Electric arial too. Remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors. New tyres all round less than 6 months ago. If you know these cars then you will know the front wheels are smaller than the back and this vehicle is showing the correct tyre sizes for front and back. Recently had the Cam chain tensioner seal replaced and wheels balanced also exhaust has had new wrap added in the last week. The car comes with just under 12 months MOT. The exterior is tidy and has no rust but does show a few marks, please remember its 13 years old! The interior is in good clean condition with only light wear in the usual places. Space saver wheel is present with cover as is the original tool kit. Roof is original and is treated with Autoglym roof protector there are no rips or tears. The only bit that lets the car down is the wheels, theses are typical Toyota alloys and could do with a refurb. This is the facelift model with 6 speed gearbox and front fog lights. The facelift models do not suffer from pre-cat failure like the pre 2003 models do. Drives very nicely and is very nippy the 1.8 vvt-i engine produces nearly 140 bhp and returns good mid 30's mpg. A lot of fun to drive and not that common on the road either. Get ready for summer. Viewing is highly recommended. I move between Worthing in West Sussex and Bexhill in East Sussex so can view at either. Absolutely no time wasters, tyre kickers am in no rush to sell at all. Any questions just ask 07908121064   

    • Mileage: 87000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
  • TOYOTA MR2 VVTI 2002

    £2,995 £2,995

    Finished in Blue Spectra Metallic with contrasting black/grey interior. ;Covered a below average 74,000 miles and Mot'd until November '17 (no advisories). ;This car has been garaged all of its' life, is immaculate throughout and recently undergone a full service. Drives like a dream and now ready to go to a new owner for some fun summer driving.

    • Mileage: 74000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.794
    For sale
  • Toyota MK2 MR2 G-Limited T-Bar

    £4,000 £4,000

    I'm reluctantly selling my G-Limited MR2 as a need more seats now. The car is 26 years old but have spent thousands bringing her back to glory and always keep her tucked up under cover, she has had an engine rebuild with induction kit and air scoop fitted bigger wheels and tyres, the car also comes with the stock alloys and tyres to (set of 4) and a spare space saver wheel as well as spare engine and electronic parts. she has had a full new re-spray with custom panels fitted on the rear, new colour coded steering wheel DAB Bluetooth radio with hands free and stainless steel powerflow rear back box and exhaust which sounds amazing. she drives fantastic and sticks to the ground. first to see and drive will fall in love as I did when I saw her. this is a rare mr2 as there aren't that many jap import G-Limited's in the country she has original Japanese service book and ive only put about 2000 miles on her in the year an half ive had her. going cheap and will consider offers if not to crazy. if you have any questions feel free to get in touch will post more pictures when I take them,£4500 ono.

    • Mileage: 70000 mi
    • Engine size: 1998
    For sale
  • Toyota MR2 (1992) Mk2 Rev2

    £975 £975

    1992 Toyota MR2 (Mk2 Rev2). Great condition inside and out, drives and handles very well. Part service history and full service carried out in November 2016, MOT until January 2018

    • Mileage: 136500 mi
    • Engine size: 1998
    For sale
  • Toyota MR2

    £1,695 £1,695

    **REDUCED** was 1995 - 03 Reg - Silver Streak with Red Cloth Trim, This lovely Mr2 Roadster comes with a great specification which includes: 6 Speed, CD Player, Alloy Wheels, Front Fogs, Leather Steering Wheel, Airbags, Remote Central Locking, Fitted Mats, comes with some receipts from the last few years and a brand new MOT, fantastic value for money NEW SHAPE Mr2 Roadster, get it now before the summer prices go up, bullet proof re-sale values, drives superbly so any inspection welcome, HPI Clear, Part Exchange up or down welcome. **Debit/Credit Cards Accepted** **Open 7 Days a week** **POOR CREDIT NO PROBLEMS - Finance available (subject to status)**

    • Mileage: 116000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
  • Toyota MR2

    £6,995 £6,995

    CD Player, Remote Central Locking, Head Restraints, Front Fog Lamps, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Power Steering, Electric Aerial, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Adjustable Steering Column, Height Adjustable Seat, Immobiliser, Alloy wheels, Full service history LARGE SELECTION OF 2 & 4 SEATER CONVERTIBLES/CABRIOLETS ALWAYS IN STOCK, OPEN 7 DAYS, PX WELCOME, FINANCE AVAILABLE, 12 MONTHS MOT www.maidstoneautocentre.co.uk, FOR FULL DETAILS AND MULTIPLE PICTURES PLEASE VISIT..www.maidstoneautocentre.co.uk

    • Mileage: 35000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
  • Toyota MR2

    £3,495 £3,495

    Power Steering, ABS, Air Bag, Central Locking, Electric Windows, Full service history

    • Mileage: 40000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
  • Toyota MR2

    £4,995 £4,995

    Sunroof, Electric Windows, Stereo, Cloth Upholstery, Sports Seats, 14'' Alloys TOYOTA MR2 MK1 1.6 COUPE, RED, 53,039 MILES, SUN ROOF, STEREO, SPORTS SEATS, E/WINDOWS, 14'' ALLOYS, BOOT SPOILER, PROBABLY ONE OF THE NICEST UNTOUCHED YOU'LL FIND

    • Mileage: 53039 mi
    • Engine size: 1587
    For sale
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