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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

19 Search results
Toyota MR2
1250 6995 GBP
  • Toyota MR2

    £5,495 £5,495

    2001 / X REG + 92,000 MILES + 2 KEYS + Conversion has been carried out by Mr2 specialist Rogue Motor sport costing thousands, 190bhp 2zz ge low mileage engine, 6 speed close ratio gearboxLowered suspension, TTE twin pipe exhaust system, TTE genuine rear spats, TTE genuine rear boot spoiler, TRD side skirts, TRD front JDM facelift front lip, HiD front black lights, Facelift front bumperFacelift rear bumper, Facelift side vents, Facelift rear lights, Ultra racing lightweight wheelsTF300 seats in excellent condition, TF300 facelift soft top in excellent condition

    • Mileage: 92000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
    WR Cars
  • 2001 Toyota MR2 Roadster


    2001 / X REG + 92,000 MILES + 2 KEYS + Conversion has been carried out by Mr2 specialist Rogue Motor sport costing thousands, 190bhp 2zz ge low mileage engine, 6 speed close ratio gearbox Lowered suspension, TTE twin pipe exhaust system, TTE genuine rear spats, TTE genuine rear boot spoiler, TRD side skirts, TRD front JDM facelift front lip, HiD front black lights, Facelift front bumper Facelift rear bumper, Facelift side vents, Facelift rear lights, Ultra racing lightweight wheels TF300 seats in excellent condition, TF300 facelift soft top in excellent condition

    • Year: 2001
    For sale
  • Toyota Mr2 2004

    £2,795 £2,795

    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
  • 400bhp Toyota Mr2 1990

    £5,000 £5,000

    A fortune has been spent on this car and the paperwork I have on the engine alone adds up to well over £20,000! In my eyes nearly all the parts are still like new as its has only ever done the running in miles after building and tuning in October 2015, it has just been sitting in my garage ever since. Engine is a Rev 3 block bored with fully forged internal, race shells etc.. Turbo is a GTX duel ball-bearing turbo ( water cooled) 4" intake with all custom piping hoses etc... HKS cams, pulleys and belt, 800cc injectors New oil & water pumps etc... Larger fuel pump Forge water cooled wastegate ( complete set of chargeable springs for wastegate) Custom Screamer pipe, this sound amazing! Performance manifold PWR chargecooler system, Lightened flywheel with four plated race clutch Very loud twin exhaust system and straight down pipe Inside it has... Momo steering wheel One of a kind neon blue MR2 heater Touch screen DVD player Blitz boost gauge & Turbo timer, HKS EVC VI electronic boost controller HKS VPro ecu Shorter gear shift installed this include new cables Wheels are Momo with new tyres NEW Disks, pads, braided hoses etc.. Nearly everything on this car has been purchased new from Toyota, I've missed out loads on this list but the paperwork will speaks for itself once you see it. Please no offers or swaps, Next MOT due 19/02/2018, Full service history. £5,000

    • Engine size: 2000
    For sale
  • Toyota MR2

    £1,995 £1,995

    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 with hardtop. All year round fun

    £1,250 £1,250

    Toyota MR S RoadsterComplete with HardtopStarts, Drives and stops as it shouldSoft top in good conditionNo MOTNo RadioDamaged tyreEngine management light on since replacement Air M Meter replacedSuch a fun car sadly I need the space

    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale

    £2,695 £2,695

    Here we have Toyotas iconic sports car, the MR2. This one is the 2.0 Non Turbo version. It is an import. We have just carried a service, including a New radiator. There has been a Cambelt change, and the brakes have been replaced.;;The main features include Power Steering, Air Conditioning, Electric Windows, Remote Central Locking with an AutoWatch Alarm System, Front Fog Lights, K and N Air Filter (Original with car), MOMO Steering Wheel (original with car) and Alloy Wheels..;;Finished in BLACK with a contrasting Cloth interior..;;We welcome PART EXCHANGE and any Professional Inspection.;;We will supply this car with a NEW MOT, Three Month RAC Approved Warranty plus 12 Months RAC Breakdown Cover.;;We accept Debit (Free) and Credit cards (3%), Bank Transfers and good old fashioned money.

    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
  • TOYOTA MR2 1988 Manual Petrol

    £3,750 £3,750

    MR2 mk1............120000 miles and plenty of history.......only 3 owners. The car has undergone considerable refurbishment to the sills and all vulnerable sections of the chassis. A superb driving car which is to be sold with a new mot etc. The car is un-molested and ex factory, no modifications and a full set of handbooks etc.

    For sale
  • Toyota MR2

    £3,990 £3,990


    • Mileage: 39000 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
  • Toyota MR2

    £3,490 £3,490


    • Mileage: 65000 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
  • Toyota MR2

    £2,995 £2,995

    LOW MILEAGE, AIR CONDITIONED, 6 MONTHS WARRANTY INCLUDED, FINANCE AVAILABLE, ABS, Colour Coded Body, Metallic Paintwork, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Colour Coded Interior, Alloy wheels, Service history

    • Mileage: 65095 mi
    • Engine size: 1794
    For sale
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