6 December 2016

eBay find of the week: Mister Two, first generation


The 1980s represent a golden age for Japanese cars in the U.S. As the decade progressed, sporty, reliable and seriously fast Japanese sports cars hit American roads in increasing numbers. Even if some weren’t particularly fast, they were usually interesting. We could buy Honda Preludes, Mazda RX-7s, Nissan 300ZXs, Toyota Supras, even oddballs like the Nissan Pulsar to name just a few.

In these pre-Miata days, Japanese two-seaters hadn’t yet taken on the classic roadster body style. Sports car enthusiasts on a budget could still choose between a Honda CRX and the mini-Ferrari (or enlarged Fiat X1/9 depending on your perspective) Toyota MR2, named for its Mid-engine, Rear-drive, 2-seat layout.

Sporting a 112 hp 16-valve 1.6-liter four-cylinder, this little car seems woefully underpowered by today’s standards. However, their light weight (under 2,300 lbs) and balanced handling made them a lot of fun and popular in their day. Those of us of driving age at the time can only shake our heads and snicker when young drivers today reject the 200 hp Scion FR-S as too underpowered. Oh, Grasshopper, you have no idea how lucky you are…

This example caught our eye due to its low miles and seemingly original and un-molested condition. The asking price of $8,900 doesn’t seem out of line… it’s not a total steal but if you’ve always wanted one, try to find another like it. They sold over 31,000 MR2s in the US in 1986 but remove those lost to attrition, modified beyond recognition, or just used up and these are becoming quite scarce.

7 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Dann Shively Folsom, CA December 7, 2016 at 20:56
    In 1996 I brought a used 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS hatchback with the same AE86 engine. It was a low milage second commute car and was box stock. It was such a fun great handling car and I loved it. I ended up driving it more than the main car. Almost every week some young person approached me to sell it. Turns out those made great drift cars. The only thing that would have been better was if it had a sixth gear. That car really revved high. I think it eventually became a drifter after I sold it.
  • 2
    John V. Baton Rouge, LA December 8, 2016 at 13:31
    My sister bought one of these as a graduation present to herself when she got her Masters Degree and it still has less than about 10K on the clock. I've driven it several times and agree... It's "quick enough" but no barn burner. Still fun to drive though! Funny thing is that her MR2 gets lots more attention at Cars & Coffee than my brother in law's latest generation Corvette and her son's FRS, even though all three are very nearly the same bright red color.
  • 3
    G. Lawrence Smith Prince Edward Island December 11, 2016 at 12:48
    I bought my 1986 MR2 back in 1987, still love driving it but as I get older it's getting harder getting in and out. We only use it during the summer for touring around the island.
  • 4
    R. Morgan New York December 29, 2016 at 07:41
    I have a 1985 MR2 with 65k on it. I put about 2000 miles on it every summer. It is a blast to drive and always gets lots of attention at car shows. Two years ago I entered it into a car show just so I could park it where it wouldn't get dinged and it took first place in it's class. Love , love, love this car!
  • 5
    Andrew Kraemer Crown Point January 18, 2017 at 18:15
    I had a 1989 MR2 T bar that I purchased in clean condition with very few miles. I drove the car too approximately 300,000.00 miles (I really enjoyed the car). The car is very well balanced and fun to drive. I looked for every opportunity to take it down a curvy country blacktop. The MR2 was reliable, durable, and for some time, nearly indestructible (I did have some rust problems). This car gave me the joy that my Mattel Hot Wheels gave me years earlier. Truly, this was a car that you aimed it and it went there. You did not get in an MR2. You put the MR2 on like a glove. Remember, when the Corvette installed the ZF6 transmission, the MR2 was the benchmark for the ease and joy of gear rowing. The MR2 held up well to minor parking lot bumping and rubbing. On the negative and perhaps morbid side, I strongly suspect if a person was ever in a serious accident, the issue would be dental records.
  • 6
    Wendell Field Tombstone, AZ February 16, 2017 at 10:22
    We bought a new Red 1988 MR2 and absolutely loved it. Only problem was deciding who was driving. When we moved to New Mexico, the NM DMV considered it some kind of terrorist vehicle and we could only get it insured as a "HIGH RISK". The premium would have been more than my pickup and motor home combined. We considered moving, but couldn't because of jobs. Couldn't afford to just park it, so we had to let it go. Bad day at Black Rock. :-(
  • 7
    James boice NM March 8, 2017 at 17:55
    wish I still had the little 1970 Honda S-800 that I had in Okinawa it was reg US drive there then. Ren real great with pipes cut and out to side. Fast little car and easy to mod. They were the rage in Asia for GI's at the time.

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