Mister Who? 1986 Toyota MR2

Here’s another mid-engined car that’s captured my fascination. Yes, it’s Japanese, and yes, it’s relatively modern, and yes, it did with the X1/9 what the Miata did with the Elan, but that makes it no less of a candidate for budget fun on wheels. When I was 19, I had been in my Alfa for 3 years and looked down on most Japanese cars. That is, until I started working part-time as an office assistant for a local tech journalist who had a spare early light-metallic blue AW11 MR2, which I got to use from time to time to run errands for her. And that’s around the time I learned this car, with its Yamaha-designed 4-cylinder 112hp 16v twincam four and fantastic tossability was more than I’d ever expected.

So that brings us to today’s subject, a red 1986 in Lakewood, CA for $2000:

1986 Toyota MR2 front

As you can see, this car still has a decent amount of shine left in its paint. It’s only got 120K on it, which is pretty impressive since with careful maintenance, I’ve seen double that on cars for sale. Additionally, this car has a rebuilt engine, so your concerns in that area should be minimal, but check for receipts. Lastly, I’d want to make sure this car has a manual transmission. It’s amazing how many of these show up with automatics, although understandable if you remember some of these small sports cars were designed as commuter vehicles (see Fiero, CR-X, etc.).

1986 Toyota MR2 rear

Car still looks good from this angle – the left rear corner has sustained a minor bump/scratch, but hopefully this is a pretty minor fix. While the spoiler is not too outrageous, the car actually looks cleaner and simpler without it, and with 112hp and our speed limits there’s probably not much need for it. I’d like to point out I’m featuring a west coast car here since cars from less optimal climates do have a tendency to rust. So for under $2K after a little negotiation, you can have a fun, reliable, tossable car that’ll be a blast on the freeway and country roads. Who could ask for anything more? And if you could, start looking for a Corolla FX16 hatch – the 3-door MR2.


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