Thursday November 21, 2019
35 YEARS OF THE TOYOTA MR2
Signs That You Feel Old: Lesson Number 489 – when you realise the MR2 is now 35 years old.
Virtually anyone who visited the 1984 Motor Show will remember the interest and the sheer excitement on seeing Toyota’s first mid-engine sports car – and the first mass-produced mid-engine car from Japan.
The company embarked on the project as early as 1976, with work commencing in earnest by 1979.
Four years later, the appearance of the SV-3 at the Tokyo Motor Show only increased public appetite for the new model.
The MR2 - the name derives from “Midship Runabout 2-seater” finally made its bow in June 1984, while motorists around the world avidly read about its various details.
There were three choices of power plant, including Toyota’s highly respected 4A-GE DOHC fuel-injected 16 valve unit, which was shared with the Corolla GT and the Corolla Coupe and the weight distribution was 55.8% at the front and 42.2% at the rear.
The top speed was in the region of 124 mph, with 0-60 in a mere 8.2 seconds.
The MR2 was proclaimed “Japanese Car of the Year 1984-85”, and British sales commenced at the end of 1984.
Naturally, the press were extremely taken with the MR2 – ‘Here, at last, is the mini-exotica that motorists have been waiting for’ raved Motor.
Autocar thought the Toyota set new standards ‘in a number of areas and is great fun to drive’ and Motor Sport regarded its power plant as ‘one of the truly great mass-produced motors in the history of the motor car’.
Toyota regarded the MR2 as the perfect commuter vehicle for the individual and hoped its owner would eventually progress to Celia and Supra ownership, and perhaps its main domestic competitor was the Honda CR-X.
It was also aimed at the well-heeled US young professional who might otherwise have looked at a Pontiac Fiero - some of the early evaluations took place at the Willow Springs circuit with Dan Gurney taking the wheel.
Road & Track raved that if the price was right ‘the MR2 simply cannot fail’.
In the UK, the cost was an expensive but not unattainable £9,295.
This made the Toyota far more expensive than the Bertone X1/9 at £7,107.
However, the Toyota was considerably faster and, as any Japanese car enthusiast would have told you, it was still cheaper than the £10,999 Mazda RX7.
The elaborate specification included electric windows and door mirrors, tinted glass, the detachable “Moon Roof”, adjustable steering and remote control releases for the front and rear boots.
By 1986 Toyota even offered a 135 mph supercharged version although this was sadly unavailable outside of Japan and North America.
In 1989 the first-generation models were succeeded by the Mk. II and by that point the early models were already being regarded as classics.
It would not be too much of an exaggeration to state that the Toyota MR2 helped to redefine the nature of the sports car and introduced motorist to new standards of performance and road manners.
Not to mention those looks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrA-XIhDZR4
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