WHY IT’S RAD!
The first-gen MR2 is as pure an enthusiast’s machine as Toyota has ever built, with a focus and fitness-for-purpose matched in the company’s history perhaps only by the divine 2000GT, superb Mk4 Supra, and the most no-frills, beat-’em-like-a-rented-mule-and-hose-’em-out Land Cruisers. That its Dan Gurney-refined chassis, advanced twincam motor and razor-sharp origami styling evolved from what was first conceived as a Malaise Era commuter makes the AW11 all the more remarkable. Add to this list the simplicity and stiffness of a rare slicktop and the four individual throttles and ~8400 rpm redline of a later 20V 4AGE, and you’ve got something really special.
A former Petrolicious feature story car, this 1988 MR2 is from the penultimate year of production, and though modified with a JDM motor and a few suspension upgrades, the car retains a thoughtfully stock vibe inside and out.
The car is said to have left the factory red, though this cool blue-gray is a correct but uncommon OEM color code for 1988 MR2s. The seller adds that paint is overall quite good, and that it could be mistaken for a well-preserved factory finish with some wet sanding and a few touch-ups. Note that the carefully replaced factory decals under opening panels and in door jambs. Flaws are detailed in the photo gallery, the worst of which include a deep scratch on the front left fender, a quarter-sized ding on the right rear corner, and what the seller calls an “ugly, tired airdam, like most AW11 airdams.” Another common fault is cracked C-pillar trim.
The interior features a crack-free dash, and all cabin plastics and upholstery are said to be excellent with little to no wear. Though photographed with a Momo Monte Carlo and Twos ‘R Us billet ball shift knob, the original and nicely preserved factory items (see gallery) will be refitted prior to sale. Additionally, the pictured head unit will not be included, and the seller does not have a replacement.
The car is said to retain full functionality excluding A/C, which recently stopped blowing cold. The seller notes that the compressor still kicks on, and believes that the issue stems from a refrigerant leak.
Mechanicals are described as healthy and sorted, though the seller admits that the second gear synchro is weak. The engine bay could stand to be cosmetically tidied, but the swapped ‘silvertop’ 20-valve 4AGE is said to start easily, idle smoothly, run cool, display good oil pressure, and eagerly rev out to 8000+ rpm with outstanding throttle response and sound from its factory quad throttles. Though offered for sale in California, the car cannot be legally registered in the state due to its non-compliant motor.
The car is believed to have spent its entire life between Texas and California, and is said to be super dry and solid (see Carfax, as well as chassis and door bottom photos in gallery).
Suspension was modified by a previous owner with what are believed to be ST or Tein springs and Koni struts, and the seller says that, “compared to stock, the car corners flatter, turns in even faster, and isn’t negatively impacted by reduced ride quality or the nervous, skittish feel that carelessly modified AW11s often display. It rides better than my daily, very Lotus-like.” Wheels are an unknown brand stamped “made in England”, and tires are Hankook Ventus V2 Concept in 195/50/15 with good remaining tread. Sale includes the factory toolkit and bag, factory spacesaver spare and cover, owner’s manual, extra doors, taillights, two OEM 14” triangle wheels, and an early Mk1A large diameter rear sway bar.
20-valve, 4-throttle JDM silvertop 4AGE
Aftermarket suspension components
Plus-one size 15" alloy wheels
No sunroof or T-tops
OEM rear window visor
Factory tools and spares
Super clean interior
Solid SoCal and Texas car