Find of the Week: 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo

1991 Toyota MR2

Earlier today we brought you the news that Toyota is planning on expanding its stable of sports cars beyond the 86 coupe. Tetsuya Tada, the head of Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division said that one of those would be a successor to the classic MR2. But even though he wants to see production “as soon as possible,” who knows how long that could be. What if you think that even one more month is too long to live without a two-seat, mid-engined sports car? What if you’re worried that the new car will be too big, too heavy, or even a hybrid? Then here’s an interesting option for you.

The original MR2, which debuted for 1985, was a knife-edged, mid-engined two-seater. The knife edge refers to not just the straight-line 1980s styling, but also the handling. A tiny 1,000 kg flyweight with 145 hp available and suspension tuning by Lotus meant that the original MR2 was as sharp to drive as the styling looked.

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The next generation arrived in 1991, and is when the MR2 grew up. It received all-new styling that looked like it took a page from the best Italian sports cars instead of being designed entirely with a ruler, immediately drawing comparisons to a Ferrari’s straked mid-engine 348 two-seaters. The MR2 got bigger, gaining 245 mm of length with much of that going to the passenger compartment, and adding 30mm of width. It also gained weight, over 200 kg.

Inside, the all-new MR2 got more comfortable. On top of the extra space, the car got leather seats, a tilt-steering wheel, and power steering. But at under 1,300 kg, the new MR2 was still a light car. At 4,171 mm long, it was still short. And the new car came with some new tricks.

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The new suspension had input from legendary racer Dan Gurney. It was even more knife-edged than the original, to the point that some magazines complained of snap-oversteer in aggressive cornering. Toyota tamed the car in 1992, so if you want the sharpest second generation MR2, then 1991 is the year you want.

The biggest new trick was a snail bolted to the engine. A turbocharger. The new MR2 got Toyota’s turbocharged 3S-GTE 2.2L four-cylinder that put 200 hp through the rear wheels. All of a sudden the MR2 Turbo was a very quick car. 0-100 km/h could happen in six seconds, with a top speed nearing 230 km/h. Handling and braking were exactly what they should be from a car this small and light.

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Our Find of the Week this week is a 1991 model for sale in Rivière-Du-Loup. It’s a low mileage car with just over 129k on the odometer. It’s a Turbo, which means that it gets the leather interior, with some more luxury features. There are T-tops for summer cruising, power windows and locks, cruise control, and air conditioning. Plus this one has not just a cassette deck, but a CD player. In 1991! The gearbox is a quick-shifting five-speed manual. This model has a couple of upgrades too. Not just the Lexus floor mats, but the questionably functional bit inarguably cool driver-side air scoop. There’s also a vintage boost controller to give you a bit more power if you need it.

If you’re getting ready for summer and want a modern classic that will keep a smile on your face, a fun car like this 1991 Toyota MR2 autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week may be a worthy vehicle to scratch your serious sports car itch. Just maybe swap those big wheels for some 14 or 15-inch ones like it had new.

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Evan Williams

Evan Williams

Evan is based in Halifax, and has been a car nut for as long as anyone can remember. He autocrosses, does lapping days and TSD rallies, breaks cars and then fixes them again.