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21K Mile Time Capsule: 1986 Toyota MR2

Despite being produced in fairly generous numbers, the first-generation Toyota MR2 doesn’t appear in time-warp condition as often as we might like. To make matters more complicated, a shocking number of them were equipped with automatic transmissions – why, I will never know. This 1986 model addresses these big concerns with the preferred manual transmission and a mere 21,390 miles on the clock. Find it here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $15,950 and the option to submit a best offer.

The little details are right with this one, such as the Toyota sticker in the back glass still perfectly visible and the color-coordinated mudflaps and side skirts still attached. Paint work appears excellent, and the seller’s description notes this MR2 had just one older, female owner from new. Wheels are correct for the year, and it’s nice to see one of these that hasn’t been lowered or had aftermarket rollers installed.

The interior is the best part for me, as the seats are practically mint and the OEM carpeted floor mats show zero signs of distortion or even discoloration. Clean feet and garage parking were both necessary to protect the cabin from wear and sun-fade, and the dash plastics further confirm the MR2 was protected from the elements with excellent black plastics and no cracking of the exposed surfaces.

The mid-engined MR2 has been an enthusiast’s choice for decades, practically since the day it was introduced if you want to get nostalgic about it. Later generations were special but failed to capture the purity of the original, with its light-weight and minimal frills. Though my preference is for the rare supercharged model, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a naturally-aspirated survivor like this.


  1. John Chaney
    • Steve R

      The featured car and the one in the CL ad are not directly comparable. One is a very low mileage survivor the other has an unfinished performance upgrade with drivability issues done to a pretty rough car. They are not likely to appeal to the same people. Collectors will always favor the low mileage survivor, that’s why cars like this will sell at a premium.

      Steve R

      Like 4
    • Miles Chappell

      I drive an ’88 SC and drove an ’89 NA for 6 years prior to getting the ugly SC for only $2500. It had been kidafied with 1 wrong seat, coil overs slammed to the ground, chromed stock NA rims etc but I brought it back to 90% original. It’s a wonderful little street car but even with new T top seals they still leak like a sieve. Both cars leaked, both T top model. People who put modern Toyota engines in the SC upset me, do it to the NA please. In Cali there’s still Lots of MR2s.

      Like 1
  2. CJinSD

    This car is amazing. Were it closer to me, I’d look at it and then buy it ASAP.

    Like 3
  3. JoeMac Joe Mac

    Japanese vehicles are climbing in price. Wonder what something like this would bring at one of the big auction houses. If you could grab this for $9k-$10k, you might be able to make some coin turning it around. Supra’s are skyrocketing. MR2’s are no Supra’s but I think it’s an indication of gaining interest in the Japanese category.

    Like 2
  4. michael j Member


    Like 1
  5. JOHN Member

    I bet the main reason there were so many automatics produced was they (seemingly) were owned mostly by women. I clearly remember them being referred to as “chick cars”

    Like 3
    • Frank Sumatra

      Wrong. I also clearly remember not seeing too many MR2s driven by females. Not that would have made a damn bit of difference. They are great cars and would probably be a top seller today if brought back.

      Like 2
  6. CJinSD

    Two-thirds of the MR2s on the market have manual transmissions, and that includes the last ones which were more likely to have automatics than these were. I’ve never seen a first generation MR2 with an automatic, although I haven’t looked at more than a dozen of them since they were introduced. I’ve also can’t recall seeing one driven by a woman or knowing a woman who had one. That certainly isn’t the case for Miatas, but when these were new young people were still buying Mustangs. Especially young women in the case of the four cylinder Mustangs. Pretty sure you couldn’t have a chick car at the time without offering it in a bold shade of green.

    Like 2
  7. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking MR2. I remember first seeing one when it first introduced. At the time, I didn’t find it very attractive, at least compared to the Pontiac Fiero of the same generation. Today, I like the styling of both this generation and Mk2 MR2.

    Like 0
  8. Brian Scott

    Lots of meat on the bone here- I think the price for this one is only heading up in light of the growing acceptance of Japanese cars as collectible items. Why do I say this? I bought an as-new ’84 VW GTI, black, in ’85, and it to this day is my favorite car of all time, and I’ve owned everything from colonnade GM mid-sizers to modified 911 Turbos. A mint ’84 GTI right now with 22k miles would easily fetch $20k, probably $30k, or if not, call me and I’ll buy it unquestionably. This MR2 is about half that price, giving it ample room for appreciation, I sure think.

    Like 0
  9. davec

    My first new car was a 1987 red, manual MR2. Unfortunately it was my daily driver and the northeast winters/salt were tough on the metal. I loved that car. The manual was the slickest and easiest to use of all the manuals I have owned. I gave it away with over 100,000 miles on it and rusty quarters. I do miss it though. This one listed looks well cared for and a good buy.

    Like 1
  10. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Apparently, the seller has been bitten by the BFE (BarnFinds Effect)

    BIN price raised by 1K to $16,950

    Nice car!

    Like 2
  11. Louis Q Chen

    Truly a beauty….the thing that caught my eyes was it was owned by an 87 year old lady! Unless this lady is a true HOT ROD GRANNY! All of the elder granny I’ve met are drivers of TUNA BOAT blvd. novacaine cruisers. I’d buy it if closer.

    Like 1
  12. Will Owen

    My brother took the one my son (lovely person but not a Car Guy) had used for years with minimal maintenance and no attention to cosmetics, and thought he’d give it a once-over … and, several years later, had what amounted to a new one, for pretty close to what’s being asked for here. Sweet little car, goes like stink, just wish it wasn’t so hard for an old fellow to climb up out of. At least now I can stop wishing I had one … darn it.

    Like 1
  13. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    “Item Ended, No Longer Available”


    Like 0
  14. Mike L

    There’s always a Fiero out there ! (dont hit send!…noooooo!)

    Like 0
  15. H5mind

    A friend’s Dad bought one of the first available in the area and gave us all rides in it. On my turn he raced down a back road and did some full-lock donuts across both lanes. I loved it. I went on to own a couple. Terrific cars, and better in every way over the Fiat X 1/9 from which the Japanese had cribbed their design. I also owned several of the latter, so I know from experience. Biggest bugaboo was rust.

    Like 0
  16. JoeNYWF64

    Do not attempt to take a corner in 1 of these like t/a in smokey & bandit. With its skinny tires(at least in ’85) & layout, the car will spin out. My friend unexpectedly gave me a demo of this on a city road while i was a passenger. lol

    Like 0
  17. Miles Chappell

    My ’88 MR2 sticks to the road. The stock tires were 185-60-14 but even with my eBay off brand Doral Sumitomo SDL-A 195/60-14 (4 tires for $211.00) it’s a great handling car.

    Like 1

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