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Baby Barn Find: 1987 Toyota MR2

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It’s happening all around us: cars from later generations are slipping into barn find status! Personally, I find this exciting, especially as panic sets in that there will someday be no barn finds left to discover. This 1987 Toyota MR2  here on eBay dispels that notion, as it has recently emerged from a long, dusty slumber. It still runs and boxes of OEM parts will be included with the sale. You’ll find it in Connecticut with no reserve and a measly $200 opening bid!

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This MR2 comes with two features I don’t often see on this generation: its original steel wheels still attached and a sunroof instead of T-Tops. Personally, I like the simplicity and OEM-correctness of the steel wheels, and the more traditional roof configuration may provide some additional structural rigidity. According to the seller, it’s been dealer serviced all of its life, so hopefully a stack of maintenance records will come with the car. It is currently unregistered so test drives will be limited to the seller’s five acre property.

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The engine is said to be in good health, with no hesitation or misfiring. Toyota’s 4A-GE motor did duty here, and while not powerful, the MR2’s light weight meant it could still post respectable acceleration times. Although not as powerful or speedy as the later supercharged model, this engine will still provide years of faithful service if treated right. The seller mentions an OEM timing belt is included with the sale, so this may mean that job needs doing. Fortunately, the 4A-GE is a non-interference motor.

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There is some rust to mention, primarily around the wheel arches. Both due to a tendency to get sprayed with road salt and also because of the factory body kit, these are typical problem areas for the MR2. Fortunately, on this example, it doesn’t appear too far gone and is worth repairing if you pick the car up for cheap. As time wears on, newer and newer vehicles will slowly find themselves locked up in garages and lean-to’s, eventually emerging as the next-generation of barn finds. This clean, stock MR2 is a great start!


  1. JohnM

    These are incredibly undervalued right now. Absolutely a car you could you could drive for 5 or 10 years, smiling the whole time, gradually fixing it up, then sell for several times what you paid for it. Nice find!

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  2. Kincer Dave

    I betting the barn finds that happen 20-30 years from now won’t be as interesting, with all the electronics on the new cars I’m betting restoring one would be impossible the way technology changes.

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    • Danno

      I think it will take a different skill set than current restorers use. I doubt the electronics can be replaced part-for-part, but can probably be replaced with a functional smart device (Raspberry Pi or some variant). Things like capacitors and ICs can already be replaced with a soldering iron an a steady hand, if that’s the issue.
      Like electronic ignition kits, or throttle body fuel injection kits, there will be a solution if there is consumer demand.

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    • CJS

      As long as there are still car hobbyists around with brains, there will always be DIY solutions to EFI… Example, Megasquirt– part of the fun is building it from a kit, but they do offer complete plug-n-play solutions now for many brands, and the user community is constantly growing. I wager something like this will always be around, even if forced into the black market!

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  3. sparkster

    I bought a supercharged 89′ about 20 yrs ago for $1500 . Ran great with a perfect body and T-tops. What a blast to drive. I sold it three weeks after I bought it as I knew I was going to get into a lot of trouble driving this MR2. Last week on I went online to see if the supercharged MR2’s had gone up in value. OMG

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  4. Dolphin Member

    I can believe that these are reliable. They are Toyotas after all. The little engine is a screamer and a lot of fun if you like revs but don’t require much torque.

    But from a couple of drives in them I think the chassis is a bit too short because with the short wheelbase they pitch too much, especially on some of today’s less than perfect roads. Probably on the maintained roads in Japan they would be fine, although they could benefit from a stiffer suspension. I think some good aftermarket performance shocks would transform the Mister Two.

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  5. Eric Dashman

    When I was working for a large international pharmaceutical company, I had to travel to the UK frequently. I had a contractor over there working on projects for us and he had an MR2 that he took me on a ride in. He did heat up the engine considerably without going the turbo route (hot cam, worked on intake manifold, suspension package, etc.). It was definitely a screamer. We went through an underpass at speed and I believe cleared all 4 wheels upon exiting it. Whew! What a wild ride. I also had a neighbor here in Chapel Hill who had/has one from new that he has maintained in pristine condition. Really nice ride.

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  6. John

    I never understood why these didn’t take off in the market. These are really great little cars and every bit as much fun as a Miata. And they were quite comfortable to drive. I hope this one finds somebody to love it.

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  7. grant

    It’s a Mister Too!! Sorry I know Dolphin beat me to it but I had to. I’ll see myself out…

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  8. Danno

    Had a black ’86, hands down the funnest car I’ve ever owned. They are, quite simply, street-legal go-karts. So much fun. I’ve been tempted to snag an MR-S on more than one occasion, just to see if the convertible roof made the experience better.

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  9. Joe

    I owned an 87 for 5 years was my daily driver and ended up putting 60k on it I ended up doing kybs and I ended up putting polyurethane bushing all around the car handled like a champ only ever left me stranded once (timing belt broke) but truly not a difficult to do at all. Wish I still had it sometimes

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