Mid-Engine Marvel: 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo

This 1991 Toyota MR2 coming up for auction here on Mecums in Phoenix is the first year of the Mark II (1991-1999) series and is offered at no reserve as lot T285. After placing the highest bid and winning it, you can immediately enjoy driving this “Midship Recreational Two-Seater”!

Features that add to the collectibility of this car are the optional 4-cylinder 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, the five-speed transmission, T-tops and it’s a rust-free Arizona car. Production figures for 1991 show that just 9,636 of these cars were built. In the photos, one can see it is sporting aftermarket wheels. The 1991 MR2 had a larger wheelbase than its predecessor at 94.5 in. These cars were also hand built. Problems with the 1991 MR2 included a recall on the airbag, oversteer and sometimes issues with shifting through the gears. Toyota resolved these problems by 1993.

Vehicle engineers have known for the best handling and a low center of gravity the engine should be midship. Yet there are many drawbacks. By placing the engine in the middle of the car, it takes up interior space thus most of the cars end up being two-seaters. Also with this type of layout, there is very little room for carrying luggage, golf bags or groceries. Some well known mid-engine cars are the Ford GT, the Fiat X1/9 and a competitor to the MR2, the Pontiac Fiero. They do make awesome sports cars! Doing the 1/4 mile in 16.3 seconds is not impressive, but these cars have been modified for track use with considerable success.

The first time I saw a Mark I MR2 was on the showroom floor of a Ford dealership. I was there applying for the job as a lot boy. I did not get the job. I went on to get a job pumping gas, but I still remember that MR2. Import cars are trending in the collector car market right now. This one could be a good investment. Have you signed up for your bidders pass? What do you think it will end up selling for?

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  1. nycbjr Member

    I miss simple clean readable dashboards like these!

    Pretty car would love to on it!

  2. Bakyrdhero Member

    I agree NYC. That dash is simple and user friendly. One of my favorites dashboards was actually in our 99 Toyota Camry. Simple, clean and user friendly.

  3. Rx7turboII

    I have the Toyota manual / technical specifications that states the 1991 mr2 turbo will pull a 5.9 sec 0-60 , 14.3 sec 1/4 mile and a 149 mph max crusing speed. I think the 16.3 1/4 mile time you stated was for the naturally aspirated model. Under 6 second car in 1991 was very impressive back then!! It’s a beautiful car and I would think it should sell for around 10k.

  4. Jaydawg7

    The gen 1s never did anything for me but when these came out they stole my heart. I much prefer these tail lights in comparison to later models. Not my favorite color but I hope to get one in this condition someday soon.

  5. SebastianX1/9

    imho, for the price, this is one of the greatest sports cars of all time. With a middle-class budget, you can turn an MR2 into an 80-90s Ferrari performance-wise. And it is better looking than those tacky 348-Testarossa ones. And a better sitting and gearbox position, and pedal box. And you get see-through targas, with tints.

  6. Brian

    I had one of these that I boosted to 20 lbs. Bigger intercooler, bigger turbo, forged pistons and steel head gasket. Almost double the stock horsepower. It could run with Z06 Corvettes. Pre- 1993 cars had tiny brakes and were susceptible to snap oversteer, later ones had corrected rear suspension geometry and larger brakes with 15 inch wheels.

    Fun cars to drive, and built with quality. These will soon be collectible for sure.

  7. Marco

    Had one of these- actually bought it for the wife- she took it in the break up of course. But it was a little rocket and great fun to drive. Great Toyota build quality- nice black leather interior, great air and great sound system. Nice car. I heard insurance killed this model but who knows? Plenty of other performance cars lived on.

  8. Tom Justice

    I agree with Jaydawg that the first gen was not that pretty but this version was a much better looking car. However, they did get a lot heavier and had lots more options so they became more of a decent driver than a real toss it through the curves car the first gen was. I worked on a couple of first gen cars and changing a water pump without being able to see it is a real trick. Nice ride for sure.

  9. JoeNYWF64

    I notice Toyota stopped making the MR2(& the Celica) when the Apple smart phone 1st came out. Coincidence? Tho, isn’t it hard to shift at the same time with the smart phone in your right hand while driving?
    Most Celicas were driven by single girls, usually pretty ones.
    Looks like the smartphone took precedence over owning a car or even wanting to drive today – for younger people.

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