Mid-Engine Sports Car: 1986 Toyota MR2

Built from 1984 to 2007 over three generations, the MR2 was Japan’s first rear-drive, mid-engine production car. The Toyota’s name reportedly stands for “mid-ship run-about 2-seater” or “mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-seater”. But it could be something altogether different. This third-year edition of the car has had only two owners and traveled just 61,000 miles. It’s been off the road a while but has been prepped for regular use again. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, this interesting sports car is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $10,100.

Though the mid-section placement of the engine was a departure for Toyota, the MR2 overall was designed to be a small, economical, zippy car that used fully-independent MacPherson strut front and rear suspensions and 4-wheel disc brakes. The motor was an inline-4 that was transversely mounted. From 1984-89, the MR2 used a 1.5-liter engine borrowed from the Corolla, and a 1.6-liter motor was available later. At just 2,400 lbs., the handling characteristics were good enough for the automobile to win “Car of the Year” awards in Japan during its very first year.

The first owner bought this Toyota new in Tennessee in mid-1986 and kept it for 33 years. The second owner, another Volunteer State resident, owned it for another two years. The seller has purchased an AutoCheck report on the vehicle and it comes back with a ZERO accident history. We’re told it’s been garage kept all these years, which has enabled the two-tone Jade Metallic and Beige Metallic paint to hold up quite nicely. The black leather interior looks fine, too, but – as leather often does – has its fair share of small cracks in the upholstery.

Because of a lack of use for a time, the seller (a dealer) has changed out a few items. New are the fuel pump and A/C compressor and the gas tank has been cleaned out as well as the radiator. With a new set of tires, we’re told the auto runs excellent. The buyer will get to take home the original window sticker, owner’s manual, repair booklets, and a variety of other things that date back to when it was new. These little sports cars aren’t seen much anymore so this would be a neat addition for next Saturday’s Cars & Coffee, Japanese Division.


  1. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Very nice. However, missing is the 3rd pedal.

    Like 8
  2. RayT Member

    I don’t remember driving any normally aspirated 1st-gen MR2s, but I must have. None with the autobox, for sure.

    This would be a fun ride, for sure! Being fussy, I’d hold out for the supercharged version — with a five-speed, of course — and, if possible, one that had the TRD spiff-ups (blower pulley, suspension tweaks and larger/wider tires) bolted to the last one Toyota loaned me. That was a little rocket, and a canyon-carver nearly equal to a Caterham Seven!

    The one shown here would still be neat to have, and looks to be in great condition. As long as the price doesn’t climb too much higher, someone will get a nice deal.

    Like 5
  3. Howard A Member

    Always thought of these as the Japanese Fiero, only more dependable. It’s the one vehicle I never owned, or even driven for that matter, a mid-engine car, save for a short test drive in a Fiero. Got to be like driving a go-kart, and Toyota quality. I’m certainly in no position to be buying vehicles like this anymore, after that loooooooooooong trip to Portland, I HATE DRIVING,,,sorry, my problem, but if I did actually enjoy driving again, I’d love to have this.

    Like 5
  4. Dave Miesel

    I owned a copy of this car from 1989 through 1995, auto trans and all. Very quick car and handled like it was on rails. This is a limited edition I believe they only did in 1986 called the Sherwood Toning package. Haven’t seen one in years. GLWTA.

    Like 3
  5. Barry

    Good to know the fuel pump was replaced as the one on my 85 went out and I think it’s in or under the fuel tank and was about $450 to replace in 1992. Otherwise this was a remarkably reliable car.. Mine had 180000 on it when a flood killed it.

    Like 1
  6. Barry

    Good to know the fuel pump was replaced as the one on my 85 went out and I think it’s in or under the fuel tank and was about $450 to replace in 1992. Otherwise this was a remarkably reliable car.. Mine had 180000 on it when a flood killed it.

    Like 1
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    Have driven one and raced against several. Fun to drive and tough to beat on the race track. Nice example here. Most of them are used up by now.

  8. Brad460 Member

    As a fiero owner I’m obviously interested in similar cars so thankfully I’ve had numerous opportunities to drive 1st gen MR2s. Despite having a similar layout they feel much different than the fiero. The fiero is more luxurious and techy units own way but where the mr2 shines is handling.

    Light feeling with unflappable cornering make these a very rewarding car to drive. So neutral and balanced it’s as if the car says, corner, what corner.

    Whoever gets this car will find it fun and very unique. They aren’t especially fast but so much fun to drive a person will quickly forget the low level of grunt.

    Wish I had room!

  9. Claud

    I have owned 2 mr2’s
    One 2000 5 speed stick
    One 2003 6 speed smt
    Manual but no third pedal
    Floor shifter and steering wheel paddles
    The handling of these pocket rockets is out of this world
    Their only drawback was lack of power
    I upgraded to a boxster but i should have spent 10k on an engine upgrade

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