Turbo T-Top Car: 1991 Toyota MR2

Sometimes, we see modified cars and expect the worst. It’s going to have issues. It’s going to be modified to death. It’s going to be beaten on. But that’s not always the case, as sometimes modifications are a matter of practicality rather than a wanton desire to destroy a stock car. This 1991 Toyota MR2 left the factory as one of the elusive turbocharged examples, but it didn’t end up with that same engine. It was swapped out at some point in favor of a Japanese-market “Gen 2” 3SG-TE turbocharged mill that made better power than the original engine, but also retains a factory appearance thanks to being found in MR2s overseas. Find this modified-but-clean example here on eBay with bidding to $7,200 and no reserve.

The color is great, Steel Mist Gray, and the seller notes it’s a rare shade. I would have to agree, given I can’t recall seeing it all that often. The stance looks great, obviously lowered via aftermarket suspension and sitting on larger wheels that the puny five-spokes it came with. The exhaust – yep, that too, is aftermarket. While there’s a fair number of modifications on display, it seems like the engine swap simply made a strong case for some incorporating some additional improvements “while you’re in there.” The good news the seller has chosen high-end components for these replacement parts, including Volk Racing Wheels and BG Racing coilovers.

But when I see the interior, I feel better about everything else that’s been changed. It remains pleasingly stock, with the same bucket seats it left the factory with, featuring colored cloth inserts that compliment the exterior. The steering wheel has even been left alone instead of being swapped out for a Momo. The carpets are original and look to be in fair condition, and it doesn’t appear to have an aftermarket radio. The MR2 is a T-top roof car, and the plastics appear to show some fading, which you can also spot on the seat belt receptacles that aren’t quite as orange as they used to be. Still, these are small nits to pick, and it’s reassuring that the seller made the modifications seen here under careful consideration.

The engine swap looks well executed, and I wonder how many non-MR2 experts would even notice it. Sure, an enthusiast would see the engine plaque and immediately know it was swapped, but otherwise, it looks just like the factory intended. I remember a former neighbor of mine turning his MR2 into a paperweight after doing a timing belt job, largely with only a streetlamp to illuminate his work space. It wasn’t long after he reported spinning a bearing and that car went to the big junkyard in the sky. Whatever happened to the original engine is a mystery (though Google reveals lots of instances of blown turbos), but the cleanly executed upgrades seen here make this MR2 worthy of a closer look.

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    My service advisor had a modified MR2 turbo. Large snail, big intercooler and exhaust. Was always breaking the poor transaxle. I used to give him grief the way most car guys banter. He took me for a drive and when second gear hit we were seeing plaid! I’ve driven modified 993 turbos and this little car would seriously disappoint a Porsche owner.

    Like 5
  2. Eric B

    I hope whomever repainted the entire front clip was fired. Were they even trying to match the rest of the car? I would love a Mr. Dos, but getting very hard to find unmodified or beat on.

    Like 3
  3. chrlsful

    looks good from the angle in 1st pic. Side, rear, rear 1/4 not so much. A bit of the ’80s into the 90s. For some reason friends did not find them as durable as other Toys. Wonder Y? Don’t follow enuff ta know,

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