One of my favorite high-school teachers had an MR2 in red—she caused somewhat of a stir when she showed up in it the first time.
“Fun is taking the all-new MR2 out to play.”
The MR2 was undoubtedly one of the most interesting cars Toyota brought to market in the 1980s (development had begun in 1976). Visually evolved from the SV-3 concept car shown at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show, MR2 stood for “midship runabout 2-seater”.
A small sports car (almost six inches shorter than a 2015 Honda Fit) with an angular wedge body, the MR2 became available for the 1985 model year, entering a market that already included the Bertone (formally Fiat) X1/9 and the Pontiac Fiero. MR2s got really good reviews from the likes of Motor Trend (winning “Import Car of the Year”), Road & Track, and, later, Automobile—who famously compared it to a Ferrari 308 and found the MR2 to be the winner.
The MR2’s engine was the 16-valve 1.6 liter 4A-GE fuel injected double overhead cam inline four, with 112 bhp. Paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic transmission was optional) in the 2,350 pound “Mister Two,” this engine was good for 0-60 in under 9 seconds and a top speed of about 120 mph. Mileage was very good: 27 city/32 highway by the standards of the day (23/29 by modern standards). With a 10.8-gallon fuel tank, an MR2 owner could expect a range of 250 to 285 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard equipment in the $10,999 car (about $24,300 in 2014 dollars) included power disc brakes and 14-inch alloy wheels on 185/60R14 tires. Inside, automatic climate control, power side mirrors, tinted glass, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, and an AM/FM stereo radio were included in an interior that was considered roomy for the MR2’s size.
Options available for the 1985 MR2 included air conditioning ($840), a moonroof ($300), cruise control ($185), power windows and locks ($305), and an AM/FM stereo radio with cassette ($365).
MR2s do have club support, including a fairly active forum. Though there are slim pickings in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, first-generation MR2s (sold up until the 1989 model year) show up fairly often on eBay Motors. As I write this in July 2014, there’s a blue 1985 with 92,000 miles with a $3,333 “Buy It Now” price.
Make mine the same red as that high school teacher owned, please.