The cult of Mazda’s MX-5 may be nigh-on all-pervading, but Toyota’s contemporary alternative, the third-generation (W30) MR2, is arguably even better… not to mention being markedly more affordable. The W30 platform was designed specifically around driver enjoyment; it boasts light weight and low inertia with a long wheelbase to aid stability, so it’s as sure-footed as it is playful. The only engine on offer was the 1.8-litre 1ZZ-FED, a DOHC 16v four-pot with VVT-I on the intake cam. Peak power was 138bhp, and given the MR2’s lightweight it’s more than enough to properly hustle it along country lanes. Launch models had a five-speed manual gearbox, and standard equipment was excellent, including electric windows and mirrors, alloy wheels, CD audio and fog-lights.
The W30 has sometimes had a rough ride from hardcore MR2 enthusiasts for not being as manic as the previous generations (especially the lunatic old turbo), but today it’s enjoying a renaissance as buyers realise just what’s on offer here: a surprisingly inexpensive mid-engined roadster designed specifically for driver engagement. These cars represent incredible value for money as Lotus-like drop-tops, and with baked-in Toyota reliability there really doesn’t seem to be a downside. A niche future classic, for sure.
This MR2 is a classic example of a well-loved sports car with a life well-lived. It’s not the sort of car you’d find pampered in a heated garage and only brought out on dry summer weekends; no, the owner bought the car for its tactility and driving pleasure, and has been keen to make eager use of it whenever he can. The combination of silver coachwork and black upholstery is a classic look for the model, giving it something of an air of a retro speedster, and with its new hood and undamaged original bodywork, its condition certainly belies its mileage. Not that the numbers on the dash are anything to be concerned about – with proper servicing these cars will run and run, and this particular example has certainly been looked after. Following many miles of entertainment and excitement, the owner’s now looking for a new keeper to take this fizzy and effervescent roadster onto its next set of adventures.
A partial service history is available with the car. During its time with the present owner, he has been servicing it himself – and as a naval engineer, he’s certainly a safe pair of hands when such things are concerned. The owner will be more than happy to talk the buyer through what’s been carried out in terms of the servicing and maintenance of the MR2 – but rest assured, the lack of dealer stamps in the service book is satisfyingly compensated for by the fact that it’s been maintained by an owner who’s keen on keeping things up-to-snuff and operating correctly.
The MR2 Roadster’s interior is a pleasingly well designed and well thought out affair, with simple and logical switchgear laid out in minimalist style, and a large rev counter dominating the dash binnacle. It’s not a cramped place to be either; indeed, it’s surprisingly accommodating given the diminutive stature of the car. And there’s nothing to be worried about in this one – everything works as it should, and there’s no damage, rips or tears to the black-trimmed seats.
The third-generation MR2 is a handsome thing, and its looks have aged supremely well; spot this sylph-like cabrio in the supermarket car park and you mightn’t immediately assume that it’s now twenty years old. This car has clearly been looked after too, its all-original bodywork being largely unmarked, free from dents and dings, and finished in a tasteful silver. Only a handful of blemishes are worthy of note; there are a few age-related marks and scuffs here and there, most notably on the right-hand side of the rear bumper, and the headlamp covers are starting to mist up a little. One major plus point is that the owner has had a new roof fitted, so there’s no worries about leaks or holes to detract from the stellar driving experience.
The 1ZZ motor in the MR2 is a highly regarded little unit, its 1.8-litre displacement serving up a peppy 138bhp at 6,400rpm and 126lb.ft at 4,400rpm. As these numbers suggest, it’s a sweetly revvy motor which loves to be hustled into the outer edges of the rev counter, and with proper servicing the 1ZZ has proven over the years to be pretty bulletproof.
The owner is keen to point out just how superbly this car drives; he’s an enthusiastic engineer who has always lavished more than enough love and care on this beloved roadster, and everything you’d hope for has been correctly maintained: tyres, exhaust, timing belt and so on, it’s all as it should be. The exhaust is particularly noteworthy, as the ceramic pre-cats on the MR2 can be troublesome – but not here, everything’s ticking along correctly throughout the engine, transmission and chassis.
This really is a lot of entertainment for the money. For a surprisingly minimal outlay, the MR2 serves up fabulous everyday thrills in a superbly engineered mid-engine package. The chassis is balletically poised, the responses are immediate given the almost comically low kerb weight (which, of course, also pays dividends when it comes to economy, when you’re in the mood to be sensible), and the way it drives is just so, so satisfying. The example we have here is in the sweet-spot too: with values starting to rise, we’ll increasingly see low-mileage examples confined to garages by speculators, whereas a car like this with a few miles under its belt will serve up no qualms when it comes to using it every day, in all weathers, and even packing in a flask and a spare toothbrush and nipping to the other end of the continent and back. In the increasing uncertainty of 2020, a cheap and trustworthy roadster is a bit of harmless fun you can rely on – and this one, with its original condition and history of being lovingly serviced by a keen engineer, represents truly exceptional value.
Please note: The pictures for this listing have been provided by the seller.
Important: Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing.
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