The Story behind the car...
Well it all began with a base model 1991 120bhp UK Coupe with a 3S-FE engine which I bought in December 1996, with 72,000 miles on the clock. This was the car that really got me hooked on MR2's - the 120hp engine wasn't very powerful, but the handling always brought a smile to my face.
After 18 excellent months driving it (and feeding it 10W40 engine oil) I started looking for a replacement Toyota MR2 - initially it was going to be a UK spec MR2 GT with 158hp, but when I test drove a 1992 Japanese MR2 Turbo out of curiosity I knew that this was the only way to go - 220 bhp with an unforgettable combination of low end torque and top end power all thanks to the Turbo. Even with the added hassles of getting parts and insurance for a car that was never sold in the UK, I decided it was still well worth it.
I then spent 4 months looking for a non modified MR2 Turbo, in good condition with service history. Having seen 6 or more Turbos, I found very few that were both unmodified and in good mechanical condition - many arrive in the UK direct from Japanese auctions, and so their quality is very variable. The car I bought was the only one that was in good original mechanical condition, with a low mileage, and even a service history - something very rare for an import.
Driving the MR2 Turbo
The MR2's Mid-engined Rear wheel drive layout gives it true sportscar balance and handling, thanks to an evenly balanced chassis. This makes the MR2 a really rewarding drive, with opportunity for 2nd gear grin-inducing oversteer on demand. Car Magazine in the UK did a tongue in cheek review of a Modified MR2 turbo - and they obviously had fun getting it sideways, but an unmodified car would be much harder to get out of shape.
OK - The Toyota MR2 Turbo looks great, has a bomb-proof engine and does the 0-60 sprint far faster than all 'shopping trolley' hot hatches. If this is all the MR2 means to you... I'm sorry but you're missing the point.
A car like the MR2 really rewards when being driven.
Over the last few years I've wanted to learn how the car handles on the limit, and what the limit 'feels' like. I've done a number of Skidpan courses at the Suffolk Police HQ (driver training notes available here) at first to understand the basics of understeer and oversteer, followed by more advanced wet handling course run by Driving Techniques at MIRA, and more recently having fun putting it all into practice at a number of Airfield trackdays run by Bookatrack.
Airfield trackdays are ideal for finding and pushing the limits - the MR2 is a surprisingly track-able car, providing you prepare the car well before and maintain it afterwards - the main consumables are Petrol (one tank at least, 5mpg!) tyres, and to a much lesser extent brake pads and engine oil. Each time I've come back from any of these events, I've been amazed at how much more capable the MR2 is than I thought.
If you're planning on doing a few trackdays, its useful to have a separate set of 'trackday' rims and tyres, so you can use one set on track and then drive home on a legal set of tyres. The Bridgestone S-02 tyres shown on the right had 2mm of tread on them at the start of the trackday, but the front tyre had worn down to the canvas by late morning and the rear was completely smooth by the end of the day, with a little canvas showing.
Information courtesy of http://www.btinternet.com/~netsurf/mr2t/