The Truth About Cars » Toyota MR2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Toyota MR2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Toyota MR2: Fear the Robot Eagle! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/toyota-mr2-fear-the-robot-eagle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/toyota-mr2-fear-the-robot-eagle/#comments Mon, 25 Jun 2012 16:30:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450172 Members of the MR2 Jihad generally refer to the creature on the hood emblems of their cars as the “Screaming Eagle,” but I say it’s a stoic, tight-beaked Robot Eagle. I hadn’t paid much attention to this emblem, since it’s quite small and mounted on a car snout that sits quite close to the pavement, […]

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Members of the MR2 Jihad generally refer to the creature on the hood emblems of their cars as the “Screaming Eagle,” but I say it’s a stoic, tight-beaked Robot Eagle. I hadn’t paid much attention to this emblem, since it’s quite small and mounted on a car snout that sits quite close to the pavement, but then a 24 Hours of LeMons team composed of Toyota engineers created a gigantic Pontiac Trans Am-style decal version for the hood of their MR2. Robot Eagle!
The dragon (or boat, or dragon boat, or whatever it is) emblem on the early Celica was cool, but you won’t see this creature on the domes of the Sakichi Toyoda Memorial Mars Base in the year 2077. The MR2 Robot Eagle, on the other hand, will be plastered all over future galactic installations.
Note the mechanical, right-angle-based grasping talons, which enable the Robot Eagle to dock with its charging station when it isn’t squeezing the giblets out of the wimpy horse on the Porsche emblem.
Imagine the meetings in Tokyo, during the design phase of the original MR2, as variations of the Robot Eagle were shown to the Toyota suits. Did the original have laser eyes and bolt heads on the wings, only to be watered down by conservative salarymen? We may never know.
LeMons racers have always loved the Pontiac Screamin’ Chicken, seen here as the extremely frightening Bob Ross Screamin’ Chicken on the hood of a fourth-gen Firebird. Other teams simply buy knockoff Screamin’ Chicken decals and slap them on their Saturn SC2s and Nissan 240SXs.
I think it’s time for the Robot Eagle to challenge the Screamin’ Chicken for icon status. Who will fight for the glory of the Robot Eagle?

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I Must Say, Sir, Your Ferrari 360 Sounds Suspiciously Like A Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/i-must-say-sir-your-ferrari-360-sounds-suspiciously-like-a-toyota/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/i-must-say-sir-your-ferrari-360-sounds-suspiciously-like-a-toyota/#comments Thu, 17 May 2012 14:52:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444831 Perhaps inspired by my recent TTAC fiction piece The little death, I was idly shopping for 360 Modenas on eBay this morning when I came across this little gem. Obviously, it’s not a real 360… but it’s not THAT bad, right? The “360” was built from a final-generation Toyota MR2 and can be yours for […]

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Perhaps inspired by my recent TTAC fiction piece The little death, I was idly shopping for 360 Modenas on eBay this morning when I came across this little gem. Obviously, it’s not a real 360… but it’s not THAT bad, right?

The “360” was built from a final-generation Toyota MR2 and can be yours for $18,900. According to the moderator of one of the kit-car boards I’ve read, the builder was supposedly “pressured by Ferrari” to stop making them. My guess is that Ferrari’s attorneys sent him a boilerplate letter telling him not to use the Prancing Horse, but perhaps the company is still smarting over that whole first-two-seasons-of-Miami-Vice deal. Hard to say.

Still, given that the cheapest 360 eBay currently has is likely to pull about forty-nine thousand dollars, there’s clearly a savings involved with driving a Toyota Modena. And before anybody asks, $49K is still too much for that “real” one. Everything about it, from the all-season tires to the wear patterns on the interior, screams “$25,000 worth of deferred maintenance”. Better to drop eighty or ninety on a nice one… and as long as you don’t expect to outrun a new Mustang GT, you’re lookin’ good!

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Twin-Engined Toyota Racer Works Fine, Confounds Self-Proclaimed Experts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/twin-engined-toyota-racer-works-fine-confounds-self-proclaimed-experts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/twin-engined-toyota-racer-works-fine-confounds-self-proclaimed-experts/#comments Wed, 18 May 2011 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=395258 “How will you sync the engines?” whined the naysayers when they heard about the plan to weld an ’89 Corolla front half to an ’87 MR2 rear half. “How will you cool it? The handling will be terrible! It’ll never work!” If there’s one thing that 24 Hours of LeMons racing has taught the automotive […]

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“How will you sync the engines?” whined the naysayers when they heard about the plan to weld an ’89 Corolla front half to an ’87 MR2 rear half. “How will you cool it? The handling will be terrible! It’ll never work!” If there’s one thing that 24 Hours of LeMons racing has taught the automotive world, it’s that the experts’ preconceptions can be thrown right out the window when it comes time to drop a cheap race car into the crucible of an all-weekend-long road race. For example, who would have imagined that Chevy small-block and Honda B engines would turn out to be among the most fragile in the crapcan endurance racing world? And who would have imagined that the DoubleSuck MR2olla would do so well at the notoriously car-killing Reno-Fernley Raceway?

To avoid the nightmare of trying to get a single shifter and clutch pedal to control two drivetrains, the DoubleSuck team decided to use an automatic transmission on the rear 4AGE and a manual transmission on the front 4AGE. When driving, the rear tranny goes into Drive and the driver shifts the front transmission normally.

Rather than trying to merge two electrical systems, the DoubleSuck designers opted to keep the front and rear systems separate. Two alternators, two batteries, two kill switches.

The cockpit features two shifters and two instrument clusters. To get the complete build story from the geniuses responsible for this innovative racin’ machine, check out the Verbose Beater website.

So we’ve got two 112-horsepower engines, one transmission shifting for itself and the other controlled by the driver, and weight distribution unlike anything Toyota ever considered building. How does it drive? We conned LeMons Supreme Court Circuit Judge and Index of Effluency-winning Renault 4CV racer Rich into putting on his gear and strapping himself into the MR2olla for a few test laps on Saturday; here are his impressions:

I was prepared for the worst, strange torsional stiffness, pirate-ship-under-stress creaking, disturbing bump steer, maybe a car that pulls viciously and doglegs down the road or the worst, has transition from predictable traction to some kind of wall seeking mission abort mode. Maybe it would behave like an AWD car where the center differential had just gone schizophrenic. I had no idea.

Looking at the dash was both amusing and intimidating. One set of 3 pedals, check. Two gauge clusters… mmmm ok. Two ignition switches, ha ha, and wait… what’s this? Ah, two shift levers. One has a 5 speed pattern on top, and the other has a button on the side. Oh this should be entertaining.

I was given proper flight instruction by a very generous, but slightly nervous team captain. He didn’t know what kind of yahoo was getting into the car that he had no doubt spent many sleep deprived nights putting together. “The rear engine is the loud one, we just improvised a cherry bomb exhaust. The front engine (with manual trans) is quiet, so you really have to watch the tach.” Ok, I think I’ll try to err on the side of much too high of a gear. You can usually lug a motor without hurting it.

Oh boy, the last thing I want to do is blow up these dude’s car.

So I was off.

I had the advantage at least of knowing the track, having raced there 2 years before. As I accelerated to merge with traffic I made my first mistake. I was thinking about the MR2 I had years ago and expected similar acceleration. This was wrong and I very rapidly ran out of first gear. Ok, lets go straight to 3rd.

For the first few laps I ambled around the track, generally staying to the outside and allowing the chuckleheads I had been punishing moments before to blow on by in their rat race. My comfort level with the car quickly improved and I actually started to push it a bit.

Remember 1993? Remember being broke, and having an 80’s hatch that you could only afford a couple improvements on? Remember having that hatch packed full of your friends and taking off for some party and deciding to impress them on that twisty on-ramp? Maybe you don’t, but a Corolla with an engine in the back or a Mr. 2 with an engine in the front would kinda handle like that with one notable exception. If you’re paying attention to the tach (remember that?) and you’ve been putting the quiet engine in the powerband, this baby would pull.

This car was as predictable as your beloved old hatch full of your moron friends, but it had a 3.2 liter 8 cylinder motor made into a dipole. The scary creaky machine I feared turned out to be a predictable little car that could really pull up the hill and exit corners with some gusto.

After about 5 or 8 laps I started getting a bit more brave with it and I had to remind myself: “wait, this isn’t my car, these aren’t my tires, and I’ll never hear the end of it if the guest judge gets a black flag for 2 wheels off, it’s time to come in”

With some debugging and a little more shade-tree engineering, this amazing little machine will be quite a contender. I look forward to the day when LeMons is all cars that exhibit creativity like this. Tip your hats to Volatile RAM Racing!

The MR2olla’s best lap time of 2:47 wasn’t exactly scorching (the quickest lap of the race was a 2:30), but the car is going to get considerably quicker once refinements inspired by a weekend of real racing get incorporated into the design. The MR2olla developed a rod knock in the rear engine late Saturday night, and so the team opted to avoid a track oil-down and parked it until a few laps before the checkered flag. 56th place out of 72, but all signs point to a strong performance at the next West Coast LeMons race.

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And The Winner Is… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/and-the-winner-is-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/and-the-winner-is-8/#comments Mon, 18 Apr 2011 04:06:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=391695 On paper, the Toyota MR2 should be an excellent choice for a low-buck endurance racer… but 24 Hours of LeMons racing has a way of shattering such preconceptions like a connecting rod hurtling through the side of a 4AGE block. In fact, the MR2 has been one of the least reliable LeMons cars, even worse […]

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On paper, the Toyota MR2 should be an excellent choice for a low-buck endurance racer… but 24 Hours of LeMons racing has a way of shattering such preconceptions like a connecting rod hurtling through the side of a 4AGE block. In fact, the MR2 has been one of the least reliable LeMons cars, even worse than such good-on-paper-but-terrible-in-practice endurance machines as the Nissan Z and Porsche 944; we’ve seen dozens of them race in LeMons over the years, and nearly all have failed miserably… until today. Today, the Dai Mondai II car was the first MR2 to take the win on laps in the 24 Hours of LeMons.

We’ve been seeing the Dai Mondai team in LeMons races going back to 2008, and their MR2 had established a pattern of going pretty well for a time, then nuking the engine. Since the team is made up of a bunch of Toyota engineers, the frustration level got pretty high. Did they give up, as so many MR2 teams have done in the past? No! Today, their efforts have been rewarded with a rusty trophy and $1,500 in nickels. Congratulations, Dai Mondai II!

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Two Engines Equals Twice As Good: Toyota MR2olla! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/two-engines-equals-twice-as-good-toyota-mr2olla/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/two-engines-equals-twice-as-good-toyota-mr2olla/#comments Fri, 11 Mar 2011 00:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=386846 The crazy thing about 24 Hours of LeMons racers is that they actually follow through with their terrible ideas. Maybe it’s the urgency of the deadline, or maybe it’s the peer pressure to keep one-upping the last ridiculous project. Last month we admired the radial aircraft-engine-powered MR2, and now we’ve got another MR2-based team taking […]

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The crazy thing about 24 Hours of LeMons racers is that they actually follow through with their terrible ideas. Maybe it’s the urgency of the deadline, or maybe it’s the peer pressure to keep one-upping the last ridiculous project. Last month we admired the radial aircraft-engine-powered MR2, and now we’ve got another MR2-based team taking on one of the long-discussed LeMons Holy Grails: the twin-engined sub-$500 race car!

The Volatile RAM MR2 has been racing in West Coast LeMons events since the 2007-08 Altamont era, and the team must have decided that all that wrenching in the pits (the MR2 has proven itself to be one of the less reliable LeMons cars) would be more fun if they vaulted to the ranks of the Legends of LeMons and took on the twin-engine challenge.

Conventional wisdom says that a twin-engined race car with four-wheel-drive and two separate transmissions will be a spinning nightmare on the track, will blow up for sure, will overheat, and is morally wrong besides. However, conventional wisdom also suggests that Toyotas should be reliable in low-budget endurance racing, and reality has shown that Saturn SL2s and Alfa Romeo Milanos are much more reliable LeMons cars… so go ahead and throw all your misgivings about the MR2olla right out the window! Yes, MR2olla; the team will be welding the front half of a 1989 Corolla to the rear half of a 1987 MR2. What could possibly go wrong?

“Aha!” you say, “The Corolla and the MR2 both use Toyota A engines and identical transmissions, so all you need to do is rig up some kind of Rube Goldberg transmission-cable linkage and the driver will be able to drive it like a regular car.” Not so! What the Verbose Beater team is doing involves an automatic transmission in the rear and a manual up front. Feel free to enumerate all the ways this will go terribly wrong; I’m reserving judgment until I see it on the race track. Actually, I’m not reserving judgment at all; if this thing makes one lap it will be a stunning, LeMons Legend-worthy succcess! We’ll see how it all sorts out at the Goin’ For Broken race in mid-May at Reno-Fernley.

Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for the biggest 24 Hours of LeMons race of all time, at Sears Point in a couple of weeks. In fact, with 180 cars it’s possible that the Sears Pointless 24 Hours of LeMons race will be the biggest road race in history. See you there!

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