Digestible Collectible: 1988 Toyota MR2 Supercharged

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 1988 toyota mr2 supercharged

Salt is a killer. Any time I travel south, I’m amazed when I see pristine, 30-year-old cars being used as daily transportation. Up here in the Great White North [Don’t you live in Ohio? —Mark], most everything built prior to Y2K has been perforated horrendously.

Considering this, I laugh anytime a distant friend asks me to check out a local car. Invariably, the car in question is more air than metal, and what remains is held loosely together by the sheer adhesion of the paint, duct tape, chewing gum and dreams.

I checked one such MR2 near my house a couple weeks ago. The Craigslist photos showed a pretty clean car, with nice, lightweight alloys for a rather low price. What I saw when I arrived, however, was horrifying. After I left, the seller texted me links to online supply houses that offered cheap patch panels, which was both reassuring and depressing.

I’d never driven a MR2 before, let alone any mid-engined car. This lightweight runabout was unbelievably fun to drive, even considering the overwhelmingly loud exhaust (rusted, natch) a few inches from my ears. Unboosted power steering, responsive throttle, and instant turn-in made my brief drive memorable. It also allowed me, for a fleeting instant, to consider this heap for myself.

This Texas car looks to have no such worries. Pristine red paint and the all-too-rare supercharged option make it nearly irresistible. I’d want to replace the driver’s seat upholstery, since there’s no other reason to put a $20 seat cover on an otherwise $10,500 car, and I’m guessing the steering wheel vinyl has rotted beneath the leather wrap, but this is a perfect time capsule.

I’m sure clean early MR2s will be a target for collectors at some point soon. It’s a far cry from the new Alfa 4C, but the Toyota looks to be a great alternative for enthusiasts on a budget.

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2 of 41 comments
  • Numbers_Matching Numbers_Matching on Sep 22, 2015

    Fun fun car, but watch out for alternator bearing failure and heavy oil consumption. Mine was a NA version - had it for 8 years.

  • GeneralMalaise GeneralMalaise on Sep 22, 2015

    I've always liked these ever since their intro. They were an admitted updating of the Fiat X1/9... with more power and Toyota's rep for quality. I know a handful of guys who have owned both and they do say the MR2s have their positive attributes (e.g., reliable, quality of materials), but to a man they prefer driving the Xs.

  • FreedMike No, but then again, I think folks who truly have no money should be given the opportunity to pay through things like community service. Otherwise, the traffic justice system becomes an excuse to make poor folks into de facto debt slaves.
  • Paul Alexander "Rumors have pointed to it switching to the larger LX’s platform, giving it expanded exterior and interior dimensions. Lexus is expected to offer a hybrid powertrain in the upcoming GX, which could also appear in the Land Cruiser, and a trick four-wheel drive system is all but a given."So it'll be an LX with the GX name? What does this paragraph mean?
  • Jeff S If Ford can do a software update on their EVs to receive AM then this should be something that all EV automakers can do. Doesn't seem that an AM band on a radio is that big of a dollar item when you consider the overall cost of a new vehicle in today's market. I have started to listen to my favorite FM station on AM since I lose FM reception the further away I get away from an urban area. Maybe not as refined a sound as FM but the AM comes in much clearer when I am driving in rural areas.
  • Mike Beranek Well yes, any government fine should be based on the offender's income. But I'd take it a step farther.Any public funding aid, from welfare to stadium deals to tax incentives, should also be doled out based the need. And trust me, Shad Kahn doesn't need the taxpayers of Duval County to pay for his football stadium renovation. He can easily pay for it himself, without even having to downgrade to a lesser yacht.
  • Jeff S No it should be based on the violation and the fine on speeding should be based on how much above the speed limit the violator is going. Anything 5 mph are below should not be ticketed.