Digestible Collectible: 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Based on pageviews, you guys didn’t particularly love Wednesday’s Ferrari. So, let us consider something at twenty percent of the price, but with maybe 85 percent of the performance:

Toyota MR2 Turbo: 94.5 inch wheelbase, 2,700 lbs, 200 hp

Ferrari 308 GTSi QV: 92 inch wheelbase, 2,800 lbs, 240 hp

No, I’m not kidding. I don’t have proper instrumented test data at my fingertips, but the generally-close-enough accuracy of Wikipedia for both cars tells me that the performance probably isn’t too far apart.

Problem is, most of the MR2s I’ve encountered while shopping for today’s feature look like posterchildren of a circa-2005 NOPI catalog. No, I want a stock one. Today’s 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo, with around 66,000 miles, looks perfect to me.

As much as I complain about poor photography when looking at used car advertisements, sometimes photos that are too good scare me off. These actually look like they could be stock photos from new, if one doesn’t look at the interior. There are some creases and minor cracks in the leather, but nothing that should cause concern. I’d prefer better photos of the drivetrain and undercarriage, especially considering the Chicagoland location of the car.

Between the Ferrari and Toyota, I’d have to choose the MR2. While it won’t likely appreciate like the Italian, I’d rather drive my cars than polish them — not to mention a full rebuild on the Japanese car will cost less than a belt service on the 308. That’s a compromise I can live with.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

More by Chris Tonn

Join the conversation
4 of 39 comments
  • RRocket RRocket on Jan 22, 2016

    The 1993-95 versions with the improvements are the truly collectible ones.

  • John66ny John66ny on Jan 22, 2016

    I have this car's twin, only with 155k miles on it. Bought in in '96 and never looked back. I've only experienced the so-called snap oversteer once, and that was on wet pavement with bad tires. It was pretty easy to control, having learned to drive on RWD vehicles. So I'd say that the hype around that is overblown, not coming into play in anything you should be doing on public roads. The only problem in the longer term will be keeping the OE wheels as 14" tires are now mostly made from unobtainium. Interesting example at $10K, I paid about $15K for mine in '96 which would be about $21K in today's dollars.

  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Jan 23, 2016

    I want one to swap the corporate 3.5L V6 into. Wouldn't need a turbo version to start with. Great looking cars

  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Jan 23, 2016

    Reading these comments I'm surprised at how many commentators have forgotten the Scion FRS's existence. These MR2s are kinda neat, but the MK1 always looked better to me.