Abandoned History: Project Genesis, Toyota Cars for Young People

Toyota was very focused on youthful consumer appeal at the turn of the millennium. Around the same time the WiLL sub-brand launched in the Japanese home market with its multitude of different products, a similar project was just getting underway at Toyota Motor Sales USA.

It was called Project Genesis, and like WiLL, it didn’t go well.

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Piston Slap: TPS, IAC, VTV…WTF?

Jeremy writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Long time reader, first time writer; I finally have an issue I can’t seem to figure out and was hoping you can help.

I have a supercharged 89 Toyota MR2 I bought a couple years ago but only really started driving a couple months ago, and while the car runs and drives about as well as any peak-era Toyota from time to time I would notice the revs would hang around 2,000 rpm when I came to a stop. I never really cared that much since I could stab the throttle once or twice and they would dip down to ~1,000.

However, I recently had a bunch of preventive and routine maintenance done, which has caused the rev hanging to become much more prevalent (I originally thought it was a stuck throttle cable, but the mechanic said it wasn’t; I also Seafoamed it before it went in the shop, but I don’t think that’s behind the rev hang worsening).

Now 2,000 rpm is the norm rather than the exception when I’m at a stoplight, with 3,000 rpm a not-uncommon occurrence, and when I stab the throttle the revs don’t really drop down anymore.

The mechanic said he couldn’t find a vacuum leak, but the car wouldn’t die when he shut the idle control valve completely; he also said something called a VTV was missing in the vacuum circuit. I have a feeling this is why the supercharger engaging feels like VTEC is kicking in, yo. The mechanic also said he couldn’t get the timing set dead perfect after my work.

The mechanic thinks the issue behind the rev hang is either in the missing VTV or perhaps something lurking in the air bypass valve, and I was hoping for a second opinion as well as ideas on where to look next.

Give all my best to Sanjeev,
-Jeremy

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Rare Rides: An Original 1988 Toyota MR2 - the Supercharged One

The mid-engine MR2 started out strong in the Eighties, but ended its life in the new century with a quiet, blob-shaped whimper. Today we take a look at the best of type — it’s a first generation supercharged model, in Ticket Me Red.

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Junkyard Find: 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder
It took a while for the 2000-2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder to start showing up in the big self-service wrecking yards I visit, but depreciation finally caught up with the final generation of Mister Two. I spotted a 2002 MR2 Spyder with sequential-manual transmission in California a few months back, and now I’ve found this five-speed manual-equipped ’01 in Colorado.
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Retiree Trades Quintet of Toyota MR2s for One Mazda MX-5

Last week, a retired college professor walked into Missouri’s Coad Toyota with an interesting proposal. He was willing to part with five first-generation Toyota MR2s as a trade-in for a gently used 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Considering the amount of maintenance five vintage MR2s must require, maybe he’s not the absolute madman we initially presumed. Since the deal went down in Missouri, he probably spent a ludicrous portion of his time on rust prevention alone.

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Toyota Mulling a Return of the MR2

Starting with the introduction of the 86 (Scion FR-S in North America) in 2012, Toyota began spicing up a brand viewed as being more synonymous with bulletproof reliability than fun. While this manifested itself primarily through more expressive exterior design choices, the brand also introduced performance-tuned GRMN variants in Europe and Japan. It’s also bringing back the Supra, arguably the brand’s most iconic sports car.

Still, a subset of the population looks back at Toyota’s history with a particular fondness for the mid-engined micro machine known as the MR2. Discontinued in 2007, the model was as endearing as it was fun to drive — especially those earlier incarnations, when it looked like a pint-sized Lotus Esprit. And, as luck would have it, Toyota’s European vice president of sales and marketing Matt Harrison says its return isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.

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Toyota's Sports Coupe Ambition Doesn't End With the Supra

At Toyota all eyes remain on the upcoming Supra — a long-departed model returning to the automotive landscape with some help from BMW. The Supra, however, isn’t exactly a sports car for the masses. No more so than the co-developed BMW Z4 is.

Once upon a time, Toyota fielded a slew of fun, compact coupes that tickled performance itches further down the income ladder. It’s something the automaker hasn’t forgotten, as the slow-selling but genuine 86 shows. The automaker wants more of those type of vehicles, apparently, and it could result in the return of another long-lost nameplate.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Affordable Convertibles From 2005

This edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by the comments some of you left on the recent QOTD Crapwagon Garage post on coupes. Though roadsters and convertibles were off limits there, the conversation turned to them wistfully. Don’t worry, convertible week is coming.

In the meantime, we’ve got a ragtop from 2005 to burn. Which one will it be?

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Toyota MR2

The Toyota MR2 has always been a somewhat rare Junkyard Find, partly because not many were sold in the first place, and partly because the surviving examples tend to be cherished by MR2 enthusiasts. Here’s a solid ’86 that showed up in a Denver self-service wrecking yard a couple of weeks back.

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Ace of Base Redux: 1989 Toyota MR2

On occasion, Ace of Base will scour the web for the details and minutiae of a ride from the past that we feel fits the Ace of Base ethos. This is one of those cars.

Offered in naturally aspirated and supercharged guises for 1989, the MR2 found itself in the last model year of its deliciously wedgy styling language. Travelling back in time to the late ‘80s, let’s find out what one could expect to get for their money in a base Toyota MR2.

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Digestible Collectible: 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo

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.

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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.

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Toyota MR2: Fear the Robot Eagle!

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!

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I Must Say, Sir, Your Ferrari 360 Sounds Suspiciously Like A Toyota

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?

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Twin-Engined Toyota Racer Works Fine, Confounds Self-Proclaimed Experts

“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?

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  • Kcflyer Gummed up intake valves in under 60,000 miles. Pass.
  • SCE to AUX By the time they're done thinking about it, others will beat them to market by 5 years.Nissan has been thinking about water cooling its EV batteries for a decade, and now that the Ariya has it, they've only now begun to ship it.By the way, "lightweight pickup" will be an oxymoron if it's electric. It won't be 3 -5 tons, but it will easily be 2 if it's to have 250+ miles' range.
  • Mark This is what it cost to drive a Tesla Model S Plaid for 11k+ miles in one year. You would pay more to drive a Yaris that far, never the less a performance car on the Plaid level. I don’t know where they got their math, but mine is actual real world results. We live in a cold climate and have removed our wheel covers, both of which hurt range, so your mileage may vary.
  • Jack Bummer, his successor sounds like just another electric car shill :(
  • IH_Fever Nissan should call for a real pickup before they call for electrification...