Toyota’s MR2 Is a Cult-Favorite Among Car Enthusiasts

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Toyota has undoubtedly been one of the most popular car brands in America for the past several decades. While the brand is well known for making reasonably priced, high-quality vehicles, Toyota isn’t well known for making exciting cars.
There is one major exception to this rule: the Toyota MR2. Sometimes affectionately called the “Mister 2,” this mid-engine sports car has a cult following. Officially, “MR2” is an abbreviation for Midship Rear-drive 2-seater, according to MotorTrend. Debuting nearly 40 years ago, the MR2 is sought after by car collectors.
Black Toyota MR2 parked in an alley.
The MR2 is one of Toyota’s most sought after sports cars.

Origins of the Toyota MR2

In the ‘80s, mid-engine sports cars were quite successful both critically and commercially. Some notable examples include the Porsche 914, the Pontiac Fiero, the Fiat X1/9, and the Lancia Scorpion. Noticing this trend, Toyota wanted in on the action.
Developers started working on the sports car by utilizing technologies from other Toyota cars. Designers built the MR2 on a MacPherson strut suspension, along with switchgear found in Corolla models. Early prototypes were even reviewed by F1 racer and car designer Dan Gurney.
When it was finished, the MR2 was a 112-horsepower vehicle that weighed about 2,300 pounds. It’s 0 to 60 clocked in at 8.4 seconds, which was comparable to the Porsche 944. From the get-go, the MR2 was a hit with the public.
Automobile magazine liked it so much that they decided to test it against a Ferrari 308 Q. The magazine concluded that “The MR2 is a source of pure, unalloyed driving fun and is infinitely superior to anything remotely like it. God help the Italians if the Japanese ever decide to build supercars.” Not bad for a car that was about one-third of the cost of a Ferrari.

The MR2 through the generations

The Toyota MR2 went through three different generations since its inception in 1985. While every generation received near-universal acclaim, it was discontinued after the 2005 model.
The discontinuation wasn’t due to poor performance or degrading quality. Rather, it was caused by decreasing sales, according to the Los Angeles Times. The decreasing sales were caused by a changing market and economy as opposed to any faults with the car.
In short, the number of people looking to buy cheap, entry-level sports cars had decreased. In 2004, the sales of the MR2 combined with the Celica only accounted for 1% of Toyota’s sales, according to the LA Times report. It was time for Toyota to move on to more popular vehicles.
While the MR2 fell out of favor with mass audiences, it still has a major cult following. To most people who came of age in the ‘80s, the MR2 is considered a classic car that should be cherished and remembered fondly.
The Toyota MR2 was an exotic sports car that was far more affordable than the likes of Porsche or Ferrari. Just as nostalgia for the ‘80s is at a peak, so is nostalgia for Toyota’s Mister 2.
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