KIDNEY, ANYONE? 34k-mile 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo

At this year’s Toyotafest we were saw an increase in stock (or stock appearing) and period correct examples of the second-generation MR2. Gone were the Invader body kits and intake snorkels from the Tuner Era heyday. Clearly, the unmolested SW20 is something collectable, especially when it has only 34,270 miles on the clock. 

The seller describes the car, located in Scotts Valley, California, as having been owned by one family. The driver, who purchased it new a quarter century ago, used it as a commuter traveling about 60 miles a day, but when he retired so did the car. It was kept in a garage “for years.”

The exterior of the car, especially the underside, certainly seems to corroborate that story. The plastic underbody covers appear clean, unscraped and unwarped. The mid-mounted drivetrain, too, shows regular dust accumulation but otherwise appears leak-free and stout.

While the post-minor model change 1993-95 models have a few factory improvements that are considered more desirable, such as more robust half shafts, improved shocks and a horsepower bump, the originality of this example cannot be denied (or easily replicated with OEM parts).

Offered for sale at $22,000, or about 20 percent above its MSRP when new, the price is most definitely not a steal, but we suspect there is some wiggle room to be had. Clean examples are out there, but you’ll have to do some digging and even then the mileage will likely be higher. If this MR2 piques your interest, see the ad on Craigslist.

Thanks to Chris H. for the tip!

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7 Responses to KIDNEY, ANYONE? 34k-mile 1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo

  1. John K said:

    Beautiful condition, Unless I miss my guess, those are Yokohama AVS intermediates. Superb tire when new, but I don’t believe they’ve been in production for at least 15 years.

  2. Nathan said:

    “It was kept in a garage ‘for years.'”

    “Offered for sale at $22,000, or about 20 percent above its MSRP when new, the price is most definitely not a steal, but we suspect there is some wiggle room to be had.”

    This car is not only not a steal, it’s a bad deal. Stay away! Cars that sat are the worst kind. In addition to the usual (new tires, suspension, etc.), it will need new rubber everything, from seals to O-rings to bushings to brake lines. By the time one is done getting the car in smooth, working order, having replaced all the dried out rubber bits and the like, the tab for time and labor – whether through cost or lost time if doing the jobs one’s self – will have been high enough to make a clean, 60k-100k mile MR2 that was driven a better deal, and if this “kidney” car sat wet all those years… well, fuhgedaboudit. It may run, but running well is a different manner.

    Low-mileage cars are only good if they’re driven, even if it’s only once in a while. For half that price, one can have a much nicer MR2 that won’t drain the bank on refreshing costs with more than a few thousand left in the bank.

    • Nathan said:

      Well, maybe it’s not quite so bad, but I’d still expect a lot of age-related parts failures are just over the horizon. Here’s a key detail from the ad:

      “Once the owner retired he purchased a different vehicle and the MR2 was stored in the garage and there it has remained for years, virtually untouched. In the last 3 years the battery was replaced and years ago the alternator was replaced. It is being left on a trickle charger (trickle charger will be included with the sale), started every 2 days and driven about 1-2 miles per week just to keep the engine humming.”

      Was the car driven 1-2 miles every week, or just every week in the last 3 years, which is what it sounds like? Having an engine that runs for 1-2 miles is one thing. Having one that doesn’t leak like crazy or run into other issues after a long, spirited drive, is another. While that’s to be expected on any old car, is it worth more than it was new just because it has under 40k miles? No. I can’t conceive of any MR2 listing, at least near where I live, that is not a much better deal if the car is under 120k miles.

      Even if the car is in good shape, it’s not worth $22k. $15k, maybe. Just say no.

    • Negishi no Keibajo said:

      Nathan does make a valid point though. Vehicles sitting take on some serious problems. The alcohol content in todays fuel literally eats yesterday’s fuel lines and seals. Belts may seem like an innocuous thing to “just replace” but remember that timing belt. Water in brake lines. The list goes on… Another lifetime ago, I used to be contracted by a bank to repo “vehicles”. I ‘ll take the abused ones over sitting ones hands down.

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