If you wanted a brand new second-generation Toyota MR2 Turbo back in the day but foolishly did not buy one, this could be your one shot at redemption. Offered for sale in Canal Winchester, Ohio, is quite possibly the country’s lowest-mile all-original SW20 MR2 in private hands.
Finished in a somewhat uncommon but very era-appropriate 576 Solar Yellow, it’s a stunning example. In its 25 years of life, it is said to have been kept indoors for the majority of that time, and has clocked just 4,392 miles on the odometer. Unless you have access to a time machine with a trailer, it’s as close to brand new as you’re going to get.
The SW20 MR2 was the second generation of Toyota’s mid-engined, affordable sports car. While this is a zenki version, the 1993 model year had several updates that make it desirable, such as a viscous LSD, updated front and rear suspension, larger brakes, and a short-throw shifter. Though it doesn’t have the 1994 and up’s third-generation 3S-GTE making 245 horsepower, the previous generation isn’t too shabby with 200 ponies, especially when hitched to a car weighing less than 3,000 pounds even with the T-top roof.
Perhaps the only thing more astounding than the condition of this MR2 is the seller’s story. According to the auction listing, its first owner took delivery in New York in 1993. Between then and 2005, this owner logged nearly the mileage currently on the car. It was then owned by a Toyota dealer in Newark, Delaware for two years, before it was purchased by Fannin Toyota in Ashland, Kentucky.
The story continues: While under the ownership of these dealers, the car was treated as a display piece for their showrooms. In particular, Fannin Toyota had a large “museum” of sorts, which included an AW11 MR2 and A70 Supra, among others. The owners even posted jovial online videos of their collection. This is where the seller, Brett, first became aware of the car.
Brett says he’d owned another SW20, which he had to sell due to “circumstances in life.” He’d always wanted another one, and set out on a mission to acquire the Fannin car. As Brett says in the auction:
I even asked management on a couple of occasions about the potential for it to be ever be listed “For Sale,” and the response each time was a stern, “None of Mr. Fannin’s Museum cars are for sale!”
“Alright,” I told myself, “but at least I know my ultimate MR2 is in existence, and it is only 130 miles from where I live!”
In February 2017 Brett and his holy grail MR2 were brought together again by both chance and email alert. An MR2 had been listed on eBay, and it was none other than the Fannin car. Brett says he immediately called the dealership to try an purchase the car, but was once again blown off. Then, three days after the listing had appeared, it was gone again. Brett was sure someone had beat him to the punch and bought the car.
After three agonizing months, Brett says he received a call from a bank, asking if he’d sill like to purchase the car. Turns out, Fannin Toyota had been raided by US Marshals to seize $17 million’s worth of assets owed to the bank. The bank now owned the cars and wanted to liquidate. Brett finally had his car.
To most, such an acquisition story would probably be a sign from the Japanese car gods that Brett was destined to own the car. However, less then a year later, adding only 120 mils on the odometer and after spending over $3,500 in service he has decided to pass it on. Why? Brett says he’s fulfilled his dream, and that “it needs to be owned by someone who has the capability of curating it as part of an auto collection.”
From the photos provided, it really does look as new as Brett claims, but as with all online purchases, caveat emptor. A quarter century is plenty of time for rubber, electrical connections, and plastic to deteriorate simply by sitting there.
At the time of this writing, there have been 57 bids on the car and the price is up to $20,400. That sounds like a pretty great deal, considering the original MSRP base price for an MR2 Turbo in 1993 was about $24,000. Get a 25-year-old new car, pay none of the storage fees or inflation.
It’s almost certain there will never be another car quite like the MR2. Affordable sports cars, much less mid-engined ones, are not high on the list of automakers’ priorities today, and the SW20 was the best of the breed. If you’re interested in adding it to your stable, see the auction on eBay.