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.
“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.”
So they just found a paper that had this info when they raided the place? Sounds iffy…..
fannin did indeed owned this car
fannin did indeed own this car
I still don’t grasp how someone could own a sports car and basically NEVER use it… That kind of mileage is pretty much “Drive it to the gas station and back.”
To have TWO people do that is BEYOND mind boggling…
Yeah if “curate” it alright… on every twisty abandoned backroad I could find.
Sorry. But it was built to be driven.
And ‘a drivin I would do.
“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.”
Well, by that logic, it’s an even better deal when one considers inflation. Hahaha! As for the maintenance, with $3,500 out of the way – supposedly, anyway, as I’d like to see documentation of this if I was a prospective buyer – the age-related maintenance is at least reduced a bit. That said, rubber bits may not be the only thing that hasn’t aged well, depending upon whether the car was stored wet or dry and how often it was driven. Did it rack up a few miles a week over it’s life, or did it sit for extended periods, which would make for a much greater maintenance nightmare down the road?
However, I’m with Randy, Bob, Toy4runr85, and probably most JNCers here on this one. Cars are meant to be driven. Perhaps a happy medium could be met given then insanely low mileage? Someone could keep it in a collection that gets at least some miles put on it to keep it in decent shape, similar to what Jay Leno does. Is one of Toyota’s corporate collections perhaps in need of an addition? (Although, I’m not sure how much those cars get driven, if hardly ever.)
On a side note, I’ve always loved the Solar Yellow, and for that matter, Signal Yellow, both of which were colors offered depending on the model year, and it’s a photo of an MR2 in one of those two colors – I can’t recall which now – that made me fall in love with the car as a little boy. 20+ years later, I’m still able to fall in love with it… every time I turn around to glance at mine after a drive with a giant, stupid grin across my face.
*over its life.
Curse my grammar!