Find of the Week: 2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder

The autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week this week is your last chance at summer. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but this mid-engined, two-seat open top roadster is lively, nimble, and was never sold new in Canada. It's a 2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder.

You probably remember the first generation of the Toyota MR2. The Midship Runabout 2 (seater) was a wedge-shaped mass-market sports car that delivered serious handling, an optional supercharger, and the-son-of-Lotus Esprit-and-a-doorstop styling. The second-generation rounded off those lines, added more power, and grew up a little bit. It had more than a passing resemblance to something coming out of Maranello at the time.

But you might not remember the third-generation car. The styled with a ruler first-gen and quasi Italian second-gen were replaced by something a little more Toyota. Big headlights in place of pop-ups, a gently curving windshield, and a decidedly square rear end. While it didn't share a look, it clearly was in the same family as the Celica and Supra of the late 1990s. And that gaping front bumper.

You probably don't remember the car because it was never sold in Canada. The story at the time was that the front bumper was to blame. In 1973, Canada and the US changed up their bumper standards. A car had to have a front bumper that could stand up to an 8 km/h bump without major damage to items like the headlights. In 1982, the US relaxed that rule to 4 km/h. Canada didn't, because the extra repair cost to consumers was high.

Rather than Canada-spec bumpers, we simply didn't get some cars the US got. Like the eighth and ninth-generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. The Canadian standard was changed to match the US (and most of the rest of the world) in 2009, but that was long after the MR2 was gone.

So the third-generation MR2 was never sold here.

The third MR2 was dubbed the MR2 Spyder in the US, and the MR-S in Japan. This was the first time the car was a real convertible. Previous models had an available removable roof, but that was a T-top or Targa top, never a full convertible.

It had a slightly longer wheelbase to improve stability, but Toyota's goal was "true driver enjoyment, blending good movement, low inertia and light weight."

The car debuted in 1997 in prototype form, arriving to market in Japan in 1999 and the rest of the world in 2000.

Under the rear hood was a 1.8L DOHC four-cylinder. It produced 138 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque. It would also spin happily all the way to just shy of 7,000 rpm. For buyers of the up to 200 hp second-gen, that wasn't exactly the way you'd expect power to move. Instead, Toyota slashed weight from the car. A massive 254 kg, bringing this MR2 down to just 996 kg.

It followed the MX-5 route of minimizing weight and offering adequate horsepower. Much in the same way that Lotus operates. It makes for a car that might not perform on the spec sheet, but offers a whole lot of fun on the road.

The car was offered with a choice of five-speed conventional manual or a five-speed clutchless automated manual. Our Find of the Week is the old-fashioned three-pedal, and that's the one you want.

This is a car that will get you seen. Especially in bright red. It looks like nothing else on the road, and the rarity north of the border is almost guaranteed to turn heads.

If you're looking for trunk space, this isn't the right place. There is only space in the nose, and it's largely blocked by the full-size spare. If you're looking for a nimble runabout that lets you toss it into the corners, then the MR2 Spyder is more up your street.

This car is for sale in Nelson, BC. A 2000 model, the first year, it has under 73,000 km on the odometer. It's ready for the mountains, the track, or cruising around with the top down while you chuckle because the name sounds like a dirty word in French. It's your call. The MR2 is ready to go.

 

Em Err Deux 9/12/2018 1:38:48 PM