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Toyota MR2

Published: 27th Aug 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Toyota MR2
Toyota MR2
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YOU might think that squirrelling away a non-winter use sports car would require nothing more than giving it a once over with a chamois leather and reversing it into the garage. That had been my plan but, feeling a bit guilty about not having changed the engine oil, I drained it.

Shock horror. On the dipstick the oil looked as clean as new but, when it drained out of the sump, it looked more like diesel oil that had done a great many miles.

So off I went to my Euro Car Parts store where Castrol Edge was on offer at a price that looked too good to be true. Naturally, I added air and oil filters but, as the Toyota MR2 is still a bit of a stranger to me – and there’s no Haynes manual to fall back on – I had to enter the unknown. The spark plugs were changed too, a bit of a daunting task as they are deep down into the head between the cams.


First thing was to get the car up on ramps. It’ll do that backwards but not forwards as that way, the lower edge of the front bumper hits the steel ramp before the wheels get the bodywork up high enough to clear it.

Next, off with the undertrays. Not a major problem as I’ve had them off before but each time I look at them, yet more of the bolts and plastic pins that hold them on have broken off. Draining the oil and winding off the old oil filter presented no problem, everything being easily accessible. And working from the top, the air filter was much easier to change than I first expected.

The internet forums, often helpful but just as often misleading, suggested one bolt was near impossible to get at but there isn’t one in my later model car. Great!

I put the undertrays back on but that entailed drilling out bolts the heads had come off and re-tapping them. One was totally overhauled and had been fitted with an oversize bolt. After mulling the problem over, I rang Patrick Mortell. Patrick runs Rogue Motorsport, a company that specialises in Toyota MR2s and he’s also the guy who looks after the excellent MR2 race series, that’s arguably the least expensive form of racing in the UK.

As I thought, he confirmed the race cars don’t have to wear the undertrays. “They become detached and the cars get red flagged,” Patrick assured me, adding, “Japanese domestic MR2s don’t have them”.

As Patrick also pointed out, there’s a small sound deadening pad on the large tray directly under the sump. “It’s called the nappy,” he said rather amusingly.

I should point out there are three trays in all, one at the front that can stay there as it’s well secured and the two at the rear. I left them off but whether that’s wise or not will come to light in early April when we go on the Caledonian Classic and Historic Car Club’s first 2014 event, the Tour of the Kingdom, basically a run around picturesque Fife.

We’ll do around 300 miles which should be enough but, as the engine compartment heats up like a cooker, the extra cooling shouldn’t hurt.


Actually, Patrick had been very helpful before and I am eternally grateful he’s so generous with his time on the phone. I had been driven mad by a bleeper with the strength of a fog horn that sounded whenever I reversed.
Intended to warn that reverse gear, and not first gear, has been selected, it made reversing into my narrow garage a nightmare as it blasted away at my ears while I was trying to concentrate. A call to Patrick made removal of the instrument panel a simple matter and a small piece of Blue Tac over the alarm toned it down to acceptable levels.

It was when re-fitting the instrument panel that I felt a cold shudder run down my back. What about the speedometer and rev counter cables? I couldn’t recall re-attaching them. Then it dawned: too many years messing about with ancient Minis… The MR2 relies on electronics, so no cables.

With Glass’s Guide having drawn down the MR2 Mk3 prices hardly at all over the winter, I’m delighted with the way the value has held up. No doubt it’s the same with the excellent Mazda MX-5 I came so close to buying but I found, on a recent road test, that the fold-back roof increases the car’s weight and even the soft top roadster seems to have been missing its weight watchers class.

So the old car’s lightweight feel and delightful agility are now missing. They are still there if you go for an older one but that might entail more time lying on the garage floor.

Now, with the Pirelli tyres removed from the front wheels and Bridgestones fitted to match those at the rear, I can’t wait for that first event. Just the MoT and tax to shell out on now!

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