MR2 addiction leads to
"It takes two to
make things go right;
my name is Jeff and I am an MR2 addict. I have been addicted for 14
years. The seeds of my addiction were planted back 1987 when I was 13
years old and my mother purchased her first new car. She bought a left
I clearly remember the first time I appreciated her MR2. My mother drove me to a junior high dance in it and the kids at school were all very impressed when we pulled up. That made me do a double take and look at the MR2 with a different set of eyes. Chicks dig it, it must be good.
The second time I was impressed with that car was when my mother raced my stepfather in his new 1987 Mustang 5.0. Yes, I said my mother raced ... mom is really cool. Needless to say his Mustang smoked her on the open highway, but as we approached an exit ramp, my step father was all over the brakes to slow the Mustang down for the turn. At that moment my mother jumped into the inside of the exit (on the shoulder actually) and passed him on the inside of the turn.
I was sold.
My mother swore I would never drive that car. As luck and life would have it, when I turned 16 there was no other car for me to learn to drive in. So for the first time in my life I sat behind the wheel of a car and it just happened to be that 1986 white MR2. Three years later I bought it. Little did I know that would begin a six-year stretch that would combine terrible driving with horrible luck, ultimately claiming the lives of six innocent MR2s, and fortunately, no people.
You see, when I was in college automobile accidents were a lot like sexual encounters for me. I always knew I was going to have another, it was just always a surprise when, where and with whom it was going to happen next. However, the story of the first six MR2s and their demise will be left for another time.
The last accident was in November of 1998. Standing roadside that day five years ago, I watched my black 1991 Turbo MR2 go up in flames a few minutes after the crash. I knew I was done. I needed to get away. I needed to end my addiction, so I went cold turkey: six months without any car and nearly two years without an MR2.
In the spring of 2000, I saw a white '91 non-turbo MR2 for sale while browsing the local Auto Trader. It turned out that this MR2 was being sold by a young lady I used to autocross with. It was in fine condition and lightly modified. It featured 16" Enkei RSE rims, Tokiko struts, KVR cross-drilled rotors and a 93+ front lip. The price was right, so I bought it. After years of having turbo MR2s, I honestly forgot how enjoyable the non-turbos are.
A year and a half later, I was browsing through www.autotrader.com and happened on a '91 Turbo MR2 for $1750. At that price, I assumed it was wrecked or had a blown motor. When I called to inquire further, I was shocked to find that not only was it running, but it was inspected and on the street. I arranged a meeting with the seller the next day.
The car was 100% stock, featured 180,000 miles, an amazingly dirty engine and dinged-up passenger-side fender. When I drove it, boost came on smooth and full, so I kept driving until we found a notary.
That was November of 2001. I knew then I wanted to transform the turbo MR2 into a performance monster and keep the non-turbo MR2 right where it was. So it came to be that I own two '91 MR2s.
They were a pair; Beauty and the Beast; Ying and Yang ...
the doctor and the patient ...
they were Jekyl and Hyde.
So why did I name my cars Jekyl and Hyde? The honest truth is I was trying to establish a new identity in the MR2 community. I was trying to bury my terrible college years, working part-time as a crash-test dummy and air bag safety checker for the MR2 world.
Okay, and let's face it. I just needed a new way to get attention. If you are familiar with the plot of the novel entitled "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson you will will understand the meaning behind the names. In the novel Dr. Jekyll is a very respected socialite, but has a hidden desire for evil. To unleash this side of his personality he creates a magic potient that turns him in Mr. Hyde. Under this new monsterous identity he can go out into the work wreak havoc without affecting his other more acceptable self.
relating this to my cars, Jekyl is the elegant, respectable non-turbo
MR2. It is infinitely more attractive than my ugly Hyde car and its
performance is pleasurably predictable. Underneath all of that it has
an obvious desire to do evil - go faster. That's where Hyde comes in.
Hyde is the swampy factory color called aquamarine pearl and the
So why does my Jekyl and only have one "L" and the novel "Jekyll" has two? In Pennsylvania, the personalized license plate that read "Jekyll" was already taken, so I dropped one of the "L"s.
Jekyl is the one I most frequently autocross. I compete irregularly in SCCA events in the CSP class. Hyde is the drag car. Jekly is the one I am most likely to take a date on. Hyde I use to take a lousy date home faster.
In addition to the modifications that Jekyl had when I purchased him, I have added H&R springs, header, custom dual-muffler exhaust and a full six-piece areoware body kit. When I purchased Hyde, I bought a full set of 17" Enkie RSEs rims. I installed the 17s on the rear of each MR2 and split Jekyl’s 16" Enkeis onto the front of each car.
Hyde features a T3/T4 hybrid turbocharger. It has a T04E-50 compressor and a .48 trim, stage 5 wheel turbine side. Boost is cheld in check by a TIAL external wastegate which is controlled by a Blitz Dual Solenoid Boost Controller. The boosted air rushes through a GReddy intercooler and is then sprayed in the face from an Aquamist 1S water injection system.
The engine has 195,500 original miles and has never been opened (as per very concise record and receipt keeping from the previous owner). The entire exhaust is nearly 3" in diameter and is not inhibited by cats, kittens or mufflers. In Hyde’s current state, fuel is controlled by an HKS VPC, Apexi SAFC and an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator. The fuel is delivered via a set of Supra 550 injectors. A full list of modifications on both cars can be seen at http://www.jekylandhyderacing.com.
In July of 2003, Bryan "NoShoes" Moore did the final tune on Hyde and managed to put down 308 rwhp at 20 psi of boost. At the time of this writing, my best 1/4 mile in Hyde was 12.06 @ 116.57 mph. Hopefully at the time of your reading I have already run my 11 second pass.
There is a full account of Hyde’s race history on my site. All 66 time slips are there (most of the fast ones even have a video of the run). In addition to the slips, there is a list of the things I added or changed before each event so you can see how I progressed from my first best run of 13.87 @ 97.59 to my current status.
The question is now what? Although Hyde has earned his spot amongst some of the fastest MR2s in the country, there are several out there whose achievements are so grand that Hyde lurks in their shadow. So the desire to push further exists, but I am extremely pleased with Hyde’s current state. The coveted 300 rwhp is what it is cracked up to be. Hyde is an awesome drag car and is still mild-mannered enough to enjoy on the street.
So am I done or do I go for 500-600 rwhp? I do not have an answer to that question.
With over 66 quarter-mile runs, over 15 dyno pulls and nearly 200,000 miles on Hyde’s engine, the other question that remains is: When will this engine let go?
The naysayers said my engine would go pop after my first drag event. I have completed 12 events so far.
They further predicted Hyde’s demise would occur when he was dyno tuned. He made over 15 passes on the dyno and lives. So I offered up a challenge: The Hyde Death Pool. For a $1 donation to the "pot" you can guess the mileage Hyde’s engine let’s go. If you are the closest guess you get ½ of the pot. The other ½ goes to fixing Hyde. There is currently $30 in the pot.
If you have any questions about this article, comments about my cars or would like to make a donation to the Hyde Death Pool; I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.