The Story of
My Toyota MR2s
Jekyl is actually the 8th MR2 I have owned in my life and Hyde is number 9. We do have nine lives right?
When I was in college, auto 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.
There are some links to photos on this page. All of these photos plus many more images of these cars can be seen on my Photos/Videos page.
This is the story of the first seven MR2's I owned ...
Parts of this story may be funny.... parts may be sad... parts will show how stupid I was when I was much younger. My stupidity is much different now - now it has more to do with women than cars.
In 1987, I was 13 years old and my mother purchased her first new car. She bought a left over 1986 MR2. And to be honest, I thought the car was silly. I grew up in a muscle car world (old Chevy's and such) and didn't really like sports cars unless they were made in Italy.
I clearly remember the first time I appreciated the 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 highway. 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, and passed him on the inside.
I was sold.
My mother swore I would never drive that car ... but then I turned 16 and it was all she had to teach me to drive with. I was hooked after driving it. When I turned 19 I bought the car from her.
I was too assertive of a driver ... I was way too inexperienced ... I was way too brave ... mid-engine cars are not for the inexperienced.
Excessive speed in an exit ramp combined with rain resulted in a total wipe out. I spun the MR2 around several times clearing an entire row of signs and reflector posts. The end result was every single panel (all doors, fenders and bumpers) received damage to varying degrees. All the glass was fine, all the signals were fine, but one wheel was torn off.
I had the wheel repaired and since the car was still able to pass inspection, just very ugly, I drove it for a good two years like that. In that two year period, the car was hit 2 more times while it was parked. And on another occasion, during an ice storm, I parked on a hill at a shopping mall. When I exited the car and closed the door the car slid 10 feet away from me.
I can't explain what that felt like. My first thought was "Wow, I'm strong". Second thought was "Shit there goes my car". The car slid until it hit parked Berreta *sigh* adding a few more battle scars.
As I worked my way through college, I ended up working with a girl who had a blue 91 MR2 NA. She ended up getting into some financial difficulties and had to sell the car. I picked that 91 MR2 up from her fairly cheap.
As it turned out, her financial difficulties had a lot to do with money owed to the "wrong people". Since her car was unique and the color was even more rare, I quickly realized it was not safe to drive the car around town.
About 2 months after buying the car, I took a friend for a ride. We were on back roads and I crossed the center line mid-turn to pass a Jeep. That unfortunately was my first lesson in NOT getting off throttle quickly in mid-turn in a mid-engine car.
My first snap oversteer experience resulted in the rear bumper tagging a guard rail. This combined with the problems of the previous owners "friends" gave me a lot of incentive to paint the car. So it went black.
Right around this time is when I purchased a 1965 VW bus that had been painted about 10 different colors. I still had my 86 MR2, the 91 MR2 and now the 65 VW.
Driving the bus around inspired me to finally fix the damage on the 86 MR2. I fixed it by covering the car with a radical custom paint job.
I drove the MR2 painted like that for over a year and eventually painted it all black and sold it. The VW bus was also sold. And as luck would have it, my 91 tranny died on me. When I went to the shop to pick up the MR2 from it's transmission repair, I saw a white 91 MR2 sitting at the Toyota dealership next door. It was a white 91 with 22,000 miles... and a turbocharger.
I paid the tab on the transmission job on my 91 and drove the car 25 feet to the dealership and traded it in on the white turbo. Who wouldn't?
So now I had boost. I bought an air filter and a manual boost controller. I was now a power god, I had boost. Soon after this purchase I moved to VA Beach. A place of very boring straight roads, but very, very wide intersections.
Those intersections are were I learned to control oversteer. Throwing an MR2 sideways in the middle of a huge intersection making a left turn (with a green arrow) gives ample room for mistakes and learning.
I stayed in VA Beach for about 6 months and came back to PA to finish my degree and also to begin one of the worst 3 years of my driving career.
Upon returning to PA I decide to take this MR2 thing a little more serious. I became a boost junky. I ordered parts - lots of parts.... GReddy TDO6, GReddy Intercooler, etc ... dropped the car of in NJ at a performance shop to have all of these parts installed.
I got the car back and it was fast... disgustingly fast. And I enjoyed it for an entire two days before it was destroyed. Once again I was giving a friend a ride and we were at speed in the left lane of a highway ... clear road except for an 18-wheeler in the right lane. As I approached the truck at a healthy rate, a guy in a Mercury Sable station wagon comes out of an exit and sees the truck. He proceeded to just shoot into the left lane - in front of me - to pass the truck. The relationship between my speed and his proximity did not allow enough room to avoid a collision.
The last thought I had was where am I going to get my bumper fixed. I knew I was going to bump the guy, but I knew it was not going to be that bad. I knew nothing.
That was my introduction to air bags. That air bag punched me in the face so hard and blew my hands off the wheel so fast that I lost complete control of the car. It was like a Mike Tyson fight without the huge payout. One hit and I was down.
The MR2 swerved into the rolling rear wheels of the 18-wheeler. My car was ground up. The air bag removed my entire left cheek.... all skin was gone. And my beautiful MR2 that could have had a dinged bumper was now totaled.
My friend Brian and I tore the performance parts off of the car and the insurance company hauled it away.
Within a few weeks I located a teal 93 Turbo MR2 at a Toyota dealership in Bethlehem PA and I bought it.
So back to the performance shop in NJ to have all of that Greddy stuff installed again. I got the car back and enjoyed it for an entire 6 months before I was hit again.
I was sitting at a red light on my way home from college and a kid in a Ford F150 XL pick up drove into traffic at 50 mph. Unfortunately, I was the first car he hit. He shortened my MR2 by 3 feet ... shoved me out of the way and slammed into another car.
He knocked me out. He knocked out the people in front of me. From what I understand, his father wanted to knock him out.
His insurance company paid ... through the nose. I got $19,000 for the MR2 and in addition I required them to also GIVE me the car (performance parts survived the crash). I also filed suit for my injuries. I had about 3 months of physically therapy on my neck and back. Because of some laws in PA that limited my right to sue I only got $4000 (if I would have been outside of that law I would have gotten over $80K).
With the money from the insurance company I went shopping. I bought a black 91 Turbo and I also bought a red 1988 MR2 NA.
I do not have any clean photos of the 1988 MR2.
With the luck I was having, I figured the 88 would be a good daily driver and keep the turbo out of harms way (off the street). The 88 MR2 was to be my sacrificial pawn in the chess game of the roadways in that my black king, the black 91T, could survive.
All of the performance parts I took off of my wrecked 93T were installed onto the Black 91T. That GReddy TDO6 turbocharger was now on it's 3rd MR2 ... but not on it's last MR2.
As a matter of course I was on my way to class one morning in the 88 MR2 and I entered a one-lane, one-way alley with parking on the right. So the alley was the width of two cars.
I was traveling behind an SUV. About 1/2-way into the alley the SUV pulls over to the right (where the parking spaces are) and I continue straight. As I pass the SUV he makes a hard left into a smaller alley ... well, actually he made the hard left into me.
He sent my MR2 up the handicap ramp of the sidewalk and through a row of bushes. Unfortunately the only thing on the other side of the bushes was gravity. Like the Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, I realized I just went off a cliff without any ground under me. So down I go ... it was about a 12 foot embankment that led into a U.S. Post Office parking lot. The MR2 came to rest vertical with its nose resting on the back of the mail trucks.
I was relieved. I was relieved because my black 91T was still at home in the driveway. *whew* I won the game this time. Another accident, but the turbo was at home ... for now.
So I was down to just my black 91T. I had commissioned a body shop to make a custom engine lid for this car.
When the lid was finished, but not painted yet, I had driven down to the shop so they could test fit it on the car. By the time I left the shop I was running late for work. Instead of dealing with traffic on the highway I started banging out turns on a back road.
As I came out of a turn I saw a long straight road with a very large farm grain dump truck going sub-15mph in my lane. So into the left lane I go, down shift and boost kicks in and the truck made a left without signalling.
And I was done. Like an alcoholic that knows he had his last drink, I was done.
I stopped driving. I did not buy another car. I needed to figure life out.
So I moved in with my girlfriend and we shared her car for a couple of months. After about six months, I decided I needed a car. So I called up a fellow I used to autocross with and I bought his 1987 Chevy Sprint Turbo (3 cylinder turbo @ 13 psi, .9 liter) that gets 40 mpg.
You can see the Sprint here: 1987 Chevy Sprint (photo not scanned yet)
A few months later I saw a red 1987 MR2 for sale at a local used car dealer. I picked it up and drove it around for a few months but it needed more work than I cared to give it so I sold it.
About a year later is when I bought Jekyl from girl I autocrossed with. The Story of Jekyl can be read here: Story of Jekyl
About a year and a half later I bought Hyde and you can read his story here: Story of Hyde
Questions, comments and criticisms can be directed to: Jeff
My first '86
My first 91
My first 91
My 65 VW
My 86 with a new look!
My crash in Super Street magazine
My wrecked 93T
My black 91T