WHY WAS THE TOYOTA MR2 DISCONTINUED & IS IT CONSIDERED A RARE SPORTS CAR TODAY?

The Toyota MR2 was a Mid-engine, "Runabout," 2-seater (MR2) sports car that went through three generations between 1985-2005. For 21 model years, 17 in the U.S. specifically, the MR2 filled a niche for a small, affordable, and uncommonly reliable mid-engine sports car. During its time, the Toyota MR2 competed with other reasonably-priced sports cars like the Mazda Miata, Pontiac Fiero, Alfa Romeo Spider, and Bertone X1/9.

The first generation of the MR2 was sold in the U.S. from 1985-1990, with the introduction of a supercharged engine upgrade in 1987. The second MR2 generation grew a bit larger and more expensive, running from model years 1991 through 1995, and available in naturally aspirated or turbocharged models. This same model year continued on in Japan, the U.K., and some European countries until 1999. The third and final generation MR2 returned to its more Miata-like roots as a smaller, more basic roadster with a folding fabric top and a single non-aspirated engine. The third-gen car was known as the MR2 Spyder in the U.S. market, and was available from 2000-2005. 

After that, it was over for the MR2. But these unusual Toyotas have made an impact, with increasing interest in the auction market as the surviving examples of these classic sports cars come up for sale. 

Read more: The Most Reliable Honda Models Ever Built, Ranked

Is The Toyota MR2 Rare?

The production numbers of all three Toyota MR2 generations sold in the U.S. and Canada show a similar trend. Sales were strongest for the first two years of each generation, dwindling during the remaining years of each model's run. The first-generation MR2 (AW11) sold in the largest quantities by far, with 96,666 sold in the U.S and Canada combined — compared to 33,111 second-generation models (SW20) and 27,941 third-generation models (W30). 

This means that there were many more AW11 models sold than subsequent generations. However, this must be balanced against the reality that these are also the oldest examples, which are more likely to have had higher mileage put on, been "tuned" or customized to death, been crashed, or might have been junked by now. Despite this, current online auctions for MR2s show a decent supply of well-preserved models from all three generations that are available for your bidding pleasure. Toyota MR2s from all generations are still relatively available, but are becoming increasingly rare over time.

How Much Is An MR2 Worth Today?

The values of Toyota MR2s in the online auction market can vary widely based on mileage, condition, and rarity of a given model or engine option. For first-generation MR2s, recent sale prices range from $6,000 to $12,000 for average condition AW11 models on Bring a Trailer, while nicer examples commanded prices up to $27,000. Prices for second-generation SW20 MR2s average between $17,000 to $21,000 for good condition examples, while third-generation W30 MR2 models go for anywhere from $8,500 to $17,000 on average. 

Low miles, excellent condition, manual transmission, an unusual color combination, the upgraded engine option (available on AW11 and SW20 MR2 models only), or some combination thereof will tend to bring higher prices at auction. Some of the highest winning bids on Bring a Trailer have included $42,250 for a 1988 AW11 Supercharged MR2 with 38,000 miles in 2021. $61,750 was the winning bid for a 1995 example of the SW20 Turbocharged MR2, which had 76,000 miles when sold in 2022. A $31,000 example of a 2003 W30 MR2 with 1,200 miles was sold in 2021. 

That said, if you are interested in adding an MR2 to your garage, you should be able to find one to fit your budget in good condition. The good news is that, unlike most mid-engine cars, MR2s come with Toyota's excellent build quality and reliability as part of the deal.

Why Was The Toyota MR2 Discontinued?

The Toyota MR2 was discontinued after the smaller, lighter, and less expensive third-generation W30 MR2 had run its course for the 2005 model year. A combination of factors had forced Toyota to remove the MR2 Spyder from its lineup. In the early 2000s, the worldwide market for sports cars was shrinking. The MR2 had nowhere near the level of recognition and presence in the marketplace that the Mazda Miata could claim at the time. 

Another factor was high production costs in Japan, which led Toyota to cut some corners in the MR2 Spyder's interior. There was also increasing competition for fewer sports car sales — this would be a red flag to Toyota that this segment would no longer be successful for the Japanese automaker. In spite of additional refinements added over the course of its production — a clutchless Sequential Manual Transmission, a Torsen limited-slip differential, a 6-disc CD changer — no successor would come, as the final iteration of the Toyota MR2 ended with the 2005 model year. 

That said, there have been rumors swirling that could indicate the 2026 release of a new MR2, allegedly using the same turbocharged G16E-GTS three-cylinder engine from the Toyota GR Corolla. With an estimated 316 horsepower, this new MR2 would be the most powerful one yet, with 135 horsepower more than the current-gen Mazda Miata, and 16 more than the current Porsche Boxster.

Read the original article on SlashGear.

2024-07-08T11:51:39Z dg43tfdfdgfd