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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Single Thread to document restoring the 1987 MR2 I picked up.

Solid roof, NA, Automatic, 180k miles

Purchased: June 25th, 2022
Original Color: White
Original Dealership: Rochester, NH
First owner had the car registered up until 2008 and sold it to a gentleman in Maine in May 2022 as a package deal with an equally old Tacoma
Second owner fixed up the fuel pump, cleaned up the brakes and spark plugs

For all intents and purposes he only had it a month so I'm claiming this is a two owner car now.

Initially known fixes needed - rust on the rear left quarter panel (wheel well and behind the mud flap
Leaking radiator
Rust spots on body
Broken antenna
Broken light switch knob
Aftermarket fog light removal (wires just chilling loose in the frunk)
Re-wire aftermaket stereo speakers behind door cards instead of in front....
New headunit with Android Auto

Wants:
ECU swap
Individual Throttle Body/Velocity Stacks
Coil on Plug
Widebody fender flares (woodsport)
Swap to a candy apple red color
Wider Wheel/Tire package
Car Wheel Tire Land vehicle Vehicle

Tire Wheel Automotive parking light Vehicle Window

Wheel Car Automotive parking light Automotive side marker light Tire
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Restoration Day 1 - Radiator pulled, only one bolt head broke off, pictures of the underbody. Looks like the underbody is in real good shape, most of the rust underneath is surface rust on the oil pan and transmission
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tire Tread Wood

Tire Photograph Automotive tire Wheel Automotive design

Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Automotive tire

Tire Wheel Motor vehicle Vehicle Hood

White Automotive tire Light Black Tire

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Tread Hood

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tread

Automotive tire Asphalt Shade Automotive exterior Tints and shades

Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive tire

Wheel Tire Vehicle Automotive tire Hood
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Week 1 update:
Radiator has been replaced with an aluminum ebay special from China, lighter but not 100% the same fit and missing the bleeder nozzle used when refilling the coolant.
Eliminating the coolant leak means the idle no longer pulses with overheating

New-found treasures:
Cracked Trim:
  • Both C-Pillars
  • multiple dash cracks
  • stereo/HVAC trim panel is cracked in multiple places including the top screw hole anchors
  • dome light cover disintegrated when I just touched it
  • revealing a lack of a dome light bulb
  • Roof antenna is snapped at the roof and dangling
  • Rear trunk release in the cabin doesn't do anything and now the key won't turn
  • Aftermarket Stereo doesn't work after pulling aftermarket fog light wiring...coincidence?
  • One of the heavy rust pictures above is the rear motor mount
  • handbrake doesn't ratchet...previous owner hooning mod....or brake cables bad....let's hope its the first one
  • passenger front parking lamp/turn signal needs to be replaced (NBD)
  • Coolant overflow tank cap has a broken nozzle


Actual welcome surprises
  • Spare wiper and headlamp knobs were in the ashtray (win since the original headlight knob was broken
  • Misread the odometer from a picture taken from an angle as 180k...it's actually 80k!!!!!
  • two aftermarket amps, subs, midrange speakers and tweeters are installed (but janky)

Sooo in otherwords, the engine turns over and sounds great...but I have a lot of little "amenities" to address that will involve removing a lot of work on an aging interior. I shudder at how many more cracked plastic items will come out of this, both already cracked and just ready to go if I look at it wrong.

Good news...I should have a 3d Printer come the fall...hopefully most of the broken pieces can be replaced with a "new" print.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you have a lock that will not operate with the key, first try squirting some WD-40 into the lock, and then work the key in and out a few times to see if you can free up the tumblers.
First thing I tried :p I only had one of the keys, going to try the other one when I bring the car home this weekend now that the radiator is addressed (bought it near my hometown when visiting family and didn't want to hit the highway without coolant)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Week 2:
Radio magically started working again - will need to check all the wiring in the future
First test drive after replacing the radiator - no leaks and fan still working, but the serpentine drive belt shredded itself, no surprise there given how long it sat. Will be replacing it prior to the drive back to NH where I can give the car more thorough TLC.
First attempt at repainting the wiper arms was rushed and will need to be redone.

Immediate Next Steps:
  • Replace serpentine belt
  • Oil Change
  • Replace Transmission fluid
  • Replace Brake Fluid
  • Tackle the Emergency Brakes not working (hoping its just detached cables)
  • Auto Body shop estimate for addressing body rust (and quote a full repaint)

Trunk still not operating after another dose of WD-40, hoping to be able to find the pull cable under the driver's seat which doesn't appear to be attached just to swap out the air filter and replace the nonworking right rear indicator light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Looking at the 1988 manual, is removing the water pump pulley the best way to swap out the drive belt or is there another easier method/trick? Don't have A/C so its just the belt around the crank, water pump, and alternator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sadly the trunk had for rust spots under the weather stripping that meant rain water had just been draining right into it. Just tossed all of the soggy moldy carpet lining, hopefully that was also where the ants were nesting... Glad to have gotten to it before it affected the wiring harness (I hope).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The trunk is operating again, I think the cable pull had the latch release gummed up rather than a tumbler/key issue, I went after the disconnected cable under the driver's seat and it must have loosened up whatever was stuck when I tried reconnecting it to the lever.

I'm an IT guy and no mechanic, so this car is really for me to dip my toes in and learn some new skills, hence the wants list above being mostly add-ons/swaps of things with the engine in the car with space to grow. But once I get more comfortable who knows? Just saw the g16e AE86 swap on Youtube, maybe the 7AGE will be a stepping stone to even more ;)

Overall very happy to have a "simpler" machine to start on, no power steering, it's not supercharged, no A/C to contend with, don't have to learn all the computer stuff right off the bat, etc. In any case, mods are less about squeezing torque and power, but just building my own skills while watching too many Rob Dahm Computer guy turned wrench head videos. That and better gas mileage than my 2013 Frontier.

Definitely appreciate the ideas though, keep them coming!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Very much appreciated and yes, first up is just getting it healthy so I can see what the blank slate is and get used to it and really figure out what I want to modify from there.

I'm expecting it to be wildly different from the FF 3000GTs I grew up with, much lighter and simpler, and amazingly not as cramped in the engine bay. But a complete 180 weight and power distribution wise.

Also not in a rush to have the power on tap that landed me with a suspended license and $500 speeding fine that I had in my 20s.

Overall goal: learn to wrench + fun

Priority 1: fun in the Twisties - suspension and learning the handling

Priority 2: Sounds and conveniences - intake/exhaust, eye candy, and interior amenities

Priority 3: Modifications
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Lol the 3000GTs were my parents cars which I got to drive before I moved out in my 20s...mix of Subarus, Suzukis, amongst others since then. My daily is a frontier and I just resuscitated their last 3000gt last year which sat unused for 10 years. Happened across this one on the side of the road and got the itch to own my own classic Japanese sports car and something simpler to work on.

But yes, this is a huge departure from the boat anchors and AWD so no rush to drive this thing too fast. No stranger to police attention after the bright red 3000gt in my high school years. Funny enough I got pulled over in the MR2 already today because he couldn't read my paper plates while I wait for the real ones to be sent to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Suspension is happening sooner than I thought, went to get a state inspection sticker with a high chance it wouldn't pass. All the bushings are dry rotted and the driver rear toe link is bent. Add to that the couple of body holes from rust, pitted rotors and I've got some work ahead of me to get it fully legal. So she'll sit for a bit while I wait on parts and do some body patching. Thankfully there's good coverage of the bushing work on YouTube for an amateur like me and parts available from twosrrus. Fingers crossed I won't be having to cut anything off for removal. But hopefully this takes care of the shaking when hitting 30 and 60 mph and a slight pull to the right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 · (Edited)
NH, citing it's around exhaust getting in the cabin...and small overly curious humans that may poke at the sharp metal only to lose bodily fluids. From what I gather, NH is pretty strict on the safety and emissions rules vs growing up in Maine with basically just emissions rules :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Been a while, but a case of COVID, lack of garage access, rusty suspension parts, and the old viper alarm system disabling the engine took it's toll.

Finished:
Brake rotors replaced
Control arm bushings done
rear strut bar bushing half done
Rear tie rods replaced
Oil change done
body holes ready for bondo
Routed new antenna and stereo mic wires down a-pilar.

Goals before winter at this point:
Finish getting it road legal
sand and spot paint the surface rust
get some winter tires on her
replace the alarm system with a newer more reliable one and remote start

Spring/summer will be deep cleaning, a visit to a body shop to get the body back up to snuff, new wheels and tires, replacing rusty motor mounts, and possibly a new exhaust setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Lol one winter to see how it handles it, especially before taking it to a body shop anyway...plus I don't have a place to store it for the winter. At a minimum I need to move it for plowing. Ancient cracked summer slicks on steelies probably won't cut it. Want new wheels and tires anyways so why not keep a set of winters on the steels just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Definitely want to learn the car before any extreme upgrades. That said I may make smaller upgrades of anything I have to replace now, i.e. the rear toe rods (one was bent), rotted bushings, and the leaking radiator. Unsure if I'm going to try to muscle my way through removing the strut rod bushings (very rusted) or just swap the arms out altogether. State inspector was a little leary of the shocks too...

I put fresh rotors on and the previous owner had done the pads but the brakes are still a little squishy so I may look at brake lines and fresh fluids soon too.
 
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