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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I sold my last MR2 because it was more of a project than I was comfortable with, and now I've ended up with an even bigger project somehow.
About 2 and a half years ago, I noticed an MR2 sitting behind a shop in town that looked like it had been sitting there for few months. I stopped to look at it, it was a 1988 SC, T tops, 5 speed, and the body looked to be in surprisingly good condition. I went in to ask what the situation was with it, they told me that there was a problem with the ECU, and the owner was a friend of the shop but he had been sick and unable to do much with it. At the time, he didn't have much intention of selling it, but told me to check back later. About a year went by, and I remembered the car, and went to go ask them about it. He was looking to sell it now, since he didn't want it just sitting.
Here's the first picture I took of it, just over a year ago.

And then the pandemic happened, most places in town closed down, I went back home from school since classes went online, and I never got to follow up. I've been back in town for a while now, but never had an opportunity to go ask about the car until yesterday. I decided, what the hell, I'll go ask him what he wants for it.
$300
Yes three hundred dollars
This thing could have been a rusty shell and I'd have taken it for $300
So here's how it looked yesterday when I first got to look around it for the first time.



Clearly, it has been sitting for a while, and it looks like a squirrel tried making a nest out of some of the firewall liner, but the body is in good condition. There is a little bit of rust by the T tops, inside the door, and on the trunk, but I'm amazed at how solid the body is otherwise. It has less rust than my old car, and most importantly, it's almost entirely complete, and entirely stock. Obviously the battery is dead, and I haven't even attempted to connect any power to it, but I'll get that to soon.

The brakes were seized from sitting, but after dragging it off of the leaves they started to roll again. My friend brought his truck and trailer down and helped load it up.



The trailer (the big one in the background) was by no means designed for a car this small, but we managed to get it loaded up with a combination of planks and ATV ramps. I forgot how easy it was to push one of these cars around.
And after about 4 hours of fighting with it, we got it loaded up and back home.


Today, I went over the car with a pressure washer, and almost all of the moss came off like it was nothing. I'm really amazed at how good of condition this paint is in. It seems like there was a pretty good layer of wax on the car, because I could even rub a lot of it off with just my finger.

Side by side before and after


And now it looks like a completely different car.


Of course, there has to be bad news. I found out why they told me they thought there was a problem with the ECU. It seems like the seals where the wing mounts into the trunk have deteriorated, and let a pretty significant amount of water into the trunk. All of the lining is covered in mold, so it just went straight in the garbage. The outer case of the ECU has a lot of corrosion on it, and most of the brackets and anything in the trunk that isn't painted is very rusty.


I pulled the lining out, though, and it appears that there isn't any major rust in the actual pan of the trunk at all. My old car's was almost completely corroded. I didn't get any more pictures since it was starting to rain, but I put a tarp over the trunk and T tops, just in case, pulled the ECU out and took it inside.
Strangely, the inside of the ECU looks almost untouched. There were a few very small spots of corrosion on the solder joints, but I went over those with Deoxit and they cleaned right up. This is either very good news, or means there is a more significant problem in there that I can't see based on visual inspection, but almost all of the components, and connectors on the outside, look near perfect.


I plan on getting the car unloaded from the trailer tomorrow, changing all of the fluids, and finding out what happens if I give it power. I'm by no means a mechanic, just an enthusiast, so this will definitely be a learning experience, and I don't expect it to be a quick process, but it'll certainly be fun. For $300, I don't really see how I could go wrong, either.
 

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Nice find. Hope you're able to bring it back to life without too many hiccups.
Whatever gas is in the tank is probably suspect after 3 years sitting.
 

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Since you mentioned deoxit I assume you know electronics repair. I don't know if these capacitors are known to fail in AW11's but there are numerous ECUs of all brands with aging capacitor problems. If you have or have access to one an ESR meter will help you determine if any of your capacitors are bad. Usually with a gen3 3SGTE the symptom is low idle, the bad capacitors leak and corrode the traces around them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I got it off the trailer today, which was pretty terrifying with how sketchy the brakes are on here, but we got it unloaded without much of a hiccup.


I really am amazed at how well the paint has held up.

I got under it and changed the oil. I don't know how many miles he had on the oil in there, but it looked almost brand new. Still wanted to change it though, since it had been sitting for so long. While I was under there I crawled around and looked for any rust, and didn't see any under the car aside from a little bit on the engine mount that bolts to the chassis, which appears to be about $12 from rockauto, so no problem there. There is a little bit of rust in the trunk that I didn't see yesterday, but I don't think any of it goes all the way through, so I'll probably just hit that with a wire wheel and paint over it. It's the trunk, I'm not too torn up about it.
Decided to see what would happen if I hooked a battery up to it, and it came to life no problem. All the lights seem to work, headlights go up and down smoothly. The check engine light came on before I cranked it, so I assume that's a good sign for the ECU.


I decided, what the hell, let's see if it cranks. It turned over no problem, but didn't want to start, which didn't surprise me.

What did surprise me though, is that the second time I cranked it, it actually started and tried to idle. It was extremely rough, but I want to attribute that to bad gas like you said, JimKing. I'm amazed. It kept wanting to stall, but catching itself and revving back up. I only ran it for about 5 seconds, and didn't try starting it again, but wow. I hardly did anything. The fact that it tries to save itself from stalling gives me hope for the ECU, and the tach and all the lights seemed good too.

Next thing I'll do is drain the tank, probably drop it and see if it's rusty on the inside. Might also change the fuel pump while I'm in there too, since I'm sure it'll need to be done at some point soon anyway. After that it's probably plugs/wires/distributor and probably replace any vacuum lines I can, since I'm sure those aren't very happy from sitting. I want to flush the coolant eventually, but don't you have to have the engine running to do that properly? I want to take a look at the timing belt too since you never know what condition those are in.

Since you mentioned deoxit I assume you know electronics repair. I don't know if these capacitors are known to fail in AW11's but there are numerous ECUs of all brands with aging capacitor problems. If you have or have access to one an ESR meter will help you determine if any of your capacitors are bad. Usually with a gen3 3SGTE the symptom is low idle, the bad capacitors leak and corrode the traces around them.
That's good to know, I'm pretty sure I have an ESR meter at work so I might just snag it for a little while. I work in repairing stereo equipment, so I know what I'm looking at, but when it gets to the point of testing logic individual chips, or any of the more high level stuff, that's about where my knowledge ends. Thanks!
 

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Good progress! Since you mentioned stereo repair... I have a Lexus CD changer that works but skips badly over even mildly rough pavement. Suspect a weak laser? Do you know if this is something that can be repaired?
 

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That's good to know, I'm pretty sure I have an ESR meter at work so I might just snag it for a little while. I work in repairing stereo equipment, so I know what I'm looking at, but when it gets to the point of testing logic individual chips, or any of the more high level stuff, that's about where my knowledge ends. Thanks!
Good to hear it starts and runs even if poorly! The capacitors are the only thing that usually fail and by the sound of it the ECU is fine the shop just didn't know how to diagnose the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I won't be able to work on it this weekend, since I have to go out of town, but I should have an update some time next week.
Good progress! Since you mentioned stereo repair... I have a Lexus CD changer that works but skips badly over even mildly rough pavement. Suspect a weak laser? Do you know if this is something that can be repaired?
It could be that. I'm not sure how those transports are designed, but if there are belts that move the laser, they could be deteriorated from age and not holding it in place as well as they did originally, so it bumps around with the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, I flushed the brakes and clutch today, drained the old gas out, and she's alive.
Only ran it for a few seconds, since there are still a ton of things that need to get done, but it moved under its own power for the first time today.
The alternator is DEAD, and I've learned how hard GZE alts are to come by, so I'll probably take it to a shop in town and see if they can rebuild it.
It seems to be smooth, but it doesn't sound PERFECTLY happy. I'm going to try and flush the coolant tomorrow, let it get up to temperature running it off of the jumpers, and see how it sounds from there. Also need to do vacuum lines and likely anything else rubber on the car, but at least it fires on all cylinder and seems to actually run. I'm not sure if the ECU was bad simply because of that little corrosion, or they were just wrong, but I'm ecstatic.

Video of it running:

I also realized that it doesn't have an SC cluster in it, it has one from an NA mk1a. Does anyone have a good SC cluster they're looking to sell?

 
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