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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!
I hope it's ok for me to ask this question here.
I'm really close to buying an 1993 MR2 with 170,000km (ca. 105,000 miles). I've already went to check out the car, looked for all the potential issues that are already well-known. No rust whatsoever, a miniscule amount of scratches here and there, but a potential T-Top leaking issue (not a dealbreaker).

Here's my question:
I've seen this car get recommended as a daily driver, be called super reliable with minimum repairs if maintained and with more or less cheap common parts (excluding MR2-unique body parts). What worries me is following:
  1. TRAVEL: I travel quite often from Austria where I study to my home country, Croatia, where my parents are. I'd say that usually means a 700km (430miles) trip once or maybe twice a month. I am worried that this car wouldn't be thankful when used that much, and I'm worried that repairs will become a really common problem
  2. MAINTENANCE: I am not a mechanic or a really mechanically-capable guy. I would love to be, and I definitely want to learn it, but most of the year's time I'm quite busy and will probably either need help or will get the car to someone who knows what they're doing. I am afraid that this car needs an owner who will jump under the hood every two weeks or so, and know how stuff works in order to check if everything's ok and be able to do some quick fixes (the extent of my capabilities is check the oil level, but I am up for learning, it's only that this learning can happen pretty much only during summer).
  3. RELIABILITY: As I've said, I've read a lot about these cars being daily drivers, always starting, never letting their owner down. The thing is, keeping the first two points in mind, this would be my main car, my only car, that I'd need to function normally.
If it's easier for you to answer, here's my average 2 months :)
  • 1-2 round trips to home (430 miles each)
  • 1 Roadtrip (what I'm looking forward to the most)
  • daily commute, maybe 2/7 days a week, rarely more, with little km
TL;DR
So, to sum up, I am perfectly aware this is a 27 year old car, and I am perfectly aware and happy about maintaining such a car. I'd love to learn all the ins and outs, and I am happy to take care of such a car, but I don't want a situation where I am every single month without a car because it's in for repairs.

Thank you so much in advance for all your answers, I really really really want this car, but I gotta be real about what this car brings :)
Much love from Europe
 

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Im on my 2nd MKII that Ive used often (I had a third, but I got it quite busted and parted it out over a decade ago).
The first one was early 00s and it was my ONLY car, I drove it daily and took some longer trips with it, like down to the Rolex 24Hours of Daytona, which is about 400 miles each way, or beach trips (450 round trip) etc

No real issues.

Now Im on this 2nd car, a 91 with Gen 3 swap.
Yeah, it's a labor of love, but it's getting easier and easier.
Im replacing worn items, but really the car is dead reliable and Ive driven it anytime Ive wanted to with minimal efforts.

It has quite a large trunk considering the size of the car and position of the engine, though it can get warm in there.
But, as mentioned above, taken three day trips in the car with someone else and all of our luggage fit + some other stuff

It really is a great car, go for it brother
 

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I think you have a pretty good understanding of these cars and what you want from it.
Being a Toyota, they tend to last a long time but if they are really neglected they will fail like most cars.
My experience with mine over 12 years and 100,000km is it's not always been reliable but mostly the alternator and the coolant system failing due to neglect. However, it was a daily driver for 10 of the 12 years and it never didn't start except for the occasional flat battery due to the alternator failing. I wouldn't hesitate to take it on long trips, I did 2x 2,500km road trips with it and it had no issues.

Mine is a 1990 JDM G-Limited so very similar to the car you are looking at. Same engine. I currently have an engine with 420,000km on it with the chassis having 262,000km, starts and runs every time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your replies!! You're helping me make an important decision and I really appreciate it. From what it looks like now, I'm probably going to go for it. Can't wait to post my introductory post on here :)

Thank you again,
-Andreas
 

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Which engine does it have in it?

I've used MR2s as my daily drivers for past 8 years. My first one made it to 220,000 miles before it was totaled due to a flood. If it weren't for the flood, it would have easily gone another 50k miles I think. My current MR2 has 215k miles on it (I bought it at 130k). I just did a engine swap to a Gen4, but the old 5SFE would have gone another 50k as well I'm sure.

As for long trips, I took my first one on a 10k mile road trip around the US over the course of a month. No major mechanical issues. I've taken my current one on several trips up and down the eastern seaboard (about 2.5k miles round trip) multiple times. On these trips I had a brake caliper seize on me and a distributor die. Never left me stranded. I've also done countless 300 mile round trips to different states to visit my parents on a regular basis. My daily commutes is 100 miles round trip. I've also had two timing belts break on me however my philosophy is to drive it until it breaks since they are non interference motors.

What's good is the car you are looking at is low mileage (for a Toyota). It shouldn't have major issues for a while. However it's an old car. Here's what I would do if I was buying an unknown to me MR2 with the intention of making it a daily or using it for regular long trips:

-Replace the distributor, and spark plug wires and coil pack and igniter (if applicable).
-Rebuild ALL of the brake calipers. The brake calipers on these cars tend to seize with age. Do yourself a favor and rebuild them all now instead of having to deal with the repeated hassle later on.
-Replace the timing belt - while you are doing this replace all of the accessible gaskets and oil seals on the engine.
-Flush the coolant
-Obviously give the car a once over and replace any other worn safety items like balljoints, struts, tie rods etc.

If you knock all of that out in the beginning then you'll have a reliable daily. Things will still break, but they won't be critical things that will leave you stranded.
 

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Which engine does it have in it?

I've used MR2s as my daily drivers for past 8 years. My first one made it to 220,000 miles before it was totaled due to a flood. If it weren't for the flood, it would have easily gone another 50k miles I think. My current MR2 has 215k miles on it (I bought it at 130k). ....
Hey, thank you very much for your answer!! It's really cool to hear you've driven the guy so much and he's been so reliable for you! Thanks for helping me with this decision, it's a big one when you're someone who does a lot of driving.

Which engine does it have in it?
It's a 3SGE, NA.

Here's what I would do if I was buying an unknown to me MR2 with the intention of making it a daily or using it for regular long trips:
I will definitely take a friend that's a mechanic from a local Toyota repair shop with me to check out the car more thoroughly. I will definitely use your list here as a guide if I end up getting it. Thanks for that.

Amazing answer, exaclty what I was looking for. Thank you so much again and I'll definitely post here if I get it :)

I swear the MR2 community is one of the friendliest and most helpful car communities I've ever had the pleasure of interacting with! Ya'll are amazing :) good to be in good company.
 

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and go against the grain of my fellow MR2 boyz.

If this '93 is a second car that you use 3 or 4 times a week, then I'd jump on it right away. If you intend to make it your one & only daily right away, then I think that's a mistake - at least initially. At 30 years old, it's unlikely the PO has replaced everything that's about to go, and that means you're about to find out what will snap - most likely on the road. Even if you wrench yourself, I wouldn't use it as a daily just yet - and the recommendations in this thread on what to replace are good ones.

Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't ever. I've been using my SW20 as a daily for 11 years and another 7 years before that w/ my previous hardtop turbo. But it's only after I replaced everything above & more and knew the car well enough that I could trust it as a daily - and it hasn't let me down yet. But that trust didn't develop until maybe 4 to 6 months into owning them and thousands of dollars in parts & maintenance.

Speaking of parts, if something does go on these cars while it's a daily, parts can take anywhere from 1 day to 3 or 4 weeks to get - and forever when dealing w/ some parts, especially body parts. Some of these parts are bordering on exotic to find. It's not like a regular commuter car where you can get parts within hours from a dealership or pretty much any auto parts supplier. So think about that when you daily drive it and have to rely on it. IMO, a second car is almost mandatory.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
IMO, a second car is almost mandatory.

Yeah, this is an opinion I've gotten from almost every friend and family member I asked, haha. Almost every single person who I tell what I'm thinking about doing is very uncomfortable with the thought of me getting an 27 year old car as a daily driver. It does sound pretty absurd even to me, but I've just seen time and time again MR2 owners doing exactly that and ending up fine. Listening to someone who OWN an MR2 should be the way to go, right?

The thing is, there's only 2 MR2s on sale in my country right now, and I'm currently in the mindset where if I miss this one, which seems to be a well kept one, who knows when's the next opportunity. Import fees are horrible here, it could almost double the price of one if I were to import it. This is the only reason why I'm considering doing it now. If the situation was different, of course I'd FIRST save up for another car, and then get the MR2. Since the situation is like it is, I am extremely tempted to do it now.

You still think it's a bad idea?
 

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Speaking of parts, if something does go on these cars while it's a daily, parts can take anywhere from 1 day to 3 or 4 weeks to get - and forever when dealing w/ some parts, especially body parts. Some of these parts are bordering on exotic to find. It's not like a regular commuter car where you can get parts within hours from a dealership or pretty much any auto parts supplier. So think about that when you daily drive it and have to rely on it. IMO, a second car is almost mandatory.
Expanding on this . . . some parts that are unique to the MR2 are getting very hard to find, like bumpers, transmission cases, axles, some interior pieces, etc. However when I get stuck on finding a particular part, I've had very good luck doing research and finding an identical or similar enough part with a different part number that was on other Toyota's from the same era. Just some examples:

-93 Turbo with ABS brake master cylinder. Not gonna find one easily - and definitely not gonna get one today. However, the '95 Tacoma uses an almost identical brake cylinder with a different part number. Literally the only difference is the bore size is 1" instead of 15/16th". Since Tacoma's were sold in much larger numbers you can get still walk into a dealer or autoparts store and get one today. The slightly larger cylinder will result in a slightly stiffer brake pedal. So you can either live with it or just use it until you can source the proper MR2 one. But at the end of the day, you got your car back on the road in 1 day instead of waiting weeks.

-The underbody Panel that deflects air up into the engine to cool the turbo. Was also used on many other 90's Toyotas. If you search for it by looking filtering for MR2's no one will stock it. But the exact same part, but with a different part number is still available at most dealers for other cars.

Most wear/mechanical items that are hard to find fall into these types of categories.

Definitely a good idea to have a back up car if you plan on dailying a 30 year old car. My backup car is a 1985 Fiat/Bertone X1/9 . . . lol
 

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... However when I get stuck on finding a particular part, I've had very good luck doing research and finding an identical or similar enough part with a different part number that was on other Toyota's from the same era...
You da man! You need to start a thread listing those parts from all your good research, this would be a prime help to our membership with all these dwindling parts. Not to mention, it would help Toyota in their sales considering MR2 parts are discontinued because many simply didn't want to buy new. At this point, I think some have regrets on that and will change their mind to buy these parts new if they work on SW20s. Heck, I'd buy them just to replace old parts working or not as part of PM.

...You still think it's a bad idea?
Owning these cars, especially in your circumstances, is a great idea - even as a daily. But I think it would be a bad idea if you didn't massage the car to a reliable status first and have backup transportation just in case. IMO, you can't rely on a 30 year old beater unless you do some work first.
 

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I agree with Pete and think that owning a 30yr old sports car with hard to obtain parts and limited mechanical ability is a bad idea. There are plenty of examples of well maintained reliable MR2s but plenty more of neglected cars that have a host of problems.

So which catagory does this car fit into? It is really difficult to advise on the particular car your looking at without decent pics and description. Perhaps you could share more info?

On another concern, driving a mid engine car. These cars do handle much differently than their modern counterparts. Not sure about your driving experience or roads your travelling as using an older mid engine car like this especially when weather is poor can be a nightmare. Once again there are plenty of examples from owners that drive in poor conditions but more than I care to count of other who have found out how important tyres, suspension and driving experience is an important consideration.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Owning these cars, especially in your circumstances, is a great idea - even as a daily. But I think it would be a bad idea if you didn't massage the car to a reliable status first and have backup transportation just in case. IMO, you can't rely on a 30 year old beater unless you do some work first.
Makes sense. I'm prepared for that :) Summer is coming and I'll have a bunch of spare time on my hands. Sounds incredibly fun :) Thank you for the advice
 

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So which catagory does this car fit into? It is really difficult to advise on the particular car your looking at without decent pics and description. Perhaps you could share more info?

Thanks for the concerns! Here's a link to the exact car, I know it's in Croatian but at least you can check out all the pics. Toyota MR2 2,0 GTi 16V reg.do 11/2020,JAKO DOBRO STANJE!!!, 1993 god.

I've been to the guy, he collects old japanese cars, has a few Civics and a Prelude, all look to be in pretty mint condition. From what I saw when I stuck my head under the car as far as possible, it's rust free. Only apparent issue is a potentially leaky top, but hey, that's almost a given with this car and I'm prepared to deal with it

On another concern, driving a mid engine car. These cars do handle much differently than their modern counterparts. Not sure about your driving experience or roads your travelling as using an older mid engine car like this especially when weather is poor can be a nightmare. Once again there are plenty of examples from owners that drive in poor conditions but more than I care to count of other who have found out how important tyres, suspension and driving experience is an important consideration.
Thanks! Yeah, I am aware of the handling, I've done a bunch of research on mid engines and more precisely MR2s when it comes to driving. The sportiest thing I've driven is a 2012 SLK, but I am happy to take it slow and careful when it comes to the MR2. I have a friend who's driven rallys in mid engine cars, I'm probably gonna bother him to give me a starting lesson :)
 

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Ok sounds like you have done your homework. Car looks very nice from pics. Too bad there are no photos of engine bay and frunk area. Would also nice to see underbelly for viewing bushes & rust areas.
 

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Ok sounds like you have done your homework. Car looks very nice from pics. Too bad there are no photos of engine bay and frunk area. Would also nice to see underbelly for viewing bushes & rust areas.
It's been so much fun researching the hell out of this thing :)) I love doing it, and I like to know everything there is to know before getting into such a project. Engine bay looked okay, no rust of course and it looks more or less clean. Definitely deserves a look at by a proper mechanic, which I'll be sure to arrange, but from what I could tell it looks well kept. Frunk was clean.

I checked the underbelly as best as I could, looked perfectly fine without a spot of rust. Of course it'd be much better if I could prop it up on jacks and look at it more thoroughly, I'll try to make that happen as well before buying.
 

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-The underbody Panel that deflects air up into the engine to cool the turbo. Was also used on many other 90's Toyotas. If you search for it by looking filtering for MR2's no one will stock it. But the exact same part, but with a different part number is still available at most dealers for other cars.

Whoa whoa whoa, cant drop this nugget on us and not elaborate! GIVE US THE INFORMATION! lol

I was thinking about RePete said - You know, when I was daily-ing my MR2 it was only 8 years old and up to 15 or so years old...not 29, like my current. So he has a point.
That said, and echoing him, there will be things to replace but as they're fixed it'll be a reliable car.

Go for it, you might regret not buying if you cant get one in a year from now or something
 

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I never quite got if this was a rev2 or 3 engine as 93 was a transition year. Pic of engine bay would confirm.
Reason I mention it that there were many improvements with the rev3 which tend to make more reliable (ie oil circulation, cooling, etc).
Any other pics?
 

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I never quite got if this was a rev2 or 3 engine as 93 was a transition year. Pic of engine bay would confirm.
Reason I mention it that there were many improvements with the rev3 which tend to make more reliable (ie oil circulation, cooling, etc).
Any other pics?
It's a revision 2 Jim with a GEN2 3SGE remembering this is not a USDM car but shares parts with JDM and UK and even NZDM cars.
Forgetting the USA market with their unique MY (model year) system and the actual build years and months the Euro cars follow the JDM years and months.

89/12-91/12 REV1 GEN2 3SGE and 3SGTE
91/12-93/11 REV2 GEN2 3SGE and 3SGTE but slight changes
93/11-96/06 REV3 GEN3 3SGE and 3SGTE
96/06-97/12 REV4 GEN3 3SGE and 3SGTE no changes
97/12-99/08 REV5 GEN3 3SGE for all markets that sold the car except Japan. GEN4 BEAMS Redtop 3SGE for Japan only. GEN3 3SGTE. The 3SGTE was only sold in Japan or the USA and stopped being sold in the USA from MY95.
 

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So is this a Euro, UK or JDM model car?
Bring a 93 it could still be an early rev3. Engine bay pic would confirm.

Jim
 
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