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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, I am 15 and was looking for a fun first car and found the MR2. I love the look of the sw20 chassis, I would like to know basic informaion about the car. Form basic maintenance, fun mods for a teenager and cool body kits. Any information about this helpful and life advice is even better. Thanks for the information.
 

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You may be a little late to the party. New parts are hard to find for this car, even used parts are more fleeting than just a few years ago and many high mileage used parts are becoming overpriced. The mileage is usually high unless you've found a gem and their initial cost is going up as their "collect-ability" increases. It's also almost guaranteed that you will need to work on it in some way and replace a few things like suspension ($1K to $2K) or some engine maintenance (another $1K to $2K).

As a 15 year old in their first vehicle, the tendency for drop-throttle oversteer on this car may be too much of a temptation for a new driver. They handle great, but can be tricky at the limit.
 

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These cars are so old your first "mods" will be undoing previous owner "repairs" and replacing nearly everything. A 30 year old rare car is no joke, you may want to start out with an easier car that won't require so much work. If you give a budget we may be able to help you pick out a newer car that will be more friendly towards you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks for all the info it is very helpful. I an aware of the snap oversteer problem in early sw20 mr2s. I think that what im looking for in a car is a fun little japanese sports car, my brother owns a miata so I know of the many good options. I am thinking of around a 3-4k budget for just the car and I only what an NA because it helps with price. Plus the fact that it is mid-engine is cool and gives the car a little more cool factor. I also like the idea of a possible engine swap considering all the good options for mr2's
 

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Yep I'd get a miata, especially being that your brother has one as well, he'll be able to help you with it and share parts. $3-4K is not a reasonable budget for a MR2, that will get you a car that needs a lot of work and probably another $3-4K put in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thank you for all your wisdom on the subject, I was aware of the "miata is always the answer" slogan. I want to be a little different than my brother and I don't need a really cherry mr2 so things like bad paint and dents I'm not worried about. Also what are some common problems with mr2's when they have high miles. Also I have heard through the internet that if you want to become a better driver that autocross is a safe area to get better and is very fun. Plus I see more miles as a way to get more mechanical experiance, plus my Dad owns a 914 which I learned to drive stick in.
 

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I gotta put my dad hat on. The car is straight up dangerous as a first car, both physically and financially. Maybe a 3rd gen is the better option. My first was a bubble Civic which was brilliant. Cheap, fun, economic, safe. I'll offer another option. I also own a Fiesta ST was A HIGHLY underrated car. Prices are below $10k and honestly it out corners my MR2.
 

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Man I don't want to be discouraging but it's probably not the best idea unless you fall into a really good one. An mr2 is a great second car, but for someone just starting off the repairs and time and money investing into a 30 year old car could make you go mad. I've owned miatas, they are good if you want a cheap fun car, but after owning roughly 30 cars, imo look into a Honda fit, preferably first or second gen and must be a 5 speed. I know it's nothing at all like an mr2, but its a surprisingly fun car that you can drive ultra hard with it's whole 115hp and it feels quicker than it is. Think of it as a fwd Miata with room to haul anything you'd ever want! Then once you have your first car, save up and buy an mr2 on the side.
At 16 the last thing you need is a daily project.

But. If you were wanting to stick to an mr2 here is what id look for. Biggest thing is try to find something that has NOT been modified. You may think it's cool when the seller brags about how it's got custom this and that so you don't have to do it later, but there is no way to determine if things were done properly. If you can find a stock car or one close to stock that's your best bet. You said you were ok with dents and dings. That's also fine, but do not buy anything rusty. Period. Lastly go look at as many things as you can and do research as much as you can on a bunch of different cars. Try not to get tunnel vision on just the mr2. Is it cool, sure, but so is a ton of other stuff.
 

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Common high mileage problems for mr2s are very similar to any car. Oil leaks, oil consumption, blown turbo, blown headgasket, broken cv joint boots, transmission grinding, no ac, leaking t top seals, blown struts and worn out rubber suspension bushings. You should also count on having to replace the timing belt and associated components if the seller hasn't done so.

A turbo mr2 is not a fast car anymore without significant work and even then they're not fast compared to modern cars. How fast do you want this car to be? Stock a mr2 turbo is a high 14 second car.
 

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The MR2's timeless 'boy-racer' good looks coupled with its mid-engine layout - especially when seeing pics of MR2s in really good shape - can spur enough testosterone in young men to get in the way of first-time ownership logic and common-sense.

Years ago, owning one was more feasible. But it's a terrible first car for 2020 & beyond chiefly for its 1) advanced age, 2) its lack of initial turnkey operation, 3) poor parts availability, 4) its special handling dynamics (say hello to single car accidents if you're new to driving).

Additionally, $4K is really not enough to even get in the front door w/ a driveable car.
 

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Picked up my mr2 for 2500 on these boards (or mr2.com, I forget)
But then I needed tires. And front brakes. And a bunch of little stuff. Im STILL buying little things.

No, dont do it.
I love this car, but I wouldnt recommend it for some 15 year old kid with nothing else.

Get a little econobox and just be a kid, not constantly wrenching due to old worn our parts and problems
 

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Rear engine cars in general will steer in very quickly, but they take longer than you would think to straighten out again. Because of that, it is very easy to commit to a maneuver that is impossible to complete. That is why new drivers get into trouble with this kind of car. They try to drive it by feel before they know how it actually handles, and then they go off the road and wreck the car, and sometimes themselves with it.
 

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I wish that we could tell you a mr2 would be a great first car for you. If you do decide to buy one we'll be here to help you with questions that you have. It would be best to have a reliable daily driver while working on the mr2, parts don't come quickly for these cars and not many know how to work on them.
 

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With anything you get, remember it's more fun to work on something when you want to, not when you have to because it's broken.
 

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I don't know what generation of miata your brother has but I would recommend getting and NC miata. It has the most potential of all 4 generations and also the least problems. You can also do a 2.5 swap right at the curb in a day or two and have as much power to run toe to toe with s2000s. There are body kits available too. I considered one of these before buying my minty SW20 (65k miles, completely stock literal grandma's car with automatic for $7k) 8 months ago. But I ended up with the MR2 because I wanted a mid-engine coupe, track car and not have to deal with roll bars or cages (didn't do enough homework). Now I kinda wish I had just gotten the NC miata like I initially was going to do. I am twice your age and have the finances to build this thing how I want it, but it seriously costs at least twice as much money as the miata to have the same amount of fun. Besides, the girls don't care (and the girls are the only ones that matter, cool points among your male friends don't matter at the end of the day or night) about the car you drive. If the girls are into cars they will care more about your skills behind the wheel because the feeling is mostly the same from the inside anyway. You will also earn more respect from your pals that ways too. So if you want a fun car, get one that has good, affordable aftermarket support. If you ever think about tracking it get a car with good manufacturer and aftermarket support. Just get the miata. There is a reason why the older and wiser crowd say the miata is the answer, it is because we have already had the same ideas that you now have and we have already made those mistakes for you, so you don't have the make them now. Or you can be a rebel and join us in misery lol.
 

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A soft top is peanuts to an elephant. Its is nothing compared to trying to figure out what to do when you have a busted clock spring and Toyota discontinued them 30 years ago; your axles are busted and you need to pay over 1k for similarly ****** used one on ebay; heaven forbid the transmission dies! etc. I briefly had a ZZW30 and paid about $350 for a new ragtop, then spent 7 hours installing it because of silly mistakes and taking breaks. Miata ragtops can't cost much more. Besides I rather have the availability of new parts than the pay a premium for old parts of unknown quality. You may be able and willing to make those concessions, but remember, we are giving recommendations to a 15 year old who wants a fun first car and likely will only have one car. I don't want him to regret his first car or spend more time hating it because it spends most of it time broken and being a financial burden.
 
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