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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi my name is Brad.I am currently looking to purchase an MR2 Spyder. I live about 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh, PA. I've been looking all over the place for a decent one. So many websites with so many cars with a few at very reasonable prices while many at much higher prices than average. What I'm looking for is a model around $7,000-$12,000 with mileage under 150k. I'd prefer any color except silver. I'd also would love to have the 5 speed manual transmission. Stock setup or modified, I'll take a look at it. I'm willing to travel about 5 hours or so to purchase. If anyone is selling, please let me know. Thanks
 

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First off, decide if you prefer the early style (00-02) or later style (03-05). The early style cars can suffer from high oil consumption due defective rings and/or pre-cats. This is apparently not an issue for the 03+ cars. If looking at an 00-02 car, very explicitly ask about oil consumption if the car is over 50k miles. Some owners that are aware of this potential problem gut the pre-cats or replace them with an aftermarket header as a preventative measure.

$7k should get you a decent condition 100k mile car. For $12k you should be able to find one in the 50-70k range in very nice condition. There are still plenty of lower mileage Spyders around, since many are lightly used weekend cars. Expect to pay more for the rarer 04-05 cars, especially if they have the desirable LSD option. Stay away from the trouble prone SMT cars.
Expect to see lots of WTF asking prices by dealers, especially with summer around the corner. There was a nice (private party) Spectra Blue Mica car near Pittsburgh for sale a few months back. Either on craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, not sure which. The further you're willing to travel the more options you'll have. Good luck.
 

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Here's a nice looking green/tan 02 5-speed on ebay: 2002 Toyota MR2 | eBay

Current bid is $10,400. Final high bid should give some indication of current market values (vs. dealer asking prices).

Or a 60k mile Black 00 Spyder down in Charlotte for $10,500, WITH a hardtop


You can sell the hardtop pretty easily for ~$2500 as they are very sought after and hard to come by these days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for your reply Jim. I've been a lurker on this website for several years, and the wife is allowing me to get 2 cars. An MR2 for warm weather and a Nissan R35 GTR for winter driving.

If I had it my way, I'd be an owner of all 3 Gen of MR2s. I just don't have a garage big enough. I originally wanted a SW20, but after test driving the ZZW30 and SW20, I prefer the lighter weight, better handling, and newer car. Maybe I'll own more than one MR2 in the future. The Toyota MR2 is the only model car where I loved each generation that was produced.

I know that the SMT 6 speeds aren't reliable, and I prefer the 5 speed MT option. I never knew the difference between early 00-02 models vs later 03-05 models. I've only read that the later models had a stiffer chassis.

As far as price, yes this has become the most difficult aspect of purchasing this vehicle! Some dealerships are definitely asking for ridiculous prices. A certain model from one place will charge $13k and another will charge $8k for the exact same car with the same miles/wear/tear. I've questioned a certain dealership in Virginia about their car being ~$3k more than average, and the salesman gave me an excuse that the "Chip" shortage was causing higher prices overall for used cars. I questioned the salesman if he knew what a "Chip" is, and he then confessed to me that he is a newbie at selling cars and knows little about them. The high prices by some are ridiculous!

I am willing to travel about ~5 hours or 300ish miles away from my house as the maximum distance. So I'll go as far west as Cincinnati, OH, as far south as Charleston,WV or Richmond, VA, as far north as Toronto Canada, and as far east as Philadelphia.

I guess that I should not be concerned about the color of it, as much as other aspects. I'd eventually like to put either a wide body TRD body kit or a La Gemballa body kit on the car. I would also love to swap out the 1ZZ engine for a 2AR-FE with a 105mm 1AR crankshaft, and maybe put a Whipple 100AX or 140AX on there as well. Ive driven high comp/hp NA, turbocharged, and supercharged sports cars. The only one I have never driven was a nitrous car. I tend to value maximum torque, as I don't like revving above 7k RPM. So the NA or turbo 2ZZ is out for me. I love the 7AGZE but they are getting older and more $$$, and output is a little weak on torque. The other option is a stroked 3SGTE, but they are getting older too. After reading about Gouky's 2AR swap, I believe that this is the best engine that'll fit my driving style. I'm not a fan of turbo cars at all with the sudden acceleration after the laggy delay, and I hate the compressor surge/ Turkey Gobble sound associated with them. I know of the modern turbos that spool quickly, but I am not after big hp that high boost turbos provide. I am looking to stay under 400hp. I know that a small sized turbo will get me there with little lag. I also know that a long stroked + supercharger will get me there with slightly better response, much wider powerband, and better results. So it's either high compression NA with ITBs + velo stacks or twin Screw SC. I know that 99% of the FI aftermarket prefers turbos, as it's easier esp with all the kits out there. I'd prefer to have all my power between 1500 to 7000 RPM. I am really baffled as to why people want to rev to 9k or 10k RPM. I guess that it all comes down to if you like Pepsi vs Coca Cola vs Royal Crown vs Faygo, or water. IMO...
RPM = Ruins People's Motors!

Is the Limited Slip Differential a feature on ALL 04-05 models or only an aftermarket mod by previous owner? I probably shouldn't be too concerned about the color of the car right since it's hard to get everything else that's more important right? Should I inquire about the pre-cat and oiling issues when looking at 00-02 models with the seller? I admit that I know a little bit, and still have much to learn. However, most of these young salesmen only know the name of the model of the car. Are there other places where I should be looking for a car? Many dealerships will ship the car across the country without you having to be present at the time of transaction, but is this trustworthy? Is eBay that reliable and honest?
 

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The LSD was a factory option some cars came with in 04-05. It can be retrofit to earlier transmissions. In the price range you're in I'd say buying from a dealer will cost you $2k - $4k more than a private party. Just the way it is.

If you're going to swap to a different engine, then the pre-cat problem isn't so important, as long as it's not at the terminal stage. Depends on how long you want to drive it before doing the swap. I like NA engines for slalom/autox, so I'll be putting 1MZ / 3MZ in my Spyder (using an S51 transmission). While the simplicity of a 2AR swap with Gouky's hardware is very attractive I really love the sound and torque of an NA V6, have owned a couple of different V6 swapped MK2s.

Body kits are a matter of personal taste, but do remember that they usually add weight which is the antithesis of what this car is all about.

Besides facebook and craigslist, there Autotrader and cars.com and don't forget about Spyderchat's classifieds. That's were I found my low(ish) mileage Solar Yellow 02 for a decent price.
 

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You can sell the hardtop pretty easily for ~$2500 as they are very sought after and hard to come by these days.
I cannot remember exactly where but I recently heard/read that the hardtops were not a NA item and all the ones that are here were imported from UK/JDM market.
Which does explain the extreme rarity of these items.

If I had it my way, I'd be an owner of all 3 Gen of MR2s. I just don't have a garage big enough. I originally wanted a SW20, but after test driving the ZZW30 and SW20, I prefer the lighter weight, better handling, and newer car. Maybe I'll own more than one MR2 in the future. The Toyota MR2 is the only model car where I loved each generation that was produced.
I'm on this boat as well. Still need the zzw, but I have myself a very nice SW, and AW. Cannot get enough of these. I have not ever driven a ZZW but will soon enough.
I've put the ZZW search aside somewhat as I too am searchin for something for winter. Really want a GT4 but also have been eyeballing the newer FJ's

In my world I am only after a 03+ with a hardtop. Color and drivetrain not important. I've been expecting to pay upto $15k Canadian, maybe even a little more if its REALLY in nice shape. Lowest I've seen them this year is about $7k Canadian but that will probably get you a RHD early model. I still think there is a little room for them to come down but this year might be where they bottom out in value. If you compare to other "classic/vintage" toyota's it just might mean that by 2025ish these could be up at the $20+k mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The LSD was a factory option some cars came with in 04-05. It can be retrofit to earlier transmissions. In the price range you're in I'd say buying from a dealer will cost you $2k - $4k more than a private party. Just the way it is.

If you're going to swap to a different engine, then the pre-cat problem isn't so important, as long as it's not at the terminal stage. Depends on how long you want to drive it before doing the swap. I like NA engines for slalom/autox, so I'll be putting 1MZ / 3MZ in my Spyder (using an S51 transmission). While the simplicity of a 2AR swap with Gouky's hardware is very attractive I really love the sound and torque of an NA V6, have owned a couple of different V6 swapped MK2s.

Body kits are a matter of personal taste, but do remember that they usually add weight which is the antithesis of what this car is all about.

Besides facebook and craigslist, there Autotrader and cars.com and don't forget about Spyderchat's classifieds. That's were I found my low(ish) mileage Solar Yellow 02 for a decent price.
I'll remember to ask the seller if an LSD is a part of the car. I understand that you'll always pay more at the dealership, and this is why I'd prefer to buy from the owner directly.

I plan on driving the car around for over a year or so before I replace the 1ZZ engine. I'll make sure it's not terminal.

As far as swaps, I've researched heavily about these. IMO, Toyota should have offered a V6 option with all MR2s. I'd imagine that any MR2 when fitted with a V6, performance begins to rival more expensive sports cars. I've looked into the all the V6s along with the 7AGZE, 2ZZ, 3SGTE, 2AZ, and 2AR swaps. I was originally thinking of the 3MZ or 2GR, but those seem tough/complicated to get in there and upkeep. Plus almost everyone says that the V6s stay NA bc of the difficulty finding room for a turbo/SC. It seems like if you want 200-290hp that an NA V6 is best. Those that want above 300hp go with a FI inline 4. The MZ, VZ, and GR interest me bc of the TRD kits for Roots SC available, in which I'd try to modify for a Twin Screw instead. I'm not sure if the V6+SC would fit in the Spyder. I was also looking at the various Yota i4s that have the TRD SC as well and I thought that a SC'd 1ZZ would work, but ZZs are a bit finicky. What really interested me was a stroked 7A with a Manon 90mm crank and a 4AGZE head. However the cost would be quite alot for just keeping 1.8-1.9 liters. The new AR seems like the best i4 option, as it's a BIG block 4cyl at 2.5 liters or stroked at 2.7 liters. The cost to add an additional 800-900cc would be worth the money. Also jumping from 1.8 to over 3 liters would be great too. I'd really love to shoot for 350-400hp with room to grow if I get used to the hp/torque. The large twin Screw SC's output can be upped or lowered with pulley sizes. Even though Gouky has stated that the 2GR in the Spyder is a bit too much, which is why the AR i4 sounds appealing. I could have 180-200ish hp as NA, or 280-400hp via SC via different sized pulleys.

I know of the added weight with the bodykits. It's why I am choosing a 2,195lb car to start with. That's why I'm going with long stroked i4 with a slightly bigger SC will allow me to adjust the power levels. Or if a SC'd V6 would fit. 5-7lbs per hp seems like an ideal weight/hp ratio after test driving one. I don't need any more in the MR2 bc I'll be going with R35 GTR for a high hp highway monster aka Godzilla. I'm mostly going to AutoX the MR2 with my wife. Who knows, maybe she'll like it so much that she'll want to buy her own AW11 or SW20?

Looks like I am going to have to broaden my search for buying. I'll try to look on other websites. I'll probably have to forgo the color that I would want in order to get the more important aspects, as I could always repaint it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Jim...one more thing. I would prefer to keep it all Toyota. However, I've seen Honda K24/K20 swaps in MR2s. K series are hp monsters. I haven't pushed this option aside yet. How are these compared to the various Yota motors? Reliable? Installation? Upkeep? Flexible
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I cannot remember exactly where but I recently heard/read that the hardtops were not a NA item and all the ones that are here were imported from UK/JDM market.
Which does explain the extreme rarity of these items.


I'm on this boat as well. Still need the zzw, but I have myself a very nice SW, and AW. Cannot get enough of these. I have not ever driven a ZZW but will soon enough.
I've put the ZZW search aside somewhat as I too am searchin for something for winter. Really want a GT4 but also have been eyeballing the newer FJ's

In my world I am only after a 03+ with a hardtop. Color and drivetrain not important. I've been expecting to pay upto $15k Canadian, maybe even a little more if its REALLY in nice shape. Lowest I've seen them this year is about $7k Canadian but that will probably get you a RHD early model. I still think there is a little room for them to come down but this year might be where they bottom out in value. If you compare to other "classic/vintage" toyota's it just might mean that by 2025ish these could be up at the $20+k mark
Hey Deff... I agree with you. All MR2 are fantastic. Toyota should have kept making them. Try to get a chance to drive the ZZW30. It's a blast! I'd really love to drive the AW11!

I'd really like to find the hardtop. They are quite rare. I've heard that they improve aerodynamics.

If I had to get an SUV, the FJ cruisers are what I would want. The Celica GT4 is very cool. Ive always liked AWD sports cars bc the roads are bad in Western PA with many hills and Twisties. We also get alot of rain and snow, so AWD always appealed to me. The EVO X GSR, Eclipse GSX, Skyline GTRs, and R35 GTRs have always been a favorite of mine. The only one I don't quite like is the Subaru WRX STi's, as every young kid has one around here and I cannot stand the boxer engines.

I understand the rising costs. A few years ago, the Spyders were cheaper. I could remember back in 1999-2001 that MKIV A80 Supras were very reasonable to buy. Then F&F came out, and then everyone realized the potential of these machines. Now prices are outrageous. Same with the NSX. 15yrs ago, an early 90s models were selling just over $20k. Today, forget about it. I guess you have to buy at the right time.
 

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The MRS is already increasing in value and if you want a nice one you should get it soon. Didn't one go for $20k on BaT recently? It wasn't even a late model, but did have the white/tan interior color combo people love. You can look at auction history there to determine prices. BaT seems to fetch the highest prices on these cars so you won't likely score a deal there.

I currently own the MR2 trifecta with 85/95/05 models. I love all three generations, but the third is by far the best handling. Good luck in your search!
 

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BaT is good place to judge but at the same time you are talking about VERY nice examples and it would be the upper limit of the price range.
I've had a garage baby Supra and as much as I loved looking at it, I was always worried about driving it.
I'd be looking for something in good shape not GREAT shape myself. I'd only go over the $15k mark if it hit all the checkboxes on my wishlist including the color.
Pricing on 80s-2000s Toyota's has gone bonkers in the last few years. I see Supra's like the one I sold listed for upto 3x the price and they aren't even in as nice a condition.
I'll still hold that the 3rd gen has a little more room to come down but it might be just the earlier models that do that. Later will probably hold and increase as more people start realizing all the little fixes and upgrades that have been done to the platform during revision.

Always heard 3rd gen are best handling and cannot wait to compare with the other 2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The MRS is already increasing in value and if you want a nice one you should get it soon. Didn't one go for $20k on BaT recently? It wasn't even a late model, but did have the white/tan interior color combo people love. You can look at auction history there to determine prices. BaT seems to fetch the highest prices on these cars so you won't likely score a deal there.

I currently own the MR2 trifecta with 85/95/05 models. I love all three generations, but the third is by far the best handling. Good luck in your search!
BaT sold that car for $13k. It was a black 2001 model with 32k miles. It was really a great deal. I was about to buy it, but was sold the next day. I was one day late with a purchase in Virginia too.

I'm not having any luck right now
 

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@rwheelz is right about pricing... or at least asking prices. The recent sale on BaT was for a 61k mile white/tan 01. Went for $17,750, which surprised folks, and was a huge jump over previous sales where low mileage Spyders (<30k) sold in the $11k- $13k range...or failed to meet reserve. But there haven't been a lot of recent Spyder sales on BaT.

@GuzzToyz - No black Spyders have been auctioned on BaT (Bring-A-Trailer), so not sure which car you are referring to.

@DeftAnesthetik - Spyders handle great due to low weight and center-of-gravity. Stock-for-stock a Spyder is nearly equal to a MK2 turbo around a smaller track where the MK2's extra HP is less of a factor. Speaking from direct experience at Streets of Willow track in SoCal.
 
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