It’s getting increasingly hard to find a mid-engine sports car that’s not crazy expensive. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice MR2 Spyder is one of the last to get on that crazy train. Let’s see if, for this one, that train has already left the station.
When it comes to vehicles for sale, one thing most of you like to shy away from are cars that have been modded from their factory specs or otherwise personalized by the current or a prior owner. We generally refer to these as “other people’s projects.”
The 2002 BMW X5 3.0i we looked at yesterday hadn’t been modded from its factory specs — and with a five-speed stick, those specs were pretty interesting too. Instead, that big Bimmer carried on its shoulders the burden of a 223,000-mile life and a few obvious glitches that had manifested over the course of the years and those miles. That made it not another person’s project but, for many of you, another person’s problem. Even at $3,600 — relatively cheap for an X5 — that was something the majority of you were unwilling to take on, and the BMW went down in a 58 percent No Dice loss.
Hey, have you looked at prices on Porsche Boxsters and Cayman (Caymani?) of late? Crazy, right? It’s not just the Germans either. Should you set an eyeball on the current market prices for used Alfa 4Cs, or Lotus’ Elise and Evora models, you’ll find that even the ones with salvage titles are also now demanding crazytown rates.
If you’re someone in the market for a mid-engine sports car that’s reasonably new (i.e. not some crusty old Pontiac Fiero) and don’t want to go back to college days eating habits in order to afford it, what would you do?
Well, there is this 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder to consider. The MR2 Spyder is the last of the line of Toyota’s mid-engined sports cars and is the only model to sport a full convertible top. No, these didn’t come with an optional supercharged engine or handling twitchy enough that, when asked nicely might kill you, but the opening top is a nice substitute.
This one does come with the TRD Sportivo package, which upgrades the suspension with more aggressive struts and springs and fatter anti-sway bars. That should make for a more entertaining driver and make up somewhat for the 1.8 liter 1ZZ four mounted behind the seats making only 138 horsepower. Also a plus, the transmission here is a stick shift to make the most of that modest corral.
That engine has a note taped to the cam cover, which may indicate some work done in the past or is a clue to some hidden treasure. There’s another one on the air cleaner housing but the ad doesn’t let on to what they might mean.
What we do know is that the seller got the car from his or her grandfather and that the grandad bought the car new. It’s now described as being in “completely mechanically sound” condition, but having a few cosmetic boogers. Those also go un-described in the ad, but it is notable that the car wears a mask in all of the photos. That could be hiding the cosmetic flaws, or it could simply be too much of a hassle to remove and replace. Or, maybe it’s because of COVID.
Regardless, the rest of the car looks to be in great shape right down to the headlamps covers that show no signs of yellowing or ghosting, which is often an issue with these cars. The interior looks perfectly serviceable as well, with no split seams on the seats or other glaring flaws visible. It should be noted that these cars are tiny inside so those suffering from claustrophobia probably shouldn’t apply. Other notable aspects of the car include the convertible top that looks like it could stand a good cleaning and the chrome plating on the alloy wheels which is a love it or leave it proposition.
Unlike yesterday’s over-used Bimmer, this Toyota sports a modest 96,000 miles on the clock. Plus it’s a Toyota so it would probably do the Bimmer’s mileage without breaking a sweat. The title is clean and the price tag is $15,000.
That price is about what a Porsche Boxster of the same era and condition will presently pull, but for how much longer? The Porsche is also going to cost more to maintain down the road. The MR2, however, should do daily driver duty without complaint for years to come.
What do you think, is this Spyder a good deal at that $15,000 asking? Or, for that much, should the cosmetic condition be as sound as that of the mechanicals?
H/T to Rick G. for the hookup!
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