At $3,750, Could This 1988 Toyota MR2 “Project” Have You Projecting What You Might Do With It?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

A good descriptor for today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe MR2 might be “bedraggled,” as it presents as rough around all of its edges. Let’s see if its price could still drag you into considering it.

Thrifting, the act of buying clothes and other accoutrements of life via second-hand stores and yard sales, is very popular these days. Themost successful thrifting investment is when the item in question is presented as “lightly used” and not all used up. To do otherwise might make you look like a hobo.


Speaking of used stuff, the 2008 Honda Element we looked at yesterday did have a lot of second hand appeal. That was owed to it sporting both an interesting ECamper pop-up sleeper, and a five-speed manual. Both of those were rare additions and both likely encouraged the Element’s seller to ask a not insubstantial $14,500 for the car. Unfortunately, like a pair of sweaty pair of used Tevas with preexisting toe divots, that Element had too much use on its clock—209,000 miles worth—and that doomed it amongst us to an 85 percent Crack Pipe loss.


At 203,000, today’s 1988 Toyota MR2 has almost as many as yesterday’s outdoorsy Element. That’s perhaps less of an issue however, seeing as it is, in fact, a 1988 Toyota MR2.

Toyotas of this era have a reputation. Actually they have a couple of them. The first is one of unflagging reliability and rock solid construction. The second is for actually being fun. Remember fun, Toyota?


The ‘80s after all, saw the last of the RWD twin-cam Corollas. This was when the Supra separated from the Celica and grew into an actual performance car. This was also the decade that first gave us Toyota’s only two mid-engine models for the U.S.—the Previa minivan and the MR series.


This MR2 sports a couple of desirable, and dare I say it, fun options. One of those is the supercharger feeding its 4A-GZE four. That 1.6-litre DOHC mill sits transversely right over the shoulders of the car’s two occupants and from the factory was good for 145 horsepower.

The ad claims that the engine was recently pulled and “resealed, for what that might be worth. Hopefully that’s keeping out all the leaves that have found their way into the engine compartment.


The other ingratiating element here is the car’s two-panel T-top roof. That’s something that’s no longer offered by any major manufacturer and really is a throwback to the MTV days.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten through the short list of pluses, let’s consider the car’s less than appealing attributes. First off, the car is 40-grit rough. The clear coat over the dull as dishwater dull grey paint is losing its battle against attrition. The front air-dam has lost another fight to the gods of high curb and steep ramps. Aside from a general overall ratty appearance it does sport some wonderfully ‘80s pinstripes and decals so it’s not all bad.


The interior is just as worn—more so in fact, since the seats have had to be tossed owing to their general decrepitude. In their place sit a pair of thrones from a Mazda RX8, Wankel motif holes in the backrests and all.


The car is presently an automatic, but work has been undertaken to begin a switch to stick. In fact the car will come with an Aisin C52 five-speed manual plus the appropriate axles. Bonus, right? Another bonus is an additional intake and turbocharger, which the seller says he was planning to bolt on in series with the supercharger. Cue Xzibit meme.

The car is claimed to be stock other than the seats and wheels and the work to switch out the gearbox. It has seen some additional work done to the steering and suspension connections and is claimed to run “excellently.” The title is clear and the reason for the sale is the old “life is taking me in a different direction” ploy. The asking is $3,750, extra bits and all.


The question then is whether or not someone should invest that much in what’s obviously sort of a half-hearted project. Of course, if you’re not out to impress potential in-laws or a new boss you might just be happy driving it as-is, rattiness and all. That’s once you’ve bolted in that C52, of course.


What do you think, is this bit of a long in the tooth MR2 worth that $3,750 asking? Or, is this a project that you think needs a budget reevaluation?

You decide!


San Francisco Bay Area, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.