Today’s Nice Price or No Dice MR2 Spyder looks more like a Ferrari than a Toyota and suffers from a mechanical issue more befitting those looks than its heritage. Let’s see if this Hawaii-located roadster is right-priced for all those factors.
In the Symposium, the Greek philosopher, Plato asserted that we are only able to identify physical beauty because of an innate understanding of the form of beauty — i.e. what beauty is. With its Giorgetto Giugiaro-penned styling and amazingly well-preserved condition, the 1978 Isuzu 117 Coupé we considered yesterday looked beautiful on several levels. Unfortunately for the seller, little beauty could be found in the privately-imported car’s $18,900 asking price. That went down in a 70 percent No Dice loss.
An automobile’s styling is an important part of its attraction, and it’s safe to say that the Italians seem to have the best handle on making beautiful cars. Few other car-making countries have had as many knockouts as have emerged from the Mediterranean peninsular nation.
It’s of little surprise then that some people may wish to pay homage to the greatest of Italian designs, and that brings us to today’s 2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder, which is clothed in a fiberglass kit that attempts to emulate the style of a Ferrari 360 Spider. The result gives the car something of an uncanny valley appearance as the curvaceous Ferrari-esque bodywork doesn’t quite translate to the MR2’s much smaller proportions. In some angles, it works. In others, it looks like a pedal car a very rich kid might get for Christmas.
In the car’s defense, the work done on the transformation does seem to be first-rate, even if it is a bit Lilliputian. The interior has some updates as well, with what is described as “Ferrari Leather Seats,” but are actually Toyota thrones with a horse embroidered on each headrest. That horse, it should be noted, is at an angle that’s less of a prance and more of an ‘I’m getting ready to kick the shit out of somebody,’ but it’s still weirdly fitting for the car.
Another issue is the wear on the leather of the driver’s side bolster, but otherwise, the space looks serviceable. Another horse graces the steering wheel center and the car comes with an aftermarket Kenwood head unit. The convertible top seems to be in solid shape with no apparent rips or tears and a nice glass window.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, wow, Ferrari looks and Toyota reliability, that’s a match made in heaven. Well, there’s a fly in that ointment. This MR2 follows the Ferrari theme a little too closely with a mechanical malady that requires the car to be towed home and then a fairly pricey fix. According to the ad, the car’s SMT (Sequential Manual Transmission) is non-functional due to a bad hydraulic pressure pump. The two-pedal transmission is much like the F1 box that was made available in the Ferrari 360 Modena F1. That’s another car that suffered from finicky gearbox issues.
Pump failure is an all-too-common problem on the MR2 Spyder equipped with the SMT. It’s not a cheap fix either, with rebuilt pump units going for about a grand. And that’s just for the part. Installation and setup are labor-intensive and kind of a pain in the butt. And then you’re still stuck with the Toyota SMT, which is a one-trick pony transmission.
Other than the flaky transmission, the car seems mechanically sound and has only 47,000 miles on the clock. Why so few? Well, one reason may be that it lives on one of the Hawaiian Islands. And while it may the Big Island, that’s still not all that far that the car can realistically go. The title is clean and the seller claims a Carfax report that is drama-free. What might one spend for this odd and perhaps inconveniently-located MR2?
The asking price is $4,200 and if you take a look around at Spyder prices, you’ll know that is pretty fly. Is it a deal, though, considering the car’s foibles, of which I think most of us would include the fake Ferrari bodywork?
What do you say, is this problem child MR2 Spyder worth that $4,200 price as it sits… and sits? Or, does that price make for three strikes and it’s out?
H/T to spaced99 for the hookup!
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