The second-generation SW20 Toyota MR2 has a bit of a killer reputation, supposedly impossible to buy, difficult to own and more than a little challenging to drive. We linked up with the owner of a pristine low-mile 1991 Turbo who has not lift-off oversteered into a tree and went over some of the misconceptions and little-known features about the car.


1. Those Vents, Unlike On Just About Every Other ‘90s Car, Actually Go Somewhere

That’s an air intake on the driver’s side and a route to the intercooler on the passenger side for this turbo car. Take that, Mustangs.


2. You Can Actually Fit In It (Unlike A Miata) Plus Your Stuff In Its Two Trunks

If you are too tall for a Miata, fear not. The SW20 is roomier than you’d think for a little 1990s two-door, plus there’s acres of legroom. And a trunk plus a frunk.

G/O Media may get a commission

3. The T-Tops Have Their Own Cute Little Pouches

Lots of hardcore car enthusiasts hate t-tops for compromising structural rigidity of their to-be track cars, but it’s impossible to hate the ones on the SW20. Look at the little pouches! So cute.


4. That Turbo Badge Is Supposed To Be Body Colored

There are a few things to look for to differentiate a real turbo from a naturally-aspirated model, but not a lot. Look for the different exhaust tips, the vents on the engine cover and the little turbo badge. Yes! It’s supposed to be painted over. Very low-key.


5. The “Hoses From Hell”

Be warned, there are two coolant hoses on the turbo 3S-GTE that can make service a nightmare. Look out for the “hose from hell” and the “hose from hell on earth” that are located at the bottom of the engine. Any work needed on them are going to be engine-out repairs. Not fun.


Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter