Looking for a good SW20-generation Toyota MR2 on Craigslist is a tough job, as it’s a virtual minefield of failures and sadness. But this bright blue one built by Prime Driven isn’t. It’s a little gem with 270 horsepower at the crank, and here’s how they did it without blowing up.
Mr. Regular of Regular Car Reviews once owned a first-generation Toyota MR2, so he knows exactly the Craigslist woe he speaks of here. Too many owners try to add more boost without upgrading the flimsy head gasket or the inadequate stock intercooler, which then leads both to fail.
So, he showed us this nicely modded 1991 example from Prime Driven to explain how to do it right. Prime Driven—a shop that specializes in MR2s and Toyobarus—has this very car up as a giveaway on their site right now, just in case you’re looking for one.
It’s all very tasteful and subtle in a way that your usual Craigslist find isn’t. Tein coilovers and larger, staggered Enkei RPF1 wheels make it handle more like a modern car than a recent classic.
Somehow the stock clutch remained in, as it’s meaty enough to handle 270 horsepower. But if you’re looking to upgrade your own MR2, please, for the love of all things holy, swap out that intercooler and head gasket, and don’t add a bunch of half-done work and cheap parts just because it’s a cheap car. These cars are just too good to throw together poorly.