The Toyota MR2 and Audi R8 share an unlikely kinship when you think about it. Both are sports cars with the important parts situated immediately behind the driver’s seat; both were designed with daily driving civility in mind; and both have been celebrated for their ability to shame the pants off far pricier machinery.
So it’s appropriate that someone should transform an MR2, like the fondly-remembered 1993 W20 model, into a vague approximation of Audi’s supercar. Such a vehicle happened to hit eBay last week from Pompano Beach, Florida, with a listing cryptically titled “1993 Replica/Kit Makes.” The auction ended without sale on October 12, and only one bid made at $10,000. That fell short of the reserve and well short of the seller’s $25,000 asking price. The listing reads as follows:
1993 Toyota manual trans mr2 non turbo converted to Audi R8 replica, RIGHT HAND DRIVE, have all customs paperwork from being imported, one off build in many shows and magazine in uk. Located coconut creek Florida can be shipped to your door. Runs drives stops, passenger window works as it should , driver window switch works but sometimes have to wiggle switch. Clutch is working as it should. Windshield has crack (car uses regular mr2 windshield)
While we’re not given much background as to the replica’s history here, a little digging reveals that this is a Jakabi JA8 kit, designed by professional clay modeler Paul Goldsmith. Goldsmith’s company, Jakabi Design, has produced custom kits for the MG F in recent years. Before that, in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Goldsmith set about reshaping the MR2 in the image of Audi’s then-new flagship. The designer described the JA8 as a “finished show car” to Fiberclassics.org in 2015. “I don’t intend to produce this one but the prototype moulds are for sale,” he was quoted at the time.
It would seem that this car on sale in Florida, with the U.K. plate “L507 KTO,” is the very same JA8 seen in a photo on Jakabi Design’s Facebook page.
In a story out of British magazine Complete Kit Car from I think July 2009 (the images are extremely blurry), Goldsmith shed a bit more light on the JA8, defining it as more tribute than replica:
“Even though the R8 is my inspiration,” says Paul, “it is in no way a replica car, nor will it be badged as an Audi.” Beneath the new styling is a Mk2 Toyota MR2 donor. With a wheelbase 10in shorter than an R8's, the proportions are different, but there’s no mistaking the styling cues.
At some point, the JA8 was badged an Audi — a V10-powered R8, no less — perhaps by its American buyer. Of course, with its aftermarket A4 headlights, TT taillights, long front overhang, and general proportional eccentricities, you’d never see one of these in passing and register it as an R8 even for a second.
I think Goldsmith’s commentary on his work highlights an erroneous assumption enthusiasts often make when judging replica-ish kit cars: that they’re intended to look as similar as possible to more aspirational vehicles, so any discrepancies between the result and target are indicative of failure. When you divorce the JA8 from its inspiration, the fit is quite impressive for a privately developed kit car.
This one-time MR2 reportedly had 83,442 miles recorded at the time of its attempted sale. Mint, close-to-stock examples of Toyota’s sports car tend to sell in the teens these days, so I’m not sure the owner will be able to fetch the $25K they were hoping for. I’m sure of one thing, though — you’re certain never to see another MR2 like it.