The MR2



The Birth of Brilliance

The project started in 1976 and had many hold-ups to contend with, not the least of which was the fuel crisis (a lot of folk will be too young to remember that one).  By 1979 things were on the go with three main stages of design: research, development, and production considerations. Along the way it changed to a front- engined, front-wheel-drive car, but that thankfully was dumped. One challenge was to produce a sporty machine that would appeal to a wide range of people, and yet be reasonably priced. It also had to be a practical car, with a big enough boot and easy entry and exit from the cabin.


Toyota modernised the MR2 with a completely new model released in late 1989. Along with Toyota's new triple oval branding, unfortunately it didn’t get a specific badge like the AW11 before and ZZW30 after. The new model, designated the SW20, was longer and wider than the AW11 and lacked the distinctive angular styling. A softer, more curvaceous style was employed to cover the larger, more luxurious car. Twin side air intakes, longer lower buttresses and a curved rear window all suggest an influence from the Pinninfarina styling of european marques. The Ferrari F348 shows similar traits to the design of the SW20 even though the more popular F355 is suggested where the SW20 got it’s design from, yet it was released in 1994, 5 years after the SW20 was released.

Mk 3 MR2 Spyder Prototypes

Since the announcement in 1995 that the MKII MR2 was to cease production, prototypes for the new MR2 had been popping up at regular intervals at various Motorshows. The first of these was the MRJ. It appeared at several motorshows around the world and while no official word was given by Toyota, many assumed it was the replacement for the MR2. It featured a VVT engine, electric hardtop, four-wheel steering, superstrut suspension, and many other new technology features.