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Hagerty Employee

Toyota’s 1990–99 MR2 (SW20) packs a supercar punch on a Camry budget

We can all agree mid-engine cars are awesome. However, if you’re in the market for a mid-engine car that won’t break your budget, there aren’t many options. Among most mid-engine models, you will need to sacrifice reliability or performance to get a good deal. That’s not the case with the second-generation Toyota MR2 (SW20). Where else can you get supercar-tier performance, legendary build quality, and everyday practicality, all packaged in a timeless design?


Let’s dig deeper to figure out what makes this car so great.


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Intermediate Driver

I guess I'm letting my generation down (X), but I can't really get excited over these cars, they still seem like "new" cars to me.  I sort of like the first MR2 only because it was so different at the time. For a car that could also be a daily driver I guess one of these would be a good choice, but for a fun hobby car, I'm just not drawn to it. Maybe it is a European car bias, but then I really liked the Buick Grand National when it came out, so maybe it's something else...


I recently sold a #2 1995 NA for $8800. I know it was worth more but it was time. The wife and I were beginning to get tired of the fall in and climb out low seating. It sucks to get old!


I paid $10k in 2002 for my '94 N/A with 49k on the clock.

Local Toyota dealer will give me $8k on trade right now.

Fun part is few people today know what it is!




Always looked good, to me.

Advanced Driver

A kid in our family had one,just the run of the mill one.GREAT fun blasting up the mountain with the revs up.He sold it for next to nothing Im sure as  he sneered at the 'stupid small car',sold unbeknownst to us.I would have bought it in a heartbeat.Also my first drive in a Toyota,now Im a Toyota/Lexus fanboy in my later years.They sure can build some great cars.

New Driver

I have loved these cars since new! I have been fortunate to have both a 1995 Yellow N/A back in the day and now we have a Yellow 1995 Turbo with only 82K on the clock

The key here is buy the cleanest low mile car you can.

The trouble is you can buy a car in need but in the end even doing your own work you can find yourself spending more on the restored car vs a clean low mile example.

Good new parts are rare. The cars are not common in junk yards and even used parts are not cheap.

Interiors can be a challenge to restore.

Also if there is any rust walk away. These cars in the snow areas can be a real mess as Toyota can rust heavily.

Owning a mid engine myself no they do have some things that can be a challenge but most are not as bad as you would thing. Today most front engine cars are as or more difficult to do simple things on.

I would not call this a super car but it is a fun and rewarding car if you have a good example. But these too can be money pits like any other car if you buy the wrong one.
New Driver

Here in England there's a healthy SW20 following. They are fantastic cars and I'm now on my forth MR2. Its a UK Revision 5 car (1998). Powered by a 3.0 V6 Quad Cam 24V Lexus RX300 motor, which takes the car into a whole new world of performance. I now you guys in the USA are using 2GR 3.5 V6's with even more horsepower.

What I always got a kick out of is how they say great Toyota Engines. but yet by 100,000 you need to pull the engine to replace a hose. Change the cam belts and replace the water pump. Also the Turbo may need looked at while it is out.

Yet I have seen first hand an 88 Fiero GT easily go 300,000 with minimum work. Just an observation. It also easily fits a V8.
New Driver

Except you don't need to remove the engine for all of those.

Remove oil filter and oil cooler, cable pliers, HFH hose done.
Cam belts and water pump? Remove PS engine mount and support motor with a jack underneath.
The turbo won't need any looking at until well past that.

We have a customer 1992 Celica Alltrac (same motor as the North American SW20 turbos) that comes in regularly and finally at 372000km, it needed its first "major" engine repair: a distributor. Still on original unopened motor, transmission (which is also the same as the SW20, plus transfer case), and turbo.
Pit Crew

I second Marc's comments. It's a myth that one needs to drop the engines to service an MR2. I know numerous owners that own MR2s, including some who daily drive them. None of them have had to drop the engine for service or repairs.