ACT clutch

I’ve written this type of article 100-times before, and I’ll keep doing it lol. Until enough people get it, and it creates an army who demands more fun & spirit in new cars. In new EVERYTHING honestly. Because the truth is – in this late-80s/early-90s era of automotive history, there was truly something special going on. A spark. See – I was a kid in this era, so I just naturally thought this was the way the world was… & would always be. At that time, who would’ve ever thought fun in the auto industry would become so fleeting? Or that simplistically brilliant/fun cars would ultimately become regulated, legislated, and cancelled. And eventually just become a nostalgic, dangerous 20th-century primitive memory. 

80s MR2

Fun & Sport drove car culture in the 80s.

I’ve got stacks of car magazines from this era, and the ads were all about selling sensations behind the wheel. We were rocketing towards the future… but we weren’t handing over the controls of anything. And this is how designers & car manufacturers were approaching cars. The mission was: How do we connect the driver to this car? And make transportation an experience to be craved? How do we create a moment that’s unforgettable & totally revitalizing? Something that awakens all the senses. How do we turn transportation… into a lifestyle? And how do we do it affordably in an inclusive, not exclusive way? 

MR2 t-tops

See – this approach was bigger than cars, and it was way bigger than a tiny Toyota MR-2.

Yet – the point I’m trying to make is exemplified in this MR-2. Look at this car, and pay attention to how it makes you feel in your soul. You don’t have to know anything about cars to know that with this car… passion won. It’s instinctual. Tell me you can’t feel it. We love the sports cars of this era… but what we really love is more primal than that. It’s an energy. And energy is contagious! 

People who are energized, are energizing to be around. They energize the world around them! And that radiates out. It makes a more powerful & enriched society. With more vibrant possibilities, opportunities… and more overall confidence & contentment. And less obstacles that are able to break our stride. When people are energized, they become inspired, and they respond in big ways.

80s MR2

Conversely – and here’s the kicker

Apathy (energy’s antithesis) is highly contagious too! And when the mindset of society starts to lose that vibrant edge, it spreads & filters through the population in a much heavier, more exhausting way. People become subconsciously uninspired, disillusioned, defeated, distracted, agitated, burdened, lazy, and incapable. In a sense, they become enslaved without knowledge of their enslavement. They’re easier to control, divide, corral, manipulate, and put on pills. And definitely less apt to dream big or take chances. There’s a ceiling over them; I prefer t-tops over me. So it’s your call. Do you want to live a lifestyle that charges people up? Or are you gonna disengage & isolate… and just go full self drive? Food for thought my friend.

Toyota MR2

Kevin Ready wanted to build an MR-2 that represented the energy of its era. 

Which is easier said than done by the way. In today’s import car scene, it’s real easy to update & overbuild a car. Wild engine swaps are prevalent today. And so is boost, tuning, extreme wheel fitments, etc. All of those are great beefy things, don’t get me wrong. But it can be hard to restrain yourself. Kevin wanted to build an MR-2 that presented itself like a ‘special MR-2’ of that era. Something that you might have seen in Toyota’s display at Tokyo Auto Salon 1987. To that end, he really focused on keeping the car refined and OEM+ to a certain degree. 

So instead of hotboy coilovers or bags, Kevin went with lowering springs with more mild road manners. Instead of modern wheels, Kevin had a vintage set of Tom’s Sprint 3-piece converted. He swapped a 20-valve 4AGE… spicy… but with period-correct attributes. And instead of gutting the car, trashing dried-out interior pieces, & creating a shitbox rattle trap, Kevin focused on restoring bushings, mounts, suspension parts, etc. He wanted a car that could be driven daily as it would have been back in its day… without too much driver fatigue. Hell at this point, it seems fitting to end with this scene from Loki. Granted I’m a little jet ski biased too… but you get the point.

Photos by Sam Igel II

1987 MR2

1987 Toyota MR-2

ENGINE 

20V 4AGE Silvertop – rebuilt top and bottom, refreshed everything   

Short shift kit – with all new bushings & cables

New motor mounts

Refurbished gas tank, new fuel lines & fuel pump 

4AGE 20v MR2

Wheels / Brakes / Suspension 

Eibach lowering springs

Koni Yellow adjustable struts 

Every end-link & all bushings replaced

ST front & rear sway bars

Rebuilt calipers with new rotors and pads on all four corners

Toyo R888 tires – 205/50/15 front & 225/50/15 rear

Tom’s Racing “Spirit” wheels – originally 14×6. Purchased out of New Zealand & sent to California (@chamorroboy86) for 3-piece conversion. They are now 15×8 in front & 15×9 in rear.

Recaro seats

INTERIOR

Recaro LX’s refinished in black leather with grey alcantara inserts

Manual crank windows replaced the broken automatic windows 

Momo Prototipo steering wheel 

TRD Door Strikes (seriously)

Sound system with a Pioneer sub and Focal speakers at all four corners, AND it still works with the casette player. Kevin keeps a decent cassette collection in the car.

mid engine MR2

EXTERIOR

Buddy Club front lip

Woodsport widebody fender flares

Custom exhaust – Ducati mufflers on custom-valved exhaust, so there is a ‘quiet mode’ and a ‘straight piped’ mode

Carbon fiber t-tops

Inoztek Midnight Purple Metallic wrap

Reproduction pin stripes and hood stripes, with MR-2 logo removed

Rally Armor universal mud flaps 

Hella LED fog lights mounted to a Techno Toy Tuning front bash bar 

Amber lens delete 

All exterior lights replaced with LED bulbs  

3D-printed side mirror shades

Twos R Us reproduction c-pillar trim 

GE Nighthawk LED headlights

purple MR2

1987 MR2

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