View Full Version : MR2 Fan's Ongoing MR2 Restoration Thread

MR2 Fan
January 7th, 2014, 07:57 AM
The Story So Far

Total price for the car: $1,200

1991 Toyota MR2 Naturally Aspirated


The motor mounts are definitely needing to be checked, as when i accelerate or let off I'm hearing a crash behind me.

One thing I noticed is the radiator seems relatively new and the fan is REALLY loud.

These pics are BEFORE the wash/wax:



The person who bought my first MR2 from me owns a performace shop in Tampa called BOLD Performance. He does a lot of MR2 work now and was doing a massive donation/giveaway, so I went over on Friday, picked up a few things, stock exhaust (much quieter than the extreme can that's on there now), replacement trunk carpet, a few interior bits and pieces I was missing, a brand new set of spark plug cables and some other things I needed. I could have come out of there with a LOT more stuff but I'm still figuring out what the car needs.

Anyway, here are pics after I tried to do a wash/wax/polish last week....paint still looks crappy. Also put in clear corner lenses..........THEN I said, what the heck, I'm going to try to plastidip the side moldings....didn't come out too well, red didn't match at all, and as I was peeling off the painter's tape it took some plastidip off with it...oh well, it was just for fun anyway.

Pics look better than real life. I've decided I'm just going to go ahead and get the car repainted after sourcing a new bumper and front hood...perhaps from the same shop I just got those other things...he has a nice black MR2 that he's parting out.

(YES, I know there's a lot of wax residue on the front bumper....it doesn't matter because its in crap shape anyway)





I've never been a big fan of Crimson Red anyway....would much rather get something like Super Red from the 93+ MR2 or Mazda's True Red......SOOOOO much nicer

So I decided to go back to my friend's shop today since I have the day off....I decided I need a replacement front bumper and hood, and trunklid...since I'll be repainting it anyway, his black MR2 that spare parts are coming off of will be perfect, just need to go pick up the stuff later.

He also offered to give me the black 17" wheels of some kind from the car if I give him the 14" crap stock ones from my car.....DEAL!! I just have to get my car on jack stands, etc.

Anyway, here's some pics from his shop.

And here's just a few of the things now gracing my garage waiting for install:



The exhaust is a stock n/a one....only problem is, the aftermarket header that is on the car has a 2 bolt flange, and this one has a 3, guess its going to need to be welded. Hopefully once this is installed the car won't be so loud...its fine if the car is fast, but it isn't....loud and slow just doesn't work.

Here is why I got a replacement trunk lid...looks like someone had been trying to get into the engine bay with a crow bar at one time :|

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-J2SqPT-YXVo/UritiRJ0SjI/AAAAAAAAB3w/G6-M5Qoypqg/w488-h650-no/20131223_163915.jpgI ordered distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs, to go along with the wires I got last week.

Still need a battery I think, haven't had the chance to test it, but it doesn't seem to be getting enough of charge. Speaking of which, I was looking for the cost of batteries and they seem to be getting a lot more expensive to me (??). I couldn't find any under $100.

Meanwhile I'm also painting the dash (just the plastic steering, vent and radio surrounds) in silver...I did that on my old car and it looked great...will post results shortly.

Ordered shift boot, drivers door handle surround and a few other things for my car, trying to get everything interior done so there's nothing missing.

I'm still waiting to pick up the wheels, front hood and front bumper from my friend, but the holidays are getting in the way.

MR2 Fan
January 7th, 2014, 08:01 AM

Dash is painted, bought shift boot, but didn't realize it wouldn't come with the bracket correctly, so it's just kind of sitting there right now. Shift knob was a donation from a co-worker who owned a 240SX.

I seriously need to get those AC controls fixed/replaced next...they look really bad





January 7th, 2014, 11:05 AM
Wow, huge improvement! Nicely done! :up:

MR2 Fan
January 27th, 2014, 01:08 PM
Update, finally got the wheels and tires:



I think I'll get plastidip wheel paint and repaint them silver....but they were FREE so I can't complain.

And nothing like black wheels to show off how dirty and rusty your brake rotors and calipers are!

SUV stance also needs to be fixed.

MR2 Fan
February 12th, 2014, 07:36 AM
Wheels painted

I got aluminum look Plastidip ordered from DipYourCar.com, wheels came out really well so far. Yes, there's some that got on the tires but that's ok, I can get that cleaned off.






February 12th, 2014, 08:48 AM
That's pretty cool - any really close up pictures of the finish?

MR2 Fan
February 12th, 2014, 02:34 PM
I'll take more pics this weekend.

Also, I'm picking up a hood (Without hood pins), better condition front bumper and drivers side door this weekend (rust-free)

February 13th, 2014, 06:26 AM
It's coming along -- will look worlds better when the suspension is sorted. :up: :up:

MR2 Fan
February 24th, 2014, 07:15 PM
Ok, no pics this time, but I picked up a front hood (black) front bumper in mint condition (black) and a replacement driver's side door (red).

My car is going to look very odd until it gets painted, but oh well.

My big problem is getting the bottom part of the hood pins off that look like they're welded to the frame...trying to decide the easiest way to do it.

February 24th, 2014, 09:00 PM
Angle grinder!

February 24th, 2014, 10:58 PM
is the rolling diameter a shedload higher than factory? Almost looks like you're rocking a wheel tyre combo that is going to be too much for the front bodywork to clear...

MR2 Fan
February 25th, 2014, 07:41 AM
The front tire...one of 4 was a 45 instead of a 40....I'm not keeping those tires....and yes, it is rubbing against the strut housing....remedying that soon.

MR2 Fan
March 1st, 2014, 11:11 AM
Aftermarket Steering Wheel.

I decided to ask my fellow MR2OC.com members regarding the airbag (Driver's side only on 1991-1993 MR2's) and their thoughts on whether to keep it or replace it.

I received a lot of good replies, including one from a paramedic. The consensus was that the early ones could potentially do more harm than good. I also had to consider the car is probably 25 years old, and the stock airbag may not even function properly.

Besides that, I REALLY wanted an aftermarket wheel to go with the interior better....so I just ordered one. I'll post pics when I receive it.

Then the fun part begins....removing the existing steering wheel and airbag...carefully.

March 1st, 2014, 09:17 PM
I can tell you in 2009 my 1990 air bag worked. :D

MR2 Fan
March 2nd, 2014, 02:48 PM
Started late today, but tried to go out and get the replacement front hood (aka frunk lid) setup going.

Since a previous owner had the ugly, rusted hood pins, they had also removed the front hood latch...so I was able to obtain one.

The good news...the cable was still there.

Bad news part 1: The latch inside the cabin was not still there, and I'm going to have to fish around for it

Bad news part 2: It looks like there was a large aftermarket radiator installed behind an older one? (see pic below) That's bad because the hood latch piece is running into it, and I can't get it installed correctly.


I was able to get the hood pins removed, I thought they were welded but they were just screwed in, but so rusted they were a complete bitch to remove.

Not much else accomplished yet, but here's a pic of the parts in my garage now...they're starting to stack up


March 2nd, 2014, 04:59 PM
The little radiator is most likely the AC condensor

MR2 Fan
March 2nd, 2014, 05:01 PM
Yeah, I was just researching and I think you're right....but the radiator is a lot thicker than even some other aftermarket ones apparently.

March 2nd, 2014, 05:34 PM
what's the brand on it. I can't make it out. It might be a circle track radiator somebody made work, because them things can be had for super cheap (~120) in some cases.

March 2nd, 2014, 05:43 PM

edit: that's a nice score.

MR2 Fan
March 2nd, 2014, 05:50 PM
yep, Mishimoto...looks relatively new....I think I can make some minor modifications to the top of it, so I can get the latch mechanism to fit.

March 2nd, 2014, 06:02 PM
Yeah, I wouldn't get rid of that. They make one for the M3, and it is at the cost of ~250

MR2 Fan
March 9th, 2014, 10:22 AM
Got the hood latch wedged in finally, without having to modify the radiator....was able to hammer it into place, which I'm very glad about.

The inside hood latch was stuck under some plastic and isn't in the best of shape, but I keep reminding myself the car was cheap.

The plastic piece behind the hood is warped and cracked which is making the hood sit a bit uneven...I'll need to replace it.

Also put the turbo engine lid on because I just like it better.




March 9th, 2014, 03:29 PM
Definitely coming together.

I can't wait to here about the car when you get the suspension and such refreshed


MR2 Fan
March 15th, 2014, 12:56 PM
Was going to order 94+ round taillights, but can't quite afford them yet.

My friend who owns the shop has dozens of parts I really want right now but can't afford them yet. He keeps posting them on our central florida MR2 facebook group.

Also, considering the exhaust problem, there's a 2 bolt flange on the stock exhaust I want to put back on the car, but the header has a 3 bolt flange....you'd think an adaptor would be made for this situation, but I can't find any. I've tried google, ebay, various forums, etc. but to no avail.

I thought it would be easier to get it done at home instead of dragging the massive exhaust (in a second car) having it welded, etc.

Anyone ever found a place that offers adaptors like that?

March 15th, 2014, 01:02 PM
Never heard of such a thing. There would be real issues with sealing and spacing, so I seriously doubt if one existed it would be generic, it would be a one off for a specific application. You are definitely going to need some welding.

MR2 Fan
March 15th, 2014, 04:28 PM

One more question, any chance these dents on the trunklid could be fixed reasonably well or is it just not worth the effort?

The problem is that it has the spoiler on it and the spoiler is a real PITA to replace. Unless I can find a good condition trunklid with spoiler, it's going to suck either way. I have a black trunklid with no spoiler already on stand-by....hmm


March 15th, 2014, 05:35 PM
You mean where the body line is?

Best of luck, Body lines are next to impossible. Might see if there is a Dr. Dent or a Dent Wizard around you somewhere and see if they'll take a gander.

March 15th, 2014, 06:46 PM
Yeah, that looks like a brutal repair. I think for what you'd spend fixing it right, you'd be way ahead to just buy a new panel, even if it means swapping the spoiler over.

MR2 Fan
March 23rd, 2014, 11:05 AM
Got the new steering wheel installed


MR2 Fan
May 5th, 2014, 10:05 AM
I actually did some work this weekend on my MR2....tried to remove the front bumper....but I have to get the headlights up or removed in order to get to some of the bumper screws. Battery is dead, too lazy to jump start it.

Will be doing lots more stuff soon, been saving up for a flight to Tokyo for September vacation, then I'm going to finally buy the 94+ tail lights, some tan leather seat covers (custom fitted ones), coilovers, and fresh paint.

May 5th, 2014, 10:41 AM
A good day-long detail job of the interior wouldn't hurt. ;) :up:

MR2 Fan
May 5th, 2014, 01:09 PM
Maybe some vacuuming...the seats are getting covered and I'll be getting good floor-mats also.

MR2 Fan
November 10th, 2014, 10:35 AM
http://www.quickmeme.com/img/f1/f1dfda25d2f143f2b6f3a2f20c9ff3f9a4ef27188496dd43f0 83736c52e8559b.jpg

The project which has been on hold for several months due to saving for my Tokyo vacation and the brutally hot summer, which gave me no motivation to work on the car outside.

I have renewed interest in fixing the car up now with some extra cashflow coming in for the holidays.

I had random starting/not starting, so I've replaced the spark plugs, cables, distributor cap and rotor. The cap and rotor were both really difficult to get off...the cap has bolts in the most impossible places, I had to take apart the whole intake system.

Speaking of which, I replaced the intake system with a new cone filter....I like the sound difference and really didn't like the cluttered engine bay....it probably doesn't give more than 1-2 hp over stock though.

I've also gotten the trunk open after a year...decided to just drill a hole which will be covered up later. The cable to the mechanism had broken, so that's why we couldn't open from inside the car.

I've also continued trying to get to all of the insane bolts to remove the front bumper and replace with a pristine one. There's still 2 bolts on each side that go toward the front fender (or wing as you brits call it for some reason). There's 2 ways to access those bolts and both are nearly impossible. That will have to wait as I found out I also need a fender liner for the front left anyway.

I'm replacing the trunk lid, picking up a good one with the right spoiler holes, and everything for $50 this coming weekend...then I don't have to mess with getting a different spoiler, remaking the holes on the spare trunklid I had etc.

Interior wise, I'm still going with custom fitted tan seat covers, tan door inserts...hoping to order those in a few weeks. I really like the tan/silver/black combo idea I have for it, and you'll just have to wait and see the end results.

Next I want to get some really nice wheels, get the car painted, and some other basic maintenance stuff....then it will finally be where I want it to be.

Sorry, no pics yet, I'll post some next weekend.

MR2 Fan
November 10th, 2014, 10:43 AM
Almost forgot, I have the driver's door taken apart, ready to replace the door with the non-rusted one I have that matches....looks like the previous owner put in some really nice speakers and they look relatively new, so that's nice.

November 10th, 2014, 12:41 PM
Thread lacks pics, thx.

MR2 Fan
November 10th, 2014, 02:06 PM
sorry, here's some hot door panel pics



November 10th, 2014, 03:00 PM
Yeah! Portable door!

November 10th, 2014, 03:25 PM
sorry, here's some hot door panel pics



The next big research frontier needs to be how to waterproof doors without that black sticky shit + plastic combo. :mad:

MR2 Fan
November 12th, 2014, 07:25 PM
Just ordered tan faux-leather custom fitted seat covers from Iggee on ebay. These have had good ratings from a lot of people, and they're only $179.


So here's some "before" pics of my seats...covers may take 2-3 weeks to arrive.



MR2 Fan
November 15th, 2014, 05:53 AM
Meanwhile I'm deciding on wheels. The wheels I have now are ok, but they're just plastidipped and I'm not a big fan of the design, though the price was right.

I'm looking for a 5 spoke design, but the problem I have is that I am VERY VERY picky about wheels....the other problem is that most of the wheel designs I like are being discontinued. Every time I find one I like, its no longer available.

This is my "holy grail" wheel but even if it was available new, it is waaaay too expensive, SSR GT3


There's been a few knock offs by different brands, but so far, all of them are discontinued as well.

Just recently I found these TSW Indy 500 wheels


But those are also discontinued, though I may find them for sale still.

Anyone know of other good wheels like this, hopefully under $200 each?

edit: BTW, the specs I want are 17X7.5 or 17X8 +35 to +40 offset, 5x114 (aka 5x4.5)

MR2 Fan
November 17th, 2014, 10:30 AM
I found these....LiquidMetal F5, right sizes and offsets


MR2 Fan
November 18th, 2014, 04:50 PM
A bit odd? maybe.


I picked up these new chrome door handles/locks from Ebay, replacing the factory black ones...a bit blingy, but I think it will work once you see the rest of the door as its done, hopefully within the next week or two

MR2 Fan
November 21st, 2014, 05:10 PM

Well a couple of things.

First, got my tan "leather" seat covers


Contacted a well known MR2 member who had some good stuff for sale cheap, still trying to make this thing a relatively decent budget car.

Used Suspension Techniques springs...$100, some surface rust but not too bad I think...will drop about 1.3 inches I believe


Also got a replacement starter, not pictured. I think my starter is going bad or is bad, so I got a used, working one for $20...worth a shot.

MR2 Fan
November 23rd, 2014, 11:00 AM
Seat Covers Installed!!

It wasn't as easy as I was hoping.

I decided to remove the seats from the car and clean out underneath, then make sure it would be easier to install the seat covers.

Took the passenger seat out, no problem...drivers seat had one bolt that wouldn't come out. After forcing it a bit, found that it was actually mounted to the frame of the car with another nut underneath...and I bent through the metal of the frame taking the entire nut and bolt with it :smh:

That was a bad idea. Anyway, I'll get that repaired before going for a drive. This is how the seat covers look compared to the old seats...I still have some adjusting to do with the covers, but overall I'm impressed, its a heck of a lot cheaper than having someone do them in leather.

I'll take more pics soon, but I was exhausted.


November 24th, 2014, 09:00 AM
Those look pretty darned nice - how do they feel to hand and ass?

MR2 Fan
November 24th, 2014, 09:30 AM
Feel is very good...very close to real leather (owned a Lexus GS300 with tan leather)...though obviously it is a bit more slippery than cloth seats...though a good 4 point harness could remedy some of that :)

MR2 Fan
November 29th, 2014, 11:16 AM
I think I just found a great deal on some wheels.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out!

MR2 Fan
November 30th, 2014, 01:27 PM
Yes, I got some wheels!!


17"s with relatively useable tires for now, 205's in front, 225's in rear, Hankook....total price? $150 !!!

They're not perfect, have a bit of scratches and some refinishing that could be done, but I can't complain about the price. Oddly, these wheels are very similar to what were on my old MR2 Spyder when I first bought it.

MR2 Fan
December 1st, 2014, 07:11 AM
Fitted the wheels to the car today. Tires....hold air...replacing them ASAP anyway.

Lowering springs not installed yet and it shows! One of the rims, right rear is in pretty bad shape, but the other 3 are good enough.





December 1st, 2014, 09:11 AM
Those look pretty darned decent - nice score!

MR2 Fan
December 12th, 2014, 12:23 PM
Just ordered '94 Taillights with black centerpiece...they are so much nicer than the '91-93 Taillights.

Pics once they're installed!

December 12th, 2014, 02:09 PM
Agreed. There is a nice MR2 I used to see in Davis a lot with the later rear treatment - it's a nice touch. Nothing wrong with keeping it original, of course, but on a purely aesthetic basis I do think the later one is better.

MR2 Fan
December 19th, 2014, 06:54 PM
package arrived!


Admittedly they aren't brand new, but a lot cheaper than new ones...can't wait to install them and freshen them up a little bit.

MR2 Fan
December 22nd, 2014, 09:59 AM
Taillights installed...a few of the old screws were a pain, but that seems to be the common trend when working on this 23+ year old car. Oh, and I added the Midship Runabout badge....I may have to re-mount it...but I'm a perfectionist



MR2 Fan
April 24th, 2015, 04:59 AM
Well, all good things must come to an end.

For several reasons, I have ended the MR2 restoration project and sold it to a fellow MR2 owner. I moved out of the place where I was keeping the car and couldn't park it at my new place (loooong story).

I'm still 100% focused on moving to Japan and this project was just something extra I had to worry about....and it wasn't running, so now it has a new owner.

April 24th, 2015, 06:09 AM
Well that's a bummer -- good luck!

April 24th, 2015, 10:00 AM
Yep, what he said!