The pursuit of a car nostalgically recalled from the youth of the The writer begins with a comprehensive online research and ends with an auction victory and special delivery.
BETHLEHEM, NH - Car and Driver magazine declared this to be one of the 10 best cars of 1986, welling that any car with a higher pleasure-per-dollar quotient would be. never cleared by the IRS "In a separate review, he noted the car's " finely balanced handling, superb five-speed gearbox, and sixteen-valve, twin-cam, four-cylinder engine " .
IIt wasn't that long ago that I lazily remembered that old-time sports car, the 1986 Toyota MR2, that my wife, Cheryl, and I bought new. The MR2 was unusual because it was a mid-engine: this sturdy little four-cylinder was hidden behind the two seats. Without this weight on the front wheels, the MR2 was extremely quick to change direction, which is a hallmark of sports cars. Plus, its starting price was around $ 11,000, which is just over $ 27,000 today.
And it 's this is how I became a cliche: the old man who buys a car nostalgically remembered his youth.
After exhaustive research, j 've found my new MR2. Its original owner had also read the love letters to this Toyota from the time of "Back to the Future ". A test drive conquered him. He named it Lil Blue and swore tokeep it forever.
Thirty-five years later, my search for an MR2 took a little more effort. Image Receive an auction price: a Toyota MR2 of the first generation of the model. Credit ... Christopher Jensen
I was not discouraged by common sense problems. My checklist was ambitious. I wanted one that was rust free, well maintained and accident free. I wanted a manual transmission. Plus, I wanted the first generation, which covered the 1985 thru 1989 model years. I liked the angular styling, most charitably described as origami. Others compare it to a door stop on wheels.
The Facebook pages for MR2 owners have been the most helpful in my quest. I wrote that I was in the market and finally started hearing from owners. There were discussions between buyers and sellers and sharing of photos. But when it came to selling, owners often couldn't say goodbye.
After a promising conversation, California owner Shaun VonCorcoran , said he had to go, and his girlfriend asked him to take the MR2 to their date. That was it. The next day he wrote: "I rode about 100 miles on the MR2 last night. Perfect weather. I don't think I can sell it. "
I was not aware of any MR2s in our area in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. But one afternoon, Cheryl saw a red one. On a local Facebook page, I asked ssomeone i knew the owner. Someone did. The car needed a lot of work, but the young man was ready to sell it. After my research of the country, here is one in my garden.
Then I checked the vehicle identification number and I have found that an insurance company had written him off after an accident. I asked the owner if the title was marked "recovery ". It didn't have a title.
I've always liked watching auctions on the Bring a Trailer , while quietly mocking those who would buy an invisible vehicle sight. But one afternoon there I was hit by a 1985 with 67,000 miles. It was near Seattle. Finally my $ 14,500 bought it . I was stunned. I 've done a lot of stupid things so it couldn't be the dumbest but maybe the top five? Image The original owner of the MR2 had a relentless cleaning routine. Credit ... John Tully for Hfrance.fr
My remote purchase was noticed by Mike Oliver, a gracious and knowledgeable MR2 enthusiast who lives near Chicago. He was considering selling his MR2, and I had been considering buying it. But I had been hesitant about not being able to see it - or drive it - because it was so far from New Hampshire. Mr. Oliver wrote: "You don't in.You could not drive a car further away, LOL. "I replied: " Hawaii? "
About a week later my MR2 is arrived and looked great. A thick filing cabinet was stowed in the trunk. In addition to information on items such as oil changes, he noted the brand of waxes and cleaners used for everything including shining the chrome exhaust tips. It was compiled by the first owner, William McGill of Salem, Oregon, and it included his email address.
Mr. McGill, then 23, had read the enthusiastic articles in the magazines automobiles and had found one in early 1986 at a dealership., I was definitely hooked, "he told me. He bought it by car.or $ 11,995, which isn't a small amount considering his salary of around $ 1.00 per month. His car payment was $ 265 per month and the rent was $ 255.
But after 26 years and 58,715 miles, Mr. McGill got it. sold to a friend. "I intended to keep the vehicle forever " he wrote in an email. "It's funny how life can redirect and change those commitments. As they say, we are just keepers for a while.
Eventually the new owner sold it to a Toyota dealership, where it was on display for several years. The dealership sold it to the Ethan Barry family in Poulsbo, Washington.
"I really liked the cornering aspect of the car, ”said Barry, 22. "You could take turns at speeds you wouldn't dare in normal cars.
But he drove her less and less and finally concluded that " it was a decent amount of money just sitting down. He put it on Bring a Trailer.
And that brought him to Bethlehem. To be registered, it required a safety inspection, and the mechanics marveled at its meticulous care and lack of rust. Mr. McGill said his relentless cleaning routine included sliding underneath to scrub his underparts.
It was a huge relief to find out that it 's is, indeed, awesome fun. There is a an unvarnished, vintage tie to the pipe . My behind is about 15 inches above the road, and because the hood is tilted down, there is a panorama of the pavement flashing below thecar. This gives the impression that the MR2 is going much faster than it is. There was also literally a learning curve: it took turn after turn, going faster and faster, to realize that it is seldom necessary to brake.
There is an original 80s look and unadorned originality: it has folding windows, and there is no power steering, no electric door locks, no airbags and no electronic safety nets such as anti-lock brakes or electronic stability control. And it has rattles and old age noises, just like me.
A change from riding an MR2 in the late 1980s is the huge increase in pickups and sport utility vehicles on the road. He's just over 48 inches tall, and now we're driving among giants, with the prospectto be immersed in eternity. The MR2 has a curb weight of approximately 2,300 pounds. A new S.U.V. can easily be double.
Often those who give admiring comments are in their twenties. “Is it really a Toyota? Asked a young woman at a gas station. "It's so 80s " said a young man. Image Replacement parts can be hard to find, but owners are happy to help others. Credit ... John Tully for Hfrance.fr
With delicacies comes worry. I'm worried about scratches and there are no slamming doors. I gently roll them upwindows up or down. He needed new tires and about $ 1,500 in maintenance. It's also a bit difficult to start early in the morning - a problem that I tackle. But overall it's great. We have driven it about 1000 miles, and as I constantly and nervously check the gauges, every time I see that everything is okay, it 'sa little gift.
Some coins are hard to find - owners refer to as 'unicorn' coins - so there is an element of treasure hunting that makes finding something I need oddly exciting. But because much of the MR2 is based on the older Corolla, there are plenty of parts available, encouraged by a remarkable survivor comradeship on Facebook pages. Still, some owners are stocking crucial parts against a future shortage.
What is morehard to find ? It depends on where you live. “In hot countries it's usually plastics that are down to find,” said Neil Jones, who owns a large parts and salvage business in Wales. "In humid countries it is ironwork.
With pleasure comes the worry that one day I will be looking for that magical part of the unicorn.
However, I recently received some advice from a seasoned owner. "Every morning lay your hands on it and pray " Martin Leodolter wrote on Facebook.