In-Motion Outtakes: 1991 Toyota MR2 – Lil’ Red Rocket

That went quickly.  All of a sudden, here we are in the first full week of March, with just eleven days of winter left in the northern hemisphere.  Spring may start officially on March 20th, but we Chicagoans know better than to put any serious stock in that.  It could snow again (and again) in April, for all we know.  But still, spring brings with it the promise of open windows, hat- and glove-free weather, and fresh air.  Regardless of all of that, a Monday is still a Monday, and the driver of this car on that day of the week was making the kind of haste away from the office in afternoon rush hour traffic that I might have.  Spring, coincidentally, was also the time of year (in 1990) that the second edition of the MR2 was introduced in the U.S. as a ’91 model.

I’m not necessarily wishing my life away by pining for the next Friday night the moment I clock in on Monday morning.  So far, winter 2017 – ’18 has been a blur, seeming to have moved very quickly.  Speaking of “blur”, it was hard to tell if this MR2 was a turbo by any identifying badges, and nothing I researched seemed to indicate that the rear spoiler was an giveaway that it was Toyota’s 200-hp, turbocharged 2.0L four positioned behind its two seats.  If so equipped, and according to a Car And Driver article from May of 1992, a car like this could do 0-60 in just 6.3 seconds with the 5-speed.  That’s pretty fast for the early ’90s, and if I may say so, the styling of this car is pretty darned close to “peak Toyota” for me.

I was in love with the styling of this car from the moment I first laid eyes on it.  I had begrudgingly liked the first MR2 (the co-assassin, along with the also-great Honda CRX, that had shamed my would-be car-crush, the homegrown Fiero, into a hangdog exit despite the Pontiac’s eventual excellence), but this new model now also brought some extra visual fire.  No longer styled to look like something a kid could make a model of with posterboard, a ruler, scissors and scotch tape in art class, the new MR2 had beautiful curves in all the right places.  Don’t get me wrong – I have come to genuinely appreciate the more angular, geometric designs of the ’80s (the third-generation Celica and Supra are still stunners, and I do actually find the first MR2 attractive), but at the time the ’91 MR2 came out, it looked organic and genuinely beautiful.  It appeared almost more like something that had been grown as opposed to manufactured.

Getting back to the workweek, sometimes we have to find little things to make ourselves just feel better after a day of dealing with the demands of earning a paycheck.  Bravo to this driver for finding one source of (what must be) joy in the form of driving this little, red MR2.

Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, February 26, 2018.

Related reading from Paul Niedermeyer: Curbside Classic: 1992 Toyota MR2 – A Camry In Italian Drag.