Being the younger sister to an older brothers with impeccable reputations aint’ easy. Especially when you’ve got more looks but a somewhat less appealing output. Pure performance is second to none, but then again, its been proven all round that good looks gets you there just fine…if you know what I mean.
First introduced by Toyota somewhere back in 84’, this mid-shipped rear wheel drive Mark 1 achieved cult status. Then in the early 90’s, Mark 2, powered by either turbo or n/a forms was launched and although pricey, was way ahead of its time. After nearly 2 decades of development both in styling and performance, Toyota was proud with the launch of the new MR-2. The latest version was called the MRS in Japan or MR 2 Spyder/Roadster in other countries. In fact, in English, this car was also commonly referred to as ‘Mr. 2’. Styled differently, this new model featured a completely convertible roof, an extremely short front and rear overhangs. Due to a new ruling on vehicle designs from SAE, The Society Of Automotive Engineers, the signature pop-up light as seen on the SW20 had to be removed.
Engineers spent countless hours on this here new baby of Toyota. True driver enjoyment, blending good movement, low inertia and light weight was a priority, then, a long wheelbase to achieve high stability with some fresh new styling. Wanting to create excellent handling and steering without weight issues, a mid-engine design without the weight up front, a body structure as simple as possible to allow for customizing and low cost to the consumer were among the features. A number of weight saving techniques such as incorporating tubular steel stiffeners instead of solid beams and opting for a manually operated top, also made the MRS the lightest car in its class.
The sleek, sexy appeal coupled with engineering ingenuity caught the attention of many. Like our feature car this month, amazing transformations and applications could be made to this wonderful little beast. The stock MRS was just far too simple for the owner. Needing to stand out from the rest, he decided to redo the body styling. Aftermarket kits for an exotic car like this one, are practically easy to source and with a wide range of styling options, the sky aint the limit no more. Inspired by the legendary Ford GT40 Gulf Oil Le Mans car, DAMD Incorporated, a styling effects house somewhere in Kanagawa, Japan had ideas of their own for the MRS. Already renowned for their radical and majestic designs, the DAMD MRS Street-Slider rolled out its doors sometime in 2000’.
The car looked magnificent!. A must see for enthusiast, but why go all the way to Japan when we have our very own DAMD MRS here. Utilizing a complete makeover set from DAMD, compromising of a front bumper, rear bumper, side skirts, side intakes and an over fender, this car is simply marvelous. Further enhanced with the use of bulging aero roof, this was the exact replica. Of course were not forgetting the CIBIE dual headlights up front and the incorporated spoiler with the tail lights.
Superb body work like this can’t be left looking plain. So in true fashion to the legend, Gulf Oil Racing colours, light blue and magenta were baked on. Even the interior was colour coded to match the outside. Holding the driver in place was a pair of COBRA semi-bucket. A custom DAMD A/C knobs & panel sit in place with the DAMD centre console. Taking care of basic functions are a MOMO Thunder steering wheel, DAMD gear knob and RAZO pedals.
Powered by a brand new 1794cc, 4-cylinder all aluminium engine, it sported the use of dual overhead camshafts and 16 valves. The intake’s timing was adjustable via the VVT-I system which was introduced earlier on the 98’ SW20. Unlike its predecessors, the engine was mounted onto the car the other way around, making the exhaust manifold point towards the rear of the car. Thus increasing the exhaust flow and smoothening out the power delivery. Maximum power was quite a drop from the SW20 GT and with mostly everything left stock, estimated pulling power is at about 138 hp. For a car weighing in at about 975 kg’s, this meant acceleration would be mild, subtle jolt to the body yet extra smoooooth delivery.
For every action, an equal and opposite reaction occurs. Likewise, the engine breathes cool air, it exhales hot gases. Allowing and assisting nature in taking its path, is a TRD muffler in place of the stock. A slight low growl compliments the car and adds to the illusion of driving a heavily modded, race ready car.
Many countless hours are spent on the development of a vehicle. Engineers make vital calculations and take into consideration even the smallest of details. As in this case, a stock 5-speed manual transmission matches up ratios perfectly, delivering generated power at all rpm ranges, balancing out acceleration, mid and high’s. Acting as an in-between, the stock clutch assembly was left untouched. Manufactures wouldn’t want to entertain petty complains and rep-ruining feedback from their end-user so customer satisfaction is a must. With this in mind, stock standard parts would always suffice to the factory output and slightly more.
The ZZW30 has nearly perfect handling. Considered to be the best-handling MR2, the suspension setup allows the driver to brake into the corner and throw the car through the corner in a slight drift. The car is so balanced and neutral at the limit that the driver can choose which end to slide, something few of today’s cars can do. Allowing the rear end to step out during turn-ins, quickly and efficiently points the car at the apex thus reducing lap times significantly. Now think what TRD absorbers and springs would do to further enhance the pro’s and eliminate the con’s…..fabulous isn’t it? Now, transfer that thought into this car.
The best suspension wouldn’t perform the best without sufficient grip and traction laid down by the tires. It would only make sense that a DAMD Street Slider replica use the one of a kind, black 16’ inched wheels. Wrapped around these beauties, Yokohama’s DNA GP was employed to both the front and rear of the vehicle. The tires handle very well to provide grip under challenging drives and allow for hard braking. Stopping the car is a set of vented disc all round with the use of the more than sufficient stock pads. Equipped with ABS, pushing the limits of the car around a wet track can be very addictive.
What the MRS lacks in power, it gains in looks and handling thus making very capable of competing with many road going cars. Sexy and sleek, it gets more than the job done. From getting you to point-A and point-B, weekend night’s out and the occasional track days, its easily said to be a good all rounder. Still a sports car by nature, attracting loads of attention is inevitable. If the car looks good, the driver look better!
Car: Toyota MRS
Engine: 2ZZ 1794cc DOHC VVT-i
Engine Modifications: TRD Muffler
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Suspension/Chassis: TRD absorbers & springs
Brakes: Stock vented dics (Fr&Rr)
Wheels and tyres: DAMD 16’wheels, 16’x7.5’ (FR) & 16’x8.5’ (RR), Yokohama DNA GP 205/45/16 (FR) & 215/45/16 (RR)
Interior: COBRA buckets, MOMO Thunder steering, DAMD gear knob, RAZO pedals, custom DAMD A/C panel knobs & centre console
Exterior: CIBIE dual headlights, DAMD front and rear bumper, DAMD sideskirts, DAMD vents & arches, DAMD spoiler, Aero bulge roof, Gulf Racing themed paintjob