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The Power of Light

The birth and success of Toyota’s MR cars (starting from the first AW11 MR-2) can actually be attributed to British sports car manufacturer, Lotus. At one point in time, Toyota owned the prolific British sports car maker and they capitalized on this and resurrected one of Lotus’ shelved designs for a compact, mid-engined sports car. This shelved design was further developed and launched as the soon to be legendary and much loved AW11 Toyota MR-2.

Colin Chapman (founder of Lotus) once said, “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.” Colin Chapman’s philosophy of speed through lightness is a philosophy the Lotus Car Company adheres to to this day. Evidently, this philosophy has rubbed off on the very first MR2.

When the SW20 MR-2 was launched, it was bigger, more powerful and still a very good car, but it detracted slightly from Colin Chapman’s philosophy of speed through lightness. Because of the extra size and weight, some of the handling finesse and delicacy found in the older, lighter and smaller AW11 was lost. Fortunately for the purists, the next MR-2 or MR-S was a welcome return to form.

With the ZZW30, Toyota brought back the small, lightweight and nimble Midship Runabout, as the ZZW30 is closer in spirit and spec to the original AW11 MR-2. Although SW20 enthusiasts didn’t like that the ZZW30 only had 140bhp from its naturally aspirated 1.8-litre 1ZZ-FE engine, the purists loved its exceptional handling characteristics and its nimble nature. The small, compact and lightweight sports car was back.

The MR-S you see here belongs to someone who knows Toyota’s mid-engined sports car pretty damn well. Mickey also owns an AW11 and two more SW20s, and we’ve featured one of his SW20 MR2’s along with his brother’s green SW20 on the cover of Volume 72. If you thought Mickey’s purple/green SW20 was gorgeous with its Work Meister S1 wheels, this one should blow your mind.

But first, a little on the car’s history. We’ve actually featured this very car a few years ago. Some of you may remember a Gulf-liveried MR-S with a DAMD bodykit and telephone dial style wheels. This is that very same car, and it now belongs to Mickey. Of course, with Mickey being Mickey, he couldn’t restrain himself from scratching his itchy hands.

Mickey quickly got rid of the DAMD bodykit and opted for something a little more extreme and more suited to his tastes. The new bodykit is a Monocraft GT300 bodykit, which was designed to mimic the lines of the Super GT GT300 MR-S racecar. Mickey’s taken full advantage of this GT300 racecar aping bodykit and had custom decals plastered on his car to match the decals found on the GT300 Lightning McQueen apr MR-S.

Mickey’s also added a few extra touches of his own with a Varis carbon fibre hood, a TRD hardtop and a Varis rear diffuser. Mickey’s kept a few mementoes from the car’s Gulf/DAMD past; the DAMD tonneau cover and the gorgeously functional looking DAMD ‘sport’ headlights.

While most people would agree that the more powerful 2ZZ-GE engine and its 190-200bhp are all the MR-S need to become the perfect mid engined sport car, but the 2ZZ-GE isn’t as easy to swap in as one may think. Mickey’s decided to keep things simple by retaining the 1ZZ-FE engine and boosting power with an A’PEXi air intake kit, a Fujitsubo exhaust system which makes the 1.8 litre sound like an engine at least three times its size and a Holley Nitrous Oxide System, which adds about 50bhp per shot. Last but not least, an HKS F-Con SZ piggyback ECU is fitted to dial in the fueling and ignition maps.

Mickey doesn’t do things half-arsed and it definitely applies to the way he builds his cars up. The sweet shifting transmission’s been suitably upgraded with an Ogura Racing Clutch and flywheels combo and giving the pert little sports car more traction out of the corners is a TRD 1.5-way LSD.

Mickey knows that the MR-S was built to go round corners and he’s dcided to build upon the MR-S’ strengths. First, the stock suspension was binned in favor of an adjustable suspension kit from Keiichi Tsuhicya’s own line of suspension kits, the Kei Office ERFOLGKEI. Improving chassis rigidity and handling are chassis under-braces from TRD, TRD front and rear strut bars, and Cusco anti-roll bars. Finally, for a bit of bling and safety, Carbing’s M-style rollover bars are fitted behind the passengers’ heads.

The wheels on Mickey’s MR-S are quite special as Mickey had to have them custom ordered and he reckons that his set is the only set in Malaysia, or at least KL, in this special specification. While 17 inch Volk Racing TE37 wheels are quite easily acquired these days, Mickey set is special because the front wheels measure 17×7.5 inches and the rears measure 17×8.5 inches, and all the wheels have a 0 offset.

Wrapped in 245/40R17 Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres at the rear and 215/40R17 Advan Neova AD07 tyres in the front, this exotic wheel and tyre combo do a beautiful job of filling up the Monocraft bodykit’s wide fenders. Of course, standard steel lugnuts would do these wheels no justice, so a set of Rays Engineering duralumin lugnuts are fitted.

The MR-S’ interior remains pretty much the same as when Mickey first got it, which means that it still has all the coveted DAMD pieces such as the DAMD centre console, DAMD gear knob and a DAMD custom air-cond control panel. Adding a classic touch to the modern cabin is a Motolita steering wheel and completing the list of interior mods is a pair of sexy-looking bucket seats from Cobra.

The MR-S is a car which is able to do so much with so little. It’s small and it doesn’t have much power but just about everyone who’s ever driven one ends up climbing out of the driver’s seat with a ridiculously wide grin on their face. It would seem then, that Mickey and the MR-S are destined to be together, because he has also managed to achieve so much with this car with not-so-little. .

Car: ZZW30 Toyota MR-S
Engine: 1ZZ-FE, 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder, DOHC, VVT-i
Engine modifications: A’PEXi air intake kit, Fujitsubo exhaust, Holley nitrous oxide kit
Transmission: Ogura Racing Clutch & flywheel, TRD 1.5-way LSD
Suspension/Chassis: Kei Office ERFOLGKEI adjustable coilovers, TRD front and rear strut bars, TRD chassis under-braces, Cusco anti-roll bars, Carbing’s M-style rollover bars
Brakes: Stock
Wheels & Tyres: Volk Racing TE37 wheels (17×7.5 front, 17×8.5 rear, 0 offset), 245/40R17 Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 tyres (rear), 215/40R17 Advan Neova AD07 tyres (front)
Electronics: HKS F-Con SZ piggyback ECU
Interior: DAMD centre console, DAMD gearknob, DAMD custom air-cond controller, Motolita steering wheel, Cobra bucket seats
Exterior: Monocraft GT300 bodykit, Varis carbon fibre hood, TRD hardtop, Varis rear diffuser, DAMD tonneau cover, DAMD ‘sport’ headlights
Tuner: GT Auto, Sunway

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