Toyota MR2 with 450K miles

My brother has a 1986 Toyota MR2 with about 450,000 miles–no kidding. Apparently the only real repairs have been some clutch replacements and the head replaced–no engine rebuild. My question is, do the MR2s of that vintage have a reputation of super-reliability? Or is just his unusual?

Toyotas were very well built at that time, and they were also fairly simple machines, making them cheap to fix. I’m sure you brother’s car has had other things done to it like exhaust components, shocks, struts, etc.

To give you an idea of durable 80s Toyotas, there is a 1983 Celica running around town here with 1.2 millon MILES on it. It’s white and the original paint still looks good. The car spent most of it’s life in Nevada and was well maintained.

Congradulate your brother on his good car care, since without that, not even the best car will go that far.

1.6 liter?

Many vehicles will go that distance without a rebuild with a bit of luck and no real abuse. An old Mercury of mine had 420k miles on it and was still running well when sold.
My youngest son’s Camaro will still running like new at 300k miles when someone ran into it and totalled it out. At that point the engine/transmission had never been touched.
My brother in law uses Chevy pickups for personal/business use and 350-450k miles is the norm for him.

That’s just a few of many examples and the MR2 you mention is not that rare a thing.

The answer is nuanced: MR2’s with that many miles on them are rare because MR2’s themselves are relatively rare. Not as many were built as most cars, and then a lot of them got wrecked because people tend to overdrive them sometimes.

However, it’s not surprising that a Toyota of that era could last that long assuming proper care.

I never owned that model but I put 374,000 miles on an '84 Corolla. I changed the oil a lot and the timing belt twice.
I donated it because I was able to buy a new car and the starter went and I couldn’t get to all of the bolts. So it’s not unusual. The Toyotas of the eighties were tanks.

I will drop into “internet speak” just a bit here “pics or it did not happen”.

The MR2 used the Celica engine in the non-supercharged version, as I recall.

Well, when an engine needs a new clutch and a new head, it doesn’t rank up there on ‘unusual reliability’. Only thing slightly unusual is that it is not burning oil. How often does he have to add oil?

Not true. The MR2 uses a 1.6L, but it is a true high-performance engine, not the slough-box 1.6L they used in the Celicas and Corollas. They had a slightly different variant for the supercharged models (less compression and different cams). The power and torque of that little engine was completely awesome, providing a real two-seater sports car feel and nicely tuned suspension, giving it great road handling.

My brother owned an '82, and had to constantly check himself when driving it to keep it under the ‘super-speeder’ limit. That little car wanted to go like noone’s business, and had the equipment to handle it. A very strong and solid machine.

The likely case is the original owner was easy on vehicle, drove many highway miles and had an open wallet.

Lastly people with high mileage cars seem to have amnesia about repairs or expensive maintenance. They lump repairs into maintenance. While others lump maintenance into repairs.

According to the 4A engine chart I have, the 4A-GE was used in the Celica from 1983-1989. It was also used in the Corona, Corolla, Carina, Sprinter, and the Chevy Nova/Geo Prizm.


You might be thinking of the 4A-GZE, which was the variant used on the supercharged MR2, though only from 86 to the end of the 1st gen line.

Also keep in mind that, especially in the 1st gen, the MR2 was much lighter than the Celica/Corolla, so the same motor could make the MR2 much faster than the sedans. Kind of like the Prowler, which used the engine from the Chrysler minivan, but still got the car to 60 in 5.7 seconds.

Just as we can cause an engine to fail prematurely by beating it up and/or not maintaining it well, we can also cause a well-designed and well-manufactured engine to last hundreds of thousands of reliable miles by taking good care of it and driving it kindly…and that was an engine with a reputation for having been well designed and manufactured.

Your brother can take pride in having made a good purchasing selection and then taking excellent care of it. Learn from hom and you can get cars that last hundreds of thousands of miles too.

Most of the models listed above had either the 4AC or 3AC. The 4A-GE was available in the highest performance versions of most of them.

I have an 93 MR2 with 230,000 miles on it. I replaced the radiator and bumper after someone backed into me and broke it. I replaced the clutch when I bought it, at 100,000 miles. And I replaced the master cylinder this past summer. The original owner had all maintenance records. They’ve done the usual brake jobs / oil changes, etc, and they replaced the alternator at 80,000 miles.

So the only repair caused by wearing out (I don’t count the radiator since it was destroyed by a dumb driver) was the master cylinder, which could arguably be chalked up to routine maintenance like the clutch was. I actually kind of wish the motor would blow up on me, because then I’d have the excuse to get the turbo motor for it :wink:

I have a 91 CRX with 280,000 miles on it. I replaced the passenger side wheel bearing at 150,000 or so. It had the original motor until last summer, when I replaced it with the motor from an Si for a future supercharging project. The original motor is now in the donor car, which is owned by a friend, and still going strong. I never replaced anything on the motor except for the intake manifold when I converted it to MPFI for better performance. I replaced the brake lines with stainless steel for better performance, and I replaced the pads with Porterfields, also for better performance. And of course, the timing belt gets replaced on time, every time, which is why I’ve never had to repair the engine.

I’ve never even replaced the clutch. I’ve never “repaired” the car beyond the wheel bearing.

Before that I had an 88 CRX which also had no repairs, and only oil changes, a clutch, and brake pads until rust finally killed it at 220,000. (my current CRX miraculously has no rust and flawless original factory paint so needless to say, it hibernates next to the MR2 during the winter).

In short, I do remember all the work I’ve done to the various cars I’ve had over the years, and they’ve been very reliable because I keep up with routine/scheduled maintenance.