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Toyota MR2 Spyder Convertible

A Toyota, Jean, and Colin go topless in Hermosa Beach, California

Colin Mathews
Sep 1, 2002

You already know what Jonny thinks about convertibles. Remember VeilSide’s lowered, turbocharged, ICE’d-out yellow MR2 Spyder (June ’02)? Even that car took considerable time, horsepower, and messaging to convince Jonny that convertibles possess an innate coolness. Let’s face it—Jonny’s bitter about convertibles. For one, he’s got that crazy hairdo that gets completely ruined by the slightest rush of wind. You know how your girlfriend hollers when you try to drive around on a nice day with the windows even slightly rolled down because it’s going to mess up her hair? Well, Jonny’s worse. Much worse. That and those stick legs he can barely stuff into the MR2 conspired to make him completely miserable and bitter about the whole convertible genre.

Me? Well, I must admit that I’ve not always been a convertible fan. When you remove the roof from a vehicle, you degrade its structural integrity. Think ’80s-vintage Chrysler LeBaron convertible and Toyota’s own Solara convertible, both of which wobble like Pamela Anderson doing the 100-yard dash. But this MR2 Spyder has an extremely rigid floorpan and structural bracing, resulting in a convertible that even a driving enthusiast can love.

OK, now that you know well-engineered convertibles really can be cool to drive aggressively, do you think Toyota’s MR2 Spyder in stock form is crazy, sexy, or cool enough to warrant a purchase? Would you be seen in it? Is it a guy’s car? A chick car? And, most importantly, can it contain Jonny’s hair without making him an irritable mess? In search of answers to all these questions and more, I headed to Hermosa Beach, California, on Cinco de Mayo with my friend Jean, a stock yellow MR2 Spyder, and my camera to see what the irrepressibly cool denizens of the small beach community had to say.

After promising them unlimited baked potatoes and free cable TV, we managed to coerce four hip and youthful people to come out and answer this question: Does Jean make this MR2 Spyder look sexier or does the MR2 make Jean look sexier? Guy #1, Aaron, plenty buzzed from his Cinco de Mayo Cokes without ice, was only too happy to heap praise upon Jean: “Dude, it’s definitely Jean. I mean, the car is cool and all—how many horses does it have?—but she totally makes it look better. She completes that package. Oh, and does she have a boyfriend? Are you her boyfriend?”

Girl #1, Ji-Hae, thought that both car and girl complemented each other: “It’s definitely the whole package. Sexy girl, sexy car—they go hand-in-hand. I think they both add to each other’s sex appeal.”

Guy #2, 6’2” Tim, who swore up and down he couldn’t fit in such a tiny car until he gave it a try, was convinced that Jean was the sexier element in the equation. He was particularly impressed with the car’s mid-engine layout for optimum handling but thought it might be a hassle trying to store bags or groceries in the miniscule front trunk or the equally-tiny storage compartments behind both seats.

Girl #2, Galli, felt the MR2 Spider was a “complete chick car” And a young chick car, at that. “Come on, can you really see an old lady driving this thing? She’d look ridiculous. You almost need someone of Jean’s age and look for this car.”

And what did Jean, our model, think of the MR2 Spyder? “Well, it’s definitely cute—but I don’t think I could get a car like this. I mean, I’ve got nails and all and those latches for the roof just wouldn’t be happening. And what’s with the lack of vanity mirrors on the sun visors? Hello!?”

Finally, before they returned to the milkshake binge that is Cinco de Mayo in Hermosa Beach, we asked our poll participants what they thought of me and the MR2 Spyder. They all looked down and shifted their weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other. The first to speak was Aaron: “Well, like Galli said, isn’t this kind of a, um, chick’s car?”

Alrighty then, the jury’s out: it’s a woman’s car. But I get the last laugh for getting a two-week-long free ride in a car that’s a hell of a lot of fun to drive, at a mere asking price of $24,220.

Finally, if a 0-60 time in the low 7s isn’t swift enough for you, check into Power Enterprises’ turbo kit (through IPN industries—www.ipnindustries.com) to boost things up in the power department. Hey Toyota, just one request: next time you loan me a car, could you hook me up with something really tough, perhaps a black Tundra 4X4 with a TRD package? Seems as though I’ve got myself a bit of an image problem to contend with.

By Colin Mathews
8 Articles

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