Luis Alvarez has quite the stable of classic Japanese cars. In addition to this '89 Toyota MR2, he also owns a pair of Datsuns—a 1974 260Z and a 1972 510. The Z is all original while the 510 is dropped on coilovers with aftermarket wheels; very impressive considering he's only 21-year-old. Luis is a self-employed college student who manages a few social media influencer accounts when he's not in class; however, his ultimate goal is to become a paralegal and eventually a lawyer. Japanese cars are his number one passion though, and this AW11 is his "baby."
Luis knew from the get-go that it was Toyota's mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe that was for perfect for him. "I wanted to build a Kouki 240SX at first, but everyone has one," he remembered. With California's car scene flooded with Nissan S13s and S14s, he began his search for an MR2. He was originally after a second-gen SW20, but he came across this clean red first-gen that was completely stock and just needed an engine refresh and paint job. It rocked a similar inline-four made famous by the AE86 Corolla. A limited number of AW11s, like the one Luis found, featured a 4A-GZE with a roots-style supercharger that bumped horsepower to 145 hp. In a car this light, that's plenty of power to tear up local canyon roads according to Luis. "It's like a go-kart. It's the car you want on Angeles Crest [Highway] or Mulholland [Drive]. You don't have to have a lot of power to have fun."
Though parts aren't impossible to find, the AW11 isn't something you can just jump on Google or eBay and start adding items to your shopping cart. Luis began his project with a few easy bolt-ons, enjoying the car along the way. The two-seater is dropped on Function & Form Type 2 coilovers, aided by a camber kit, control arms, sway bar and strut bar from TRD. The 15-inch wheels are a limited edition design built by AME and resurrected by Fatlace.
As for the Kaminari aero, that was an exercise in patience for Luis. He was lucky enough to have good friend Jesse Ramirez point him in the right direction, dragging him to local meets and shows, then ultimately helping him connect the dots to obtain the Kaminari side skirts and rear bumper from a guy who kept them brand new in box since the early '90s. A Kaminari front bumper was missing and would've completed the kit, but other plans ensued.
Three other noticeable pieces on the exterior include the Gurney flap, and front and side splitters. They're one-off items that Luis had custom made. He provided the design and a friend figured out the exact measurements before the pieces were cut out of aluminum. The front splitter acts like a skid plate, while the BMW E30 M3 inspires the Gurney flap.
Inside, the cockpit sports Buddy Club bucket seats, a Grip Royal Shifter, and a MOMO steering wheel-simple mods, but he didn't want to take too much away from the original spirit of the MR2.
Overall, Luis' AW11 isn't anything extreme, but it certainly has a way of catching your eyes. Might seem a bit tame for many out there, but Luis says it best... "I've done what I like with my cars. I don't build my cars for Instagram, but I build them for me and my own approval." In a world where many teens and early-twenty-year-olds are consumed in social media validation, we have to admit Luis is quite mature for his age, and that he's already ahead of the curve.