Wide, tall, curvy, slender, foreign, or domestic—what do you like? Most everyone tends to have a certain type that they are attracted to, and even though they may try messing around with different ones over the years, they tend to keep on coming back to one . . . the one that really did it for them. I’m talking about cars, not women, so get your minds out of the gutter, fellas. Sergey Anisonyan of Northbrook, IL, has developed a love affair over the years, and although he has spent a lot of time and money with others, he has inevitably found himself drawn back to one type in particular.
Sergey’s love for cars started at a young age. “I have always been into cars. As far back as I can remember. As a kid I would name every single car I saw.” So I guess it comes as no surprise that even at the age of 22 he’s owned his fair share of cars. In fact, the tally is somewhere over 25. And they weren’t just random cars, either. That number is comprised of some truly great chassis. “I’ve had every popular import out there. A legit Soarer, WRX, GSX, Integra, Prelude, MR2, Evo, S2000, M5, Civic, 240SX . . . there are others that I’m forgetting.” I don’t know about you guys, but I would love to own and build pretty much all of those chassis. Heck, Sergey just about covers almost every demographic of the import tuning community with those various cars, but he developed an affinity for one chassis in particular, and that turned into a love affair that has kept him coming back for more time and time again. “This is my fourth MR2. It’s simply a car that I love and keep coming back to it even after owning lots of other cars,” he says.
Interestingly, this build started essentially as an afterthought. Having a vehicle to drive on the daily can be a really helpful commodity when in the midst of a build, allowing you to have downtime with the project chassis while still being able to do the day-to-day errands and commutes. You don’t have to worry about time and rushing things with the project because you have a spare car to use. Sergey knew this and decided to pick up a car as a commuter while building an Integra that he had at the time. Ideally, it would be best to pick up a car that you don’t want or care to build—that way you don’t end up spending time or money on it, and you can focus on the project car. But, like an old flame, his feelings and inclination toward the MR2 led him to pick up another one. He said to himself that it would just serve as a commuter, so no big deal. Besides, he was in the middle of building his Integra so he had enough on his plate. Now, that isn’t a difficult thing if you picked up a car that you don’t particularly care for. But Sergey was driving his beloved MR2 chassis, so he decided to just do a few things here and there to the car. “Oh, I’m just going to put some rims on it and lower it.” How many of you have said that to yourself about a car? I know I have. “I started by doing small things like exhaust and wheels/coils. This car was supposed to be my daily driver when I bought it,” Sergey reminisces. But, next thing he knew, his attention was directed toward the MR2. “I sold the Integra and started to focus on this car a lot more,” he says.
Being the fourth MR2 chassis in his possession, Sergey had developed specific tastes as to what this one would be like—particularly, the color. “I had all the rare colors before but always wanted a white one. Once I bought a white one I loved the car,” he says. But that appeal dissipated instantly just a month after having the car. “I went to a huge local car meet and saw four other white MR2s,” he says. And just like that “the white color had lost its appeal”. Given that the white was the original 20-year-old paint, Sergey decided that the time had come to change the color of the car. Unfortunately, the body shop that he took the car to did a terrible job. “The coverage on the paint was awful. It had clearcoat drips everywhere and orange peel everywhere.” After giving that same body shop a second chance to redo the car and getting the same basic result for the second time, Sergey was fed up and decided that the only way to get the paint to the level that he would be satisfied with, without spending an arm and a leg, would be to do it himself. So he turned to his friend Leo of Great Lakes Autobody, who not only patiently taught Sergey everything from welding to fiberglass to painting, he let him freely use shop space. “Everything on my car from start to finish he guided me,” Sergey says. “He is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. I am very thankful.”
This is my fourth MR2. It's simply a car that I love and keep coming back to it even after owning lots of other cars.
With the exterior being completed, the time came to complement the new paint, aero, and customized fenders and quarter-panels with the perfect set of wheels and tires. Sergey opted for a set of aggressively sized TE37’s in 17x9.5 for the front and 18x10.5 for the rear. He also had them refinished in Grand Prix White to contrast brightly against the Porsche Macadamia Metallic paint. To achieve the stance that he desired, Sergey contacted Vinny from Destruction Warehouse to discuss some customization. “We figured out a way to redesign my sway bar endlink brackets and build new ones to allow me to lower my car below the ground if I wanted to. I was amazed with the results,” he says. When it came to the interior, Sergey converted the whole interior from tan to black, but used brown micro-suede accents to tie the colors of the vehicle together.
Sergey has been around the block and had his fair share of experience, but it is clear that his first experience with the SW20 MR2 left an impression on him that he can’t shake. It looks like the love affair that started years ago is doing nothing but growing, and we can’t wait to see what these two will produce in the future.
Behind The Build
Over four years
Playing sports, hanging out with friends, enjoying life in general
“The only reason I build my cars is because I enjoy doing it.”
1993 Toyota MR2 (SW20)
Engine Third-gen 3SGTE; HKS intake; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; 3-inch Aussie downpipe; A’pexi AVC-R boost controller
Drivetrain Spec Stage 2 clutch
Suspension A’pexi N1 Circuit Evolution coilovers extensively modified by Vinny of Destruction Warehouse; OBX camber bolts; KSport sway bar endlinks; modified sway bar endlink brackets
Wheels/Tires Volk TE37 painted Grand Prix White (17x9.5 +12mm front; 18x10.5 +15mm rear), Toyo R1R tires (245/35-17 front; 295/30-18 rear), and Work lug nuts
Brakes ’93+ Turbo brake system
Exterior Macadamia Metallic paint with blue flake; Aeroware front lip; Border sides, rear valences; Bomex Whale Tail rear wing; custom diffuser by Vinny of Destruction Warehouse; custom 20mm widened front fenders; 20mm pulled quarter-panels; ’94+ tails; turbo MR2 engine lid; shaved badges, side moldings, side reflectors, antenna; HID kits; 26 percent tint all around and 50 percent windshield
Interior Recaro SR3 seats reupholstered with brown micro suede; custom seat brackets; Autopower rollbar painted Grand Prix White; OMP Corsica steering wheel; Works Bell short hub; LED dome lights; gauge cluster redone in red LED; interior fully converted from tan to black; Alpine head unit; and CDT audio speakers
Gratitude “I would like to thank Leo from Great Lakes Autobody for fixing all my screwed up lips/bumpers, teaching me body/paintwork, helping me out with everything on the car, and letting me use the shop whenever I needed. I want to also thank Vinny from Destruction Warehouse for making that fantastic diffuser, modifying the coilovers, making the seat brackets, and just helping out with anything I needed to have done. I also want to thank all the people who are close to me for putting up with all the late nights I would spend working on the car or just rambling on about my plans.”