In the state of California alone, there are over 100 animals and close to 200 plants on the endangered species list. While most of these are endangered due to habitat destruction and exploitation, our industry has several vehicles that face the endangered species list for reasons beyond our control. As automotive manufacturers continue to update their vehicles and retire old chassis, the ones left in existence become rarer. These vehicles don’t quite have to deal with habitat destruction or exploitation, but theft and tragic accidents take their toll on low production number chassis. The SW20 Toyota MR2 chassis was introduced in 1991 and carried on in the US until 1995. The MR2 was discontinued and its mid-engine, rear wheel drive turbocharged moniker started to become a thing of the past. Slowly fading out of the light over the next few years, the MR2 has recently been added to the endangered species list in our book. So it’s without a doubt in our minds that when we spotted this pristine MR2 from Nick Fousekis we knew where it belonged – right in these pages.
Nick Fousekis has always been passionate about cars. In 1996 he started out in the scene building one of the cleanest Integras around. Nowadays, Fousekis spends his time helping brand and market the Falken Tires line. It’s obvious that Fousekis is an extremely passionate person about our industry – he lives it, breathes it and loves it! This MR2 is just one of his many ongoing projects, but perhaps one that he is most proud of. Investing plenty of time into a car that hasn’t been produced in over a decade, Fousekis has meticulously revamped his MR2 to showroom status. The greatest part of this MR2 however is that Fousekis has kept everything completely functional so that he too can enjoy putting additional miles on the car to help remind others on the street that MR2s are endangered, not extinct!
Restoring the exterior and chassis of a car this ‘seasoned’ is no easy task. OEM parts supplies are quickly drying up so it’s no surprise Fousekis took the initiative to revamp the styling of his MR2 for a more contemporary look.
A full Border/Toms body kit was ordered straight from Japan along with a carbon fiber hood. Up front a sleek headlight conversion was done fully equipped with HiDs. Taking the car to San Diego Collision Specialists, Fousekis had the entire body reworked to mint condition prior to spraying the car with Alsa Paint’s Mirra Chrome finish. The combination of the Border styling and immaculate paint was looking pretty sweet, but Fousekis wasn’t about to stop there. Starting with Falken Tires’ FK-451 tire, Fousekis opted to bolt on HRE’s 546R wheel on each corner of his MR2. Fousekis had the setup staggered with a wider 18x9-inch setup in the rear, and an 18x8-inch setup in the front. Each wheel is lovingly wrapped with Falken’s FK-451 – 215/35-18 in the front and a pair of 235/40-18 in the rear. Suspension wise, Fousekis kept it simple by installing a set of Garage SPL coilovers. With its already naturally balanced handling, Fousekis didn’t want to alter the MR2’s suspension too drastically.
Now back in the day when the SW20 was first introduced, its 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 motor surprised many. Being mid-engine and rear wheel drive, the MR2 was definitely one of a kind for the sport compact fans. While people have pushed the MR2 motor to great heights in terms of horsepower and torque, plenty of proven formulas have generated ample horsepower for the street. Fousekis followed one of these formulas, keeping it simple and true to the core. At the center of it all is a GReddy TD-06 turbo upgrade along with GReddy’s side mount intercooler. Generating plenty of additional horsepower over the stock turbo setup, Fousekis also dropped in a couple of Blitz goodies to handle the in-n-out of the car.
A Blitz intake along with a NUR spec exhaust system now gives the MR2 a whole new reason to breathe. Relieving any built up pressure in-between shifts or coming to a halt is a Blitz blow off valve. With additional boost at any time, Fousekis knew that a little bit of fuel pressure adjustability would let him rest assured that his MR2 would see many more miles. An SX fuel pressure regulator was installed for peace of mind.
Helping produce close to 300whp, a Blitz boost controller gives Fousekis the adjustability when he wants to cruise or blast off. For those that are familiar with Toyota factory turbocharged applications, you all know that the factory fuel cut level is set at a bare minimal as a failsafe procedure. As hardcore enthusiasts wanting every bit of performance out of their vehicles, HKS developed a Fuel Cut Defencer and Fousekis took advantage of it. Properly raising the factory fuel cut level, higher boost levels are easily obtainable. To tune the entire system, the A’PEXi Power FC was utilized.
Looking at the vehicle and wondering what else would need replacing, Fousekis knew the stock clutch would be toast after over a decade of driving. Tossing out the antiquated clutch, Fousekis called upon Exedy for their Hyper single clutch kit. Perfect for this application, the clutch easily holds up to the power without putting too much strain on Fousekis’ left leg. A B&M short shifter makes shifting a snap and a blast while shifter base bushings ensures everything is nice and tight in the drivetrain.
When cruising the streets of Southern California, Fousekis sometimes enjoys the hum of his NUR spec exhaust or the ear-piercing shrill that emanates from the Blitz blow off valve. Other times Fousekis prefers to turn up his stereo comprised of Rockford Fosgate products. An in-dash DVD player along with a component set and 10-inch subwoofer provides plenty of ear-candy for Fousekis. All of it is powered by a matching Rockford Fosgate amplifier.
Honorable mentions go to Fousekis’ interior as well, with the basic necessities swapped out for more race ready comforts. The stock seats and steering wheel have been replaced with MOMO pieces along with a carbon fiber shift knob. Suede door inserts helps rejuvenate the interior as well as the leather shift boot. The only thing the interior lacks is that new car smell!
It’s never an easy task to fix up any car, mind one that was new when Will Smith was still sitting on his throne as the Prince of Bel-Air. At the same time, you want to try to preserve the heritage of what made these cars so special to begin with. Fousekis did the best job he could with his MR2 – restoring the exterior to a brand new finish, adding ample power to the stock motor to keep up with the cars on the streets today, and treating the exterior to a complete refresher course. And like most endangered species, this mid-ship runabout sure is tasty – if a bit forbidden. At least PETA won’t give him a hard time about abusing this one.