After recently watching a bunch of highlights from the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, we have become obsessed with prototype racers around the office. Big power, lightweight and nimble with a mid-engine layout — I mean, what more can a car enthusiast ask for? That got us thinking about a way that mere mortals might someday hope to achieve a similar type of feeling, and aside from the typical Ferrari and Lamborghini MR options (not exactly attainable for most of us), there’s one clear choice: the Toyota MR2. Although it would be a bit of a stretch to directly compare a MR2 to a Daytona prototype, or even a Ferrari, Robert Canter doesn’t care. His MR2 means the world to him; we can tell by how many exclamation points he used in his submission. At first glance, this car is very clean and subtle. The exterior has been converted to the later ’98+ JDM spec, which to the untrained eye is really not that much different from the older style (Robert’s car is a ’91), but the differences are definitely there.
A fresh coat of red paint tops off the clean bodywork, which includes a pretty cool pair of one-off carbon-fiber ducts, which have been molded to the factory side intake pieces. Robert has also added a custom shaved center panel, a ’98+ spec front lip and even gone as far as installing a military-spec, night-vision backup camera. Over the top? Perhaps. Awesome nonetheless? Of course! A set of bronze 5Zigen FN01R-C wheels also looks right at home, and we all know that red and bronze just “works,” no matter what car it is. The overall look of Robert’s car is extremely clean and understated — well, as understated as a red car can be.
On the inside, the car is again extremely clean and OEM based. Robert didn’t want to do anything too crazy our outlandish with his car — after all, he drives it every day. Robert has converted everything inside to black trim and leather options from a later-year car, and the seats are an interesting one-of-a-kind item.
I fell in love with the car the first time I laid eyes on one! The lines of the car don’t fit what you expect from a ’91 Toyota, and the mid-engine layout was just plain
A set of JDM Recaro seats has been custom-upholstered in black leather with red stitching, a very nice touch and a great upgrade for a daily driver. It even matches the shift boot, which is a seemingly small thing, but it’s the little things that make all the difference. Robert has also installed a suede headliner (and T tops for when the weather isn’t so good) and a new set of OEM floor mats. (Normally, I wouldn’t mention a thing like floor mats, but Robert put those in all bold and added three exclamation points after that item, so it must be a rarity.) He has also hooked up a pretty nice sound system, a must for daily driving, and a nice variety of gauges hinting at what sits underneath the rear tray.
In the engine compartment, Robert’s MR2 is amazingly clean. It’s not only clean in the sense that there’s not much dirt or grime to be seen, it’s clean because when he swapped the J Spec 3STGE into the car, he took the time to do everything properly with the basis of function in mind. The compartment is not “tucked” in the traditional sense, but it looks fantastic as is; we wouldn’t change a thing. The motor is stock internally and retains the stock turbo, which is a wise choice for a car like this. A very rare TOM’s TEC 3 ECU handles engine management duties to keep everything safe and running properly; Robert isn’t trying to break any dynos here, he just wants a reliable car that’s fun to drive.
“I bought the car 11 years ago from a college professor that used the car just to take his wife to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,” Robert says. “I fell in love with the car the first time I laid eyes on one! The lines of the car don’t fit what you expect from a ’91 Toyota, and the mid-engine layout was just plain bad ass! I will never get rid of my baby!”
Why We Picked It
Robert’s MR2 is a great example of what we like best from a street-driven daily driver — reliable “real world” performance, good looks and tastefully done modifications. Also, the owner’s outright enthusiasm and general love for his car didn’t hurt.
Specs & Details
'91 Toyota MR2
Engine 3STGE 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4
Engine Modifications Abbey Road Company (ARC) Super Induction kit; GReddy intercooler; EMSpowered intercooler fan shroud w/ 8" SPAL fan; EMSpowered/custom ZEROLIFT 3" exhaust; custom ZEROLIFT piping; Berk cold pipe; GT4 WRC CT20; HKS SSQV3 blow-off valve, 3" downpipe; TRD cams, wires, PCV valve & oil cap; KOracing stainless steel rear fan shroud w/ dual 12" SPAL fans; Vibrant Performance couplers; one-off bronze carbon-fiber valve cover; carbon-fiber OEM hot pipe, throttle body, throttle body spacer & miscellaneous brackets
Engine Management TOM’s TEC 3 ECU
Drivetrain ’97 Spec E153 transmission w/ TRD LSD
Suspension TEIN Super Street coilovers; TRD sway & strut tower bars (f/r); fender braces; TwosRus.com High n Tight endlinks
Interior Full black leather interior; suede headliner & T-top; custom leather upholstered JDM Recaro seats; shift boot; TRD short shift kit w/ knob; OEM floor mats; JL Audio Speakers: EMSpowered Tangband subwoofer; Pioneer AVIC-X930BT Sat DD head unit; EMSpowered digital boost gauge; GReddy Profec Spec B II electronic boost controller, Profec Spec B II Turbo Timer; AEM digital wideband AFR
Exterior Fully restored & converted to ’98–99 J spec body; ’08 Dodge Viper red paint; one-off carbon-fiber Spec Border Racing scoops molded to the OEM side air ducts; ’98 front lip; ’95+ Spec taillights; custom shaved rear center panel; night-vision backup camera; Spec motorized fog; color-matched nose badge
Wheels, Tires & Brakes 5Zigen FN01R-C wheels 17x8" +35mm (f) & 18x9.5" +45mm (r); Falken Azenis RT-615k tires 215/40R17 (f) & 275/35R18 (r); ’97 spec MR2 Turbo calipers; Brembo rotors; Hawk brake pads; stainless steel brake lines