Are we the only ones just a tad disappointed by the sheer lack of adventure displayed in the design of the '01 MR2 Spyder, Toyota's new two-seat roadster? The basics are right (mid-engined two-seater, no roof, and it has the feline reflexes that the breed requires) but some of the styling details leave a little to be desired. Kind of slab-sided, no? And the short overhangs look more chopped off than organic and functional. A shame. For as nice a car as the MR2 (or MR-S, as it is called in Japan) is to drive, in a market where sex appeal means a lot, Toyota has come up with something that's more Lisa Loeb than Lisa Lisa Cult Jam and Full Force.
Leave it to the aftermarket to conceive a fix. Veilside, one of the top aftermarket tuners in Japan, welcomes you to the Fortune Model 01 TB (that's Turbo Blister to you).
Fortune is Veilside's top of the line aero kit series and the company only produces one design for only one model vehicle every year. Last year, Veilside came out with a slick Fortune kit for the Supra. This year, it's the new Toyota MR-S that gets the Fortune treatment. President Yokomaku is responsible for creating every line and curve of the car's new look, which Yokomaku-san describes is inspired by the shape of a woman. "Fortune favors the brave" is Veilside's motto. The company's new project car proves that point-choosing the MR-S was riskier than bull's-eyeing wumpruts with a T-16 at home.
Veilside has let the MR2 grow its mane out and let its hair down. The body, masterminded in its entirety by Yokomaku-san, is completely new, and only vaguely resembles the factory steel. The nose is rounded and elongated, carrying the hood's tapered center down to the front of the bumper cover; the rear, meanwhile, has a blacked-out center section with engine venting, exhaust cutouts, and a license plate that looks more like chassis work than bumper cover. This visually helps thin out the factory car's blocky fanny; the rear spoiler visually elongates the rear as well, for a more elegant and smoother statement.
The airscoops ahead of each rear wheel are now better integrated into the rest of the bodywork through a majestic series of curves, and the wheel arches are now flared to accommodate your choice of wheels (up to the 18s seen here). The trunk lid (in front, remember) and mirrors are Veilside pieces as well. Wrap them up in a delicious raspberry pearl paint scheme and suddenly the MR-S kitty is looking quite fetching in her flashy pink frock. Mee-Yow.
No one will mistake this for looking factory; it doesn't even come close. The add-ons look well integrated, and move the idea of the original design forward while still leaving the base car identifiable. Almost as if some of these ideas should have been integrated into the factory design. Oh well, there's always 2005.
You won't have to wait that long for the power bump, however. HKS and Veilside make all the necessary pieces to pump 325-plus hp out of the high-winding 1ZZ-FE 1.8 mill, as well as a coilover conversion that accentuates the sports cars cornering attributes. Hey, the first two MR2s were given power-adders, so Veilside is just carrying on the family tradition.
Lest you think we're just stringing platitudes together here for the hell of it, guess again: the Veilside MR-S won top honors in the Custom Car category at the '01 Tokyo Auto Salon. Oh, our taste may be questionable but certainly when you're voted hottest version of a new and long-anticipated factory machine like the MR-S, well, who are we to judge?