In the early 2000s, Toyota introduced the third generation MR2, dubbed the MR2 Spyder. It was a lightweight, mid-engined roadster that was a direct competitor to the Mazda Miata.
The fun little car was our definition of what a roadster should be, but it didn’t sell well in the US, leaving the country in 2005.
Ironically, it left the country right when the Toyota-powered Lotus Elise entered the US market that same year. The Elise used a Toyota engine called the 2ZZ, which had 180 horsepower, a full 40 more than the MR2 Spyder, and a six-speed gearbox while US MR2s used a five speed.
Used Lotus Elises are holding steady at $35,000 for naturally aspirated models, but the MR2 Spyder has taken a dive. The MR2 seen here was purchased for $2900 with the stock drivetrain. For just a little more money, the owner replaced that with the 2ZZ and gearbox from the Elise, making his own Elise for a fraction of the price. Other than the power steering in the MR2, this car is more than a little reminiscent of the lightweight Lotus. Plus the engine absolutely screams.