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The Toyota MR2 Spyder


As far as the United States was concerned, the Mid-engined Runabout (MR) from Toyota was discontinued in 1995.  Sales numbers of the Mark II were going down as the price was going up.  By the end of 1995, partly due to the Yen's risen value, the MR2 Mk II had ballooned to a price of nearly US$40,000.  Instead, Toyota began concentrating on providing passenger cars, light trucks, and, especially, sport-utility vehicles to feed the appetite of the world's largest consumer market for vehicles.  For years, anyone who wanted a decently-priced sports car had to either chose the Mazda Miata, or try to track down a used MR2.  Most manufacturers were introducing sporty coupes to satisfy "sports-minded" drivers.  These were dark days, indeed...


Suddenly, a glimmer of light emerged from the horizon with the introduction of the MR-S Concept vehicle, first shown to the public at the 1999 Tokyo International Motor Show.  However, there was something very different about this car.  There was no roof!  The designer, Tadashi Nakagawa, wanted to create an uncomplicated car that was more about how fun it is to drive and not how fast it can go. The result is a small open top sports car that is as exciting to look at as it is to drive.  Toyota had decided to enter the mid-priced sports car segment again, but this time,  their new car was designed to compete directly against the Number One selling ragtop in history - the Mazda Miata.  Toyota also found their concentration of sedans and "sport-utes" elevated the average age of their customer.  The new Toyota MR2 Spyder, as it was called in the US, was the first product to lighten up Toyota's stodgy image and recapture market share among younger drivers.  The Celica was redesigned and a new product, the Echo, was introduced, as well.


1999 Tokyo International Motor Show

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As the third generation vehicle in the MR-series (Mark III), the new MR-S (as it's known in Japan) shared the mid-engined, rear drive configuration as the Mark I and Mark II.   The weight was pared down to just under 2,200 pounds and the car was given the engine of the new 6th generation Celica GT, rated at 138 hp.   The MR-S began it's release in Japan in the latter part of the summer of 1999, and hit US shores in March of 2000.  The car was only available in one model only (designated a "monospec" configuration) in the US and Europe, while the Japanese vehicle had 3 different versions - the "B", "Standard", and the "S" (equipped the same as the US version).  The "V" was introduced in 2001.

Japanese B, Standard, and S versions

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For model year 2003, Toyota introduced two new colors, Silver Streak Mica and Paradise Blue Metallic, while Liquid Silver Metallic was retired.  They also revised the front and rear fascias, painted the side air intakes, redesigned the headlights, taillights, interior gauge faces, and seats, and changed the rear wheel size to 16".  Rumors began that 2004 would be the last year the Spyder was imported into the United States due to less than stellar sales results.  Of course, Toyota's goal was to import only 5,000 a year.  For the United States, importing was halted at the end of the 2005 MY.  As of 2006, the Spyder was being sold in Europe, Australia, and Japan.



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Read the Press release for the US market here

Read the story behind the making of the Toyota MR2 Spyder here


Early Pictures


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The factory in Tsutsumi, Japan


Name of Assembly Plant Products produced Date established Site area
Bldg. area
Number of employees
Central Motor Co., Ltd. Raum, Allex, Corolla Runx, bB, MR-S 1950 335 50 1,027
© 2007 DaSpyda Productions