Road Tripping - Top-Down Joy In A Toyota MR2

BY Sean Loo

There's an inexplicable charm in what the world often labels as "shit cars".

We car enthusiasts are an interesting breed. What the normal man considers a crap car, we take to it like ducks to water. 40-year-old rusting Toyota Corolla that was prominently featured in a Japanese drifting anime? Yes please.

But why is that so? Why deal with the oil leaks and the blown gaskets, when you could just get a car that works every time you turn the key?

Cars like this MR2 (or MRS, depending on region) might turn heads in an Aldi's carpark at midnight on a Tuesday, but out on regular roads all you get are disapproving stares from folks who won’t hesitate to call you a “yobbo”.

But who cares. A car like this is a canvas of its owner's life. It's the charm of the underdog, the beauty in imperfection.

This car is owned by a friendly bloke in Manchester (let's refer to him as L), and to him, the MR2 isn't about specs or status; it's about the raw, unfiltered joy of driving. It's about the connection between man and machine; a bond you and I can understand.

Plus, with its mid-engine layout and “nimble” handling (if it wasn’t broken), the MR2 offers a driving experience that's pure and unadulterated. You won't know how or why you hit that tree right after traversing a roundabout.

It's a reminder of a simpler time in motoring, a nod to the days when driving was more about feeling and less about numbers.

And you really need feeling in a car like this. This particular MR2 doesn't have a manual slushbox, but rather a semi-automatic SMT gearbox. If you know anything about MR2s, you'll know it's basically crap.

Manual swap? On the cards, but no money. Fix the car up? Most of it is broken, there's no point.

Then why keep it? To L, this MR2 is more than a car; it's a companion on his journey through life. It's seen him through ups and downs, been a part of his triumphs and failures (mostly in courting individuals of the opposite gender).

Each dent, scratch, and patch on the MR2 tells a story, a piece of history etched into metal.

Sometimes, the most unassuming cars can offer the most genuine experiences. It's a reminder to car enthusiasts everywhere that sometimes, the best memories are made in the driver's seat of a "shit car."

The best car is the one you currently own, as they say.