One year on with the MR2 that cost less than the cheapest iPhone.

Kind of a summary (and celebration!) that I’ve been able to keep this crapcan together for a whole year, plus a rough breakdown in costs and all the work I’ve done!

You can’t see the weight reduction on the MX5.

In terms of how many miles I’ve covered, it’s around 8000. Low for a daily driver, but I’ve still got the Ignis (currently sat slightly forlornly awaiting MOT work) and access to other vehicles when something bulky needs shifting.

Out of those 8000 miles, its only done two motorway trips, picking it up and another 150 mile journey. The rest has been mostly B roads and country lanes, including the scouting trips for the Wales Oppo Meet.

This was, at the time I bought it, the cheapest MR2 for sale that had an MOT and was running. £480 including a lift from Slough railway station.


As it turned out, if you read up on the common problems this car pretty much had all of them! Also, you know all those rules on how to buy a used car- making sure it has history, meeting the “owner” at their house, checking the paint matches etc? Yeah...

As it turns out in the cold light of the day after it clearly had a very dodgy paintjob at some point, the power steering was leaking like a sieve, the oil level dropped dramatically on the way home and there was a hole in the rear sub frame.


Go Me!


So, as a roughly chronological timeline, what have I done to it?

  • Welded rear sub frame up.
  • Replaced missing battery clamp with cable ties.
  • Removed Precats (£20 for Gasket/Studs)
  • Oil/Filter service (£30)
  • Rear discs & pads, generic Unipart factors parts, but seem decent enough (£30)
  • Rebuilt rear calipers (£30)
  • Various cable tie attachments of Under trays (Ongoing)
  • Top up oil. (Also ongoing at a rate of a litre every 400 miles or so)
  • Pulled the power steering fuse to stop it dropping oil everywhere. Manual steering is perfectly fine for the car, but not acceptable for an MOT.
  • Polished up the headlights and put some decent bulbs in. (£30)
  • Rear under tray self clearanced somewhere in North Wales.
  • Replaced power steering lines with “good used” ones from a Breaker (£20)
  • Filled the PS with the special fluid (Total LDS like in a Citroen- £15)
  • Replaced the “good used” power steering lines that leaked worse than the originals with new ones (£120)
  • Filled the PS with the special fluid (Total LDS like in a Citroen- £15)
  • Replaced the gaff tape covering the holes in the roof and ignoring that they are getting bigger (Ongoing)
  • Replaced rusted steering UJ (£60)
  • Replaced the hand brake cables, which is an arse of a job. It involves taking out the interior trim behind the seats and dropping the fuel tank. (£50)
  • Replaced an O2 sensor with a used one. (£20)
  • Replaced wheels and tyres with a used set that someone painted black. (£40)
  • Got a spare wheel and tool kit at the same time.

Parts bought but that I’ve not got around to actually fitting yet for one reason or another.

  • Complete suspension setup. Ebay had a 30% off or similar day, so I bought all new Shocks, springs, drop links etc, but haven’t got around to fitting it all yet because of reasons. (about £400)
  • A pair of seats in a fetching red, I’m on the lookout for another red passenger seat to make up a good pair. The bolsters wear badly. (These were bundled in with the wheels)
  • Another set of wheels that I want to power coat white. Never got the oven sorted out for it.
The lowering is a side effect of the shagged suspension.

On to the more general running costs. Fuel economy generally averages around 35 Proper MPG, 8l/100km or about 30 Hogshead MPG


Over the 8000 miles:

  • Fuel £1200
  • 5w30, topping up £60
  • Insurance £480 as I had to start a new policy with no usable no claims discount. Now got much cheaper!
  • Tax for the year £240
  • MOT Test £50

Total cost for the year, including purchase, of just under £3000. Not bad.

Part road filth, part dodgy respray, partly the iPhone 8 camera, which isn’t really that good.

So what’s still to sort? Well, as you can probably tell from the pictures the hood isn’t exactly watertight. Ideal for UK conditions! To fix that means a new hood, fortunately that’s not too expensive at around £350.

The other major issue is the engine guzzling oil like a student and cheap booze. The cheapest way to sort this would be a DIY engine rebuild with new rings and ideally the revised pistons. The more extreme way would be with an engine swap, most likely a 2ZZ. Obviously a more involved and expensive prospect.


Other little things include the aerial being fully extended all the time. Not that I use FM radio. Also, only one key, and it’s the Valet key, so no central locking. The fascia around the base of the screen has cracked at some point, and the catches for the oil storage front compartment have broken.

sick drifts yo

All this is mostly theoretical for the immediate future- as I’ve sort of mentioned in previous posts the future might be shorter depending on job outcomes. A move abroad would mean selling both, so pouring cash into that black hole just wouldn’t make sense.

Ultimately though, despite the shoddyness and neglect it’s seen over the previous six owners it’s still a great car- one of those that puts a smile on your face when you need it. After covering a few hundred miles in a friend’s Legacy today, a perfectly fine car (though auto booooo), it was so nice to just cover a few miles of tight lanes in something so well designed for it.


I like that it has got no fripperies. No soft touch plastic, no tricksy infotainment system, no wheel plastered in buttons. No excess weight. Simple engine. Manual gearbox. LSD. Direct steering. Storage space where it fitted.


Just the things you need. Oh, and the most important thing. Character.

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