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The Mk1 (AW11) was in production and available in the UK from April 1985 until April 1990. Initially the car was available in only one basic model, the coupe.

 

Overview

It uses the 4A-GE twin cam 16 valve 1600cc engine mounted horizontally, amid-ships, with an output of 121bhp. Top speed is 124mph with a 0-60mph time of 7.8 seconds. The gear box is a low ratio 5 speed, which when married to an engine that revs to 7,600rpm creates a wonderful "drivers" car. The car has independent suspension and disk brakes all-round and a detachable glass sunroof.

In October 1985 the car received cosmetic changes in the form of colour-keyed body parts. In October 1986 the car underwent further cosmetic changes with the addition of side skirts a front spoiler and a longer front nose. Brakes where up rated as too were the shock absorbers and wheel size. The engine received a 1bhp increase with a revised air system. A targa roof version (or T-Bar) was introduced which had twin removable roof panels to give that true open top motoring experience.

 

What to look for

A must is a full service history (fsh) with a very good regular service every 6000 miles. You will find when hunting that most cars are the owner's pride and joy and have been very well looked after. A log book packed full of old garage receipts is a good sign ! Also have a VIN check run on it.

When considering dealer or private purchase, consider this comparison between two G reg. (90) cars. In 1995 one was bought for £8000 from a Toyota main dealer, the other for £6500 from a private advert. Both cars have very sound body work, but the private buy had not gone through a garage and there were a few mechanical quirks that needed sorting out. Obviously the private seller isn't going to pay for this work as his price will reflect it. So on balance you don't tend to save all that much buying private and a dealer normally will add a warranty to the vehicle.

If you decide to buy from a garage, rather than knock the price down, get them to replace vital components such as shocks and brakes, this will save you alot in the long run. Although my car was £8000, the garage did fit new calipers and disks to the rear and new shocks.

 

Bodywork

Firstly check that the paint matches on all panels, if different colours then examine the fixings for that panel and determine if it's been unbolted, check for after market welding if any such occurs - these are signs of accident repair.

Open the front boot, the bolts at the front that hold the bumper on may show signs of rust, This is a GOOD sign as the bumper is original. The catch that is attached to the bonnet (the little ring) should have the paint worn, and again may be rusty, all this is only surface, and show original parts. Next look up from under the front spoiler at the radiator. Look for any rust on any of the main body work here, i.e.. rust that has penetrated the underseal. This area is used as a jacking point and is liable to damage if not jacked correctly.

Open both passenger and driver's doors, look at the point at which the door pillars meet with the floor. There is a natural water trap at this point, so if this area is badly rusting you can start to assume further internal rusting of the lower box section. The asking price should reflect this in case of welding being required.

Move to the rear wheel arches. Rub your fingers on the inside, if the arches are caked in mud it means the owner can't clean cars properly!! On all Mk1's the rear wheel arches are rust traps, THEY MUST be kept very clean. Having said all of this, do carefully check the wheel arches, minor rust can be treated and the vast majority of Mk1's will have this. Badly rusted arches can now be repaired using special sections available through the club, however this will require the skills of a bodyshop so make sure the price reflects this.

Perform the same checks as you did on the front bonnet with the engine cover. Now the acid test of all T bars, the roof. Get a hose pipe and whilst sitting inside, run water over the roof to check for leaks. If they do leak its normally behind the driver or passenger. The wing mirrors do have an inherent paint flaking problem, touch up is easy and bare mirrors should not be frowned upon. The tear drop alloy wheels do go scabby after a few years, they can be reconditioned for around £40 each, original wheels cost around £300 new, so take this into account if they have kerbing marks on them.

 

Engine

Look at the engine and make sure its free of black oil stains. They all look a bit grotty, but make sure its not an unhealthy grot!!
Check the cylinder head gasket all round for any signs of water / oil leak. The Mk1 engine requires a good strength coolant to prevent damage to gaskets, if the strength has not been maintained, then you can be looking at a large engine repair bill. Check the coolant by looking in the plastic expansion tank at the back of the engine bay on the offside.

Remove the oil filler cap from the rocker cover and check there is no white sludge present on the cap or in the lip. If there is this will indicate a presence of water in the oil which again may be due to a damaged cylinder head gasket.

Look at the throttle cable which sits on the tripod type bracket on top of the engine. Check the ends are not frayed. Confirm that the cambelt has been replaced at the recommended 60,000 mile interval. If this has been undertaken by Toyota, they normally certify it with a sticker on the cambelt cover giving the recorded mileage.

 

Test Drive

On a test drive take it easy to warm everything up. Whilst driving conservatively, find a straight road and lightly support the wheel, make sure the car wants to go in a line and not pull. Listen to the engine for any whining or clutch slip. The gearbox isn't one of the easiest in the world, but it is smooth and there should be no crashing. When warm, take the car up to 40 mph, check your mirrors !! and brake reasonably quickly. Do this again and make sure the car doesn't pull to one side. If the steering wobbles, the front disks are shot and need replacing, squeaking brakes means new pads. Any vibration felt through the steering when not braking is normally due to out of balance front wheels or an imbalance in the tyre wear / pressure.


Once again take the car up to speed and when in 5th gear back off the throttle then immediately back on. Do this a couple of times and watch the gear lever. It should stay in gear and move a slight amount. If the movement here is dramatic then it would suggest a worn selector fork.
Check all of the electrical functions and the radio, amazing how many people forget to do this, me included, as my aerial was shot. DO check that ! The wing mirrors should also work electrically.

 

Price

The Mk1 price has remained stable over the past few years, however you still have to be prepared to pay for a good example. The Mk1 is now an ideal "project" car for the would be mechanic. Because of the robustness of the engine, a running example with around 150,000 miles but tired bodywork can be picked up for around £250 to £750, although expect to pay at least £500 to make it tidy once more !!

Most pristine cars will command a price based by example, but in general it would have to be a very special car to command a price in excess of £2500.
 

To find out the latest market prices of the Mk1, visit "Parkers Online".

This guide has been compiled by information supplied by members of the MR2 Drivers' Club Ltd, and is only an information guide. We would always recommend a purchaser should have a vehicle inspected prior to concluding a purchase by a ‘professional inspector’ or company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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