Friday, May 13, 2016

Poor Man's Elise: 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder 2ZZ Swap

The W30 generation MR2 Spyder (1999-2007) was the last of the line for Toyota's mid-engine runabout that had started life way back in 1984.  Unfortunately, this latest version was available without a fixed roof or any manner of forced induction like previous versions-- and stranger still was the fact that Toyota never put the more powerful Celica GTS engine under the rear deck.  Find this 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder 2ZZ Swap here on eBay bidding for $4,050 reserve-not-met with 2 days to go, located in Asheville, NC.

The 3rd generation MR2 was a great handling little convertible, with an extremely low curb weight of around 2200 lbs.  Try finding another car built in the early 2000s that had similarly low weight without being some exotic carbon fiber thing.

The engine you see in place of the original 1.8 liter 1ZZ-FED rated at 138 horsepower is the 2ZZ-GE from a Celica GTS rated at 180 horsepower.  Both engines are dual overhead cam 16-valve engines with variable valve timing, but the 2ZZ has a second higher lift cam profile at high rpms.  Power with the headers and Lotus valve cover could be in excess of 200 -- expect this MR2 to scoot.

 See another budget Elise for sale?


  1. No black cars. Envoyez BMW Estorilblau.

    I'm sure the Lotus cam cover's good for 10HP but it's also good for a California smog rejection. Grubby silver Toyota hardware, thanks.

  2. Ill never understand why toyota didnt sell them this way.

  3. Nice opening photo. Wish it was near me to market my 996 turbo S.

    1. I am sure it is Asheville, NC. It is probably one of the most beautiful places to live in the US. There is some great driving around the Smokies, too.

  4. Having owned an S1 and an S2 Elise, as well as a number of MR2s, including the spyder, for an everyday driver, I can honestly say, I would go for the spyder.
    The Elise has better handling, yes, but the spyder rides so nicely, it's worth the small loss of grunt and feedback.
    The Elise is a real looker too, but the roof...
    Again, the spyder IMHO is more than a poor mans version (there's a reason why there are so many low miles Elise's out there). wWith the extra power of this, what's not to like?

  5. This is perfect. Truly what Toyota should have built originally. I can only assume it was their deal with Lotus that kept them from selling it with the 2ZZ. If my wife wasn't on a budget rampage recently, I'd really be tempted to try to justify buying it.


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