© 2020 kertong © 2020 kertong

2000 Toyota MR2 Spyder

Car #2! (I’ll skip car #1.5, which was a 1994 modded camaro z28 from Will Eagleton that I owned for a month before selling due to a lost catalytic converter by UPS preventing smog passing. Coincidentally, will and I signed the title over at a round table pizza right down the street from Katherine’s childhood home where her father still resided, but this was long before we crossed paths). 

My first ride in a properly fast car was in a 1987 Buick Grand National (b-b-b-baaaaaad), and after that, a 2000 camaro SS. I fell in love with American muscle – that roar in the ear as an invisible hand pushed you deeper and deeper into your seat. My v8 blood ran deep; many of you know I obsessed over nothing but camaros for years and would never shut up about them. 

But after my 1995 z28 was towed away and sold for pennies, I was tired. The car had crossed 110k miles, the chassis was tired (and dented), the engine had a persistent exhaust leak I could never seem to fix and locate, and I just needed a break. 

At the same time, I wanted a proper driver’s car. In 2003, I hit a puddle while accelerating in the Z28; and with RWD + fat torque, I spun the car. I didn’t know how to handle the car, so I panicked, slammed on the brakes, spun into a curb, and broke a wheel/axle right off. After that, I vowed to learn how to drive a proper car; went to empty parking lots during rain to force slides, to start. And while I read and did research, I came across an interesting proposition – the mid engined car. 

I was too poor to afford porsches at the time, and I didn’t want to borrow a huge amount of money (since I had shitty credit then too!). But I saw an ad on craigslist (back when it was cool), and after a few days, came home with this baby. 

The previous owner was cool as hell (Jen Tse Kong), and she had the best vanity plate I had ever seen on a car – “MIDNJEN”. She upgraded to a Lotus Elise, a car I lusted after for years after tasting small mid-engine glory with this MR2 spyder, and would finally buy (twice!) later in life. 

Back to the MR2 – I hated the 4 cylinder, I hated the buzzy sound, I hated the lack of power. But strangely, I loved the car. It threw me for a loop, because to me, power *was* the car; yet there was none here and I was enjoying the hell out of it. It handled like a boxster. For the first time ever, I could actually feel the texture of the road. And without a heavy engine up front, there was zero delay in response when I turned the steering wheel. I bought a Corvette Z06 while I had this car (coming in another post), but after driving that, getting in this little car with 1/4th the horsepower and torque was eye opening. It was small, reliable, carefree, and I had so many smile-filled miles in it…. until it blew its motor at 68k miles with a spun rod bearing. Toyota reliability, I guess. 

I drove this car for several years up and down california. It was the car first car I bought with a steady income from Google, and I had this car when I met my future wife, Katherine. I had this car when I received my first 5 figure check from Apple for writing iKick for iOS. I eventually ended up selling it to a friend for cheap to keep it in the family. A few months later the friend texted me a photo of the MR2’s untimely demise. Ah well. Other than the 1ZZFE motor issues (pre-cat plus bearings), a fantastic car you can have for cheap today. 

Next to Kat’s Mini
Rest in Peace