The Toyota Mister Two is another great example of ‘Yota showing off its ability to put weight savings and agility before power. The MR2 debuted in 1984 with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produced just 128 horsepower. That’s not much power, but when you add in a car that weighed under 2,200 pounds, this tiny two-seater sprinted to 60 mph in a respectable-for-the-1980s 8.5 seconds. Plus, the MR2 was designed for autocross excitement, not a drag strip.
But that doesn’t mean the MR2 never let its hair down. In 1988, the U.S. got its first 145-horsepower supercharged MR2 that dropped its sprint time to under seven seconds.
The second-generation MR2, which started in the 1991 model year in the U.S., was larger and heavier, but it also received a 200-horsepower range-topping MR2 Turbo model. This was the ultimate combination of power, weight and agility, which earned it the “poor man’s Ferrari” nickname.
Sadly, the MR2 met its demise in the U.S. after the 1995 model year. The name returned as the 2000-2005 MR2 Spyder, but like every other low-cost roadster in this era, it got eaten alive by the Miata.