But it's not all bad news!
I had been looking to own one of these for a long time. They seemed a really nice balance of performance, cost and image. How else are you going to get a mid engined sports car for under £1000? And I happen to like the wedge of cheese looks, even if it did attract comment from my (snobby) colleagues.
I saved up the money and started looking around. Luckily for me I had a sensible car already and was buying an MR2 purely for kicks. I wish I had spent longer, perhaps years longer, finding a really good one as then I could have kept it longer and had more fun.
I'm very glad I did it. I learnt more about driving quickly and safely in the couple of months of owning this car than I had in my 8 years of driving previously.
The engine and gearbox are a hoot. The little 1.6 is a thing possessed. It just revs and begs for more, and it made a really good noise up high in the rev range with a nice Magnex exhaust. It really gave a kick through 1st and 2nd. The gear box was good too allowing swift changes through the short throw stick. I can't think of another mainstream engine that I like more.
The handling is also amazing. It has a nice progressive grip/slip boundary and allows you to feel the grain of the tarmac through the unassisted steering. Controlled Under-steer, Over-steer, Throttle balanced cornering - It's all on offer in this car. With a bit of commitment it gets up on tip toes and starts to dance!
The brakes are also well up to the task with disks all around and not too much weight to stop they have good feel and do the job. I did find them a little snatchy at first and locked them up a couple of times, but this is because I'm used the the blancmange middle pedal in my Audi.
The problem is that the youngest of these cars are now 17 years old, and they were only ever built to last 7-10 years. The engines and mechanicals are bullet proof and seem to thrive on abuse, but the bodywork and structure just isn't up to repeated British winters. I sold mine because a full mechanical inspection revealed a horror story about to happen.
There is no equivalent to this car for the money. I'm now forced to wait until I can afford a Lotus Elise (preferably with a Toyota engine!) So that I can relive the brief days I spent in the company of this car.
I haven't covered the practicalities because to me that isn't what this car was about.