Toyota MR2 Spyder

There is a common misunderstanding that the MR2 was a Lotus-designed but manufactured model distributed by Toyota. In reality the Lotus M90 project was canned after a single prototype was built and Lotus was bought out by General Motors. This was thus the end of its relationship with Toyota. Nevertheless, the Toyota MR2 is a two-seat, mid-engined, rear wheel drive sports car produced by Toyota from 1984 until July 2007. In July production is scheduled to end in Japan. The latest version was called the Toyota MR-S in Japan, the Toyota MR2 Spyder in the United States and the Toyota MR2 Roadster in Europe. The MR2 was in fact designed by Toyota with Lotus engineer Roger Becker involved on its suspension and handling. With its mid engine and small size, the MR2 is often compared to some of the more exotic sports cars. The MR2 began in 1976 when Toyota began a design project with the goal of producing a car, which would be both enjoyable to drive, yet still provide decent fuel economy. This is still a problem that manufacturers are dealing with today. Anyhow, initially, the purpose of the project was not to create a sports car. The actual designing began in 1979 when Akio Yoshida from Toyota's testing department started to consider different alternatives for the engine placement and drive method. The decision was made to place the engine transversely in the middle of the car. This resulted in the first prototype in 1981, which was dubbed the SA-X. From the base design, the car evolved into an actual sports car, and further prototypes were tested extensively in both Japan and in California. Further, an enormous amount of testing was performed on actual race circuits such as Willow Springs, where former Formula One driver Dan Gurney also tested the car.