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The word ‘car’ was the first thing I said and, to this day, my life still revolves around them.
As a kid I was always busy playing with toy cars, spending most of my time destroying them with a hammer to take a look at the internals. This led to me becoming an automotive engineer 24 years later.
When I was 18 years old, during my final high-school exams, I bought my first car. It was a ’96 Honda Civic hatchback, which I still own today.
I loved working on it and I made a lot of great memories with the car – my first road trip took us across Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and back home to The Netherlands.
Three years later I embarked on a solo 8500km road trip across Great Britain with this, my first classic.
The Toyota MR2 has always appealed to me as a car that is often overlooked. At first I was searching for a Mk3 and I looked at a few with my dad.
It turned out that he liked them as well, and he was the first of us to buy one.
I especially liked the first-generation MR2 (AW11), because of its square ’80s styling and the wedge-shaped body, and a few months later a Super Red ’85 MR2 came up for sale.
I immediately sent the owner an email and soon went for a look.
It was completely stock and I decided to buy it, promising myself that I wouldn’t modify the car and that I would keep it just as it left the factory.
However, it didn’t take long for me to break this promise – modifying is something I enjoy, especially when you maintain the original look.
The first tweak I undertook was to replace all of the worn suspension bushes with high-quality polyurethane items, along with new balljoints and tie rods on all corners.
Last year I imported a set of 14in wheels and a smaller steering wheel from Japan, both of which were made by the famous Toyota tuner TOM’S Co. The new wheels and a pair of front OEM mudflaps are the only exterior changes I have made, though.
During the winter of 2018 and into 2019 I fixed all of the model’s common issues related to coolant leaks.
Next I installed a six-speed gearbox with a Torsen limited-slip differential, a lightweight flywheel and a new performance clutch, and replaced all of the hydraulics.
The little problems were cured to make sure the MR2 would be capable of driving across England, Scotland and Wales – and survive all of the potholes.
The plan to embark on such a road trip arose when I travelled to Land’s End with my Mk1 and my dad’s Mk3 in the summer of 2018.
So, in May 2019 I set off for Dunkirk to board the ferry to Dover, from where I would start my journey.
I planned the route to take in the many Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; in short, I roughly drove around the entire coast of Great Britain clockwise.
The highlights of the trip were the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, the Lake District, the Isle of Skye, the North Coast 500 in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.
I really enjoyed driving the MR2 on the small, twisty back-roads, meeting lovely people along the way and experiencing the British hospitality.
The Mk1 MR2 is not a fast car by modern standards; for me, however, it is just perfect. It feels as if I am driving a go-kart on the road, thanks to the great handling and pin-sharp steering.
BecauseI travelled alone, the not-so-practical Toyota was actually ideal, with enough room to store myself (which is why I installed a smaller steering wheel) and my luggage for a month.
During the final week of my previous trip I attended the MR2 Drivers’ Club National Meeting held at Hatton Country World, Warks. The cherry on top was winning the Daily Driver Award.
I plan on revisiting the UK, and I would take the 35-year-old MR2 on another mammoth road trip without any hesitation.
So thank you, Great Britain, and until next time!
- Owned by Koen Beckers
- First classic 1985 Mk1 Toyota MR2
- Dream classic 1989 Porsche 911 (930) turbo
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