The Great Grandfather of the MR2 W30.

Automotive history really fascinates me, but also I’m easily flustered. So when the Toyota MR2 W10 and W20 appeared to have a strong evolutionary connection I was understandably thrown by the introduction of the W30.

Those wedged Ferrari T-top with pop-up headlights inspired models (W10 and W20) had a look and feel Toyota could easily have evolved into a third incarnation. Those cars did after all have a cult following and the general rule in automotive development has always been “give them what they like and want”. Strange then that the W30 had practically little or nothing in common with the two generations before it.

Yes all three used transversely mid mounted engines and rear wheel drive, but the W30 looked whimsical when compared to the predecessors. So it was a huge design direction change for no obvious reason and when big volume manufactures like Toyota do things like this you need to ask questions.

I found the answer in the 1967 Toyota Sports 800, the true origin story of the MR2 range. Toyota might build and sell cars to most of the world, but even today Toyota has a few Japan Only models. Think Altezza, Think Century, think Crown. Turns out they also built a tiny little sports car, simply called the Sports 800 long before the MR2 and this is obviousty the model which inspired the MR2 W30. the inboard headlights, squared off tail lights and the dainty design proportions confirm this. And this is why the W30 looked nothing like the W10 and W20. It was a design successor to the original Sports 800. Glad we could clear that up like adults.

This Article by Robert Daniels first appeared in Ultimate Drive Ed.56. Photos: Wikipedia

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