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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello all!

About two and a half months ago, I got a new job in premium food delivery. I drive a 1996 Toyota Corolla that's been extensively modified with very rare parts, so I worried about it getting damaged every day. It got to the point where I didn't want to work in it anymore, it was simply scary. So I went on a search for a good delivery beater. And somehow, I purchased a 2000 MR2 Spyder. It had a 5 speed manual transmission, 114k miles on it, a recent tune up, a new battery, a new stereo, an alarm with proximity sensor, and a brand new soft top. I couldn't resist! Such a tiny car would be perfect for driving around SF and parking in the worst of spots, and the 1ZZ is reliable and fuel efficient. I didn't want to leave the Toyota family, so I was thrilled about this car.

A few small issues, some peeling clear coat on the front bumper, and really yellow headlights but the price was great.

This is her about half an hour after I paid:



Now, I had only had an hour of practice driving manual on a private road at under 20 MPH in a Mini Cooper S, who's clutch didn't leave me at all confident. Suddenly I buy a manual car and am tasked with driving it home about an hour through traffic and over a bridge. That was a fun experience, but as soon as I felt the Toyota clutch, I fell in love. Such a nice clutch feel, and so easy to drive! Got home without a single stall or any sort of hard jerking.

My dog hates cars, but immediately fell in love.





Best buddies

 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Onto fixing some of the issues!

First is a safty issue. The tires were all cracked and even bulged at the sidewall, which made the steering wheel wobble quite a bit on the freeway.



New tires for these wheels would have been around $400-450, which is pricey. But the wheels... while I liked them, they were 17x7.5" and weighed 25 pounds each according to the official spec sheet. They felt heavier, I could barely lift them. Somehow, I found a set of nearly new 15x6.5" Konig Maxxim wheels with nearly new tires in the proper size, exactly what it came with from the factory on the rear wheels. I knocked the price down to $550 and was VERY happy. Acceleration was significantly better, as they weigh 12.8 pounds each.





Then I tackled the yellow headlights. Took to them with Turtle Wax headlight cleaner and sealant. Didn't expect much, as I tried polishing other headlights with worse compounds to no avail, but holy crap does it work! They're not quite as clear as in the photo, and they still have a lot of interior cracking, but the difference is amazing. And it lasts more than a month without yellowing significantly!

Before:



After:



I also stuck in some PIAA Plasma GT-X halogen bulbs for the extra brightness and whiteness. If I'll be driving 8 hours a day, I need good light output and not having bulbs burn out constantly thanks to the always on DRLs (I'm looking at you, Silverstars).





Then I went onto changing the O2 sensors. One was dead and throwing a check engine light, so I replaced all three with Denso branded sensors. While doing so, I noticed one of my pre-cats beginning to deteriorate. This may be common for the Spyder, but it's dangerous if not fixed. So I bought an eBay header to remove the pre-cats entirely.



Got the new manifold in without much trouble. Not an easy job if you don't have swivel sockets.



First it turned golden.



Then it turned a beautiful neochrome.



And lastly, a rainbow pastel hue that became hazy. I also attached the braces to the back a few days after the job.



Of course, since it's from eBay, it had to have an issue. The advertised heat shield mounting points were there, but didn't line up. And one O2 sensor was in a slightly different position. My hood got uncomfortably (read: burning) hot, so I got to modding the heat shields.

Cut a bigger O2 sensor hole, when my mandrel broke (yeah, I know I was using the wrong wheel, I switched to metal cutting wheels after getting a new mandrel).



Drilled new holes in the lower heat shield to match up with the lower mounting points and cut enough room to attach speed clips to the original mounting holes, so I can bolt the upper heat shield to the lower one to prevent rattling.



Job done! I only used one speed clip, the other interfered with the header mounting bracket.



It's about time! I guess it took 2 people telling you to make this thread before you finally would lol
It's true, it's true. Hopefully the MR2 section appreciates the MK3 :p
 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I promised myself I wouldn't modify the MR2, as it's my work beater. Yeah... that didn't go well. Immediately bought a K&N air filter for the stock air box. It made a big difference in my Corolla, so I wanted it for the MR2.



TRD license plate frames to replace the ugly ones advertising a dealer I've never heard of



A custom made armrest. I LOVE this thing.



Blue lug nuts. I was using my father's spares, so I needed a set for myself. Also needed some locks. Went for Muteki since I had a set on the Corolla and loved it, but in blue.





Knockoff TRD shift knob. The only one I found with legit internal threads, which was VERY important to me. The aftermarket shift knob I had on there from the previous owner constantly got loose and was just terrible.



It didn't fit, not enough shaft exposed (heh). I took off the center console, took off the retaining clip (thank god it was removable), and put a zip tie lower down to hold the boot in place.





What a difference in shifting! I love it, even if it is a knockoff. Can't beat $25 though!

Then I got my Speed Source shifter base and cable bushings.



Here's what I had to say the day I did it:

"First I installed the shifter cable bushings. Easy install, removing the old ones from the cables was a bit tough but installing the new ones was a piece of cake.



I didn't much bend the cotter pins, but the way I did means they have no chance of escaping. VERY hard to bend all the way in there.

I took it for a drive right after. I had very mixed feelings immediately. On one hand, it's a GLORIOUS feeling. The way you have to push on it only to get it moving, then it just CLICKS into place, is amazing. Very much like an FR-S shifter. It feels sharper and more precise, and actually made me shift smoother.

Unfortunately, it had the adverse side effect of making it harder to shift. It requires more force to actually get it moving, which I wouldn't normally mind, but since it's a work car I'd be driving 8 hours a day, I was unsure whether it would be worth keeping.

I drove to Home Depot and picked up a small tub of faucet grease. Got home and began on the shifter base bushings. Took everything apart, installed the new metal bushings (also super easy install) and cleaned and greased the ball of the shifter. Just a thin coat, which really helped get rid of the small amount of roughness in movement.

Took it for another test drive. Without the slop of the giant rubber base bushings, moving the shifter was easier. Not as easy as stock, but still easier and much more manageable for long periods of time. I was in a drive through line that wrapped around the block, having to shift the entire time, and it was totally fine.

The shifter base bushings changed the behavior even more! The clicking into place was accompanied by an actual CLICK. No more slop, no more squishy feeling hitting the end of travel. Just a satisfying click. It feels so accurate, so precise, so MECHANICAL and unassisted. Once you push hard enough to get it to start moving, it practically throws itself into place.

Overall, I'm VERY happy with this mod. It really makes it feel so great. However, it does add a little bit of force necessary to shift and I'm not completely fond of that for a work car. Even for a daily driver it's an AMAZING mod I couldn't recommend more, but for me, it could be a little better. But logically, how could solid shifter cable bushings make it HARDER to shift? Wouldn't they just reduce the slop but still require around the same force to push the switch on the transmission? Here's the issue: the rubber bushings are designed with spherical rotation in mind. They have an inner and outer section, and the inner section can rotate with the switch while the outer section and stay in one position with the cable. These new copper bushings do not have this ability. The lack of rotation is what makes shifting harder.

Solution? Spherical bearings. They're solid, but have an inner part that can rotate. Pressing the bearings into the shifter cables won't be easy, but after that, a few washers and a cotter pin and that should make shifting absolutely perfect. I'm waiting on a friend who has some in the mail to tell me how he likes them, then I'll order a set for myself."

Now I'm just in love with it, and don't mind the extra effort. Wonderful mod, though I look forward to ordering some spherical bearings.

I got an LED panel in the mail today. Modified the wiring to be extra short, tucked it all in, bent some metal on the dome light to get it enough surface area to stick, and put a clear Mitsubishi cargo lens over it.





 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
Joined
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I had a '01 Spyder. Lightly modified. Body kit, rims, wider tires all around, Unorthodox stage 2 Kevlar clutch, Unorthodox lightened 8lb Flywheel, underdrive crank and alternator pullies, Team Moon dual exit exhaust.
I was going to turbo it, but decided to put the money into my 2nd gen MR2 Turbo.

Sexy! I'd love a lip kit and a T5i spoiler myself (knockoff of the TRD spoiler I think?). I'm also going for an OEM replacement Exedy clutch, the car needs it.
 

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Weazler
94 Corolla Base
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903 Posts
Glad to see a thread for the mister duece. But mainly because I thought you were spamming your own rolla thread.... Harsh, I know, but still I like your rolla bunches, that's already been made clear.
But also, this made it more clear as to what you had done to this car. I like it, much like your corolla, very tasteful.
 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
Joined
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Glad to see a thread for the mister duece. But mainly because I thought you were spamming your own rolla thread.... Harsh, I know, but still I like your rolla bunches, that's already been made clear.
But also, this made it more clear as to what you had done to this car. I like it, much like your corolla, very tasteful.
Yeah the lack of Corolla in my Corolla thread made me sad. No matter, this thread now exists and my Corolla thread will stay pure.... mostly. Corolla > MR2 any day.

Thank you!
 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
Joined
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Hey if you want, I can spend some time and go through the Corolla thread and either move or copy the posts here!
I appreciate the offer, but no thanks. We had some good conversations over there that were often important to both cars. I'll just start posting more Corolla stuff from now on.
 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Yeah that's why I could copy the posts, but you've put up the pics here anyway lol. Just an offer!
I actually really appreciate it because I know how much time it would take. But I'd prefer to keep things the way they are. Plus I have plenty to do for the Corolla!

In MR2 news, god this thing eats gas on the freeway. During the times I'm on the freeway to the peninsula, everyone is going 75-80 even in the right lane. Can't do anything about it but join em. And doing 4000 RPM at 80, or 3500 at 75, is just unpleasant. It's loud, it's wasteful, and I'm sure the engine isn't happy being kept at 4k RPM for half an hour at a time. I really need that Corolla 5th gear installed, I don't care if I lose some power in 5th.
 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
Joined
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
My neighbor knows a guy who does clutches cheap, so I'll get someone to do it for me lol. (edited neighbor instead of uncle, I call him my uncle often for some reason....)

Also, I got a $650 order of Russian food today. That's no small amount for an MR2, so this is what I did:



I also added another box below the red bag once I was given it. That's some tetris type shizz going on there. Happy I got it all to fit, and with such finesse. The delivery roadster is unbeatable!

Bonus dog:

 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
Joined
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
This is a roadster family. Except one has better taste ;)



I also borrowed my neighbor's dog for a day. She's out of town so another neighbor and I have been taking care of her husky. I took him to my place for a while so he can get out of an empty house.

 

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Moderator
1996 Toyota Corolla
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10,120 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I got to really push the MR2 for the first time today! Went on some empty twisty roads through the forest, it was simply gorgeous. Had a friend with me who knows the area. Super curvy, so much fun! The MR2 is a glorious car.

However, when I floored it when already in gear coming out of a turn, the clutch slipped and the engine revved. That worried me a lot. Getting the clutch done ASAP. Does anyone know where the best place is to buy an Exedy OEM replacement clutch? Also, what kind of flywheel to use if I need a new one?
 
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