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Thread: '86 blue t-top - any input welcome

  1. #1
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    '86 blue t-top - any input welcome



    Hello people! I've been wanting to get a nice summer car for a while now and the MR2 checks pretty much all the boxes - MR layout, topless and the pop-up lights. While an SW20 turbo would be really nice, the prices are kinda crazy and I prefer the looks of the old Lotus - I mean AW11. I just recently acquired this blue (pearl or mica, I'm not sure) one, 150k km, for around 4k , and I'm looking for some info on these models. Mine is dated december 1986 and I think it's mostly MY 1987, with a mix of some old parts.

    Some parts I've spotted, that differ from the '87 update:

    - "16 valve" on the engine cover is in blue lettering. They either used a left over cover, or it's a blue top. I wanted to count the ribs but I can't find them (yes, I'm very clueless).

    - instead of the battery meter, there's the silly economy gauge

    - there's no side skirts or mud flaps (and the owner doesn't remember if they were there originally)

    I don't have much to go by, but it says in the documentation the car was originally bought in Switzerland, before getting registered here in Slovenia by the 2nd owner and now I'm the 3rd owner. Supposedly it has 117 HP, so I'm thinking it's #5, FRG, from this list (could be #4 or #6 too): https://toyota-europe.epc-data.com/mr2/aw11l/ . Though I find it weird that they'd put in 4AGELC here in Europe.


    Overal she's in pretty good shape, a bit banged up on the bumpers and fenders, some rust in the usual places, the engine needs new fluids and filters, but starts right up and runs without problems. What's frustrating is I want to do the regular service as soon as possible and enjoy the car a bit, but the packages with parts are getting delayed right now with the virus situation.

    To be on the safe side I only rev it to around 3k RPM (it sounds nice) and drive as little as possible. I did have to make a 3 hour, 200km trip to get it home and had no serious issues. What I've noticed:

    - the oil gauge indicates ok, it's nearly always above the half mark, or near the first mark above it. Oil level is fine, the fluid is getting a bit dark brown, but doesn't have any kind of bits in it. The cap is also clean.

    - the coolant gauge is a bit weird. It starts way below the C mark and then climbs to about 1/4th mark and sometimes goes slowly down to the C mark. Either it's not calibrated properly or there's something with the cooling system, or the thermostat that prevents the engine from warming up properly. I've noticed the overflow tank cap is pretty deteriorated and has a small hole in it. Also the fan in the passenger side grill doesn't seem to be spinning (but maybe it's only supposed to at certain times). The fluid doesn't look too bad, it's moderately brown and doesn't have any oil or rusty bits in it.

    - the brakes are pretty stiff and the pedal has very little travel. When I turn the key, the brake warning light is the only one that doesn't come on, so I'm assuming one of the brake cilinders has failed, or the booster. The brake warning light does come on when I pull the handbrake.

    - the car sometimes shakes slighlty in neutral, more pronounced when I press the clutch and likes to stall in reverse.

    - the gear lever doesn't pop-out in fifth, but yanks quite a bit when I depress the gas pedal, which makes me think there's a C50 transmission in there.

    A few more pics, here is the VIN, but it has some silly squares printed where there should be letters:


    No Toyota sticker, the front bumper is in poor shape and needs replacement:


    The sills are pretty rusty and the previous owner "fixed" them with a spray can:


    The passenger side mirror is taped on and and I can't see anything while driving because it points outward too much:


    Some rust above the windshield:


    The back of the car:


    Front fenders are quite rusted - on the driver's side I can push it in with my finger:


    The engine bay and some stickers inside it:
















    The overflow cap looks quite cooked:


    There's this small metal bit at the top on each side. I think most people just paint it black:


    Previous owner "repaired" some of the upholstery - it was probably blue-ish originally. The cig lighter is underneath there somewhere. Also the small light in the compartment is always on when I drive at night. Should it turn off if the lid wasn't broken?






    More of the interior. I think the wheel was redone too. The light switch doesn't really go into position 3 (lights up and off) even when I push it in.






    I'm not sure if these models came with shaders for the roof or not:


    The 2nd set of wheels, made in Germany, not sure if these were on originally:


    This was under the hood. Another one is mounted, but looks different, isn't connected and doesn't have the pump.



    For now the plan is making sure the engine works properly, so I can rev it out a bit, plus I need to get some new tires. Then fixing the rust and the paint during the winter. Suspension is going to need some work too - I think I heard one of the shocks hissing already.

    And then I have this silly dream of making a trip all the way to Cadwell park one day. I don't know why but I just love that track in rFactor!

    P.S. I had to write this on my phone on mobile network because the site just throws "access denied" on my home network .

  2. #2
    MR2 Enthusiast Sillyhatday's Avatar
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    Hi, sorry no one has been here to welcome you. The world is in crazy times as you know.

    I'm only about 1 hour away from Cadwell Park, it's worth a trip over if you can drive it or at least watch a decent event there.

    I'm sure Tom our admin can help with the site issue on your home network.

    I'd be 99% sure it is a blue top engine. I have an '86 year car and it has a lot of the older model stuff, with nearly no later model things on it.

    Most of use are in the UK and never got any options on the cars imported by Toyota. The economy gauge is just two lights is it not?

    I would say that it never had side skirts or mud flaps. If I recall the mud flaps were an option and the side skirts would have clips along the sill for them to fasten. Unless they have been filled over, I'd say it never had them.

    The LC engine is California emissions spec. I know Switzerland hate the motor car, so it wouldn't surprise me to find out they had emissions junk all over it. Your engine picture does show it has an EGR on the intake manifold, a bunch of vacuum lines coming off the throttle body and weird diaphragms and valves nearby too. The sticker under the engine cover proves that too.

    Oil pressure seems normal. Nothing weird there.

    Sounds like the thermostat is getting stuck open. An easy jot to replace it. I've never heard of the dash clusters having issues with going bad. The perished coolant cap won't be any help either. You can get a replacement from a SW20 MR2. Made from a better material. I think every AW11 coolant cap by now has gone bad.

    From memory I think the brake warning light only comes on when the handbrake is on or the fluid level is low. I don't remember.

    Not much brake pedal travel sounds good to me. Not sure what you were expecting? Do they work well or they not working as you expect?

    Not sure what you mean by the car stalls in reverse. They do shake a little but if it's really bad, probably a bad engine mount. It is known they have deteriorated by now.

    Wouldn't worry about the gear pop out if it's not popping out. Gear stick does move about a bit when you step on it. It's just the engine moving about tugging on the cables.

    The VIN is fine. The silly squares are just silly zeros.

    All your body work problems look like the usual issue for these. There is plenty of people repairing those on here, so should be plenty of guidance for that.

    Light switch sounds a bit dodgy but once again, there has been plenty of people perform various repairs on them in the past. There should be some information on that.

    The wheels don't look original to me, but it depends what they came with over in Europe. I don't know. They do look much better than the ones on it right now. They look like someones winter wheels with the tyres on them. Would explain a lot of the body rust.

    That water bottle looks totally wrong for the AW11 if you ask me. Could be wrong.

  3. #3
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    Thanks and no problem at all, I'm just happy if someone can find the time to share their knowledge since I don't have much of a community anywhere nearby. Well actually there is a big JAPmeet event annually, but it's going to be at the end of summer this year.

    The economy gauge is kinda useless from what I gather. In an online manual I found it says that it indicates fuel economy, depending on how you drive. Since I haven't really pushed the car yet, I haven't seen the red light come on, just the green one.

    I was thinking not to bother with the side skirts if they weren't on originally, since they increase the chance for rust development. But they do look cool with the mud flaps, like a tiny Lancia Stratos!

    Yeah I strongly suspect it could be the LC engine which is seriously uncool. It wouldn't really bother me that much, but I've read about cracks developing around the EGR valve, so I guess I'll have to tinker with the engine sooner or later.

    The brakes do have a moderate amount of stopping power, if I press the pedal quite hard. I've read the aw11 has a brake booster which is why I expected a bit softer and tactile pedal, but maybe I'm just not used to it.

    I need to press quite a bit more gas when going reverse, or the engine chokes. I've experienced this in my old BMW too so I guess it's pretty normal.

    The wheels are a tad ugly indeed. I was thinking about finding some 15", but I also read about 16" et35 being a good fit.

    The other water bottle that's mounted inside looks like the ones I've seen in other aw11's. It's not connected though and just has a hole underneath - it's good I didn't pour anything in there yet.

    I managed to get to the 12V socket, but it doesn't work. It's quite sad since I imagined myself driving to the tunes of "Push it to the limit" and "Highway to the danger zone". The light right next to it works and the fuse looks ok, so maybe the L wire underneath came loose.

  4. #4
    MR2 Fan michaeljapp's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Club !

  5. #5
    MR2 Obsessive jimi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post

    While an SW20 turbo would be really nice, the prices are kinda crazy and I prefer the looks of the old Lotus - I mean AW11.
    Urban myth, the only connection with Lotus was in some design help on the susupension
    Lotus (Roger Becker) did a lot of work in Japan with Toyota on ride & handling work, and actually set up a number of MR2 prototypes for them. It was almost a training programme for them, as we (Lotus) had (a little!) more experience in mid-engined sports cars than they did at that time. However, the production spec. was finalized by Toyota themselves, rather than being done by Lotus. So you could say Lotus had a hand in it, but were not ultimately responsible for the finished product.
    and Dan Gurney

    Dan Gurney tested the car as a consultant at Willow Springs in California in 1983 and made suggestions to improve handling, some made at the track and analyzed at the time. A short time later, Gurney drove the vehicle on the Angeles Crest Hwy to analyze road driving. Toyota took 5 months to implement what was learned and then Gurney went to Japan to do a followup test and found an improved, well balanced sports car. Remember Dan Gurney was the factory backed Toyota race team owner during this period.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post
    Some parts I've spotted, that differ from the '87 update:

    - "16 valve" on the engine cover is in blue lettering. They either used a left over cover, or it's a blue top. I wanted to count the ribs but I can't find them (yes, I'm very clueless).

    - instead of the battery meter, there's the silly economy gauge

    - there's no side skirts or mud flaps (and the owner doesn't remember if they were there originally)

    I don't have much to go by, but it says in the documentation the car was originally bought in Switzerland, before getting registered here in Slovenia by the 2nd owner and now I'm the 3rd owner. Supposedly it has 117 HP, so I'm thinking it's #5, FRG, from this list (could be #4 or #6 too): https://toyota-europe.epc-data.com/mr2/aw11l/ . Though I find it weird that they'd put in 4AGELC here in Europe.
    It looks like a crossover car, ie bits of 1a and bits of 1b not unusual in a 86/87 car.
    The interior is pure 1b and the engine is 1a

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post
    - the coolant gauge is a bit weird. It starts way below the C mark and then climbs to about 1/4th mark and sometimes goes slowly down to the C mark. Either it's not calibrated properly or there's something with the cooling system, or the thermostat that prevents the engine from warming up properly. I've noticed the overflow tank cap is pretty deteriorated and has a small hole in it. Also the fan in the passenger side grill doesn't seem to be spinning (but maybe it's only supposed to at certain times). The fluid doesn't look too bad, it's moderately brown and doesn't have any oil or rusty bits in it.
    I wouldn't run the engine much until you sort out the cooling system, that cap on the expansion tank is an invitation to disaster, it will allow air to be drawn into the cooling system leading to overheating and possible engine damage. I would change that cap & the thermostat, drain, flush and replace the coolant, then bleed the system properly.
    Good method here https://www.mr2oc.co.uk/know-your2/m...ng-system.html

    Engine bay fan is controlled by a temperature probe in the engine bay and only runs when needed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post
    - the gear lever doesn't pop-out in fifth, but yanks quite a bit when I depress the gas pedal, which makes me think there's a C50 transmission in there.
    A few more pics, here is the VIN, but it has some silly squares printed where there should be letters:
    Given the year it's most likely a C52, the gearstick movement is almost certainly caused by the front and rear engine mounts being weak and allowing the engine to rock on acceleration/de-acceleration this makes the gearchange cables move causing the gearstick to move.

    VIN number is JT1C0AW11 0091844 (built August 1986)

    Bluebyte.jpg

    Also there should be a plate in the front boot https://www.mr2oc.co.uk/know-your2/mk1/85-mk1-general-info/316-info-vin-plate-location.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post
    The cig lighter is underneath there somewhere. Also the small light in the compartment is always on when I drive at night. Should it turn off if the lid wasn't broken?
    No it's always on with the dash lights



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post

    The light switch doesn't really go into position 3 (lights up and off) even when I push it in.
    Try this,
    on position 2,
    push the knob in
    then while holding it in turn it to 3,
    that should lock the headilghts up
    Warning - don't rely on this if your working on the headlights - pull the RTR fuse in the front fusebox



    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post
    I'm not sure if these models came with shaders for the roof or not:
    Yes they did and bags for storing the T-bars behind the seats (should be retaining straps there)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post
    The 2nd set of wheels, made in Germany, not sure if these were on originally:
    Not original, would either have had triangles or teardrops

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebyte View Post
    This was under the hood. Another one is mounted, but looks different, isn't connected and doesn't have the pump.
    Hard to tell from the picture but that looks like the original water tank with the pump mounted in the bottom

    Last edited by jimi; 16th May 2020 at 03:05 AM.
    Black is not a colour ! .... Its the absence of colour

  6. #6
    MR2 Obsessive Sweetpea's Avatar
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    I completely missed this. Don't know how.

    Interesting little car, different spec to the UK ones. I like the 'mist' thing on the wipers. I wish mine had that.

    The gear lever on mine rocked about a bit and it was really judder as it came on and off power as you trundled round town. When I changed the clutch I found the front engine mount was in poor shape and filled it with Tigerseal. That's solved both problems.

    Good luck with the car!

    James
    There's no rust on my car. But there are some sizable holes where the rust fell out.

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