Overdue update and head gasket replacement

While I have not updated this page in quite a while, I have been hard at work with the MR2. The head gasket decided to blow about 2 months ago, a failure I can only attribute to chronic overheating from previous owners, which I also believed I have fixed now. I was treated to tons of steam pouring out the back end and a very bouncy idle on my way to school one day, and as soon as I could limped back home and started tearing down the head. This being m first major mechanical endeavor, it was no easy task, but with the help of the BGB it went fairly smoothly. I also replaced some rusted out coolant lines that run beside the block which may very likely have been causing overheating issues.

After head removal with new head gasket in place.

I also got the head machined flat and cleaned out well from a local machine shop. There was lots of milkshake where there should have been lots of oil =(.

Shiny clean head

She now runs like new, thank goodness. I just hope I survive the upcoming Michigan winter driving a lightweight rear wheel drive 26 year old car.

Quick Update

I had been encountering overheating (as well as heating up) issues with the MR2 since day 1, and finally got around to switching out the thermostat. Little did I know that I had a previous owner had removed the thermostat, small doubt as to why (he was trying to fix the occasional overheating issue as well). After replacing the thermostat and giving the whole system a thorough coolant bleed, she now heats up right away and has not yet overheated, even after a few long spirited drives. (I used this guide for the thermostat http://www.padandwheels.com/mr2/thermostat/thermostat.html) Also I painted C pillar trim as it was looking quite sad and faded. Pics

And a pic of the car as it sits.

Cheap Exhaust Fix

Ever since I bought the car it has had a nasty exhaust leak, giving the car a very ricey and decidedly annoying noise. I tracked down the leak and found the culprit, a flex pipe that must have had a massive crack (I was never able to actually see it as the heat shield was in the way, but I could feel and definitely hear the effects of the leak). Normally I would try to order a new part and and install a new flex pipe myself,but after shipping that would end up costing way over $100 and I am obviously trying to build this car on a budget. I took her to  my local muffler man and was quoted $60 to replace the flex pipe and all the piping from the down pipe to the cat. Muffler Man was clearly the better option and accompanied by a 1-year warranty I drove away with a much quieter and more enjoyable MR2.

In case anyone out there was researching the cheapest (and easiest) way to deal with an exhaust leak, hopefully they can find this, as I am very happy with the results.

Painted wheels and pretty cars

As the stock triangles were starting to show there age and I decided that they needed a refreshment. I toyed with the idea of a few different colors but ended up going with a black triangle surrounded by a silver lip. I am very happy with how they turned out, especially considering how it was a free improvement (just used sandpaper and rattle can paint I found in the garage).

A friend of mine who also appreciates a good vintage rice-burner like the MR2 was around, so we decided to take some pictures considering I had not taken proper photos of my newish car.

So que the list of pictures of my MR2 and my buddy’s 300zx.

Rust strikes again

My driver side rear sub frame cracked in a parking lot about a week after buying the MR2. The part holding the control arm in place rusted right off.

So the tow truck came and took my poor car with the broken leg back home as new sub frames were ordered off of eBay. Thankfully the parts were good and easy to install so this minor setback was not fatal and she was back on the road before too long.

While waiting for the new sub frames to arrive I spent my free time tending to the body rust on the fenders. This was my first rust repair job so my expectations weren’t very high, but I am happy with how it turned out and hopefully the rust will stay away for a while. This fender was hit pretty hard.


My name is Caleb and I have a problem. Mostly with classic Japanese cars. Last year I purchased my first car at age 16, a 1982 Mazda Rx7, for $900. It was not running, it was not economical, and it was not particularly fast, but it was fun.

My dad and I fixed her up and got her running very quickly and I had a blast with it for a few months until I decided to flip it and take the money I made fixing it up to go find the right MR2.

Turns out the right MR2 was for sale in Northern Indiana (a good 3.5 hour drive from my location in Michigan) which my friend reluctantly accompanied me to go check out in our 91 Miata. For $1,550 I purchased an 86 MR2 with only 88,000 miles. Admittedly it had some rust issues (mostly contained to the body panels, mostly (more on that later)), and an intermittent overheating issue that had supposedly been remedied by PO by jerry-rigging the engine fan to a switch where you could manually turn the fan on and off by manually connecting it to the positive battery terminal, so I was assured that I would be fine to drive it straight home to Michigan. However not long into the return journey the temperature sporadically spiked and we were forced to pull over to the side of the highway. We left the engine fan on and made a frantic trip to Advance for a radiator cap and to give her time to cool off. The chronic overheating issue returned throughout the return journey, but we managed to limp back home before midnight. Turns out the coolant just needed to be bled, as there was supposedly some air in the pipes causing false heat readings and therefore temperature spikes. At least I hope that was all it needed as I have not made enough long distance journeys yet to accurately test my improvement.

Here’s what the 86 looked like the day after I brought her home and gave her a quick wash. I have since done a few cosmetic enhancements that I will hopefully get to in later posts.