The growing interest in Japanese classics stirs up emotions for  the MR2. Ken Chiu joins MR2 enthusiasts in this annual meet.

Story and photos by Ken Chiu

For the past five years, MR2 ASSEMBLE has brought together MR2 enthusiast from all across Southern California.  Billed as the largest MR2 specific meet on the West Coast, close to a hundred MR2 owners made the trek to Lake Elsinore for the 2018 edition, MR2 Assemble 6.

In the Golden Era of Toyota sports car the “Three Brothers”; Celia, Supra and MR2 reign supreme. Unlike its older siblings the MR2 never earned the same level of racing success or mainstream fame.  With the Celica, Toyota became the first Japanese manufacture to win a World Rally Championship “WRC” title, and the Supra reached silver screen legend status co-staring in the first Fast and Furious movie. (Editors note: The Supra wasn’t just a pretty face –  the Castrol TOM’s Toyota Supra GT of JGTC fame dominated the field)

Although less celebrated, the MR2 was significant in Japanese automotive history.  Debuting in 1985 the MR2 was the first mass-produced Japanese mid-engine sports car.  Before ending production in 2007, the three generations of MR2’s developed a cult following.  Today, enthusiasts of the “best handling Toyota”, still proudly gather to enjoy these modern classics.

 

Caravans of local MR2 owners from the San Fernando Valley to San Diego gathered throughout the morning with one final stop in Orange County before a scenic canyon cruise across State Route 74 “Ortega Highway” to the final destination.

The parking lot filled with all three generations of the MR2 line and the atmosphere buzzed with mutual admiration and support.  Longtime friends greeted each other and welcomed first time attendees, some arrived from out of state; Nevada, Arizona and Texas were also represented.  The day was hot, the bbq delicious and in the end a few special owners walked away with awards for the best AW11, SW20 and Spyder.