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The 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder
by Heather Johnson

I used to be scared of eight-legged insects, but all signs of arachnophobia vanished when I drove home the convertible 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder. I was not afraid of the 2,195 pound, 153-inch long silver "spyder" waiting patiently outside my door. Instead, I was ecstatic because after years of admiring racy roadsters from afar, I now had one of my own. 

In my early teens, I developed huge crushes on classic 2-seaters like the Porsche, MG, Triumph, Alpha Romeo and even the Fiat. In 2000, however, I met my automobile soul mate when Toyota re-introduced the MR2. With a retail price of $23,585, it was less expensive than the sporty new convertibles by BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. I vowed to have a Spyder by the time I turned 30, and succeeded five months early. 

After months of saving, researching and visualizing, I contacted a Toyota salesman, who informed me that because Toyota only ships a limited quantity to the States (only 5,000 in the year 2000), customers are pre-ordering the hard-to-find cars sight unseen. To my surprise, one week later I found out that another Toyota dealership had a Spyder in their showroom, and it was in my color. 

After several negotiations and signatures, only one thing kept me from taking my dream car home - I didn't know how to drive it! Luckily, the salesman gave me a crash course in "stick-shift 101" and finally, with my white knuckles clutching the leather-wrapped steering wheel, I stalled, lurched, and eventually drove out of the parking lot and into the sunset. 

It didn't take long to learn the 5-speed manual transmission, as the Spyder shifts gears easily, and the wide, aluminum sports pedals are easy to reach. The power windows/locks and AM-FM stereo with CD, cassette and four speakers were easy to master as well. 

The four-cylinder, twin-cam, 16 valve, 138 horsepower engine packs a good punch, going from zero to 60 miles per hour in only 6.94 seconds. On the flip side, the power front and rear disc brakes will stop a speedy Spyder going 70 miles per hour in only 167 feet.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 16 - September 5077
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