With our incredible two-for-one MR2's purchase (not incredible), we had two candidates for the build. The 85 was rougher, but I didn't think that would matter since we were cutting most of the body off anyway. The 87 was better built from the factory, but heavier. In the end, the decision was made by laziness - the 87 has a title, therefore can be scrapped out at will for cash. The 85 did not. The 85 would be the new race car!
Being as this was going to be a 'real' race car build, two things had been clear from the start: everything was going to be light as possible, and everything was going to be torn down to its most bare state, inspected, fixed, lightened, race-prepped, and generally made amazing. It was time to do what boys do best: tear something totally apart with no real plan on how it's going to go back together.
This car looked like it had been left in a murky pond for about a decade
After about 12 hours of work, I had every bolt, every bracket, every piece that could be taken off, taken off.
Once the car was torn down, one thing was clear: it was trashed. The back corner had been hit very, very hard and then poorly repaired, and the damage extended far beyond what we would be removing for the wide-body. The mud was packed into the frame rails and every nook and cranny of the car - it really HAD been left in standing water for a long time. On top of it, the suspension mounting points turned out to be unique to '85, so swapping in better parts would be complicated.
I did what every dedicated auto lover would do. I cut off the one useful quarter panel, and went portland.craigslist.org: free scrap car. Attempt #1 gone in about 12 minutes.
I was able to salvage about 200lb of scrap off the car, the doors and fenders, and sell some interior pieces for $100. All in all, not worth it.
Lather, rinse, repeat. On to car #2 *sigh. Another 12 hours of work and the 87 was stripped down to nothing and ready to begin the build. Other than light crash damage on the passenger front horn, no surprises this time.