Among the many casualties of rally racing’s Group B era was Toyota’s obscure, first-gen MR2-based prototype called the 222D. Practically ready to race when the FIA put the kibosh on Group B (and its planned successor, Group S), the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive super-MR2 was left with nowhere to compete, forcing Toyota to shelve the 222D and relegate the project to a sad footnote in racing history. But this tale of a coulda-been racing legend doesn’t need end there, because thanks to the work of a studious Belgian MR2 owner, there’s now a body conversion kit to dress up MR2s as their forgotten hero.
Sold through a Belgian race parts shop Dicz Cars, this kit consists of a front clamshell, engine lid, and rear over-fender assembly, along with optional doors and a single-piece hardtop to cover MR2s’ leaky T-tops. A body kit alone, of course, isn’t enough to turn an MR2 into a 222D; extensive drivetrain work would be necessary to transform one of these mid-engined marvels into a faithful replica.
Documentation on what propelled the pair of 222D prototypes known to exist is scarce, but a Toyota UK blog post suggests power came from the turbocharged 2.0-liter that later powered the Celica GT-Four. Group S regulations would’ve allowed this engine to produce no more than 300 horsepower, which would’ve been distributed to either the rear or all four wheels. Toyota designed a torque split mechanism that would’ve allowed it to swap between either as stages demanded.
Fitting a similar powertrain to an MR2 shouldn’t be especially difficult, as tuning shops have already shoved these turbo engines into AW11 MR2s on many occasions. Fabbing up an AWD system, though, might prove trickier. The closest thing to a transmission tunnel the MR2 has is occupied by the gas tank, and any AWD transaxle borrowed from a front-engined Toyota would need modification to provide five forward gears and one reverse, rather than the inverse.
But as ways to realize Group B-adjacent rally dreams go, kitting up and modifying an MR2 is still on the affordable end of the spectrum, especially as compared to what Audi Quattro S1 clones run. A 222D costume is undoubtedly how I’d outfit my 24 Hours of Lemons-spec AW11 MR2 if I could afford to… It’s not every day you see a Group S prototype get lapped by a disgustingly quick Cadillac Cimarron, is it?