Any car with the last name Zagato ensures a high price on the second-hand market, and guarantees the legacy of one of the most mythical Italian bodybuilders in automotive history. We are not surprised to see the Zagato seal on Aston Martin vehicles or on cars as revered as the Alfa Romeo SZ. What I possibly don’t knowWhat happens is that the Italian bodybuilder endorsed a limited edition of 100 units… of the toyota mr2 last generation! It was called the TMI VM180 Zagato and was produced exclusively for the Japanese market. This is his peculiar story.
The TMI VM180 Zagato was presented at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show, and it is said that it was a project created as a tribute to the close ties between the design house and Japanese car manufacturers. Based on the third generation Toyota MR2, its bodywork only shared the windshield with the MR2: the rest of the panels were new. The Italian coachbuilder devised a unique bodywork, which completely transformed the cute appearance of the Japanese roadster. You may like the result more or less, but we must recognize its unique character.
It was produced exclusively for the Japanese market. Only 100 units were made in 2001.
The most striking aspect of its design are, in my opinion, the modules designed for the optics, both front and rear. Its modules were finished in a different colour, a green similar to that of the British classics., in stark contrast to the silver bodywork. All the images correspond to this color combination, but I have also managed to see photos of a red unit with the gray optics module. Both the front and the rear are studded with air inlets of exotic design, similar to those of a supercar.
Another interesting detail is that you won’t find any Toyota emblem on the TMI VM180 Zagato. All emblems are from Zagato. I especially like the exotic look of the car – it feels very different from an MR2 and feels like a special and exclusive car. At a technical level there were slight modifications with respect to the starting MR2. The main one is that the 140 hp 1ZZ-FE 1.8 engine was modified to develop 155 horsepowertransmitted to the rear axle through a five-speed sequential automatic transmission – optional on the MR2.
Its roof is a removable hardtop.
The interior was very similar, yes, to the standard interior. Only a few badging and seats with specific upholstery and design separated it from the roadster you could buy at any dealer. If in 2001 you wanted to buy a TMI VM180 Zagato, the car was not built in Italy. The cars were built by TMI (Toyota Modellista International), which we could consider an internal Toyota tuner – only for the Japanese domestic market. They were assembled by hand in Japan, with parts designed by Zagato in Italy.
At the time of writing this announcement, the renowned specialist in exclusive cars Bingo Sports will auction a unit in Japan, with only 40,000 km on the odometer.