The Toyota Supra
Once upon a time, in a very far country named Japan an angry baby JDM car was born : the Toyota Supra. Today we will go back in the history to learn about the five generations that turned that JDM baby to a raging monster.
Toyota Celica Supra
Back in 1978 Toyota wanted a car that would compete with Nissan's massively successful Z car but they didn't feel like designing a whole new platform.
So they took their existing Celica, stretched it out a bit, gave it a bit of a cosmetic redesign and stuffed an inline six cylinder under the hood and called it the Celica Supra.
Although the name sounds kinda weird today, back then it made more sense because that's what Supra stands for : Supra means above beyond the limits of something and this was what the Celica supra was it was.
Beyond the limits of a regular Celica, it had more power, it was larger it looked different... so : Celica Supra.
And although it's the equivalent of saying Toyota Camry Prius today back in the late 70s it made more sense and it was a pretty desirable and a pretty cool car. But it didn't manage to come anywhere near the sales figures of the Z car.
But it did manage to do something historically important it created the bond between the word Supra and an inline six cylinder engine unlike the Celica upon which it was based which had a four cylinder engine.
The Celica Supra got an inline six cylinder engine : The Toyota M engine.
Toyota Supra Mk.2
Just three years later, 80's design came knocking and as a result the entire Celica lineup was redesigned and along with it of course the Celica Supra.
The second generation cars arguably differ more from each other than the first generation cars but although the second generation Celica Supra was very different outside from the Celica, inside it still shared many components with the celica.
It was larger, it was more luxurious, it was better equipped, it had an inline six but it was still a Celica.
Everywhere the name celica supra was still retained except in Japan where Celica Supra wasn't called Celica Supra but the first and the second generation of the Celica Supra in Japan were known as the Celica "Double X".
The second generation also did something important : it was the first instance of turbocharging in a Supra.
Toyota Supra Mk.3
But in february of 1986 something truly important would happen : the word Celica would get amputated from the word Celica Supra.
Celica and Supra were now two separate models and they went their separate ways. Celica would become a front-wheel drive vehicle while the Supra would retain a rear wheel drive layout.
The Supra was no longer mechanically associated with the Celica it was now based on the Toyota Soarer platform and the Soarer was a larger and more upmarket platform giving the Supra room to grow using the larger platform.
Toyota would shape the Supra into a true performance flagship : the suspension was upgraded to double wishbones all around and the Supra received some pinnacle technologies of the 80s :
- 3-Channel ABS
- T-E-M-S which stands for Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension which basically gave the Supra variable dampening.
In the engine department the third generation of the Supra received the last and the greatest iteration of the M engine family the 7M engine which increased displacement to 3 liters.
A number which would become synonymous with the Supra model. In its turbocharged form the 7MGTE engine made some pretty impressive power and although it was a bit weak in the head gasket department it still made the Supra a true sports grand tourer aka GT.
But the third generation of the Supra was important for one more reason : it was the first supra to get some JZ1. No it didn't get a 2JZ but in japan only the third generation became available with the 1JZ engine the successor to the 7M engine and it signaled what the future would look like for the Supra.
Toyota Supra Mk.4
And in 1993 we would get to find out just how amazing the future would be in this year, Toyota started production of the fourth generation of the Supra and it continued on the path set by the previous generation.
But it was so much more because for the fourth generation Toyota went all out and used all of its 90's over engineering skills to create a truly amazing car. Under the hood was the brand new 2JZ engine which debuted in the Toyota Aristo two years before.
On paper the 2JZ and the 7M seemed very similar both engines existed in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged form and both engines were 3 liter inline six cylinders.
But that's where the similarities end. The 2JZ wouldn't just fix the little issues that the 7M had but it was a power package of a much greater potential and only time would reveal just how large that potential was.
But the engine wasn't the only thing that was impressive, the fourth generation of the Supra despite having more safety equipment : larger brakes, larger wheels an additional turbo and a bunch more stuff, Toyota managed to make it almost 100 kilograms lighter than the previous generation and this is because Toyota used aluminum and magnesium alloys in different parts of the car to make it lighter.
This helped the stock Supra sprint from 0 to 60 in just a hair over four and a half seconds and it could clear the quarter mile in an impressive 13.1 seconds.
The fourth generation of the Supra unfortunately didn't last very long.
A rising yen and a weakening sports car market ended the career of the fourth generation.
It was over in 1996 in Canada, sales stopped in 98 in Europe and in the USA, it would last another four years in Japan until it was finally over for the Supra in 2002.
The world would have to wait two decades for a successor. But arguably those two decades are more important for the Supra and the 2JZ than the years during which it was in production.
What Toyota Supra is in Fast and Furious?
In 2001 the Fast and the Furious movie was released and the whole world fell in love with the Mk.4 Supra and its monstrous engine capable of incredible power.
Already in the early 2000's tuners across the world started pushing the power output of the 2JZ but early tuning was sort of primitive : you needed three different ECU's for three different things and the style wasn't elegant.
But the aftermarket started evolving pretty quickly and soon tuners were given the tools needed to try and find the limits of the 2JZ engine but there was a problem : it seemed that the word the limit wasn't in the 2JZ's vocabulary.
Doubling the horsepower of the engine seemed too easy and very soon triple digits in horsepower became expected anything less was underwhelming. Dynos around the world reported obscene power figures from engines that used more stock components than anyone believed was possible.
The legend of the 2JZ was forged long before the successor to the Mk.4 Supra and the 2JZ was announced.
Toyota Supra Mk.5
In 2019 Toyota revealed the fifth generation of the Supra and along with it a sigh of disappointment echoed across the planet fans expected a successor to the 2JZ : something that would walk the steps of the 2JZ, more over engineering madness from Toyota, a modern version of the same thing.
Instead they got a BMW sourced power plant and although the new engine is objectively good, although the new car is objectively good, the fans weren't happy and soon they started demanding a 20 plus year old engine be swapped into the brand new car and if this isn't a testament to how great the 2JZ is... then really nothing is.
Why Toyota Supra is so famous?
Like we discussed earlier in this article, the Toyota Supra has become an iconic JDM car from the 90's but why? Well it was a very important car in "The Fast and the Furious" movie, it was in almost any racing game of the late 90's and early 2000's ( Gran Turismo, Need for Speed...) and even today you can find it in Forza and many other games.
This car has influenced a whole generation of petrolhead and more. It is also featured in Initial D and Wangan Midnight anime cartoons... But this is not the real reason, if anything made the Toyota Supra famous it is it's quality and performances mainly due to the 2JZ engine. Without it this car wouldn't have been featured by so many different medias.
Which Toyota Supra is the best?
If you ask me i would say that it is the Mk.4. Why? Well :
- It is first Iconic Supra, before the Mk.4 it was a car, after it was a legend. This means it has quite a bit of an history.
- It is powered by the 2JZ which is one of the best engines ever.
- It has just enough options and comfort needed for my tastes. Options equals weight and nobody likes weight... At least i don't.
- I have to say that the Mk.5 Supra seems to be a very good car, i won't roast it but the one that is in my heart is the Mk.4 Supra.
How fast is the Toyota Supra?
If you wan't to find out what the limits are with the Toyota Supra i suggest you look at these video of Smokey Nagata, a sick Japanese street-racer that aim for max speed. In the JDM community he is a legend. Rumors say that he was a member of the infamous "Racing Team Midnight" aka "Midnight Club"... a very serious team if you don't know but this is not the topic here.
How much Toyota Supra cost?
A Toyota Supra MK4 has been recently sold at a Barret-Jackson auction for 176,000 dollars.
As you can imagine, the Toyota Supra Mk.4 exchanged for this small fortune has a special configuration. It is a limited series marketed in 1997 by Toyota to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the model. Moreover, its targa top makes it even more rare. Only 376 units came off the line with a black interior and black metallic paint that year of production.
Interesting detail, the car had around 75k miles. This confirms that even the richest enthusiasts are aware of the reliability and preparation potential of the 2JZ block under its hood. The Japanese coupe has not escaped the modifications. A more liberated exhaust and reworked suspensions equip this Supra sold at the same price as a new McLaren 570S.