The Toyota Supra is one of the greatest Japanese sports cars ever built. Here is the short history of the machine that influenced a generation of gearheads.
The chaps at Donut Media are running this awesome online series called “Up to Speed” on their YouTube channel. These short videos give you a quick history of some of the finest and iconic cars in the world. This time, they took the Toyota Supra for the history lesson and boy, it’s going to make you fall in love with the 10-second car from the original The Fast and the Furious movie all over again.
It started off from the Toyota Celica which was introduced to the North American market in 1970 as Toyota wanted a piece of the sports car market. The Ford Mustang was around since 1964 and had already injected the customers with the interest to buy sports cars which pack powerful engines and a decent set of features.
In 1978, Toyota introduced the Celica XX, but with a better-sounding surname – Supra. The Toyota Celica Supra had quite an interesting engine, one with its own share of bragging rights. It was an inline-6 developed from the powerplant that drove the famous Toyota 2000GT. And that latter was the Bond mobile from 1967’s You Only Live Twice. Toyota wanted the Celica Supra to be more fun to drive and not just to be a robustly-built, reliable Japanese car. So, they roped in Lotus to help in that department. Unfortunately, the end result wasn’t as great as the recipe.
It took the Japanese camaker, three generations to get the Toyota Supra right.
In 1981, the A40 (or the Mark I) became the A50. North American enthusiasts hated that fax machine naming and called it Mark 2 instead. In 1986, Toyota decided to separate the Supra from the Celica. Why? Because spin-offs tend to work and they figured that out even before it became a practice in modern Hollywood. The Supra Mark III or the A70 made its debut with a lot of bulk to carry around and yeah, it wasn’t that well-received. So essentially, the opening years of the Toyota Supra were not worth writing home about.
But in 1987, things started changing. Toyota attached a turbocharger to that engine and the 7MGTE heart started making all of 230 hp. The souped-up Toyota Supra Turbo was born and from there the fireworks started. In 1992, the fabulous 1JZ arrived to blow up the neighborhood and it did just that and more. Along with a Twin Turbo R version, the final form of the Mark III took the Japanese sports car to heights which it had never seen. But the story was about to get more exciting.
The A80 arrived in 1993. Popularly known as Mark IV, it was the Supra which turned an entire generation into gearheads and car enthusiasts. It looked devastatingly beautiful and was an impeccable performer even in stock form. And the stopping power was much better than Ferraris and Porsches of that era.
The Toyota Mark IV Supra is probably the most-loved car to star in the entire Fast and Furious franchise too. Second only to the 1970 Dodge Charger R/T which it raced against.
The 2JZ engine came in and those gearheads and car enthusiasts we were talking about started modifying the more powerful engine. It was highly scalable enough to accommodate all the modifications to turn the sports car into a road-going ballistic missile. Some of them even churned out 800 hp of power, more than the F1 cars of those times.
Then Hollywood came calling with a role which made it a worldwide phenomenon. Rob Cohen’s 2001 street racing actioner – The Fast and the Furious – featured the Toyota Supra Mark IV as Brian O’Conner’s (played by Paul Walker) weapon of choice. The role launched the car to the stratosphere of global popularity.
Do note that the movie was released three years after Toyota pulled the plug on the car in North America. Worldwide sales were stopped a year after the movie’s release.
But the Fast and Furious connection re-ignited tuner interest in the model as enthusiasts and shops continue to find, restore and tune old Toyota Supra Mark IV cars. A well-maintained can be owned these days at 6-digit prices.