Production began in 1979 on the Toyota Supra, a rear driver sports vehicle based on a six cylinder engine that enhanced the sports car world immensely upon its arrival. Eventually receiving dual turbos, the Supra crossed over into the true performance car market. Inspired by Toyota's former super sports car the 2000GT, the Supra was created and designed to reach the same status.
Based on the Toyota Celica liftback, the Supra was constructed longer by 5.1 inches with the doors and rear section the same length as the Celica but with different rear panels. The Supra replaced the Celica's 4-cylinder engine with an inline 6. The original vision for the Toyota Supra was to make it a competitor to the very powerful and popular Datsun 240Z.
The 1979 Mk 1 was first equipped with a 110hp single overhead cam inline-6 motor, the 2.6L 4M-E. In 1981 the Mk 1 was updated and received the 2.8L 5M-E which increased hp to 116 and 145ft·lbf of torque. In Japan the Mk1 was available with the 2.0L M-EU engine MA45 chassis code, and the M-TEU turbo. The Mk 1 featured either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission, much like all subsequent versions of the Supra. The Mk-1 also came standard with 4-wheel disc brakes, though it retained the T series solid rear axle configuration of the Celica in the MA45 version and a large F series in the MA46 and MA47. '81 was the final year that the Celica Supra could be bought equipped with an 8-track stereo.
For the second generation of the Supra, the Celica name was still used, but the Supra stood well apart from its parent. Featuring an all-new design, the Mk 2 was a huge success in the US and was awarded the Import Car of the Year by Motor Trend. For 1983 and 1984 the Supra also made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list.
The engine was changed in the US from the SOHC 2.8L 5M-E to the DOHC 2.8L 5M-GE. Available in two types, the MK 2 was available as either the Performance type; the P-type or the L-type; Luxury type. The P-type featured fiberglass fender flares over the wheel wells while the L-type featured simple smaller flares modeled into the metal above the wheel wells. The P-type came with either 4.10:1 or 4.30:1 rear gearing, and the L-type came with 3.727:1 rear gearing. Both of these models were available with either the W58 manual 5-speed transmission of the A43DL/A43DE 4-speed automatic transmission. The P-type Supra came with 14X7 wheels and 225/60/14 tires while the L-type came with 14x5.5 wheels and 195/70/15 tires. The suspension was specially designed by Lotus.
The Mk 2 came with a variety of other engines when sold around the world. Sweden, Switzerland and Australia retained the Mk1's 5M-E, while the MK2; MA-63 was available with the option of the turbocharged SOHC M-TE engine in Japan, or the 2 liter twin turbo 1G-GTE; GA61. The Mk 2 was badged as the Celica XX in Japan, and a few came with the 2.0L 1G-GEU since taxes were less on lower-displacement engines.
Non-US 5M-GE's achieved around 170hp, while the US-market versions, to comply with emission requirements made around 145hp since the exhaust systems was more restrictive. '84 and '85 US models had about 165hp due to 9.2:1 compression versus the former 8.8:1.
1985 was the final year for the Mk2 but due to delays in the manufacturing of the Mk3 led to leftover '85 Mk 2s being offered for sale in the beginning half of 1986. These 1986.5 models featured minor cosmetic changes along with the addition of the rear-mounted third brake light on the hatch. A total of 33,283 of these models were produced for this year.
The 6M-GEU, a 190hp 3.0L version of the 5M-GE was a popular engine replacement for the Mk 1. Offered in the JDM-only Crown and Chaser models, this engine was never available in the MK 2.
Toyota was ready to release its next version of the Supra, the Mk III in 1986. Now two completely separate models, the Celica and Supra no longer shared any ties. The Supra kept its rear wheel design, while the Celica changed to front wheel drive. A more powerful version than the previous 2.8L and 3.0L engine with two version, one with a CT-26 Turbo and one without, the A60 (Mk II) and the A70 (MK III). Both available with an optional automatic transmission, the A34E, the non-turbo 7M-GE models came standard with the W58 manual transmission, while the 7M-GTE came standard with the R154. In the 1989 model year, the car received new tail-lights, front bumper, badging and side trim along with other features.
The Turbo-A model was introduced in 1988 and featured a special design that was aimed at winning the Group-A touring car championships around the world. Only 500 Turbo-As were ever produced. The fastest Japanese road car until the Nissan Skyline R32-GTR, the Turbo-A was a special 7M-GTEU with 27PS. Produced only in black, the Turbo-A model featured a luxurious all-leather interior, a front intercooler inlet, was only available as a hardtop and only used MAP engine sensors. The Turbo-A also featured higher boost (7.8psi), long lift cams, larger injectors, larger intercooler and a high flowed version of the CT26 turbocharger.
In Japan the A70 Supra was available in two non export models, the JZA70 with a 2.5L 280hp twin turbo 1JX-GTE, known as 2.5GT Twin Turbo R, and with a 2.0L 210hp twin-turbo 1G-GTE.
A great deal of new technology was showcased in the third-generation of Toyota Supra vehicles. While airbags became standard in 1990, the 1986 Supra's were already equipped with ABS, and TEMs (Toyota Electronically Modulated Suspension). With 6.8 psi of boost, the 7M-GE MA70 is capable of propelling itself 0-60 in just over 6 seconds.
For the 1990 model year a driver's side airbag was made standard, while cruise control moved back to a column mounted stalk. For smoothness, fluid filled engine mounts were added, while the power steering boost was trimmed for feel at high speeds. A total of 6,419 units were produced for the 1990 model year.
For 1991 new five-spoke wheels with Goodyear GS-D Z-rated tires were made standard along with ABS on Turbo models. Optional was an out-sliding power sunroof while the Sport Roof and pop-up sunroof are still available. 3,623 units were built for 1991.
The final year for the third generation, the 1992 Toyota Supra featured the revision of Automatic transmission shift points. Made optional for this year was a ten-speaker stereo system with the ETR/Cassette/CD systems. 1,193 models were produced for the year.
Introduced in 1993, the third generation of the Toyota Supra featured new softly rounded styling along with a more compact look wrapped around a 2+2 body style, though only children or small pets could fit in the back seat. For 1993 a total of 2,901 units were produced. For 1994, 3,422 models were sold.
Toyota took a huge leap in the direction of a more super sports car in the MK IV. Designed from the ground up, the fourth generation of Supra featured two completely new engines, the naturally aspirated 2JZ-GE 220hp and 210 lb-ft of torque, or a twin turbocharged 2JZ-GTE which reached an amazing 320h 315 lb-ft of torque. Able to achieve 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, the turbocharged variant could reach the ¼ mile in just below 13.1 seconds at over 109 mph. Stock turbos are capable of running around 400bhp with an unrestricted airflow/exhaust system and an aftermarket boost controller which is commonly known as a BPU system.
Actually operating in sequential mode rather parallel mode as the ‘twin turbo' name usually implies, the MKIV Supra's twin turbos operated just as the first turbo starts spooling at low rpms and as the rpms increase the second turbo joins in. This was effective in reducing turbo lag. Most vehicles which are advertised as ‘twin turbo' operate by having two equally sized turbos consistently running in parallel, meaning that the turbos spool up at the same time. For the MKIV generation, the Toyota Supra received a new 6-speed Getrag transmission on the Turbo models.
For 1998 the Supra underwent a few minor changes that included the removal of the Anniversary emblems on the front fenders. On the interior, a new 3-spoke steering wheel replaced the previous 4-spoke wheel. Cloth sports seats now featured a bolder design, and the radio was redesigned. Modified to produce over 1200hp, MKIV Supras can reach the ¼ mile in 7.9 seconds. Toyota ceased to export the cars from Japan in 1998, and ended production altogether in 2002 due to a decline in sales. For this year, a total of 1,232 models were produced.
There is some speculation at the possibility that Toyota will base the future Supra on the next generation Altezza, which would be powered by a Twin-Turbocharged V6 Engine. Others speculate the future Toyota Supra will become the next flagship model for the company, pushing the Toyota Century off the flagship spot.
A few possible concepts for the new Supra were featured in 2006. This new model is speculated to have both a convertible and coupe version with 2 engine models. The rumored price falls around $50,000 for the V8 and $40,000 for the V6.By Jessica Donaldson