Toyota Supra: A brief history of an iconic JDM
Japanese domestic market (JDM) cars hold a special place in every car enthusiast’s heart. The reliability of Japanese engineering, along with the limitless possibilities for tuning and customization make these cars a dream to drive. Some of the most iconic JDMs are the Nissan Skyline, Mazda RX-7, Honda Civic, Subaru WRX, and of course, the Toyota Supra.
If you grew up in the early 2000s like me, you probably had the pleasure of taking the Supra out for a spin in Need for Speed: Underground. The almost-perfect specs of the in-game Supra cemented its status as a cult classic, both for car enthusiasts and gamers. A few years before that though, the Supra got featured as one of the main vehicles in the first Fast and Furious movie, making the bright orange vehicle achieve mainstream success.
MKI: Supra A40
The Toyota Supra began in 1978, but back then, it was marketed as the Celica XX. The first-generation Supra was heavily based on the Celica hatchback, but modified slightly to accommodate a different engine. It was offered with two engine variants: a 2.0 liter 12-valve Inline-6 engine that made 123 hp, or a slightly less powerful 2.6 liter 12-valve Inline-6 that made around 110 hp. The latter variant is the same model that would be exported outside Japan. Both engine options came mated to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto, and both transmissions featured an “overdrive” gear, allowing the car to cruise while lowering the RPM, allowing it to have better fuel consumption.
The interior of the original Supra, although not revolutionary, screamed Japanese engineering. The design prioritized efficiency and reliability over luxury, but that didn’t mean that the Supra was sold bare. There were optional power windows and power door locks, as well as optional cruise control and sunroof. Identified by its chassis code A40, the original Supra was created to compete in a Datsun (Nissan) Z-car ruled world.
MKII: Supra A60
The next step in the Supra’s history came a couple of years later, when Toyota introduced the A60 Celica XX in 1981. Although it was still based on the Celica platform, the car had been completely redesigned. As was the trend at the time, the second-generation Supra now had pop-up headlights and a fully redesigned front fascia. It was now equipped with a 2.8 liter DOHC straight-six engine that made 145 hp, easily going head to head with some of the V8 cars in its era. There were two variants of the A60: an L-type (luxury) and a P-type (performance). Although mechanically identical, the two variants were differentiated by the available options such as tire size, wheel size, and body trim.
By the end of its run, the second generation Supra would put out as much as 161 hp.
MKIII: Supra A70
The launch of the third-generation Supra was a big deal, as it was the first time the car was marketed as a standalone model and not as a part of the Celica lineup. Launched in 1986, the A70 is now more luxurious, more powerful, and more awesome. It was the first Supra to be offered with a turbo, and a new engine had also been fitted under the hood: a 3.0-liter straight six that made 160 hp and up to 230 hp when turbocharged.
MKIV: Supra A80
The car that would win everyone’s hearts with its distinct curvy shape and powerful gearbox is the fourth generation Supra. The ever-so-iconic A80 was the peak of Toyota’s JDM empire, as the Japanese car industry experienced a massive boom throughout the late 80s and the early 90s. This was the time when every Japanese brand released their grail cars. Nissan had the 300ZX, Mazda had the RX-7 and the Miata, Honda had the NSX, and Toyota had the Supra.
Now fitted with the (equally iconic) 3.0-liter 2JZ-GTE engine that made up to 320 hp, tuners went crazy with the Supra. As the robust engine Toyota built could easily handle being tuned up to 1,000 hp, the Supra was famous for leaving supercars in the dust.
Despite being loved by enthusiasts worldwide, sales numbers were dropping steadily. Five years after its release, the last Supra rolled off the production line in 1998 in the US.
It wasn’t until three years later when the A80 Supra would achieve mainstream fame as one of the main cars in the first installment of the Fast and the Furious series. That particular car, driven by Paul Walker, was tuned up to put out as much as 670 hp with its wet N2O system in action. Although it had already been discontinued for years, fans of the car remained devoted, asking Toyota to bring back the amazing Supra.
MKV: Supra J29/DB
More than 20 years after it was discontinued, the Supra is back. Reactions were mixed, however, when fans and car enthusiasts learned that it will be built on a BMW platform. It was completely polarizing: half of the people were excited to see a new chapter unfold in the Supra’s story, while the other half weren’t too happy with it not being a “pure” Toyota, and has therefore lost the spirit of the Supra.
The fifth-generation Supra is offered with two engine options, each coming from BMW: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four that made 194-225 hp, and a 3.0-liter inline six that made around 335 to 382 hp. A manual transmission option is not offered for this generation.
The MKV Supra is heavily based on the FT-1 concept, featuring insane, sweeping lines and wide, flared fenders. The aggressive styling of the front end is accentuated by its broad LED lights that look like angry eyes.
Although you don’t see them much on the road, the new Supra is available in the Philippines. It comes with a 3.0-liter gasoline engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The new Toyota Supra starts at P4.99 million.