In the mid '90s, Toyota released a full-fledged GT car for the masses — a top of the line, analog masterpiece that not only took the world by storm, but became a staple in the auto community as the standard in World Beaters. It's called the Toyota Supra, and here are a few reasons you should own one.
(Photo by Jason Lane on Flickr)
The Toyota Supra, for the public that truly craves it, is unobtainium. It's priced out of the range of the YouTube-obsessed teens that dream about them, and most banks won't give $30k loans to 20-somethings with no credit to finance a 20 year old Toyota with 120,000 miles. In this case, the only ones who buy the Supra are older people that want it as a nostalgia piece — something that they can recall from their childhood as being particularly cool. However, as other cars, such as the Nissan GT-R, Chevrolet Corvette, and Porsche 911 become more attainable to this affluent owner base, their prized Supras are being sold off in large quantities, but with higher premiums and more expensive modifications.
However, there is good news. The surge in prices for desirable examples (turbo, 6-speed manual) is starting to normalize and now you can find fair used examples of the twin turbo Toyota Supra starting around $25k, with some selling far below that.
In the '50s, Japan's infrastructure and economy was in a slow recovery after the Second World War. Their automobile manufacturing industry produced a vast selection of cars, but they were about as reliable as a Ugandan bus route. Flash forward 50 years later, and the largest manufacturer of cars in Japan — Toyota — has rewritten the rules concerning reliability and engineering. What they accomplished in the '90s was absolutely beyond belief. Let me give you a few quick examples:
The base 2JZ-GE drivetrain, a 3.0-liter inline-six with an automatic transmission, was used in not only the Toyota Supra, but the Lexus SC300 and Lexus GS300. A quick look on the Lexus Owner's Club forum and you'll be able to find that the average mileage of naturally aspirated 2JZ drivetrain rivals that of some 18-wheelers. While Supras do tend to have lower mileage simply because they were more prized by their owners due to price and rarity, a glance at ebay reveals that it's more common to find a car with a deep 6-figure mileage figure than it is a sheltered garage queen.
(Photo by C3 Photography)
The body panels don't rust like a 240SX, the interior doesn't fall apart like an RX-7, and the clear coat doesn't crack like a 3000GT. It's built like a Power Wagon and looks better than any Ferrari of the decade. It's the perfect car to take cross country, and the first one you'd jump into at the first sign of a zombie apocalypse. Let's hope the new one lives up to the MKIV's awesome legacy.
The combination of the twin turbo 2JZ-GTE powerplant and Getrag 6-speed transmission is so insanely robust that it can handle horsepower figures reserved for million dollar hypercars — without any extensive modification. The engine's iron block, forged rotating assembly, and low compression pistons can handle 700 horsepower at the wheels pretty reliably, with the upper limit on the stock engine block being a hair under 900 wheel horsepower. Let's put that into perspective:
From the factory, the 2JZ-GTE engine produced around 300 horsepower at the wheels (320 HP at the crank, but most reports say that number is underrated, at the very least). How much would a reliable performance shop charge to get your Supra an extra 400 horsepower at the wheels? Around $15k - $20k. If you forego the shop labor and perform the extremely straightforward procedure yourself, you can get that same amount of power that a Pagani Zonda 760RS puts out for less than $10k.
(Photo by JAK SIE MASZ on Flickr)
If you choose to go the fully built engine route and spend north of $50,000 on a build, you'd end up with a car that would embarrass a Koenigsegg One:1 on a dyno and 1/4 mile track. It's also important to note that while you can spend a tidy sum on the engine, the 6-speed manual transmission will handle whatever power you throw at it, no matter how rough the delivery of that power is. It makes the GTR's Double Clutch Transmission look like it's made of soggy toilet paper rolls and stale crackers.
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" (Photo by JAK SIE MASZ on Flickr)
There are a few cars that have this level of "right" in their design. The Supra is a timeless shape that exudes all the best attributes of masculinity and combines them with a smooth flowing feminine shape. It can be admired from any angle and has a presence that, in my opinion, hasn't yet been surpassed by any other car.
(Photo by WillVision on Flickr)
It's not an ode to the 1990's as much as it is a time capsule to an era when cars were over-engineered to the point that they're still relevant and competitive 20 years down the line.
(Photo by JAK SIE MASZ on Flickr)
It's no different in the interior; it's the right combination of low seating position, driver-focused dash, simple 3-gauge instrument cluster, and amazing visibility. Everything you need and nothing you don't.
(Photo by Owen on Flickr)
There's just something about a high-revving inline-six strapped to a huge turbo screaming at full tilt that makes the child in me do somersaults. The sound the Toyota Supra makes, when modified is nothing short of breathtaking. Stop everything you're doing and listen to this, it will give you goosebumps:
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.