The funny thing about super-rare cars is that although they do pop up once in a long while on the used car market, sometimes they’re in a condition that straddles the line between repairable and guaranteed divorce. Such is the case with this one-owner Toyota Supra Turbo, a car that just might make it back on the road with some out-of-the-box thinking.
This car started its life as a bone stock 1997 Toyota Supra Turbo. Currently, it’s the most desirable ‘90s Japanese turbocharged car on the used car market, bar none. The stout 2JZ-GTE engine can handle horsepower figures near four digits on the stock engine block, and the Getrag 6-speed transmission is one of the strongest ever fitted to a passenger car, with its breaking point being in the 1500 HP range. With all of this over-engineering going on, it’s no surprise that the car that went so far to outlast and outperform its competitors has appreciated so sharply over the past few years. This one-owner car, however, has suffered quite a rough accident and had both of its front airbags deployed, along with the front right portion of the car nearly obliterated.
Although the parts that aren’t associated with the accident look to be in good shape, it’s fairly obvious that the car’s frame is damaged beyond any sort of quality repair, despite the claims of the seller:
I purchased it 9 months ago with the intention of restoring the vehicle. Since purchasing I have bought an original replacment door, hood, fender, driver airbag, upper control arm and rotor. The actual frame of the car was not damaged in the accident at all. All of the damage is on the front passenger side apron/ door jam. I have removed the original fender so that you can see the extent of the damage. I have purchased a replacement apron assembly from another totaled supra that includes everything form the strut tower back past the door jam and half way into the firewall toward the drivers side. The only other parts you will need to complete this repair will be a passenger side airbag, front bumper, headlight, intercooler, and air filter.
That description reeks of bullshit, as the “only other thing” you’ll need include some parts - and a complete dismantling and reconstruction of the car’s structure to make road worthy. When a car experiences a direct hit like this, energy doesn’t stop at the front strut tower - it travels throughout the car, screwing up body lines and forming creases in places you didn’t know existed. Even if you could get the car back up and running with the help of the seller’s included parts, the car would still have a salvage title, which would draw considerable skepticism from any potential future buyers. However, there are a few potential solutions to the problem.
First, in addition to the car in question, you could buy a relatively inexpensive naturally aspirated Supra like this one and swap over all drivetrain and braking components. You could then sell the rest of the parts to recoup the cost, and you’d have a running, driving Toyota Supra with all the best stock components and a clean title for less than the ~$30k+ they’re currently trading for.
Second, you could simply abandon the Supra platform altogether. The Lexus SC300 is mechanically identical to the Supra, and all mechanical components would bolt up without issue, and you could find a relatively clean example for a fraction of the price of a Supra. Even the cleanest model on eBay still isn’t as much as a comparable used-and-abused Supra, so having a Lexus with the high-power running gear would be a step in the right direction for anyone that wants a relatively cheap, reliable and luxurious sleeper.
I’ll be watching this auction closely, as I have a few plans for my own SC300 that could benefit from the Supra’s running gear. Even in its depressed state, it’s still a very desirable version of one of the most desirable Japanese cars ever.
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos 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.