The cars we loved.

1993-2002 Toyota Supra: Going Out With a Bang



1997 Toyota Supra Turbo

1997 Toyota Supra Turbo

Very few cars rolled out of the 90’s with ledgendary status. The ZR-1 and 300ZX Turbo are a few that come to mind. The other is the Toyota Supra. Once a higher trim level of the Celica, the Supra was spun off into its own model with higher aspirations towards comfort and performance. Some successive generations delivered a on again off again alternation of sports car performance and comfortable grand tourer. After six years of the big leasurly Mark III car (1986-1992), Toyota decided to redefine the Supra’s image yet again with an all new Mark IV design for 1993. The new flowing aerodynamic shap was in sharp contrast to the previous generation, looking almost elegant. The new shape could not masked the fact that this Supra would swing once again towards hard edged performance.
Supra Targa Top Turbo

Supra Targa Top Turbo

Starting with the Japanese market Soarer (Lexus SC300/400) subframe and suspension, the new Supra would feature two inline 6 cylinder engines, a naturally aspirated 3.0 producing 220 hp and a twin turbocharged version making 276 hp. Models destined for the USA were even more powerful with upgraded fuel injectors rasing power to 320! The new car caused a sensation in the press. Some testers recorded 0 to 60 times as low as 4.9 seconds with a top speed of 177 mph. Certainly faster than anything Toyota had sold in the States by 1993. Part of the reason the twin turbo model’s performance was so impressive was due to the way the turbos worked together. Many twin turbo cars at the time had turbos that worked in pararell. The result was usually some turbo lag with a big burst of thrust higer in the power band. With Toyota’s twin turbos, they operated sequentially by supplying two stages of boost that made power delivery very smooth and leanier as one stepped on the gas. The only other car in its class using this type of setup was Mazda’s RX7. Other popular high performance cars like the Mitsubishi’s 3000GT and the Nissan Skyline GT used a parell system. The Supra could stop as well as it accellerated, due to a sophisticated four channel ABS system. A Car and Driver test in 1997 recorded a record braking distance from 70mph of 149 feet in. The record was broken by a Porsche Carrera GT in 2004.

JDM Supra Interior

JDM Supra Interior

Turbo cars used a 6-speed manual gearbox while the non turbo models featured a standard 5- speed manual. Toyota went to great length to reduce weight with magnesium alloy steering wheels, lighter carpet fibers and even a plastic gas tank lid. The rear wheel drive two seater came loaded with airbags, leather seats and traction control in addition to all the creature comforts of a premium sports car. Despite being loaded with technology, the Supra was still lighter than the Nissan 300Zx and Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4.

There were very few changes made to the Supra over the course of its short run to 2002. In 1996 the Turbo model was available with a four speed automatic transmission to meet OBD-II regulations (standardized diagnostic system). The following year the manual returned along with small revisions to rear lights. 1997 was also the 15th anniversary of the Supra and all models recived special badging. Sales had always been small. The cost of the Supra was much more than anyone was accustomed to paying in a Toyota dealership. It was a wonder that it never went under the lexus name, but then there was the SC300/400 with similar capibilities at a similar price point. Sales ended in Canada in 1996 and in the US a year later. By then the turbo was not available in many states due to new emission regulations. Like the 300ZX and Mazda RX-7 production continued in Japan for a few years after sales ended in North America.

For many people, especially in America, the Supra was THE Japanese supercar of the 90’s, especially since the Nissan Skyline was not officially imported and only a few ever had the chance to drive one here. Sure there was Honda’s NSX, but it went after Ferraris, leaving Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan to grapple over the high middle ground. Being a Toyota meant that the Supra’s quality and day to day drivability would be no different from a Corolla which couldn’t hurt when that kind of quality came with Corvette like performance.

1996 Toyota Supra

1996 Toyota Supra


2 comments on “1993-2002 Toyota Supra: Going Out With a Bang

  1. Overboard
    November 9, 2012

    The Supra did not have a V6 engine. It had an inline 6. Completely different.

    • autopolis
      November 9, 2012

      Yes, you’re right – they have always had inline 6 engines. I intended to say six cylinder engine.

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This entry was posted on June 22, 2011 by in 90's cars, Toyota and tagged , , , , .
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