The History of the Toyota Supra

Pretty much every car enthusiast wants to own a Toyota Supra. Let’s take a quick look at this car’s 40-year history and see if we can figure out why this car has such a following.

The first Toyota Supra was manufactured in late 1978 in Japan and looked very similar to the Toyota Celica. It was just a tad bit longer and wider. What set it apart was the 2.6-liter inline-6 engine, which was also Toyota’s first electronic fuel injection engine. The car was available standard with a manual transmission as well as optional in an automatic transmission, 4-wheel-independent suspension, and 4-wheel disc brakes. Via a convenience package one could get power locks and windows, as well as cruise control. A sunroof was optional for buyers. Its official name was Toyota Celica Supra.

In 1981 its engine got an upgrade, as did the transmission and gearing. It became a completely redesigned car, which landed on several best cars lists 1983-1984. A new Sports Performance Package featuring front and rear spoilers became an option, as well as raised white letter tires and a sports suspension. Its official name was Toyota Celica XX and it introduced the world to the very first navigation computer. Two models were available in the U.S. market, the “Performance Type” and “Luxury Type.” The tires, wheels, trim and interiors were what set these two models apart.

1986 marked the year when the Supra became its own brand and received its own identity. This is the year it was no longer associated with the Celica line. The new model launched in February 1986 with a new body, which was shorter than the previous model. It was elegant, had an all-new coupe body, and felt like a crossover between a sports car and a cruiser. Its greatest achievement? It reached 0-60 in 8.4 seconds. Its greater failure? Most likely due to an error in the factory, most engines had issues with blown gaskets. However, a recall was never issued since the problem could easily be fixed by replacing the head gasket. Regardless of the mishap, this version of the Supra became a display of the manufacturer’s advancements in its technology developments.

Its most iconic model was released in 1993 and got the reputation of a “go-to tuner machine” thanks to its appearance as the star car in the 2010 Fast and Furious movie. This car was completely re-designed. It had a rounded body style, two new engines, and aluminum alloy wheels and was roughly 200 lbs. lighter than the previous generation Supra. It holds a special place in car enthusiasts’ hearts and helped Supra achieve its iconic status.

After four generations, the Supra was retired in the U.S. in 1998 after sales started to dip. Production and sales continued in Japan for four more years but ultimately ceased there as well due to stricter emissions standards.

By 2007 it was clear that Toyota was planning on reviving the brand. It introduced a concept car at the auto show help in Detroit, Michigan and fans’ reception was positive. This car remained a concept, as did their 2014 model. But then 2017 came around and trademark patents were filed for Supra in the United States. So was Toyota finally ready to bring back it’s sports coup to life? Well, it sure looks that way. Car enthusiasts kept the brand alive throughout the year with their excitement. Earlier this year at the Geneva auto show, Toyota announced that the Supra will return.

Racing fans can now rejoice. It was announced in July that the Supra will make an appearance in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series, where it’s replacing the Camry. If the actual race car looks anything like the Gazoo Racing (GR) Supra race car concept, it’s sure to turn heads at the track.

The fifth generation Supra was unveiled in July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England and it’s been confirmed that the 2020 model will make an appearance at the 2019 North American International Show (January 14-27) in Detroit, Michigan.


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