Toyota Supra: road car buying guide

Once the most powerful Toyota ever, it’s now much in demand, reveals Robert Ladbrook – with appeal to collectors and tuners

1993 Toyota Supra

A poor seller in period, the 1993-98 Mk4 Supra is now a sought-after performance car – with film-star cred

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While it may be best recognised by the younger generation clad in vibrant orange, sporting garish graphics and enormous spoilers, the Toyota Supra still stands as an icon, and it’s one that’s rapidly shaking off its Max Power image to emerge as a collectible classic.

Well, the Mk4 A80 (1993-98) certainly is. This is the car that firmly put the Supra name on the map, and the big screen. We’re not bashing the new Supra (2019-), which shares so much with BMW’s Z4. It’s a fine car, but if you like your Supra to be Japanese (and not Austrian, like the Mk5), this is the one you’ll want.

The Supra badge first appeared in 1978 when it was used to sell wider, fatter and slightly more luxurious Celicas. Then, in 1986, Toyota cut ties between the two models and produced the first standalone Supra aimed at becoming the company’s first true sporting flagship since the 2000GT of the 1960s. But it never worked out like that. The wedge design with pop-up headlamps may have won some fans, but it never wowed people as Toyota had hoped. So, for the Supra’s fourth iteration, Toyota opted to push the boat out and build a true sports car – something that could really live up to the legacy of the 2000GT.

It started with a full redesign by Isao Tsuzuki, which gave the car more curves, but also a more muscular stance with its wide sills and flared arches, and then it went on a diet. Aluminium was used for the bonnet, the fuel tank was plastic while the steering wheel was magnesium. Toyota’s weight saving went as far as demanding carpets with hollow fibres. The result was a 1410kg chassis yearning for the right engine.

After ‘popping the hood’ in the famous scene in The Fast and the Furious, tuner Jesse exclaims: “Two-jay-zee engine… this will decimate all!” The Supra Mk4 benefited from one of the great modern engine designs – Toyota’s 3-litre DOHC 2JZ-GE, which then became GTE when fitted with clever twin turbochargers.

The result was Toyota’s most powerful production car ever, boasting 320bhp and a 0-60 time of 4.6sec in twin-turbo form. But the 2JZ offered extreme durability and tunability, which helped make the car manna for modifiers who could regularly coax close to 1000bhp from the engine without much issue.

For all its appeal, just 600 were sold across the first three years in the UK. By 1996 it was shelved in Europe, although Toyota continued to make the A80 until 2002 in Japan.

A true UK-spec car is rare, and a unicorn in showroom condition, and values of imported cars are rising too. Immaculate, original low-mileage Supras have been known to nudge £150,000 at auction. No longer restricted to boy racers, the Supra seems to finally be getting the plaudits it deserved all along

1995 Toyota SupraOne for sale

1995 Toyota Supra Twin-Turbo

Rare UK-spec car with 104k miles and much restoration
£39,000
[email protected]

 


Toyota Supra (A80) statistics

Price new £37,500
Price now £25,000-90,000
Engine 2997cc 2JZ-GE I6, 2JZ-GTE I6 Twin-Turbo
Rivals Honda NSX, Mitsubishi 3000 GT
Verdict Once the darling of the tuning community, it’s now a rare and rapidly appreciating modern classic.