The Evolution of The Toyota Supra (History, Mk1-Mk5)

The Toyota Supra is a symbol of automotive excellence. It is a car every child, adult and enthusiast chants about. Not only has it proved that is deserves the praise through its reliability, design and performance, but it has managed to stay relevant as of today. To appreciate a beast like the Supra, we must trace back to its roots and find out how it came into being and adapted to become an automotive legend. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the evolution of the Toyota Supra.

The Origin of a Legend:

Now how much exhilarating is the car itself; its history isn’t as much. The Mark-I or A40/A50 Toyota Supra was based on the Toyota Celica, coming as a more sportier version. It was pretty much the same as the 2nd Gen Celica A40 (introduced in 1977) and shared most of the body. The differences that it had were that it offered more luxury features, was wider and offered a longer wheelbase. The front body panels were made longer to accommodate a more powerful Inline-6 engine compared to the I4 found in the Celica. Initially the Supra was branded as a higher-tier Celica but was later split into its own lineup. The Celica Supra was intended as a competitor to the Nissan Datsun. Supra is a Latin derived prefix, which means to “go beyond, surpass or be above.”

1. Celica Supra 1978-1981 (1st Gen/A40-A50/Mk-1):

As mentioned above, the supra was an extended version of the sporty Celica. Seeing the rising popularity of performance-segment cars such as the Nissan Datsun Z, the Celica was improved in several fields such as added features, larger body and an inline-6 engine producing a blistering 110 hp. In international markets it was available with 2.6L of displacement while in Japan the figure was reduced down to 2.0L. Features included cruise control, power windows and EFI.

2. Celica Supra 1981-1985 (2nd Gen/A60/Mk-2):

The second-generation Toyota Supra made its debut in 1981. It was completely redesigned, but the Celica name was still used with it in international markets. Unlike the first-generation, the 2nd gen had many differences from the Celica such as many different variants, larger engine, completely different front-end, etc. It was produced from 1981 to 1985, with slight performance and cosmetic changes over the years. Initially it came with 145 hp which was later increased to around 165 hp. Two variants were available, the L-Type and the P-type, where the L stood for luxury and the P for performance. The L and P type were offered with automatic (4-Speed) and manual (5-Speed) transmissions respectively. The second generation Supra was praised for its driving experience, performance and design by many journalists and car magazines. A Turbocharged variant was also available.

3. Toyota Supra 1986-1993 (3rd Gen/A70/Mk-3):

The third generation was introduced in 1986 and was again redesigned. The Celica name was dropped and now the Supra and Celica were two different models. The Celica switched to a FWD layout while the Supra rolled with RWD. The Supra was offered with a powerful 2.0L engine. Initially only naturally aspirated models were available, but in 1987, turbocharged variants were introduced. The NA variant produced about 200 hp while the turbocharged 7M-GTE engine produced 231 hp. The JZA70 was given the legendary 1JZ-GTE engine which produced about 270 hp, however it was only available for the Japanese market. Even though the 3rd generation Supra introduced many new technologies, advancements and an all-new design, it was received not very well compared to the A60 due to minor problems, but it does remain a praise-worthy vehicle as of today.

4. Toyota Supra 1993-2002 (4th Gen/A80/Mk-4):

And we finally come to it. The Supra was again redesigned, but now with a more curvy and sportier body. Packaged along with the legendary 2JZ engine and a driver-focused interior. The Japanese models had 220 hp and 276 hp for the NA and turbocharged models respectively, while for the US and European markets, the NA models offered 220 hp and the turbocharged ones, by installation of steel wheel turbochargers, the power output was increased to 320 hp. The car could accelerate from 0-60mph in around 4.5s. The car also held the 70-0 mph braking test record, till it was broken by the Porsche Carrera GT in 2004. In 1996, it received a facelift where the headlights, taillights and other body components were redesigned. After its production ended in 2002, the Supra went dark for 19 years, returning as the GR Supra in 2019.

5. Toyota GR Supra 2019- (5th Gen/A90-A91/Mk-5):

The Mk-5 Toyota Supra returned as a part of the Gazoo Racing family. It was developed along the BMW Z4 and shares many parts with it, including BMW’s 3.0L Inline-6 engine, which produces 335-382 horsepower and 365-368 lb-ft of torque. The interior encompasses much of BMW’s technology. Even though the A90 offers superb comfort, up to date technology, good performance along with a good design, it is criticized for essentially being more of a Z4. Unlike its predecessor, it does not have “the Toyota reliability’, customizability and even lacks its own engine. So, the criticisms are understandable. But if seen from a standalone perspective, the GR Supra is definitely a great car.

For Further Reading:

-Toyota Supra All Generations Detail (WiKi)

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