A Visual History of the Toyota Supra: Glorified Celica to Fastly Furious Movie Star

A Supra Visual History: From Glorified Celica to Fastly Furious Movie StarWhat’s in a Name?About that engine: The original 1979 Celica Supra is powered by a 110-hp 2.6-liter inline-six. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. In our testing, the torque-rich six pushes the Celica Supra to 60 mph in 11.2 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 18.4 seconds at 76 mph—acceptable for the time but nothing to marvel at. As the first-generation Celica Supra’s run comes to a close, it graduates to a larger 2.8-liter inline-six producing 116 horsepower.How Supra Found Its GrooveThe second-gen Celica Supra bows for the 1982 model year and swaps the old model’s live rear axle for independent semi-trailing arms, a setup that helps earn it fourth place—beating a Ferrari, a Lotus, and two Porsches—in a 1984 Car and Driver comparison test seeking the best-handling imported car. And in 1985, the Toyota finishes second to the Audi Coupe GT in an eight-car battle to determine the best sports coupe in America. Underhood, a new twin-cam 2.8-liter inline-six corrals 145 horses, making it 29 ponies stronger than the single-cam unit it replaced.Turbo Power!Fourth Time’s the CharmForced induction remains on the menu. While the standard 1993 Supra makes do with a 220-hp 3.0-liter inline-six, the Supra Turbo piles another 100 ponies atop that—courtesy of a pair of turbochargers—for a total of 320. In our testing, a six-speed manual Supra Turbo rockets to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and crosses the quarter-mile marker after 13.8 seconds at 106 mph. Both figures best those posted by the contemporary Chevrolet Corvette, Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4, Nissan 300ZX Turbo, and Porsche 968—all sports cars it beats in a September 1993 comparison test in this magazine. (In March of that year, we’d coaxed a particularly brisk Supra Turbo to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and through the quarter in 13.1 seconds at 109 mph.)Alas, the Supra Turbo loses its place atop the comparison-test throne in August 1997, when it is defeated by the BMW M3. Despite placing third (the then new 1997 Chevrolet Corvette takes home silver), the Supra Turbo exhibits dynamics that continue to impress us mightily, and a mere two points separate the Toyota and the BMW in our scoring. Sadly, media praise and factory price cuts weren’t reversing the Supra’s stalled sales. Toyota ditches the Supra in America, and 1998 marks the breed’s final year of U.S. sales.Fast, FuriousToyota, the TeaseSeven years after pulling the cover off the FT-HS design exercise, Toyota brings another sports car concept to Detroit. This time dubbed FT-1, the low-slung concept car has slinky coupe styling that tears at fans’ heartstrings. Could this finally signal the Supra’s return?’sup, Supra?The Supra’s return is linked with, of all things, that of a new BMW. Toyota’s resurrected coupe is based on a platform shared with the forthcoming BMW Z4 roadster, and its inline-six will be derived from a BMW unit. Expect an eight-speed automatic transmission to guide the engine’s 300-plus horses to the new Supra’s rear wheels. The coupe is set to arrive before 2020—but not before a few more concepts and teases.

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