The Toyota Supra is one of the brand’s most popular nameplates of all time, and a modern successor to the model that last appeared over 10 years ago has often been talked about. Last we heard, reports suggested that a hybrid concept would appear at this year’s Tokyo motor show, ahead of a 2017 launch.
With the said motor show just a few months away, however, Toyota has been keeping mum over the matter. Odd timing, then, that Toyota UK’s official blog site has posted up a history chart of the Supra, chronicling all four generations of the sports car.
The Supra story started in 1978 as a designation for a longer, wider and more powerful derivation of the second-generation Celica coupe. Powered by six-cylinder engines instead of four-bangers, the Celica Supra (badged Celica XX in Japan) was Toyota’s answer to the Nissan/Datsun Z-cars.
In 1981, the luxury grand tourer was replaced by a sharper Mk2 Celica XX (again named the Celica Supra in all export markets), bringing with it independent rear suspension, stretched long wheelbase to fit a 2.8 litre twin-cam straight six motor, flared wheel arches and pop-up headlamps.
The Supra achieved true ‘independence’ in 1986 when it was separated from the Celica model lineup. Now simply called the Supra (the XX designation dropped), the third generation model employed double wishbones on all four corners, with forged aluminium upper arms, no less.
Focus has now moved from being a comfortable cruiser to an outright sports car, and the top Japan-only 3.0GT Turbo A model boasted a 3.0 litre turbocharged and intercooled twin-cam in-line six with 270 hp. It was the fastest Japanese car of its time, before the sports car market went on a power craze with the Z32-series Nissan 300ZX, FD-series Mazda RX-7 and Honda NSX.
Then came the Mk4 Supra that we all know and love in 1993. Shorter, lower and wider than the car it replaced, the new Supra’s proportions and flowing design owed more to the 2000GT of the Sixties than its predecessors. It was made to be aerodynamic and light too, weighing 100 kg less than before.
Allied to a simplified engine lineup of either naturally aspirated or twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre JZ-series straight six offering between 220 hp and 326 hp (limited to 280 hp in Japan), top-spec turbo versions with Toyota’s first six-speed gearbox now offered supercar performance. It was often compared to more expensive European thoroughbreds.
The Supra’s impressive run came to an end in Europe in 1996, and it was withdrawn from the North American market by the end of 1998. Toyota continued to sell the Supra in Japan before finally axing it in July 2002. Total production of the two Celica Supra and strict Supra generations stood at 593,337 units.
Interestingly, the article ended with this line: “time will tell whether that figure (production total) will increase in the future…” which is rather suggestive (no, not that way), don’t you think? Read into it what you will, but we think you’d all agree that a Toyota Supra replacement is long overdue. With the new Honda NSX due soon, the timing couldn’t be any better too.