WHAT: Toyota Supra Twin Turbo (Jap import/auto)
USED & ABUSED FOR HOW LONG: 2 years
MILEAGE COVERED: Approx 14,000 miles
FUEL EFFICIENCY: Around 300 miles on a tank (70l tank so about £100 to fill up now)
PROS: A manual twin turbo Supra will set you back a premium, yet I still hanker for one some years on from owning an auto model. But, and it’s a seriously large but, the auto box is quite a surprise. I remember the test drive I took before buying a Supra and it blew me away. Stamp the accelerator and the auto just kicks the power down and smoothly charges through the gears. The only time after buying it that I thought a manual would be better was on B-roads where I may have wanted to control the revs more through the bends, but generally I didn’t feel any detriment. Later VVTI engine Supras offered a tiptronic box which I’m sure would be interesting.
For me the major pros for this car were the looks and the fact that for the price of a well used, high mileage Golf GT TDI I had a car that proved to be a Ferrari beater and a motorcycle worrier. Only two cars I’ve owned have resulted in thumbs up from bikers and this was one of them. I was told my Supra was BPU (Basic Performance Upgrade) which from memory means uprated fuel pump, exhaust filter and injectors, but I couldn’t confirm that outside of the filter and exhaust. Still, it felt like a 300-320bhp car which is around the kind of mark a Jap-spec Supra is meant to produce with this level of tinkering.
Another major plus point for me was the sound. The Tannabe exhaust sounded mental and the 6-cylinder roar with the whoosh of sequential turbos makes for a pretty special soundtrack. But it’s also not an intrusive noise. Using it daily was totally comfortable (and that comfort stretches to the seats and seating position too) but for those outside the car the noise is probably more disruptive…to the point that a garage I used took the car out for a test drive and a few minutes later I found myself rushing out of their workshop to see what monster of a car was turning up, only to find it was mine. Sweet!
CONS: Running costs are high. Being an import doesn’t help insurance, but you’ve also got to factor in the high fuel bills and appetite for rear tyres. I used mine as a daily driver and it was superb, aside from the expensive fuel stops. I ran mine on the standard 16in wheels and then 18in wheels which hardly altered the ride, although the 16s did feel a little easier to get smoking and more eager to lose traction. Supras are well-known for reliability, but mine crapped its auto box which I presume is more bad luck than a common problem. I do recall having issues with warning lights to the right of the steering wheel which could be sorted with a whack to the top of the dashboard, a problem that quite a few that have had speedo conversions suffer from due to bad quality electrical tampering around that area.
The two things I would have improved about my Supra would have been a brake upgrade as the J-spec ones are pants (UK brakes are bigger and better so that’s a popular route to follow) and the addition of UK headlights. Jap headlights are plastic and go a bit yellow over time whereas UK ones are glass and last longer. Alternatively you can split your light units and recondition the Jap ones, plenty of advice on that subject can be found on the ever-helpful http://www.mkivsupra.net.
POINTS OF INTEREST: The 2JZ-GTE engine is a legend in the tuning world, capable of double the power and more on standard internals. Search the web and you’ll find plenty of 1000bhp+ Supras capable of demolishing quarter miles. They’ve also been turned into very capable drifters. It always seems that the Skyline GT-R over-shadowed the Supra and more recently highly tuned EVOs are more in favour for fast lap times, but despite the weight and ‘muscle car’ (with corresponding medallion) image I don’t think you’d ever feel let down by a Supra’s all-round ability. And for looks, only the RX-7 of that era comes close…but you’ve got to be a brave wheelman to own a rotary.
If you’re thinking of buying one there are obviously a lot of tuned versions about. My only suggestion here would to not to be too seduced by big power initially. Most of the high horsepower Supras opt for single turbo conversions, but I was really fond of the steady delivery of the twin set-up and would recommend you test drive both to make your own mind up.
VERDICT: Bang for your buck, the MkIV Supra Twin Turbo is about as good as it gets. Highish running costs aside, it’s as close to a supercar in looks and performance as you can get for under £10k and there’s such a wealth of tuning parts available you’ll never be short of things to be playing with.
PROJECT INSPIRATION: Supras with light tuning and styling or heavier doses of both all have something special about them