Geneva is about to unveil a car bearing the name of a car you undoubtedly have heard about. For this reason you’re going to have expectations, so let’s peer into a little history of the Supra and see if Toyota really wants to resurrect it from the dead.
Just using the iconic name inspires visions of power and performance. The Toyota Supra MK4, offered from 1993 to 2002, was iconic for its appearance in the Fast and the Furious after it stomped on a Ferrari 355 rival for the truly repeated line, “more than you can afford pal… Ferrari.” From the Castrol Tom’s Supra, used in Super GT, and other famously reported 1,000 horsepower Supras its fame pushed its price tag North of $40,000 for an unmolested version. But, was all this hype up to snuff?
If you’ve dealt with anything in car land you’ll notice that numbers are more skewed than a sailor adjusted for fish size, and the Supra was no exception. It came stock with 320 horsepower in the turbo variant for the stateside version and although there were a ton of upgrades that made it produce impressive digits, most only put down 600 horsepower on the dyno. The one the Fast and the Furious was modeled after made only 544 horespower at 6,800 rpms. Albeit that does make its numbers above that Ferrari 355 on paper, you’ll have to remember it weighs in a fatty 200 pounds heavier, not counting the body kit. As for cheaper, sure when the movie came out not many people could even spell the word Supra, but once the movie came out, adding in cost of upgrades, and how unreliable that power was, well let’s just say the total price tag is debatable at best. Even the Castrol Tom variant didn’t even use the notable 2JZ-GTE engine replacing it with a 450 horsepower 3S-GTE 4 cylinder to cut weight and it enjoyed a successful racing career after it did that. So I think we can come to terms with the idea that what we thought we knew about the Supra wasn’t exactly accurate.
So now fast-forward to 2018 and realize that none of the information I’ve just said has sunk in. You hear the word Supra and what’s the first thing you think? A thousand horsepower tuner car that can crush Ferraris for half the price after we put $10,000 in it and overnight parts… from Japan. But can it?
So how will it match up to our expectations? With Ferraris cresting the $200k mark I think we’re safe it’s cheaper, but with a rumored $50,000 price tag the question is, is it more than we can afford as well? With a 335 horsepower output unfortunately we know it won’t be smoking ’em anytime soon. Even the aged 355 Ferrari came with 375 horsepower. You also won’t be banging away at gears a la Fast and Furious either since it only comes in automatic trim. It also comes with a good deal of tech under the hood and without the power potential of a ceramic engine under the hood it won’t be making 600 horsepower anytime soon or without a great deal of investment. Not to mention the sizing of this new car will resemble a Z Type BMW which is in stark contrast to the large body of the original. We brings us to the next point.
Did we mention it’s also a BMW? Sure enough, the new Supra is actually a Z type BMW. In fact, the Z Type will have a 380 horsepower option not available in the Supra. Now since we bring up BMW the questions of reliability and tuning come up and now there’s a whole new can of worms that we have to deal with. A cheap tuner car, this is not.
This leads us back to the original question, should Toyota revive the name Supra? Let’s be honest, without the expectation of the title Supra, go back over and review the numbers, you’ll realize this is a pretty sweet ride. It’s got great power, sleek looks, BMW performance backing it, and although it isn’t going to outrun Ferraris anytime soon I’ll venture it’s no pawn on the chess board. Looking at it without the title Supra this is going to be a fun car!!!
There-in lies the problem we’re addressing. Without the title there’s no expectation. We have to be frank and say the Supra bar is just way to high. Unlike the Skyline that made its name off of technology and track performance versus outright power, the Supra only lived to be a tuner powerhouse. The expectation bar is so much higher and in fact, like a legendary pro wrestler it’s a fantasy height that nothing that followed it could truly attain. It’s the same reason we never got another RX-7, because there is only one RX-7. That being said, there was nothing wrong with making an RX-8. You just can’t live up to the height.
So I hope that when you see the unveiling of the new Supra that you forget the Supra name exists. Look at the vehicle as something completely new and hopefully it won’t fall into the expectation pool that killed the 7th Generation Celicas that eventually mothballed the name in sad obscurity. Hopefully the title can survive this aberration and live on and if not we will continue to discuss this topic for another 20 years.
Thanks for reading and if you have any input put it in the comments below!