The Toyota Supra is the Japanese motor manufacturer's coupe sports car that was in production between 1978 and 2002 and available as an Australian import from 1982 until 1990. Its initial architecture was based around that of the Toyota Celica, but designers added a little length and width to the final car. The first-generation Supra owes much of its styling to the American muscle cars of the 1970s - broad, angular with a pronounced front bumper, and inset headlights. The 1980s models saw a gentle curving roof develop, trailing down to a narrow boot, with a large rear window streaking across much of the rear seats.
The mainstay of the Australian Toyota Supra was the third-generation MkIII. Released in 1986, it was completely restyled, totally cutting its connection with the Celica. It became the company's sporting Grand Tourer show car. Throughout the MkIII's history, there were lots of changes in body work, alloy wheel design, and steering wheels, as well as modified engines. Most of these though were merely cosmetic and had little to do with the overall look or performance of the car.
The 1982 MkII that was available in Australia was powered by a 2.7L SOHC that had 103kW of power and 226Nm torque. The earlier engines were capable of reaching 100km/h in 9.8 seconds and were fitted with a standard W58 5-speed manual gearbox or 4-speed automatic transmission. Both of these gearboxes were linked to an overdrive gear system, and the automatic featured a locking torque converter. On the automatic, the additional extra power from the overdrive kicks in as soon as the car reaches 56km/h.
Beneath the pinched front end, the MkIII Supra was fitted with the new 3.0L naturally aspirated engine and a turbocharged, straight 6 version was available by 1986. The 3.0L, 7M-GE was Toyota's premier engine of the time and produced a 173kW and 344Nm torque, giving it a spritely 0 to 100km/h acceleration in 6.9 seconds. It was also an easy car to customise with car enthusiasts giving the Toyota's engine an even more impressive performance quality just with a few simple tweaks.
The MkIII did, however, suffer problems with blown head gaskets due to a design tooling fault. This manufacturing error was simple to remedy by changing and applying the correct torque to the head bolts during refit.
The technological advances didn't stop at the engine, and the third-generation Supra was kitted out with ABS and TEMS suspension damper controlling, slip differential, the ACIS to increase power, and a double wishbone suspension for a more comfortable ride. The 1983 versions came fitted with the revolutionary Electronically Controlled Transmissions (ECT), allowing drivers to select between 'power' mode or the standard 'normal' setting.
The standard equipment you'd expect to find inside the Supra MkII included power steering, power windows, tilt steering wheel, electric door locks, automatic climate control, cruise control, and a retractable map light. The added extras drivers could order included a sunroof, 5-speaker radio/cassette player, and 7-channel graphic equaliser. The standard fabric interior came with the P-types, but if you so desired, you could have plush leather upholstery. The dashboard had a futuristic feel with its flashing LED digital display.
The MkIII came with the same standard equipment as previous models but also the option of a removable Targa roof panel for sunny days. You could also choose to have a sunshade on the large rear window.
The luxurious, sleek, sports car coupe division has always had a certain cachet to it, and the mid-1980s saw the Toyota Supra pitted against rival countrymen, the Nissan 300ZX and Mitsubishi GTO, for domination of the market. There were the European Grand Tourers to compete with too, with the likes of the Porsche 929, Jaguar XJS, Lamborghini LM002, Ferrari GTO, and Aston Martin Zagato.
The Toyota sports cars always suffered the same nagging concerns from buyers - that is wasn't a Porsche, Ferrari, or Lamborghini. The Supra has, however, proven to be a decent power unit that is durable and reliable, and for its time and classification, it is an economical sports car to run. It was an innovative car of its day with turbocharged engine, anti-lock brakes, and electronic fuel injection, and it was considered an affordable exotic car when compared to its rivals. Nowadays, it is a cult acquisition amongst collectors of early Japanese sports cars.