The Supra also traces much of its roots back to the Toyota 2000GT with the main instance being its engine. The first three generations were offered with a direct descendant to the Toyota Crown's and 2000GT's M engine. All four generations of Supra produced have an inline 6-cylinder engine. Interior aspects were also similar, as was the chassis code "A".
Along with this name and car Toyota also included its own logo for the Supra. It is derived from the original Celica logo, being blue instead of orange. This logo was used until January 1986, when the Mark III Supra was introduced. The new logo was similar in size, with orange writing on a red background, but without the dragon design. That logo, in turn, was on Supras until 1991 when Toyota switched to its current oval company logo. (the dragon logo was a Celica logo regardless of what color it was. It appeared on the first two generations of the Supra because they were officially Toyota Celicas. The dragon logo was used for the Celica line until it too was discontinued.)
In 1998, Toyota ceased sales of the Supra in the United States and in 2002 Toyota officially stopped production of the Supra in Japan. As an iconic sports car, the Supra has appeared in numerous video games, movies, music videos and TV shows. Some of the most notable appearances include the Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, Need for Speed, and Midnight Club series of video games and the 2001 film, The Fast and the Furious.
Mark I (1978–1981)
The first generation Supra was based largely upon the Toyota Celica liftback, but was longer by 129.5 mm (5.10 in). The doors and rear section were shared with the Celica but the front panels were elongated to accommodate the Inline-6 instead of the stock Celica's 4-cylinder engine. Toyota's original plan for the Supra at this time was to make it a competitor to the very popular Datsun (now Nissan) Z-car.
In April 1978 Toyota began production of the Mark I Supra in Japan, as the Toyota Celica XX, and sold alongside the Celica at Japanese dealership sales channels called Toyota Corolla Store . It debuted in the United States in Jan 1979. The USA Mark I (chassis code MA46) was originally equipped with a 110 hp (82 kW) 2,563 cc (2.563 L; 156.4 cu in) 12-valve SOHC inline-6 engine (4M-E). In April 1978, the Japanese Mark I (chassis code MA45) was offered with a 110 hp (82 kW) 2.0 L 12-valve SOHC inline-6 engine (M-EU). The Japanese Supra was equipped with the smaller 2.0 L engine so that buyers wouldn't incur an additional tax under vehicle size and engine displacement regulations. Both were equipped with electronic fuel injection.
Drive train options for the Mark I were either a 5-speed manual (W50) or an optional 4-speed automatic transmission (A40D). Both transmissions featured an overdrive gear. The top gear in the 5-speed was its overdrive gear whereas the automatic transmission featured an overdrive gear that would engage at speeds over 35 mph (56 km/h). The drive train for the Supra retained the T series solid rear axle configuration of the Celica in the Japanese MA45 version and a larger F series (and optional Limited Slip Differential) in the MA46 and MA47. The car also came standard with 4-wheel disc brakes and featured a four-link rear suspension with coil springs, lateral track bar, and stabilizer bar. The front suspension consisted of MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar.
On the inside of the Supra one had an option of power windows and power locks as part of the convenience package. The convenience package also included cruise control and special door trim with door pull straps, with an optional sunroof. As for standard features, in the center console there was an extendible map light and a flip-top armrest, which provided storage. Some other features were the tilt steering wheel, deep zippered pockets on the backs of the front seats, and tonneau cover under the liftback. The dashboard also contained a state of the art (at the time) AM/FM/MPX 4-speaker stereo radio, analog clock, and tachometer as part of the instrument panel.
In 1979 (MY 1980), the Japanese Mark I (also branded with the MA46 chassis code) was offered with a 145 hp (108 kW) 1,988 cc (1.988 L; 121.3 cu in) 12-valve SOHC turbocharged inline-6 engine (M-TEU). The engine was equipped with a Garrett T03 turbo, but was not intercooled. This was the first Toyota engine to utilize a turbocharger.
The changes for the US version were different, but mostly cosmetic. The interior received a redesigned center console and a digital quartz clock. On the exterior were redesigned side view mirrors, 14x5½" aluminum wheels are now standard (the previous year had steel wheels with plastic wheel covers standard and the aluminum wheels were optional). In addition body molded mudflaps became available. On the copper metallic and white cars the mudflaps were painted the body color while the mudflaps were left black on all other colors. On the rear of the mudflaps, the word "Celica" was painted in white lettering.
The official Toyota Supra Site also notes that there was an addition of optional leather-trimmed seating and automatic climate-control.
In August 1980 (MY 1981), the Supra received an upgrade in displacement with the 2,759 cc (2.759 L; 168.4 cu in) 5M-E engine. It is still a 12-valve SOHC engine, but makes 116 hp (87 kW) and 145 lb·ft (197 N·m) of torque. The cars automatic transmission was changed to the revised Toyota A43D and it gained a revised final drive gearing. Because of the change in engine and transmission they dubbed a new chassis code of MA47. In the final year of the Mark I Supra, it achieved a 0–60 mph time of 10.24 seconds and finished the 1/4 mile in 19.5 seconds at 77.7 mph (125.0 km/h).
Also in 1980, a new Sports Performance Package became an option, which included sport suspension, raised white letter tires, and front and rear spoilers. This also marked the last year that the 8-track cartridge was offered in any Supra.
Mark II (1982–1986)
In late 1981, Toyota completely redesigned the Celica Supra as well as the entire Celica lineup for its 1982 production year. In Japan, they were known as Celica XX, but everywhere else the Celica Supra name was used. Still being based around the Celica platform, there were several key differences, most notably the design of the front end and fully retractable pop-up headlights. Other differences would be the inline-6 still present in the Supra instead of the inline-4 as well as an increase in length and wheelbase to conform with the overall larger engine. Toyota's continued market competition with Nissan is shown by the Supra's use of a rear hatch sun shade to avoid the louvres popularly associated with the Z car. Due to an increase in the Supra's width, it was no longer regarded as a "compact" under Japanese dimension regulations.
L-type and P-type
In the North American market, the Celica Supra was available in two distinct models. There was the Performance Type (P-type henceforth) and the Luxury Type (L-type henceforth). While being mechanically identical, they were differentiated by the available options; tire sizes, wheel sizes, and body trim. The P-type had fiberglass fender flares over the wheel wells, while the L-type did not. The P-type was also standard with the more sporty 8-way adjustable seats. The P-type did not get the option of a leather interior until 1983. All editions of the P-Type had the same 14x7 aluminum alloy wheels and throughout the years the L-Type had 14"x5.5" wheels until 1985 when they were changed to a P-type styled 15x6. The L-type also had the option of a digital dash with trip computer; some Canadian models had this option as well as a few rare instances of American models. The digital dash featured a digital tachometer, digital speedometer, and electronic fuel level and coolant level gauges. The trip computer could calculate and display various things such as fuel economy in miles-per-gallon, estimated time of arrival (ETA), and distance remaining to destination. Excluding the 1982 model, all P-types were available with headlight washers as an option, but the L-types were never fitted with such an option. Although gear ratios changed throughout the years all P-types came as standard with a limited slip differential.
For 1982, in the North American market, the Celica Supra's engine was the 2,759 cc (2.759 L; 168.4 cu in) 12-valve (2 valves per cylinder) DOHC 5M-GE. Power output was 145 hp (108 kW) and 155 lb·ft (210 N·m) of torque. The engine utilized an 8.8:1 compression ratio to achieve the power and featured a vacuum advanced distributor. When the car debuted it clocked a 0–60 time of 9.8 seconds and netted a 17.2 second 1/4 mile at 80 mph (130 km/h).
The standard transmission for this year was the W58 5-speed manual with the A43DL 4-speed automatic transmission being an option for L-types. Both transmissions featured an overdrive gear and the automatic featured a locking torque converter. The top gear in the 5-speed was its overdrive whereas the automatic transmission featured an overdrive gear that would engage at speeds over 35 mph (56 km/h). The 1982 models' rear differential featured a 3.72:1 ratio. The Celica Supra's 4-wheel independent suspension was specially tuned and designed by Lotus and featured variable assisted power rack-and-pinion steering and MacPherson struts up front. As for the rear, it had semi-trailing arm suspension with coil springs and a stabilizer bar. Braking on the Celica Supra was handled by 4-wheel disc brakes.
On the inside this generation had standard power windows, power door locks, and power mirrors as well as a tilt steering wheel. The power door lock was located in the center console next to the power mirror control. The analog dash of this year only went to 85 mph (140 km/h) in North America. The optional automatic climate control on the Mark I was renovated and was now seen as a standard feature on the Mark II. Cruise control was standard in this generation. Toyota also included the retractable map light as standard, just like with Mark I Supras. Some options included the addition of a sunroof, two-tone paint schemes, and 5-speaker AM/FM/MPX tuner with cassette. The optional cassette stereo featured a 105-watt power amplifier and a 7-band graphic equalizer to control tone. The standard stereo was a 5-channel AM/FM/MPX tuner. Leather was an option on L-Types this year, but P-types were stuck with standard striped cloth. The AM/FM antenna was integrated into the front windshield rather than a typical external mast antenna. There was a key lock on the gas tank door (in lieu of remote release) and the hatch and rear bumper were black regardless of paint color for the rest of the car. The P-types were available with an optional rear sunshade above the hatch glass. The lights in the rear featured a reverse light in the center and the door handles opened the doors by pulling sideways. The front nose badge and B-pillar only read "SUPRA" for the first several months of production, but were changed to read "CELICA SUPRA" midway through the model year. L-types had front and rear mudflaps but P-types of this year did not.
For the 1983 models not much was altered, but there was an increase in power output to 150 hp (112 kW) and 159 lb·ft (216 N·m) of torque from the same 5M-GE. The only real change in the engine area was the switch from a vacuum advanced to an electronic advanced distributor, yet that did not increase the power. Toyota switched to a 4.10:1 rear gear ratio for the P-Type and a 3.73:1 for the L-Type. As for the optional automatic transmission they switched out the A43DL 4-speed for a newly designed A43DE 4-speed. It featured an electronic controller that would adjust its shift pattern for a balance between performance and economy. It was the first in the industry to provide an "Electronically Controlled Transmission" (ECT). This allowed the driver to choose either the "Power" driving mode or "Normal" driving mode at the touch of the button. The Power mode provided the quickest acceleration and the "Normal" mode provided the best all-around performance.
On the inside of the car there were virtually no changes, but changes to the exterior included a switch to a power mast antenna, mudflaps now on all models, and the addition of headlight washers on P-types. All B-pillar and nose badges for cars sold in North America read "Celica Supra" and only P-Types were available in two-tone color schemes.
In 1984, Toyota changed quite a bit on the Supra. Power output was increased on the 5-speed models with a bump up to 160 hp (119 kW) and 163 lb·ft (221 N·m) of torque. The increase was achieved by a mixture of a redesigned intake manifold with "D"-shaped intake runners and an increase in compression ratio to: 9.2:1. Another notable change in the 5-speeds was the switch to a 4.30:1 gear ratio in the rear differential. All automatic Supras retained the previous years power numbers, but the rear gear ratio was changed to a 4.10:1.
The most notable exterior change was the switch to wraparound front turn signals. Also on the outside the tail-lights were redesigned and the hatch received a billboard "SUPRA" sticker instead of the smaller sticker, which was previously positioned on the right. The rear hatch and bumper was changed and received the same color as the rest of the car (instead of the black of previous years). The door handles were also switched around, opening by pulling up instead of sideways. This year Toyota also decided to offer two-tone paint schemes on both the P-Type and L-Type.
Some interior controls such as the steering wheel, cruise control, and door lock switch were redesigned. Toyota encompassed a 130 mph (210 km/h) speedometer instead of the traditional 85 mph (140 km/h) one and the automatic climate control display was also changed. The previous year's cassette/equalizer stereo option was now made a standard feature.
The Supra was altered again in 1985. On the engine side, power output was increased to 161 hp (120 kW) and 169 lb·ft (229 N·m) of torque. The good news was that all Supras this year had that same amount of power (both automatics and 5-speeds). The engine received a redesigned throttle position sensor (TPS) as well as a new EGR system and knock sensor. With the slight increase in power the Supra was able to propel itself from 0–60 mph in 8.4 seconds and netting a 16.1 second quarter mile at 85 mph (137 km/h).
Other changes would be a redesigned, more "integrated" sunshade and spoiler on the rear hatch. The rear spoiler was changed from a one piece to a two piece spoiler. Oddly the L-types of this year were not available with a leather interior, but P-types were. Toyota added a standard factory theft deterrent system and the outside mirrors were equipped with a defogger that activated with the rear defroster. All Supras this year received automatic-off lights that also encompassed an automatic illuminated entry and fade-out system.
While 1985 was to be the last year of the second generation model, delays in production of the third generation model led to a surplus of second generation Supras. During the first half of 1986 the 1985 Mark II P-type was still offered for sale, with only minor cosmetic changes as well as the addition of a now mandatory rear-mounted third brake light on the hatch. These were all labelled officially as 1986 models. P-types were the only model available in 1986.