It’s 20 years today since the introduction of the last generation of the Toyota Supra. It was a car that offered genuine supercar performance with pace to rival the Porsche 911 Turbo – at half the price.
It has since become a cult icon, despite just 600 sold in the three years it was officially available in the UK. But demand for the handsome, and eminently tuneable, Supra ensured a continual flow of imports from Japan. Today almost 2000 are thought to be on British roads.
The Supra nameplate was originally affixed to an upscale Celica. In 1978, Toyota wanted a grand tourer to compete with the Datsun Z cars which dominated the market. The Celica Supra saw a range of six-cylinder engines replace the standard Celica’s four-bangers.
It wasn’t until a year later that the car was exported outside of Japan, and it wasn’t until a year after the 1981 introduction of the second-generation model that it was available to British buyers.
Although sharing much with the standard Celica, the Mk2 Celica Supra was all-new from the B-pillars forward, with a longer wheelbase and a longer nose that afforded space for a revised range of six-cylinder engines. Only the 2.8-litre 5M-GE twin cam engine was offered in the UK. The straight six produced 178bhp and 212lb ft, making an 8.8sec 0-60mph possible.
Power was transferred through a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed auto ‘boxes to the rear wheels. Independent rear suspension was fitted as standard.
The Mk2 was the first Supra to achieve motorsport success. Win Percy and Barry Sheene turned it into a race winner in the British Saloon Car Championship (the forerunner to the BTCC), and Per Eklund took it to the top of the podium in Group A rallying.