The Toyota Supra is a sports car/grand tourer produced from 1978 to 2002. As an iconic sports car, the Supra has appeared in numerous video games and movies. Some of the most notable appearances include Grand Theft Auto, Gran Turismo, and Need for Speed series of video games as well as The Fast and the Furious film series. Let's take a look back at the history of the Toyota legend.
The first generation Supra was born in 1978 and was based largely upon the Toyota Celica liftback, but was longer by about 130mm. Toyota's original plan for the Supra at this time was to market it as a competitor to the very popular Datsun Z-car.
In late 1981, Toyota completely redesigned the Supra for its 1982 production year. Still based around the Celica platform, there were several key differences seen in the Mark II, most notably the design of the front end and fully retractable pop-up headlights.
Starting in mid-1986, the Supra became a separate model from the Celica. In turn, Toyota also stopped using the prefix Celica and began just calling the car Supra. The Mark III Supra launched in February 1986 with an all new coupe body fractionally shorter than the outgoing model. We see some similarities with the Nissan 180SX and 240SX here... did Nissan lift some design off Toyota?
The fourth generation and last Supra was first unveiled at the 1993 Chicago Motor Show after a four-year developmental gestation. Unlike the previous three generations, the car's proportions and flowing design owed more to the 2000GT. Thanks to a long, low bonnet line and high-rise optional rear spoiler, it was nevertheless aerodynamically efficient and clearly aimed at delivering a much higher top speed.
The Mark IV Supra was by far the most successful in motorsport and also the one that we fondly remembered. The model won its class in the Swiss Mountain Races and competed in two years of Le Mans. More impressively, it charged up Pikes Peak, was competitive in American SCCA racing, and became a dominant force in the All-Japan GT Championships (JGTC) from 1995 all the way through to 2003. Despite these successes, however, times were changing and worldwide vehicle purchasing trends were slowly moving away from sports cars like the Supra.
The Supra was discontinued in the U.K. in late 1996 and by the end of 1998, the Supra's four-generation run in North America had also come to an end. Production continued in Japan until August 2002, ceasing owing to restrictive emission standards.
There has been plenty of speculation as to the return of the Supra nameplate in recent years and the good news is that the legend may well make a comeback. No clues as to how it may look, but there have been words that it may look like the above rendered image or the FT-HS hybrid sports car concept (below).
Toyota Motor Corp's Chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, has also said that he wants the sports car the company is co-developing with BMW to be a mid-sized vehicle comparable to the discontinued Supra.
Uchiyamada also added on that Toyota's next sports car should be like the Supra so that it doesn't overlap with the 86 coupe (above). Should Uchiyamada, who's leading the negotiations with BMW, get his wish, Toyota would be reviving a model that was last produced in 1999 after a 20-year run.
We do hope that the rumours comes true, as well as seeing the Supra land on our shores.
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