- Well-maintained, low-mileage Mk IV Supra Premier Edition with desirable 6-speed manual transmission
- First year for the fourth generation of this legendary Japanese sports car
- Said to be in unmodified condition
- Showing less than 19,000 miles on the odometer at cataloging time
- Finished in factory color scheme of Renaissance Red over Ivory leather
- Powered by a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, inline 6-cylinder engine (code 2JZ-GTE) producing 321 horsepower
- Timing belt service and water pump replaced in October 2017 by Toyota of Naperville, IL
- Equipped from the factory with removable targa-style roof panel and rear spoiler
- Rides on factory 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels
- Accompanied by factory manuals and service invoices
|Vehicle:||1993 Toyota Supra Turbo|
|Years Produced:||1993–98 (U.S. market); 1993–2002 (Japanese market)|
|Number Produced:||11,475 (U.S. market, includes approximately 7,000 Turbo models)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$1,000|
|Chassis Number Location:||Inside left door jamb, left side windshield cowl, right side of firewall, decals on body panels|
|Engine Number Location:||Front of block (bottom left side), below oil-filter housing|
|Club Info:||The Mk IV Supra Owners Club|
|Alternatives:||1990–2005 Acura NSX, 1993–95 Mazda RX-7, 1990–96 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo|
This car, Lot 1101, sold for $176,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Fort Lauderdale, FL, auction on March 25, 2022.
As indicated in the catalog, this Mk IV Supra Turbo was an unmolested, relatively low-mileage example finished in an appealing color, equipped with the desirable 6-speed manual transmission and a removable targa-style roof. It sold at the upper end of today’s robust market.
A not-so-super start
Introduced in 1978, the earliest Toyota Supras were dull, heavy, slow and largely unimaginative. In fact, these cars weren’t really Supras at all. The Mk I (A40/A50) and Mk II (A60) were built on the Celica platform and were more correctly 6-cylinder Celicas badged as Supras. In Japan, these grand-touring fastbacks didn’t even carry the Supra name and were marketed as Celica XX (pronounced “Celica Double-X”). The Mk I was offered with three different inline-6 engines, depending on market and year, with the “hottest” one dribbling out just 123 hp for the Japanese market. Then in 1982, the Mk II was released. Built with five different uninspired engines, these vehicles were marginally better than their predecessor and… sorry, I dozed off.
The fun begins
In May 1986, the links between the Celica and Supra lineups were severed, with the monikers continuing as distinct and separate platforms going forward. The Mk III (A70) was the first true Supra and was measurably better than the Celica Supras. This was the Supra that injected fun into the brand with offerings including turbocharged models, and even twin-turbocharged variants for the Japanese market. Turbo U.S. examples produced 230 hp and accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds with a top speed of 152 mph.
Japanese-market cars powered by the 2.5-liter, twin-turbocharged 1JZ-GTE engine pumped out 276 bhp and were even faster. During the 1987 World Rally Championship, the Mk III proved to be more than a sporty road-goer when Lars-Erik Torph finished 3rd overall at the Safari Rally. In short, things were looking livelier in Supraland.
Toyota gets serious
Interest created by the Mk III motivated Toyota to aim even higher. Whereas the Mk IV (A80) would retain the front-mounted inline-6, rear-wheel-drive configuration of the prior generations, the similarities would end there. Isao Tsuzuki led the design team with a focus on high performance and weight reduction. Aluminum components were specified for the hood, front crossmember, upper A-arms, oil pan, transmission pan and the optional targa-panel Sport Roof. Additional weight-sparing measures included hollow carpet fibers, a plastic fuel tank and a magnesium alloy steering wheel. For its 1993 release, Supra production was moved from Tahara, Aichi, to the Motomachi plant in Toyota City.
The shape of the Mk IV was a major departure from the first three cars, with rounded, flowing jellybean elements replacing sharp angular lines. Powertrain choices were scaled down to just two engines. The standard Supra had a naturally aspirated 220-hp, DOHC 3.0-liter I-6 (2JZ-GE) with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. The higher-performance option was the Supra Turbo with a 3.0-liter, DOHC I6 equipped with twin CT12A turbochargers (2JZ-GTE) and a 6-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed auto. In the Japanese market, the twin-turbocharged engines were rated at 276 hp. By contrast, U.S. engines were rated at 320 hp, which rocketed domestic Supra Turbos from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 177 mph.
A few comments regarding the Mk IV Supra Turbo cars are in order. First, the factory restricted top speed to 112 mph on JDM cars and 155 mph for U.S. cars. Second, this was an extremely rare instance where a Japanese automobile manufacturer specified that the U.S. model would outperform the Japanese-market model. Third, the performance stats for the A80 were rather incredible for the time. Consider that Ferrari’s 348 had only 296 hp, was a full second slower from 0 to 60 mph, had a lower top speed, and was double the price of the more-capable Supra Turbo.
But there’s much more to tell. The 2JZ-GTE was an astonishing bit of engineering. The cast-iron block, forged crankshaft and enormous main journals produced an engine that was virtually indestructible. The stock engine was easily tunable to more than 500 hp, and with an upgraded ECU, turbo, and fuel injectors, more than 800 hp was readily available. With internal engine upgrades, more than 2,000 hp was achievable. Better still, there has long been worldwide parts support for this legendary engine.
The other incredible bit of kit was the Turbo-exclusive Getrag-built 6-speed manual transmission, which could handle more than 1,500 hp in stock configuration. In March 2010, Tommy Banh raced his Supra Turbo with a stock 6-speed and a built engine, including a stock block and head, at the Texas Mile. From a standing start, his exit speed at the one-mile mark was a nearly unimaginable 247.7 mph.
Who wants a Supra?
The Mk IV was an attractive sports car, and the twin-turbocharged examples received one of the most over-engineered drivetrains ever fit to a production automobile. Despite its abundant attributes, the Mk IV Supra was a commercial disappointment, with fewer than 11,500 units sold in the U.S., approximately 60% of which were Turbo models.
If “unimportant then, unimportant now” is true in the collector-car hobby, how, then, can we reconcile the recent run-up in Mk IV prices?
The simplest explanation is that these cars were never unimportant. It’s just that Supra aficionados were busy going to high school, watching “The Fast and the Furious” movies (where the Supra Turbo had a starring role, driven by Paul Walker), and only racing in video games when these cars were in dealer showrooms. Furthermore, 40-something rich guys of the ’90s didn’t yearn to own a Supra; they had their own Porsche/Ferrari/Lamborghini aspirations to live out. We’ve seen the same pattern with Acura’s NSX and Mazda’s FD RX-7. A relative lack of interest was followed by soaring prices a few decades later.
Tidy U.S.-market Supra Turbos are currently trading in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, with the highest prices being paid for low-mileage, all-original, unmolested examples in desirable colors and equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Many of these cars were heavily modified, so finding a stock example is not that easy. The relative desirability of the hard top versus the removable roof of our subject car seems to be a matter of personal taste.
Our subject car was a relatively low-mileage Premier Edition example with all the right equipment. The purchase price was toward the top end of today’s market, but by next year this may look like a bargain. More importantly, the buyer acquired an exciting automobile, one they’ve likely been dreaming about for a very long time. ♦