History of Toyota sports cars (part 4)

Supra, the Latin word for ‘transcending’ or ‘above’, would prove to be a particularly fitting moniker for arguably Toyota’s most famous sports car.

Rise of Supra

The Supra actually began life in its home market as the Celica XX (Celica Supra in other markets) in 1978. A longer, wider and more powerful derivative of the Celica with a smooth 6-cylinder engine and luxurious demeanour, was perfect for the booming tourer market in North America.

In 1982, the Supra came to Europe with a sharp new look that was based on the third-generation Celica platform. Aggressive, flared wheel arches and dramatic pop-up headlamps, along with the pre-requisite powerful engine, meant that the head-turning Supra fitted perfectly into 80s design and culture.


The highly-anticipated fourth-generation Supra of 1993, featuring a long bonnet and flowing lines, owed much to its 2000GT ancestry. Lightweight materials – even the carpet fibres were hollow to lessen mass – helped the engineers shave 100kg off compared to the weight of its predecessor. When you added in the Supra’s potent twin-turbocharged 3-litre engine, the results were explosive – the new Japanese kid on the block would give Italian and German supercar manufacturers sleepless nights.

As well as a successful motorsport history from 1995 all the way to 2003 that saw it take on the iconic Le Mans 24 hour race, the vertigo-inducing Pikes Peak hill climb, as well as many domestic and international championships, the Supra has earned legendary status among Toyota fans, customisers, tuners and motoring enthusiasts around the world. Worldwide trends meant that Supra production ceased in 2003, but there will be many people worldwide that hope the spirit of the Supra can be revived in the not-too-distant future.

Published: 24 October 2016

Information correct at time of publication.


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History of Toyota sports cars (part 5)