Written by Eric Becker
The “Bayshore Route” is a stretch of highway connecting Tokyo to Yokohama. By day the expressway serves as a major artery, linking nearby cities along the coast and acting as a bypass to the Greater Tokyo area. However, to locals it’s known as the “Wangan” and, come midnight, when the rumbling traffic has all but died down, the 70-kilometer (43-mile) stretch of multi-lane asphalt silkiness changes into the ultimate playground for the “hashiriya,” the Japanese word for street racer. With a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality, the Bayshore becomes a V-MAX battleground, where high-speed antics readily surpass the 200-mph mark. It was here that the Toyota Supra Turbo would become an icon of Japanese car culture and leave the global imprint we celebrate today.
The Supra’s origin starts with the Toyota Celica. Introduced in 1979, the Celica Supra was the performance variant of the Celica model range. The Celica Supra, a commercial success that achieved collector status, would continue as Toyota’s premiere sports car for two generations, until 1986.
When launched, the third-generation Supra, produced between 1986-92, would ditch the Celica nameplate and spin-off into its own model range. The A70 – or MKIII to the purists – would see the model’s first turbocharged variant and introduction of the Targa-esque “Sports Roof.” The fourth-generation Supra (MKIV), released in 1993, was a tech-laden achiever and represented a significant departure from the angular X-wing-like design of its predecessors. This gen Supra went on to challenge domestic rivals, as well as the esteemed and well-heeled European Sport Grand Tourers.
Debuting in the spring of 1993, the MKIV wore an all-new skin; the exterior was rounded and muscular, sculpted by air and hunkered down. Some might even call the airy styling “swoopy.” The design shared no resemblance to its “Etch A Sketch-styled” lineage, and neither did the performance. The MKIV came in about 200 pounds lighter than its predecessor, thanks to an all-encompassing engineering and design approach, purpose-directed to shed extra pounds. The hood, front crossmember, oil and transmission pans, and upper suspension A-arms were all made from aluminum. The fuel tank was made from plastic, and even the interior carpeting was fastidiously considered, using hollow-core carpet fibers. Less weight meant more efficiency from the fully independent suspension and also made stopping the 3,285-pound Grand Tourer easy, with 12.6-inch rotors along with four-piston calipers up front and two-piston at the rear.
But handling prowess and low weight alone were not what made the MKIV a legend of the Wangan. No, simply stated, it was the engine. At the heart of the MKIV Supra sat perhaps the most renowned engine to ever come from Japan, the 2JZ-GTE. Known the world over, the 2JZ became synonymous for power – and near indestructability when modified. Even the most conservative tune could double the power output, while the professionals had an unbounded field day.
The 2JZ made the Supra an internet star, with dozens of videos highlighted Supras putting quadruple-digit power to the tarmac and devouring unsuspecting muscle and supercars foolish enough to pull alongside. The unfettered power – surpassing the 1000-horsepower mark ‒ and handling ease made it legendary, well beyond the “Fast and Furious” mantra of a 10-second car.
The MKIV cemented itself as a true hero car for an entire generation when it made its onscreen debut in “The Fast and the Furious,” immortalized by Dominic Toretto’s crew member Jesse in the first film with the simple words, “2JZ engine … this will decimate all ….” And, indeed, decimate all it did.
Because of its notoriety as a holy grail of tunable performance, finding a Supra sans modifications make for a truly rare find. Barrett-Jackson is proud to offer two exquisite examples that brilliantly bookend two celebratory models in the Supra’s production run – and both are offered with No Reserve. The first is Lot #693, the highly coveted 1993 Premier Edition – the first year of production for the MKIV – and second, the much sought-after 1997 Anniversary Edition.
Born in the Motomachi plant, the first example is a beautiful 1993 Premiere Edition. Finished in black, the interior features plush tan leather seats and a singularly driver-focused dashboard. The switchgear and infotainment are contoured toward the driver, creating a true cockpit feel. The twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE propels the car forward via the rear wheels and routes power through a 4-speed automatic transmission. This example comes complete with its original manuals, tool kits, keys and original spare.
Toyota deemed 1997 the Supra’s 15th anniversary and added minor stylistic changes to the car’s front fascia and taillights. The example offered at the Fall Auction is beautifully finished in black-on-black and is one of only 376 Targas built and finished in this color combination. Inside there’s a full-leather interior and three pedals: The 320hp 2JZ in this car is mated to a 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox, as well as Torsen limited-slip differential.
Now a multi-generational hero car, MKIV Supras such as these do not come along every day. The four-abreast taillights, seared into the memories of millions who grew up watching it in film, or trying to keep on the Wangan, are legendary, and we at Barrett-Jackson cannot wait to see these examples cross the block with No Reserve at the Barrett-Jackson 2020 Fall Auction.
For up-to-date information on these and other vehicles headed to the Fall Auction (with more being added daily), click HERE.