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The Evolution of an Automotive Icon: The Toyota Supra

The Toyota Supra is a symbol of automotive evolution, an iconic sports car revered by car enthusiasts worldwide. From its debut as a high-performance version of the Toyota Celica to its current state as an emblem of Toyota’s commitment to performance, the Supra has left an indelible mark on the automotive world. This article will trace the history and evolution of the Supra over its eventful lifespan.


First Generation of the Supra (1978-1981): Birth of a Legend



The Supra story began in 1978 with the Celica Supra (or Celica XX in Japan). Essentially a longer and wider Celica equipped with a 2.6L inline-six engine, the first-generation Supra was a grand tourer rather than a pure sports car. Although it shared many components with the Celica, the Supra stood out with its luxurious features, including power windows and air conditioning.


Second Generation of the Supra (1981-1986): Gaining Independence

Credit: Michael Mauro –


The second-generation Supra, known as the A60, arrived in 1981. It retained the Celica’s basic platform but boasted more distinctive styling and a more potent engine – a 2.8L inline-six producing 145 horsepower. The Supra was gaining momentum, with the 1982 model earning Motor Trend’s “Import Car of the Year” award. 


Third Generation of the Supra (1986-1993): The Supra Unleashed



With the third generation (A70), the Supra truly came into its own. Now entirely separate from the Celica, the new Supra was larger, more powerful, and more technologically advanced. Its new 3.0L inline-six engine delivered 200 horsepower, with a turbocharged version pumping out 230 horsepower. The A70 Supra was also the first to feature Toyota’s variable valve timing system, known as VVT-i.


Fourth Generation of the Supra (1993-2002): The Legend Peaks



The fourth-generation (A80) Supra is the most iconic and celebrated. Launched in 1993, it featured a sleek, aerodynamic design and a twin-turbo 3.0L inline-six engine delivering 320 horsepower. This Supra was a serious performance car, capable of a 0-60 mph sprint in under 5 seconds. It gained further fame thanks to its appearance in the 2001 film “The Fast and the Furious,” becoming a poster child for the tuner culture of the era.


The Hiatus (2002-2019)

Toyota ceased production of the Supra in 2002, citing declining sales and increasing emission standards. For seventeen years, the Supra was absent from Toyota’s lineup, but it was far from forgotten. The legend grew, with used models becoming highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. The tuning ability and movie film status grew the MK4 Supra to a JDM icon, along with the Nissan Skyline R34 and the Mazda RX7.


Fifth Generation of the Supra (2019-Present): The Supra Reborn



After years of anticipation and speculation, the Supra made a triumphant return in 2019. The fifth-generation (A90) Supra, developed in collaboration with BMW, is a cutting-edge sports car that pays homage to its heritage. Powered by a 3.0L inline-six engine producing 382 horsepower, the new Supra is the most powerful yet. 


Its design nods to the A80, with a long hood, short rear deck, and double-bubble roofline. Despite some criticism for its BMW underpinnings, the A90 has won praise for its superb balance, potent acceleration, and driver-focused cockpit. It’s a worthy successor to the Supra name, bringing the legend into a new era.


The new GR Supra from Toyota also adds an inline-four 2.0 litre engine producing 254hp, with the addition of a manual transmission with new models. 



The Toyota Supra’s journey reflects the broader evolution of the automotive industry, from the humble grand tourers of the 1970s to the high-tech sports cars of today. More than just a car, the Supra is a symbol of Toyota’s performance heritage and a beacon for car enthusiasts worldwide. Its legacy of innovation, performance, and style ensures that the Supra will continue to excite and inspire for generations to come.

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