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A Brief History on the Toyota MK2 (A60) Supra

A Japanese car meets American popular culture. 
Few foreign-born cars have been as influential on American soil as the Toyota Supra; and, frankly, we are not complaining. But the “Land of the Rising Sun’s” premier sports car had a following long before it transferred its one sun for 50 stars in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise as Brian O’Conner’s ride-of-choice. Recently, the notorious 1994 candy-orange MKIV from the first-two-franchise installments made auction history with a final-sale price of $550,000 at the Barrett-Jackson block — a now record-breaking hammer price, thanks to its fame!
Paul Walker’s very own white A80 even made an appearance in “Furious 7″: a tribute to the late actor. Though the action star (and the film industry as a whole) seemed to have a greater affinity for the fourth-generation variants, the earlier models deserve some respect, too! A mysterious sense of nostalgia follows every model, regardless of generation — and the Supra’s charm can never be denied!

Compared to its children, the MKII generation of Japan’s Celica Supra did not garner the same level of media attention. While it elicited all of the same emotions for enthusiasts, it lacked the underground-tuner-culture mystique we had grown to see on the big screen — or so we thought. On the other side of the world, the A60’s name carried weight: It was at the center of Japanese drift culture and the top of gearheads’ wishlists. It was the star of its own world: a poster-car worthy of a young enthusiast’s bedroom wall.

The dawn of Toyota’s second generation Supra was in 1981: with a completely-new exterior design to boot. Continuing to use the Celica platform and its namesake, the revitalized Supra now boasted a more robust in-line six power plant and pop-up headlights in true-1980s fashion. Most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand were all allowed to purchase the new Supra: Only the North American market bore witness to the emergence of the L-Type and P-Type variants, that were modified to prioritize either luxury or performance as their abbreviation implies. Though you would not find any mechanical differences between these models, the optional packages included the likes of digital gauges, sportier seats, different tire and wheel sizes, and a more aggressive body kitto name a few.

Throughout 1982 and 1983, the Supra underwent a period of refinement: benefitting from small power increases and revized suspension tuning. Thanks to Lotus’ design genius, the A60’s four-wheel independent suspension was revized greatly: a rack-and-pinion and MacPherson setup in front and a semi-trailing arm system in the rear. Then, both ends of the car were secured with stabilizer bars; stopping power was supplied through four-wheel disc brakes. The year 1983 saw the introduction of the A43DE four-speed automatic transmission: replacing the previous year’s A43DL model and implementing a new electronically-mediated shift pattern. This made Toyota the first in the industry to make an electronically-controlled transmission (ECT) with driver-selected settings.

Also, 1984 was where Toyota’s Engineers really hit the nail on the head: marrying the previous years’ performance capabilities with a more-efficient engine. The original MA67 DOHC 5M-GE 2.8-liter inline-six found in the five-speed 1982 North-American models only produced 145 horsepower: a power figure which was later augmented to a hearty 160 ponies — thanks to a nifty reshaping of the intake tunnels in the original engine and a healthy 9.2:1 compression ratio. Unsurprisingly, the new matrimony of Japanese engineering was fruitful for Toyota: earning the new 1984 Supra fourth place in a Car and Driver handling competition where it reigned over rivals Ferrari, Porsche, and Lotus vehicles of the same year. As if the Supra was not already the embodiment of 1980s nostalgia, a rear-wing spoiler and rear-window louver option were also introduced at this point in the MKII’s lifecycle.

The late 1980s marked Toyota’s final chassis redesign prior to the introduction of the subsequent MKIII generation. Despite marginal changes in power and small adjustments to engine sensors and the EGR system, the mechanics of the second generation remained largely unchanged: Instead, emphasis was put on the new A70 generation’s unveiling; being the first stand-a-lone Supra model — sans the Celica name. Though, perhaps more deserving of the “GT” title than the “sports car” label it is often given; the MKII was no slouch, granting Swedish Rally-Driver Per Eklund the British Rally Championship and a podium finish at the 1981 Rallye Côte d’Ivoire. Sure, Hollywood did not make the MKII Supra a house-hold name like its successors — but that is our job now!