Known in the motherland by the far less exciting (and one X short of pornstat status) moniker Celica XX, the MkII MA61 Celica Supra is a front runner in the next generation of cars from the 80s gunning for “classic” status. The second and last of the Supras to be based on the Celica, the MkII stood out as a turning point for the badge. Built as a genuine performance tourer and a true rival to Nissan’s Z cars, the MA61 is as favourably regarded by today’s enthusiasts as it was in the early to mid 80s.
Ryley, thanks for letting us review your Supra, it’s damn fine! Give us a bit of a rundown?
Yeah sure man, thanks for choosing my car! It’s a 1984 MA61 Supra, running the 7M-GTE 3-litre straight-six DOHC turbo engine from an ’88 MA70 Supra Turbo.
And how long have you had it?
Almost two years now, I’d say. It’s my second MA61, and probably not the last! I bought it with a very old red paint job, the front bumper in the boot, and a gross interior. However it had the 7M-GTE engine already installed with a full 3” exhaust and dump pipe, so that was a lot of the work done already. I originally bought it to swap the engine into my white MA61 (which was in much better nick) but the red one turned out to be the better car, and had less little niggling problems. Plus, they both needed a respray, so I figured I could sell the white one and get the red one done properly in black…
Damn man, it’s come a long way since you bought her, by the sounds of it! What sort of modifications have you made? I’m no pro, but looks pretty stock!
The basic idea for my car was to try and keep the 80s feel and look while being able to cut it with the new-school performance cars; both on the track and the street. I had a bit of an idea of what I wanted the car to end up like: virtually stock, but with subtle modifications—ones that only other enthusiasts would pick up on.
The suspension is the same setup, but I’ve installed stiffer Tokico shocks and Kings springs to replace the clapped-out old ones. All the bushings were replaced with polyurethane items and I got a pair of the new adjustable front and rear swaybars from Whiteline. Other people like to go the coilover path for the optimum handling, but I wanted to keep the original McPherson strut setup.
After a few corners with the bigger engine (180kw vs. 103kw with the stock 5ME) it was pretty damn obvious that the stock brakes wouldn’t cut it! Unfortunately you can’t fit bigger brakes without replacing the stock wheels (which is a shame, ’cause I love to MkII Supra rims! – Van).
I had been eyeing off a giant brake and hub upgrade of a fellow Toymods member’s for a while, and when he sold his MA61, I asked him about the brakes. For a good price I walked away with a great upgrade: One of the world’s first 5-stud MA61 upgrades- using MS65 and MS123 Toyota Crown hubs- 326mm brembo front rotors with 4 piston callipers, 308mm rear rotors with twin-piston callipers, RA60 Celica front struts for 2 deg. negative camber, and a lovely set of 17” BSA deep dish wheels… and I had a great idea for them…
I’ve also installed a Truetrac LSD to replace the worn-out stock unit.
Definitely a case of ‘looks can be deceiving’! Has the engine seen as much love as the handling?
Ah the engine’s been fun! The 7M has chronic headgasket issues, because the head bolts weren’t torqued correctly from factory. When I bought the car with the 7M already installed, it was on its third headgasket, being a HKS metal one, so I assumed I was safe. Unfortunately a few months later the gasket was blown, and was replaced with brand new head bolts, a new stock gasket, and was torqued down to the correct 75 ft/lbs. It had been dynoed at 139rwkw at this stage, with the stock MA70 intercooler and on 5psi boost. I then had to replace the clutch, so I had the bigger 7M-GTE 244mm flywheel modified and fitted with a nice big clutch of some description.
A bigger intercooler (600x300x76mm) was painted matte black and installed in the front bumper with 2.5” mandrel bent, flowed aluminium piping. The stock CT26 turbo on the car had a bit of blade damage, so I purchased a larger CT26E (from a limited edition Turbo-A MA70 Supra) off eBay. This was to be coupled with a set of RC Engineering 550cc injectors, a GFB bleed valve and Apexi S-AFC 2- the goal was around 200rwkw. All the electronic gizmos were to be installed in the glovebox to maintain a bit of a sleeper look. Unfortunately the new turbo was also stuffed, so had to be rebuilt. I took this opportunity to highflow it for a bit of extra go, should I require it later…
This was all installed and I was stoked with the output of 227rwkw on 12.5psi. I was stoked! The car became pretty scary after that, haha.
Man, the idea of that much power pouring out of a relatively stock-looking car, it’s just brilliant. If it didn’t look so mean, I’d call this is a sleeper for sure. You mentioned the car was a ratty old red when you bought it, so obviously it’s been painted, but what else have you done to the body?
A bit! While the car was still red an old Magna (Diamante in the US) pulled out in front of me and I ended up giving him a nasty bunt, so I had to have the front repaired. The guys at Sebastopol Smash Repairs were really great, and their customer service and a few recommendations from others made me head there for the full respray. The car was to have all the rust cut out and welded, and all dents and ripples removed before painting the car in the deepest black we could find. They have also provided awesome support with all my nigglings of little scratches and other pains in the arse.
All the trims were refurbished and put on, so the car looked like a brand new black Supra, straight from the 80s. The engine bay was left red at this stage, but will be getting done at a later date when I get some more dough.
I also made up some replicas of the stock MA61 hatch decals, but had 3.0i made up to replace the stock 2.8i sticker- a subtle mod that only Supra enthusiasts would pick up on. I also replaced the stock ‘Toyota’ badge on the front grille with a ‘3.0 turbo’ badge from a JDM MA70 supra.
Ah I love updated badges! It’s the little things that make all the difference, haha. What’s going on inside? Looks like you’ve kept that relatively standard.
Relatively, yeah. The burgundy interior was pretty feral, so I slowly pieced together a black and grey MA61 stripey interior. This was pretty hard to get, with some of it coming from Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. I still haven’t got front doorcards or front seatbelts; I’m just waiting for some excellent condition ones to turn up.
The stereo is a pioneer headunit with 3.5” earthquake front speakers and 5×7” MTX rears. I wanted to keep the original speaker positions, so they were the biggest sizes I could fit. Unfortunately it doesn’t sound as good as I’d hoped.
Hoping to keep the car looking “stockish” I fitted a boost, oil pressure and voltmeter gauges above the radio in the DIN slot, and lit them green to match the rest of the dash.
How much of all this work was your own sweat?
Good choice on the lighting, it’s good to keep things uniform—helps with the factory look! What rims are those? The spoke pattern is common enough, but I don’t think I’ve seen them done like that before.
The rims are 17×7.5” +0ET BSA wheels, with Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres. Originally they were silver, but I had them sandblasted, lip machined and the centres painted charcoal.
Boy’s got taste. What inspired the change though? Is it simply because of the brake upgrade, or would you have offed them either way? The stockies on the MkII are pretty slick for an 80s rim!
Well I had always loved Ed’s (the Toymods member who engineered the whole setup) wheels when he bought them. The way the centres dished in like the stock wheels would suit the car to a tee. When I heard he was selling I was pretty keen on getting them! I would have loved to have kept the original wheels, but the brakes were a real problem. Plus the sidewall flex in the 225/60/14 tyres sucked a fair bit. Thankfully I reckon the BSA ones add a bit of aggression to the car’s look, so I’m happy. Had I not put the BSAs on I probably would have got some 17” Simmons OMs.
Sounds like a good compromise! What’s planned for the future?
A few of the car’s door and window trims are stuffed, so I lashed out and bought new ones, but they’re yet to be installed. A bit of rust has returned near the fuel cap, and the bonnet needs a bit of a look at (the paint has cracked in a few spots) so it has to go in for that too. I would like to get a full-flow oil cooler done, a bigger fuel pump and finally get the windows retinted (the shitty 80s tint was so much more obvious once the car was black). After that it should be done for a while.
Long term goals are an autronic ECU, get the engine bay done, some R-spec tyres and maybe a new front bumper skin—mine is beginning to show its age and has cracked a bit.
So nothing huge, just getting all the niggly things out of the way. Nice. How often do you drive it?
I try to drive it as often as I can—I didn’t spend all my time and money on it just to sit in the garage! That said, it doesn’t go to the supermarket or dodgy places like that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get driven as much in the wet—black is a nightmare to clean!
Haha, I think a lot of peeps would say that the money spend and the relative rarity of the car is a perfect reason to leave it in the garage! Do you race it at all? You mentioned wanting to be able to keep up with cars both on and off the road. Are you a member of any car clubs, or do you show your car at events?
Yeah that’s the plan—a car that I can drive to the track, compete, and drive home. It debuted at Winton a few weekends ago with the Maserati club. It was great! I was really pleased with the handling of the car, much better than I hoped for.
I’m a member of the local Sporting Motorists Association, and have been planning on joining Toymods for a while—just haven’t got around to it yet! I wouldn’t mind showing the car once I’ve cleaned it up a bit again… It needs a polish pretty badly at the moment!
What got you interested in old skool JDM? What other old skool JDM cars do you love?
When I had my learner permit, I didn’t really care about what car I had, I was just going to get a Holden or something. I always loved Porsches but they were out of the question. My best mate said he wanted a 240z, and showed me a picture; this gave me the idea of getting something I actually liked. I wanted an RA28 Celica, but couldn’t get one and I ended up settling for a brown RA60. This led to the Supra and things went from there!
I’d love a 1600GT TA22 Celica, 240z, RX-3 or RX-4… Oh and a 2000GT, but that’s probably a bit out of the question
What is your funniest memory about this car? Saddest?
Something is whack with the fuel tank. It runs out of petrol really easy when it gets a bit low, so we’ve had to push it through roundabouts and across the main street once.
Don’t have any real sad memories, thankfully. I was pretty disappointed when that guy pulled out on me, and I had to drive around for a few months with a bung front. Didn’t really like driving the car much then.
When I had the brakes installed I had what I thought was chronic tyre scrubbing for about 8 months… Turned out to be ball joints fowling the rotors. That was a massive pain in the arse!
Best and worst things about the MkII Supra?
They just look so tough! Plus they are fairly light (1300kg), and the 7M pretty much bolts in… But how damn hard it is to find bits for them! And all the rest of the little things that come with a car that has done 285,000kms; things noisy here, little things breaking, so on and so forth.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank a lot of the Toymods community for being such a great knowledge base, the car wouldn’t be what it is today without them! Also Sebastopol Smash Repairs and Performance and Racetech Services, the guys there have been great.