SEMA 2018: All five generations of Toyota Supra

As you might have heard, Toyota is coming out with a new Supra. It makes sense that they would use the aftermarket extravaganza that is SEMA to build some excitement for the model’s long-awaited return. What we didn’t expect was a lineup of every generation of Supra in its purest and most proper color.

As the owner of a first-gen, I was personally most thrilled to see an A40 Supra gracing the halls of SEMA. Essentially a Celica with an elongated nose and two extra cylinders, it was the epitome of a Malaise Era boulevardier. With all of 110 horsepower (or 116 in 1981), the Celica Supra wasn’t fast, but it had presence and looked like nothing else on the road.

The example shown somehow managed to survive decades of life as the least loved of all the Supra generations and hordes of AE86 owners trying to plunder it for its disc brake-equipped rear axle. The rear Shadow louvers are period correct and it even has the somewhat rare leather interior.

This was the model that really catapulted the Supra into sports car history. When the ultra-angular A60 generation arrived in 1982, “It looked as if a spaceship had landed,” recalls our editor-at-large Ricky Silverio. It finally had the performance chops to match its sporty looks, with a boost to 145 horsepower from its 5M-GE twin-cam.

We’re thrilled to see Toyota USA chose a flared-fender P-type, as the body style was never offered in Japan. Its wheels also bear one of the best stock spoke designs in all of JNC-dom.

Freed from having to share a design with a four-cylinder Celica counterpart, the third-gen Supra could evolve into a true sports car. A 1JZ-GTE-powered version was once the fastest production car in Japan. We in the US got the a single-turbo 7M-GTE as our top-of-the-ine engine, good for up to 232 horsepower and many a blown head gasket.

The example shown was a Super White kouki with the all-white package that had snow-colored trim, badges, and wheels (though not shown on the car displayed). It wasn’t a special edition or anything; Toyota just wanted to make it as colorless as possible.

The twin-turbo A80 made the Supra name an icon. The 320 horsepower from the legendary 2JZ-GTE motor was merely its stock output. Like most 90s Toyotas, it was overbuilt, and tuners quickly found ways to double and triple that number with relatively light mods. It became a Tuner Era hero and instant collectible. Though it left the US market after 1998, it continued to sell in Japan until 2002.

The car displayed appears to be a 1997 15th Anniversary Edition, which was kind of odd considering 1997 minus 15 is 1982. That’s how unloved the first-gen is. SuperGT champ Juichi Wakisaka recently bought a mint bone stock RZ 6-speed.

This year, Toyota revived the Supra, debuting it at the Geneva Motor Show in March. This appears to be the same car, finished in Gazoo Racing guise making its first North American appearance. Developed with BMW, it will attempt to carry on the revered model name.

In America, it will race in NASCAR. Needless to say, it looked out of place in a lineup of Supras. It was also huge, easily dwarfing the A80 Supra, which was no lightweight to begin with.

It’s not every day that every generation of Supra is gathered under one roof. Even if you don’t count the A90, 20 years of Supras together is still an uncommon sight. If you’re at SEMA this week, swing by the Toyota booth to see them all.

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26 Responses to SEMA 2018: All five generations of Toyota Supra

  1. Speedie says:

    I understand that the A40 does not garner a lot of love from Supra enthusiasts but I remember when the 15th anniversary edition came out and I said “whaaat?” Shame on you Toyota for so callously ignoring one of your children. BTW the A60 is an 85 model as that is the only year they offered the integrated hatch spoiler without the third brake light.

  2. Yuri says:

    The Kouki MA70 shown isn’t a white-out package. It’s actually the super-rare ’91-’92. They all had body color-trim regardless of which color you chose. They had a few other changes over the chuki MA70, including 5-spoke wheels, and the ability to get a black leather interior.

  3. Joel says:

    My Brother had a 91 White package. As for the 7M-GTE engine, the head bolts where not properly torqued down from the factory. Just need to add more torque to the head gasket bolts and you will have reliable engine. When upgrading, I suggest APR head bolts and a metal head gasket with the proper torque. Can reliably run 500 + whp. No problem. Issue is many owners don’t take the time to properly prep their engine’s head gasket.

  4. Evan P says:

    As an 18 year owner of a MKII PType that car has still stood the test of time and still turns heads and gardeners waves from passerbuys.. once I dropped the 2JZ-GTE motor in it, that was a wrap. Even with 450 more hp over stock she still drive as elegant as she did with the original power. I’d recommend this car to any car enthusiast.

  5. alvin says:

    So cool!
    I really wish Nissan would do something similar, like even attend SEMA regularly!
    Great feature Ben!

  6. Chet Manley says:

    That Supra NASCAR makes me really uncomfortable

    • Mark Newton-John says:

      With Ford changing to the Mustang and Chevrolet to the Camaro, Toyota was not going to race a Camry. And some of the body design is dictated by NASCAR rules, probably the reason for the tC rear quarter panel rear windows.

      • I think Chet is talking about the shape of the front versus the rest of the car.

        I think it would be really cool if NASCAR went back to their rules from prior to the 1990s where the cars are required to use factory bodywork and modify from there.

        • Mark Newton-John says:

          The problem with that was if you had a aero body when others had bricks (1984 Thunderbird) you couldn’t make your brick (1984 Buick, Chevy, Dodge) competitive. So now they have this complicated formula with body templates you have to follow, so NASCAR cars are just another form of Funny Car. This ain’t Showroom Stock.

  7. Clampants says:

    This is excellent. A few weeks ago, we were able to do a similar Supra generations photo at the Lars Anderson Auto Museum’s Japanese Car Day:

    (that’s our 1979 Supra on the right)

    SEMA definitely did it up a bit more professionally.

  8. dbdr says:

    I don’t understand why people like the A80 Supra. It’s overweight, looks hideous and the only thing it can do is go fast in a straight line.

    • Mark Newton-John says:

      Weight can be overcome by judicious amounts of horsepower.

    • The A80 had an extensive career on JGTC and held a Nurburgring lap record for a while. It just happens to be extremely good in a straight line.

      • dbdr says:

        It’s literally good at one thing and nothing else. There are plenty of actually good Japanese sports cars of the same era, yet for some reason they don’t have the same kind of “king” status like the A80.

        Then there’s also the fact that this car is extremely ugly, partly because it looks just as obese as it is.

        • Mark Newton-John says:

          I think the reason the JZA80 is revered because the R32 and R33 Skyline GT-Rs were not sold in North America at the same time as the Supra, and they’re not really drift cars with AWD, and it was not the feature car in the F&F movie.

          • darin smith says:

            Thank you Mr. John!.Whatever they do with the new Supra I just hope they make a Paul Walker Edition(orange or white), give part of the profits to his Charity-R.O.W.W., put it in next F&F Movie and Make Hot wheels of them so I can deal them in Bham. AL.(Smith’ Hot wheels guy’, as he also praised the Skyline. Thanks!.

          • dbdr says:

            When I say “proper sports cars”, I’m not talking about Skylines. Examples of proper sports cars from the same era are MR2, Roadster, Integra Type R, Beat, Cappuccino and such. None of those are as popular as the A80, even though they are all far better cars – relying on lightweightness and handling instead of power.

  9. Mark Newton-John says:

    I’m thinking the reason Toyota thought that the MA40 Supra was not called the Supra in Japan, but called the Celica XX.
    Remember Toyota has a habit of splitting off car lines, like the Corolla Tercel, Camry Solara, Corona Mark II, and the Celica Supra.

  10. Mark Newton-John says:

    Unloved MA40s? Only by F&F wannabees. If you were around in 1979, and many of you WEREN’T), we wanted a 6-cylinder Celica, and the black mirror B-pillar was something no had done before, and the callback to the 2000GT with the T grille still gives me chills. If the MA40 was truly unloved, it would have shared the gate of the Echo and never evolved to the MA60.

    • Mark Newton-John says:

      Oops, that should’ve been “fate”, not “gate”…

    • sabin simard says:

      YES you’re all right Mr. John, many of the audience of this site were not in this world in 1979. We have seen all these REAL Toyotas when they were brand new and lived with these cars. I will always remember when Toyota allonged the front end and finally put the 4M engine into the RA40, she was so beautiful and the final result was magistral. TOYOTA will NEVER built cars like that anymore. I ordered my MA70 brand new in 1990, choose it with sport roof, no ABS, 050 super white with FJ32 maroon clothe etc. etc. etc. I have been so lucky to do that and all this will never be possible anymore in any future, near or longer. Just only imagine a 25 years old men ordering a car like this. I still have it and it still like new with 13000 miles on it but I’m now 54. And you Mr HSU, were you from this world in 1979?

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Don’t get me wrong, when I say unloved, I don’t mean that it should be that way, just that it is. I think the A40 is really cool. So cool, in fact, I own one myself.

  11. Mark Newton-John says:

    Anyone know what Toyota is calling their version of the BMW motor? I doubt it will be JZ, since it will have nothing to do with that line, however the 86 motor is a 4U, which is certainly not based on the 2U series… 3JZ-GTE? 8M-GTE? 2FZ-GTE???

  12. Chris says:

    My dad had a silver 1980 A40 with cloth and the manual transmission when I was a kid, from about 1982-1988 when he sold it after buying an 88 Camry V6. We all cried when he sold it. It may not have been as aggressively sporty as later generations, but it was a wonderful car.

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