(first posted 12/12/2012) Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time and get a do-over of our car-buying choices? As I sit here contemplating the qualities and my memories of the Mark II Supra, I wonder just what the hell I was thinking when I bought that ’83 T-Bird Turbo Coupe instead? Please, don’t remind me–I know it was a choice made in a moment of typical youthful impulsiveness. The Supra had it all over the noisy, thrashy, live-axle T-Bird: A silky-smooth DOHC inline six with more horsepower; IRS; four-wheel disc brakes; and, not incidentally, Toyota’s superb build and material quality. Live and learn, and then write about it.
If the Supra MK I was something of a Japanese Riviera to be favored for its smooth, soft manners, the Supra MK II was closer to a BMW M3, at least in image if not actual performance. I say that from the perspective of one who lived in L.A. during the Mark II’s heyday, when members of today’s M3 demographic–young, urban, hip, affluent and, quite often, Asian–would very likely have been seen in a Supra Mk II. Gender excepted, that demographic represented the virtual opposite of that for the contemporary Nissan 280 ZX. I may not have been hip or Asian, but I certainly could see myself behind the wheel of a Supra MK II. I couldn’t have said the same about its predecessor or the highly unhip ZX.
The MK II was still Celica-based (top), with an extended front end to accommodate the longer engine. Somehow, this second nose job looks a bit more integral than the first, perhaps because its Japanese designers had envisioned the longer front end from the get-go. The smoother, rounder MK I had been based on the California (Calty) -designed Celica, a Toyota first. This time, Toyota’s Japan-based studio was responsible for the styling, and it shows.
The MK II exemplifies the Japanese love for multiple angles and busy details, especially compared with the organic and simple shape of its predecessor. That may have been the main reason I went for the T-Bird: Its slick aero-styling was much more my cup of (non-green) tea than this generation Celica and Supra.
But to a lover of classic inline sixes, the Supra’s engine was very compelling: A classic inline DOHC 2.8-liter unit that was smooth and quiet, yet quite willing, at least for the times. From today’s vantage point, its power output looks modest at best, peaking at 161 hp in 1986 from 145 hp in 1982. That’s just behind the Mustang GT’s numbers of 157 hp in ’82, and 175 hp thereafter. The Mustang was definitely the performance bargain of the day, but it wasn’t exactly a refined piece of machinery by any measure.
The Celica’s 5M-GE engine was shared with the Cressida, and in may ways differed significantly from earlier members of the venerable M-family of Toyota sixes. Thanks to rocker arms and hydraulic valve lifters, it was the first twin-cam engine to eliminate the need for valve adjustments. Toyota’s electronic engine management system (TCCS) was fitted to 1983 and later versions.
The MK II came in two distinct flavors: L, for comfort, and P, for performance. The P-type had fender flares, beefier tires and suspension tuning, eight-way seats and a limited-slip differential. The L-type’s claim to high-tech fame was its optional fully-digital instrument panel that featured one of the first integrated trip computers–no big deal today, but very hot stuff in 1982. The P-type was the way to go for that reason alone, never mind the more obvious ones.
I had a brief drive in one of these, and the contrast to my Turbo Coupe was pretty stark. In fact, they are pretty much polar opposites despite their similar genres. For better or worse, the TC felt lighter, delicate and nimbler; the Supra, almost Mercedes-solid and far more unflappable over broken pavement, thanks to its four-wheel independent suspension.
The biggest difference, however, was underhood. The TC’s little ex-Pinto four was thrashy when it hit 4500 rpm; above that, it inflicted pain much like a rev-limiter. Its power comes on in a brief mini-burst of turbo boost, unlike the steady, smooth flow of power of the comparatively refined and sophisticated Supra engine–and not at all unlike the silky-smooth six in the W124 300E that eventually replaced the Turbo Coupe in ’85. Now that’s a decision about which I have no regrets.
I am not sure how, but I let my roommate talk me out of considering one of these in 1985. In fairness, Japanese cars of these years had a well-known tendency to rust, and I planned to keep my first new car for a very long time (at least, that is what I kept telling myself). So, out of all the 1985 cars I drove, I never drove one of these. I still remember seeing a black one out on the road, and falling madly in love before my roommate talked me out of it. Damn him.
This has (like the 85 Mustang GT) always been one of the “cars that got away”, and to this day I have never driven one. So thank you for that description. Now realize my mistake even more. But we all make choices, and I got to experience the highs and lows of VW GTI ownership, so I guess there was a tradeoff.
Another off the odd styling quirks: For at least the first model year, the hatch was always pained black, no matter what color the rest of the car was painted. It looked especially odd on white cars.
That inline six was a peach, though. We had the Cressida version, and even in the larger car and burdened with an automatic, it was smooth and lively with great throttle repsonse.
I had an 81 Cressida and I agree with your assessment. That thing took off very smoothly and quickly.
“…….peaking at 161 hp in 1986 from 145 hp in 1982. That’s just behind the Mustang GT’s numbers of 157 hp in ’82, and 175 hp thereafter.”
Playing fast and loose with the numbers? There were two published figures for the 82, 161 and 157 (no biggie). It was 200 HP in the 86 Mustang GT, the last carb version. 225 HP in FI 87-91. THAT’S a significant difference.
I believe that it was automatic transmission cars that stayed at 175 hp to stay within the limits of what the AOD tranny could handle. Stick shift cars were the ones that crossed the 200 hp threshold.
That’s even worse Cherry Picking then LOL. To make it look like the Supra’s performance is on par with a Mustang GT? That’s the impression you make from the article. They weren’t.
Any little 90 hp Japanese econobox with a fart can exhaust and a “wing” thought they were fast. Then they would call ’em 5.SLO Mustangs. It was the height of perceived Japanese superiority ……………..and stupidity.
When the EFI HO 5.0 came out you could only get it backed by the 5sp while the AT equipped cars made due with the same 5.0 used in the T-bird and Panthers.
There was only a difference in the auto vs manual Mustangs in 1984 and 1985. The 1984 5-speed had the 5.0L-4V rated at 175hp, the auto had a 5.0L CFI rated at 165hp. In 1985, the 5.0L 4-V was now rated at 210 hp and was still 5-speed only. The 1985 auto was 180 hp CFI 5.0L. In 1986, all 5.0L were MPFI, and 200 hp. For 1987, they were all rated a 225 hp, which it stayed at for a number of years.
The CFI 5.0L in the 1984 Mustang was rated higher than the Panther version, which was only 140 hp (155 hp high output). T-bird only got the 140 hp version. The 1985 Panther’s and T-birds used the same engines, but the LTD had a 165 hp CFI 5.0L available.
The Supra may have been more refined, but when it came to bang for the buck, you couldn’t beat a 5.0L Mustang during this time.
“…………when it came to bang for the buck, you couldn’t beat a 5.0L Mustang during this time.”
Truer words have never been said! Then or especially now. The new Mustang GT is 412 HP……..and Toyota has what? A BRZ (? nice car, still rather have a Miata!) that a V6 Mustang SRA can handily beat.
Then or now the worst problem is other idiots at a stop light, you learn to let them go!
If I may, shouldn’t we be comparing Apples to Apples? The lovely Supra above is well equipped with a Manual therefore should be compared versus a Manual Mustang GT.
The 1987 should be compared to the next generation Supra anyway, which had 200hp or 230hp with the turbo. Back to 25 more horsepower from 2 more litres of engine is not very impressive, even if the other differences between the cars made the specific power output a bench racing issue only.
Tim B: That was poorly written by me. I didn’t mean to say “175 hp thereafter” as in “forever”; I should have just made it clearer. Yes, the Mustang hp number continued to increase.
I’m not going to re-fight the Mustang-Supra wars again here. They both had their strengths and weaknesses. And the Supra Mark3 was the one you need to compare against the later Mustangs you cite. Which is even more difficult, actually, as the Mark3 moved further away from the Mustang market (and price).
I have a love/hate with mustangs…. But no mustang was in the league of a supra 3. Then again…. The mustang was priced accordingly. The supra 3 was almost in super car territory for its time. But as far as the mid 80″ s go I’d say a supra 2 vs mustang is a fair comparison. I wud gave chosen supra… There’s more to driving than straight line acceleration. And its not like the mustang smoked the supra 2.
Paul is fine. In the fall of 1982, when BOTH of these cars were featured in Car & Driver, the Mustang had 157 hp.
Both great cars. I would’ve gotten the Mustang–it cost less and was American, but the Supra was the superior car, save for straight line acceleration.
I’d say this Supra, the 1985-88 MR2, and the 1992 Camry are the high point of Toyota as far as cars that excelled as cars, rather than reliable appliances.
One of my college professors had this car in 1984 or 85. It was a beauty in red. All I could think is how expensive the car was at the time for a Toyota. Back then I pulled the trigger on a new 1984 GTI and loved the heck out of that car.
Back in the 80’s, the Japanese Supra’s and 280Z’s were all just beyond the average guy’s budget. They were a step beyond my GTI but a step below the serious European options. For some reason these cars just haven’t caught one with the serious collectors at this time. I would think these cars a good ones to buy now and enjoy for years to come (both on the road and financially if ever sold.)
I like these cars, but to write “The MK II obviates the Japanese love for multiple angles and busy details” is to misunderstand what “obviate” means – that is, to render something unnecessary. Perhaps “exemplifies” or “underscores” is what you intend.
Avoid; prevent: “a parachute can obviate disaster”.
Paraphrase: “an American design can obviate Japanese excessively ugly styling.”
Before the Cally design they were hung up on surface detailing and were derivative, same thing AFTER the Cally design. Guess they needed to keep their designers busy! Other than buying and assembling their cars they don’t want or need our involvement. Toyota hasn’t changed. We are their cash cow AND their drones.
I was confused by that word, too. I had to look it up, actually…. 🙂 But even after looking it up, I wasn’t sure if you meant that the car has a lot of multiple angles and busy details or not. To me, the car is obviously quite angular, but compared to a lot of other ’70s-80s Japanese cars, it’s not really all that busy and detailed. So, what did you mean?
You are correct, and your humble Copy Editor accepts responsibility for the misuse of that word. “Exemplifies” would have been a better choice, and I’ve changed the copy accordingly. Mea culpa.
My college roommate had one of these, bought it new (as his family had money). When he and I would be out someplace, anytime he had one (1) beer he would hand me the keys and insist I drive, as he was a nervous gent and I wasn’t a drinker (then). Now, I was young and very inexperienced as a driver, and this was my first taste of a car with sporting aspirations. While I enjoyed the smooth power this Supra delivered, conveying it over the streets of Terre Haute, Indiana, where we went to school, was dreadful. Badly potholed and crossed frequently by railroad tracks, those streets punished that poor Supra and everyone in it. It felt like driving around on a thick sheet of plywood with wheels affixed in the corners. It was also so low-slung that at night, every car you encountered blinded you with its low beams.
Wow, I’ve kind of trashed this car. I’m sure that on a twisty highway it was a hoot in a handbasket.
You have NO idea. It was leaps and bounds better than any car on the road. Worn cams and all.
Your comment is silly any car in this class would have been punished when full driving around in pot holes and railway crossings. No matter what you drove back then less it is a truck
A guy from my high school got a job with the city right after grad. He put down a deposit for a new 1982 Camaro Z-28 and waited for months, no car. He finally got his deposit back and bought a Supra. Ironic now that this was his “second” choice, the car he settled for, instead of the rattletrap bucket of bolts Camaro.
I always liked these.
Calling it a high-end Camaro is spot on, at least in terms of looks. If you hadn’t told us, I would have assumed this car was designed in the US. The butch stance and exaggerated fender flares, along with the mouth-breathing face, stood out from other Japanese cars in my memory of the 80s. The following Supras, like by ’89 or so, had the nose and fenders sanded down, along with most of the (visual) personality.
This was a good car, but don’t go sackcloth and ashes on yourself for the Ford pick. If memory serves, Toyota sent 2-3 per year, per dealer. I was early in my working career and at Toyota so I got one and the owner got the other. We discouraged anything but a full boat deal on these cars. Market conditions at the time plus the “voluntary” import restrictions caused Toyota in our area to have $15-2500 ADP addendum stickers and we more often than not got our price. The local Ford store – the owner’s pretty daughter had the TC – could get any color you wanted in three days and would deal invoice up plus incentives. I had incentives to research the Coupe’s driver and “characteristics”. To this day, any woman who drives a stick has my respect. Young, single and disposable income- was I ever spoiled – and didn’t even know it. Good car although I remember it chiefly for the bizarre spoiler they put on the roof in ’84. I passed on one recently and regret it still. The Catera I’m attempting to decipher is mute testimony on my acumen. Not all 30,000 mile cars are created equal.
Great article! The Supra got pretty bloated in the 90s-imho, this was probably the apex of this design. Love the sharp lines! Much like the curves of supra-babe Olivia Wilde:
At the time, I had an ’84 Celica GTS liftback similar body to this Supra, that a friend had. Both cars were superior to anything available from a domestic manufacturer in these years though I recall the new T-bird was quite a hit.
The Toyota’s were solid, well built and fun to toss around.
The Japanese invasion was well under way on the east coast…I was then transferred to the Chicago area where me and my Celica were surrounded by Beretta’s, Sunbirds and the like. Toyota’s not nearly as popular there in the mid to late ’80’s.
But 1 or 2 snow storms in, my Celica with its wide tires and rwd became nearly immobile. It was soon traded on a fwd VW Jetta GLI…
My recollection from the Road & Track article when that generation Celica came out is that the Japanese love for lots of small details was driven by the tight conditions in Japan which meant cars were normally viewed at short distances so details were more important than overall shape. This explains the bumps and angles on 80s Celicas after the the smooth rounded shape of the Calty designed cars.
As an aside a British engineer working at Rover explained the choppy ride of Japanese cars as a product of shorter legs leading to a different sense of what was a smooth ride.
Well, the front end is semi-attractive but the rear still looks bloated. The typical Toyota styling sends me running for the nearest F-body.
Nearly every one of these things I’ve seen is rusted away. Rust spots would pop up all over these things, not like most cars where it starts at the wheel lip moldings & rocker panels first.
These cars were, and still are, NOTHING but a shipping crate for that 6 banger which you promptly pull out and swap into your ’79-85 solid axle Toyota 4×4 pickup. Oh, Toyota, how you lost me as a customer for life in ’86…. Take a turbo T-Bird ANY day over ANY Toyota. Toyota’s are gross.
“I certainly could see myself behind the wheel of a Supra MK II. I couldn’t have said the same about its predecessor or the highly unhip ZX.”
Well… around this time – and a few years before I could have definitely seen myself in a 280ZX.
What was so unhip about the ZX??
By this period of time, at least to me, the ZX seemed to be driven by folks who had never moved past Saturday Night Fever. The drivers seemed to be either guys with lots of big gold jewelry or women with really big hair.
I never had either – lots of gold jewelry or big hair!
My father bought a 79 Datsun 510 and i remember drooling over the pictures of the ZX in the Datsun full-line catalog. I wanted one so bad – and was determined to get one when I got my license in 82 – never did save up enough money and settled for a 74 Ford Gran Torino.
But at that time you could describe owners of Corvettes and Camaros the same way – no??
Like these two?
Ron Johnson was able to take Stacy Hamilton to “The Point” in his 280ZX in Fast Times at Ridgemont High…So in the day it seemed to work! Of course, he worked at Pacific Stereo and she was still in high school…
Id say it was Disco-esque in its apperance inside and out plus it was outdated compared to MKII Supra IMHO. I love Nissans and Toyotas from that time period, but if given a choice the MKII is the clearly superior and way more “hip” car. Better engine, better suspension, better brakes, better interior, ETC ETC
I could probably come up with around 5,500 reasons to chose an 83 Turbo Coupe over an 85 Supra.
Now, comparing an 85 Turbo Coupe to an 85 Supra you wind up with around 3900 reasons to consider the Bird. In 1985 those were a lot of reasons.
These Supras were great machines but like others have mentioned they loved to rot and they were spendy.
I remember that I liked these cars, but I’d forgotten that they were considerably more expensive than the competition. I wanted the small block V8 cars instead, much easier and cheaper (at that time) to modify and have fun with.
I still like the styling of these cars, but I would want to get rid of that heavy and complex straight six and drop in a LSx aluminum block of some kind… That would motivate that thing!
But why the ugly-ass wheels and a TRAILER HITCH?
The trailer hitch is fine. Those are some of then ugliest wheels I’ve ever seen.
Agree on the wheel hideousity. I have no problem with the hitch qua trailer hitch, but It sticks out awfully far, and it looks like they pulled the bumper skin to install it (I don’t see any damage back there; just the missing skin).
I had one of these for several years, and it’s one of my all-time favorite cars. It was a brick- all that I recall having to replace was the muffler. It was quiet, smooth and with a very willing engine, with a nice wide powerband. It was also a tough beast- I was clipped from behind by a VW (Jetta or GTI; it’s been awhile). On her car, the grill, headlight, hood, fender, door and mirror were all damaged- the fender was partially peeled back- while on my car, the side light cover was broken and the paint was slightly scuffed. Didn’t even need touch-up; it buffed right out. $25 for a new light lens vs $3k on the VW.
My Father-in-law has a black one of these sitting in his garage. Bought it new. Body is perfect, supposedly has electrical problems and hasn’t been moved/looked at in 15+ years.
I’ve never seen it, but now I’m curious…
Well I’m a lover of this model, mine is a JDM Celica XX. Here’s my story:
Back in the mid 90’s, when I was first getting interested in cars I noticed Celica XX’s around (most MA-61’s in NZ were JDM, but there are a few NZ new ones). Anyway, I noticed that they looked pretty cool and I decided I’d love one as my first car. They were far more common back then, you barely ever see them around nowadays, at least not in rusty ol’ NZ.
My Dad had cut me a deal, and if I saved some money he’d match me dollar-for-dollar on a car. He’d made the same offer to my older sister and she never managed to save anything. So I saved money from my part time job I had (I was still at high school), I used to get paid $68 a week, and I managed to save $50 of that most weeks. And eventually I had $3k saved up. So I told my Dad I was going to look for a car. He was expecting me to have saved far less, but he was good for his word, and I went out looking for a car…..
So disappointing. I looked at heaps of cars, but most were SOHC 2.0’s and most were autos. The few 2.8’s (and I only saw one manual 2.8) around all had bad rust and were a but scary as an option for a young guy with no experience with cars. My Dad was a “buy a 3 year old car and hold it for 10 years” kind of guy who never did any work on his cars himself. So it was a bit daunting and I ended up giving up on an MA-61, just because “the one” never came along. I ended up buying an ST-162 which, I think, was in many was probably a better option for me in that situation. (I keep telling Paul that I’ll do a write up on it one day…)
I kept that Celica for quite a few years, until I broke the gearbox (trying to race an R33 GT-R lol!) and I sort of lost interest in it, and sold it as is. Biggest regret of my life I think. So I was carless for a while, then I bought a KA-8 Honda Legend Coupe. That was a pretty cool car, until I put it into a tree. After that I ended up using company vehicles, and not needing a car of my own, but the idea of having an MA61 was never far from my mind. I’d occasionally have a look through Trademe (like E-Bay crossed with Craiglist I guess) and see what was around, but never really had any money, space or time to do more than just dream.
In early 2010 my father died, then in late 2010 my mother passed too. After sorting out the estate with my sister I was left with a fair bit of cash sitting in the bank, so I thought about buying a “toy” car. I considered a few options, including an ST205 GT-Four Celica (but the examples here all had high mileage) an R32 GT-R Skyline (again, high mileage and questionable ownership) or finding another ST-162 Celica GT, and of course, an MA-61. I didn’t rush into anything, and one day in early 2011 I found one that had low mileage (90,000km) and look pretty good. I bid on the auction and won. I hadn’t even seen the car. I got it transported up to Auckland and although I was a little disapppointed that there was a repair on the quarter that was lifting it was (all in all) as good as it looked in the pics. I found this site while doing some general research after I had bought it.
I’d bought it knowing that it would probably need a repaint, and the original plan was to get that done, then just keep it stock and just roll in it on the weekends………. well, I’m sure plenty of people here have said the same thing and failed like me, but I’m getting there now. The paint’s been redone, and I’m slowly progressing with the mechanical mods. I hope to have it up and running early-mid 2013. The clock is ticking as my wife is pregnant (due July) and my plan is to get the car to a point that I can just drive it and do basic maintenance for the next few years….. I want to hold this car as long as I can! Kind of like m491 said further up, I think these are a little underappreciated at this point, so I figured it was a good opportunity to have a fun weekend car that hopefully won’t cost me too much in nett terms over the time I have it. The current plan is to hold it for 20-odd years and then switch to a Toyota 86 when they’re at the bottom of their depreciation curve, haha!
Great story there, and yup I remember heaps more than are here now. A few years ago one of the ladies in the Church I was going to at the time had a manual 2.8. Two town brown exterior, brown interior, awesome sounding exhaust! Pretty sure it was JDM. She was an older lady, had owned it for years, and always refused offers from the teenage boys in the Church to buy the Supra. She just drove it until she inherited her late mother’s ’91 Corona, apparently the Supra’s been sitting in a barn since… Great to see one as nice and shiny as yours!
Nice and far better than the one I see regularly around the corner from me its been a lawn ornament since I moved here every so often they mow the grass and the white Supra reappears.
I remember these Supras and Celicas of the day having those graphic equilizers as part of the sound system. I was into audio systems at the time so I thought that was cool, though from a driving position wasn’t very practical.
I had an 82 Supra without the plastic fender flairs. That thing was awesome to drive, although the stereo died at an early age. One car I would definitely want back
Never much cared for these cars when they were new but I do appreciate in retrospect the refinement they brought. The turn off for me was the over the top styling; fender creases, fender flares, full length rubber side strips, raised rear bulges just to accept a darn rear side marker light. Over the top and so typical of the Japanese in this era. I especially loved looking at the tail end (not so much the Supra) of Japanese coupes…..plastic callouts for the make and model of the car. The worst offender I recall is the Nissan 280ZX Turbo.
I’ll take the clean look of the Camaro, Firebird and Mustang. The designs were relatively clean and uncluttered unlike the 280ZX and Supra models……
I think this is a good summary of why the ZX was held in such low regard at the time. Unlike the Toyotas which were at least moving up the food chain in the feeds-and-speeds department (more powerful, better brakes and suspension etc), Nissan’s shift away from clean simple Z versions, to the ZX, which were not only more bloated, but often burdened with T-tops, automatics, etc was not well regarded by enthusiasts at the time. Especially after the Mazda RX7 came out ….
A friend of mine owned one of these things in Chicago. I ran some errands for him one weekend and was appalled at the back-breaking ride. Painful. Also, the doors didn’t seem to have any sound deadening in them and sounded like tin cans.
My ’88 Mustang LX 5 liter is no paragon but I far prefer it to this fart blossom.
These were obviously never really in the same performance league as a 5.0 Mustang or one of the bigger-engined Camaros: Most contemporary tests put 0-60 mph in the 9-second range. Still, there’s more to life than straight-line performance. I’d certainly rather have one of these than a contemporary Mustang LX.
The downside of the independent rear on these cars was that it was a semi-trailing arm layout, with a propensity for snappish trailing-throttle oversteer. The U.S. magazines didn’t give that a lot of ink, but British reviewers were a good deal less charitable about the Supra’s at-the-limit handling, particularly on wet roads.
Last September, I got a chance to see a rare JDM import of the contemporary Z10 Soarer, the luxury version of the Supra. In some ways, I find the Soarer more desirable: The styling is less boy-racer (albeit more sedanish — it looks kind of like a Cressida coupe) and the interior is more luxurious, with the same powertrain and running gear.
My ’88 Mustang, as I have stated previously, is no paragon of the automotive art. But having driven both, the Toyota and the Stang that I still own, the Stang is far more entertaining. Torque rules.
no explanation for stupidity
I worked for the local Toyota dealer when these came out. It seems like most of them were terra cotta color that I saw. My 19 year old self seriously lusted for one!
I was a lot boy at a Toyota dealer in the 80s and we had droves of these things come through. When taking a trip to the DMV or running DX’s (dealer exchanges), it was always a fight to see who got the keys for a MkII.
A MkII, I can attest to personally, is almost supernaturally planted and smooth at 120mph. The world rushes by at a thunderous pace, but the car feels like it’s just motoring along.
I remember a girlfriend of mine owning an ’84 Supra automatic that had T-Tops and the first Automatic Climate Control I had ever seen in a car. Which begs a question as to which car was the first to have an ACC?
Probably something American from the 50s/60s? I’m sure some of the American CCers will know for sure. On a JDM front, the earliest I’ve seen with auto climate control is a 1980 KHC231 Nissan Laurel Medalist.
I don’t have my JDM brochure collection handy, but I do know auto A/C was available on the first Celica XX generation off the bat (1979). I would assume the Crown series and possibly Mark II cars had it even sooner.
An industry first, Comfort Control was introduced on the 1964 Cadillac. It spread like wildfire through GM’s large car lines, and by 1966 it was available in the full-size Chevrolet. It was known as Comfortron in most GM brands. It worked pretty well out of the box and saw decent installation rates during the late ’60s. I had quite a bit of time in a 1966 Oldsmobile that was equipped with it. Combined with GM’s superlative air-conditioning, it was quite a luxurious feature.
Great Minds Think Alike, Paul Niedermeyer!
I also had the hots for an ’85 Supra. The local Toyota dealer wanted $500.00 above sticker for the Supra (common practice in New Orleans in that time period) and wouldn’t budge a penny. I was insulted and enraged at their dealer’s blatant robbery and stalked out of the dealership.
The local Ford dealer, all of 3/4 of a mile away from the Supra dealer, was happy to “wheel ‘n deal” on the sticker of a Thunderbird. Beautiful car, midnight blue metallic, medium blue cloth interior….but turned out to be a most disappointing POS, quality control wise.
I cudda-shudda-wudda swallowed my fiscal pride and bought the Supra.
I have a red 1985 supra for sale, $3000. Outside is great. 2500 in new parts. Needs a cylinder head.
I am not sure where the Mustang argument comes from in these comments. I think the pro Mustang sentiment is a bit of jingoism, and removed from reality. I owned 2 Mustangs in the 80’s and 90’s, and now own an 84 Supra.
I had lots of fun with the Mustangs, but they were crude and cheap. Ford deliberately made them that way, to meet a low price point . The Supra is slower, but far more refined and a far better car. But it should be, because at the time it was a lot more money.
My buddy summed up best. The Supra is a scalpel. The Mustang is an axe…… with a loose handle!
Despite this Supra’s mechanical sophistication (at least on paper), I never warmed up to the chunky styling. The third generation, though also a period piece, is a much more pleasing design.
In ’83, I went with a woman I knew who worked at a Nissan/Saab dealer in Timonium, MD. She needed to do a competition/comparison test and picked Toyota. She was 6’1″ tall, and beautiful. She was also a former Formula Ford racer. We showed up at the dealer and asked to see the Supra as a new car for her. He proceeded to totally ignore her and talked only to me. Not a good idea, as she did a slow burn. Finally, he went out to the demo, a P with 5 speed. He apologized that the only demo was a manual, finally looking at her. I said no problem, I’ll go first. We took off, salesman in the tiny rear seat. I drove fairly quickly about 10 miles through Loch Raven reservoir, beautiful, smooth two lane roads. I turned to her and asked if she thought she could handle a stick. Ha! She proceeded to put the tach at 3500-4500, double clutching, never going less than 70-90 on very windy roads. What a drive!
When we returned to the dealership, I got out and flipped the seatback, I had to help the salesman out. Without a word, he just walked away into the showroom. So, when pushed, this Supra was smooth, quick and performed on a level of sophistication way above domestic competition. The driver certainly helped!
Paul, you and I share “the one that got away”…though in my case, it was more of a “I haven’t got the money” decision. I did the best I could…an ’84 Civic, which served me flawlessly for 14 years and 144,000 miles. But, man, I would have LOVED to have had that Supra.
Ernest sure liked his lol
Back in ’96 my baby sister first car was an ’85 Supra…the first and only Japanese car owned by my immediate family. Paul nailed all the high points of this car. I know, because I drove it for about 6 months after I sold my Scrambler, as I was selling it for her. It was incredibly tight and well built. That 2.8 I6 was a joy to drive with, even hooked to an automatic and all the twerps challenging me in Preludes and Civics got their fwd 4 banger asses handed to them. Even though it was a 10 year old 100K mile car–and a sporty car at that–it suffered none of the disintegration issues youd see on a similar Mustang or F body form the same year. Trust me, I had a LOT of friends in those days who owned every sporty car imaginable…this was the mid 90s. I considered just keeping it, but it was fecal brown (owned one brown Jeep, that was enough) and an automatic which was a dealbreaker since manuals are common on these.
The car was relatively trouble free except for a few issues. The carrier bearing on the driveshaft started drying out, causing a cloud of smoke at speed, and the wiper relay went out. A $40 part on the Dodge or my Jeep, but a $300 part on the Supra. 20 years later, my dad is STILL pissed about that! It also had a small clearcoat peeling issue on the spoiler and roof. Dad checked at the dealership for recalls, and the attitude he got was that a Toyota having ANY issue was an insult to them. And that was that for Japanese tin.
I always liked this generation of Supra. However, I would never take one over an 80s-90s fox Mustang. The Mustang was faster, cheaper and easier to build up. Plus you couldn’t get this gen of Supra in convertible form (at least not to my knowledge). Its still a sweet car though and it is on my list of cars that I would someday like to own.
Was there a better looking car than the Supra back then? NO! Even today 80s Supras look way better than today’s butt ugly Mustang, Camaro, and worse, the Challenger. Toyota needs to bring back the Supra!! Please Toyota! PLease!
My mother loves the concurrent Cressida models but absolutely dislikes the sporty Supra (and Celica and MR2) Someone above mentioned the performance in the Cressida being possibly blunted due to the added weight but I think they might have been similar. Toyota actually made the wagon lighter than the sedan from what I remember reading. My mom drove very conservatively but I remember my brother once flooring our ’84 Cressida on our empty street and it took off quite well.
Is it me, or is there quite a lot of Opel Monza in the styling of this, especially in the side profile?
Those over-sized tires/wheels are dreadful – the originals were far more attractive and looked better with the vehicle.
Agree with that! Any of these swirly ninja star/cabbage shredder/garbage disposal blade wheels look like total crappola. I like the Minilites on that Celica a lot but youre right…the wide split 4 spoke wheels are the ones to have on these cars. My sis’ car had those and they set it off nicely…even though I think they were only 14″.
Upon reflection of this article, I’m reminded that the JDM lineup of this generation Celica XX and the corresponding Celica overlapped considerably. I’m not even so sure the Celica XX 2800GT of 1984-1985 even had a performance advantage over the same year Celica GT-T and GT-TR models.
I’m sure AteUpWithMotor can help clarify, but I understood that the 2.8 I-6 5M-GEU used in the top XX in those years had near equal power to the 1.8 1-4 turbo 3T-GTE powered Celicas. The torque figures were close as well. I also know the XX had the availability of the 2.0 turbo 1-6 M-TEU, which was more powerful overall, but auto only.
I wonder if the added weight of the 5M in the XX hampered performance enough to give the nod to a GT-R Celica? Also, did those particular Celicas share in the independent rear suspension (not all XX models did)? I do know the 3T-GTE in the turbo Celica formed the basis of their Group B rally project, so I would assume it was the real wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Had an 83 in the (Canada only?) Terra Cotta shade, i.e. rust, and loved it for many years. My boss, who sold it to me and got an 86, said he wanted his old car’s seats back.
It was a gentleman’s express thanks to that smooth six, Lotus-tuned suspension and luxury throughout. Speaking of rust, they all developed it along the trailing edge of the hatch. Also oil leaks, especially from the heads. But looking back, it was a wonderful GT.