- Written by webmin
Image courtesy ToyotaReference.com
In the mid-1980s, front-wheel drive was in. If an automotive company hadn’t already switched a segment of its lineup from rear-wheel-drive to front in the years right around 1980, then it was doing so by a few years later, the second great wave of the transition. We see that pattern with Toyota, which, after introducing the front-drive Tercel in 1980, replaced the Corona with the front-drive Camry midway through 1983, switched the Corolla in 1984 (though kept the AE86 rear-drive through 1987), and finally switched the Celica in 1986. However, like with the Corolla, Toyota kept the performance version of the Celica, the Supra, rear-drive for long after the switch. It’s the now-Celica-independent version of the Supra, the Mark III, that we’ll consider for this week’s Class of 1986 induction.
In hindsight, it’s difficult to think of the Supra as anything other than a rear-wheel-driven, straight-six-powered technological showcase, in which guise it began and ended its run. Introduced in April 1978 in Japan (as the Celica XX) and January 1979 in the United States, its engine was directly derived from the 2000GT’s straight-six. The Mark III Supra, introduced midway through the 1986 model year, used a new, larger version of that engine, the 200hp 3.0L 7M-GE, which showcased a distributorless ignition system, four valves per cylinder, and Toyota’s Acoustic Control Induction System. The technology extended to the chassis as well, with independent rear suspension, double wishbone suspension front and rear, and Toyota’s active suspension system, TEMS (Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension). A 230hp turbocharged and intercooled version of the 7M-GE would appear for the 1987 model year, though both it and the non-turbocharged versions would suffer from widely reported head gasket problems brought on by erroneous factory head bolt torque specs. More than 33,000 Mark III Supras were built in 1986, more than in any succeeding year.
The Supra has, of course, gone on to legendary status among Japanese car aficionados and tuners. As well it should: With the separation from the Celica in 1986, Toyota started to reposition it as competition for the Corvette rather than for the Camaro. But does the collector car community in general see the Mark III Supra in the same light? That is, would you park one in your garage dedicated to vehicles from 1986? Would you show up in one to the Hershey car show or to a VMCCA tour?