TOYOTA SUPRA
   


Toyota's new Supra bowed just as the market for high-buck Japanese sports cars collapsed. Sales dragged at 2,000-3,000 per year, making it almost as rare as some European exotics. Low volume wasn't all the Supra Turbo had in common with a Ferrari, though. It even performed like one.

Originally an upgraded Celica sporty coupe, the Toyota Supra became its own rear-drive model when Celica went front-wheel drive for 1986. Settled comfortably into the role of a sound 2+2 GT, that version lasted though 1992. For '93, Supra was reborn as a costlier, more powerful 2+2 coupe. Styling, done in Japan, was rounded and more aggressive, with nods to the Ferrari F40 in the grille opening and bodyside intakes (they did not duct to the brakes). It even had a big basket-handle spoiler, a $420 Turbo option said to provide 66 lbs of downforce at 90 mph.

Although still a sizable sports car, the new Supra was smaller than its predecessor, with 1.8 inches less wheelbase and 4.2 inches less body length. To save weight, Toyota rejected such items as dual exhaust tips and even specified hollow-fiber carpeting. Supra rode a shortened, modified Lexus SC300 platform and shared the luxury coupe's engine. Here it had 220 hp in base form and 320 in the Turbo, which used one turbocharger for low-rpm boost, kicked in a second above 4,500 rpm, and then ran both to make an impressive 106.8 hp per liter. The cabin was austere for the price, and the rear seats were mere parcel bins, but everything else was in place: dual air bags, traction control, and a removable aluminum roof panel.

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