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Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts Of Cars Gone By (Quickly)

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On: Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 4:06PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts Of Cars Gone By (Quickly)

It could be argued that the Toyota Supra is in fact, the king of all performance imports. Not the entire line of them, mind you, but the Mark IV rendition available in the United States from 1993-1998. These cars were the perfect combination of sleek, stylish good looks, strong factory performance, and almost unlimited mod potential. The from-the-factory version was a stout sports car in its own right. Opting for the turbo model (and what self-respecting man wouldn't?), owners were privy to a very impressive list of performance pieces including a 2JZ-GTE twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that put down a lofty (and possibly underrated) 320-horsepower and 315-lb.-ft. of torque. The turbos on the Mark IV mimicked those on its rival RX-7, operating sequentially as opposed to simultaneously. Exhaust would first spin only one turbo in order to get the engine up and off its feet quickly so as to avoid the notorious "turbo lag" that so many imports were stigmatized with possessing. The first turbo would not only help produce low-end torque (below 2,000 rpm) that was comparable, if not better, than most rival American V8 engines, it would then feed the second turbo and help increase high RPM boost (above 4,000 rpm), making the Supra a force to be reckoned with at any speed, especially on the top end.

The Turbo model was given a 6-speed Getrag transmission with an optional 4-speed auto. Weight was a primary concern for Toyota when it came to the Supra. Compared to the Mark III, Toyota managed to trim the Mark IV by more than 200 pounds thanks to things like a plastic gas tank, a single exhaust pipe (as opposed to the heavier dual setup) a magnesium-alloy steering wheel, gas injected rear spoiler, hollow carpet fibers, and extensive use of aluminum for the hood, targa top, transmission pans, and many suspension parts. Still, the 3,417 pound Supra Turbo was heavier than most of its imported rivals except for the portly 3000GT VR4. But thanks to its combination of excellent engineering and superior torque, the Supra outgunned just about every import of note during the 1990s. Posting 0-60 mph best of 4.8 seconds and a quarter mile run of 13.2 @ 109 mph stock, the Supra beat out all but the exotic Acura NSX, which cost three times the Supra's base price while only posting a better quarter mile time about a tenth or two of a second better. The Supra was engineered as more than just a straight line beast. The Supra put down an incredible 0.98 g score on a 300 ft diameter skidpad and actually could stop better than it could handle or accelerate, with a 70-0 mph mark of just 149 feet, which was the best such score for the next seven years until it was broken by the $400,000 Porsche Carrera GT.

But the legend of the Supra was built not on how it came off the factory production line, at least not directly. Thanks to the stout bottom end Toyota blessed the Supra with, owners modded the snot out of their cars, adding much, much bigger turbos, or in some cases, one huge single turbo, heads, cams, and just about everything else except for the aforementioned herculean bottom bits. Horsepower figures of almost three times as much as stock have been raced and proven on the track and on the road. There are tons of stories all over the internet of Supras being top-end monsters and decimating just about everything from Porsches to Corvettes to Ferraris and Vipers. Now, obviously some of these are just internet nonsense, but in some cases, there are videos to prove that these mythic Supras do, in fact, exist. In fact, many of these videos can be found using only the faintest amount of effort. There are streetable Supras literally embarrassing Lamborghini Murcielagos time after time, which is not by any means a knock on Lambo, but a testament to just how fast some of the remaining Supras out there really are.

Unfortunately sales of the Supra ceased in 1998, but its legend still lives on. If you want to own one of these incredible imports, be prepared to scour the internet (Autoshopper.com might be a good place to start while you're here), and pay a bit of a premium for a car that is at least 13 years old. Supra owners don't sell their cars very often, but if and when they do, they know that the cars themselves have held their value very well over time. You can expect an asking price of around 25 grand for a used 1998 in excellent condition. Now, that may sound like a lot of money for a car that was hot during the Clinton era, but when you drive a Mark IV Supra turbo you will quickly realize there are few cars that can match its mystique, power, and popularity, especially for a car that was produced in the states for only five years. There has been chatter of a Mark V version in the works for years now, but two things are clear: It hasn't happened yet, and if it does, the Mark V has a lot to live up to.

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Stephy21 | 9:11AM (Thu, Nov 10, 2011)

Toyota sure did make a great car, i wish it was still in production today.

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