Every Japanese sports car from decades past has its share of fanboys, among them the Toyota Supra, the muscle-bound coupe that was fast, handled well and was also highly receptive to tuning into the stratosphere. Toyota and BMW are currently working on a joint sports car project, which is said to be resurrecting the Supra.
From Supra to nuts
Fanboys have been clamoring for a new Toyota Supra since its discontinuation for flat-lining sales and not meeting emissions standards. For those who don’t remember, the Supra was a sports coupe made by Toyota from the late 1970s until the early 2000s. The first two generations were essentially muscle car variants of the Celica, with an inline-six cylinder under the hood for extra grunt, albeit with Lotus-tweaked suspension.
The last two generations were derived from different platforms after the Celica went FWD, with much better suspension and tuning. Twin-turbo variants were also offered, which were steeply-priced but properly quick; turbo Supras could easily keep pace with Corvettes.
However, the car ran afoul of emissions regulations in multiple countries and, due to sports car sales plummeting in the late 1990s, Toyota dropped it from North America by 1998 and altogether by 2002.
Pining has gone on ever since.
The prodigal Supra’s return
In early 2014, Toyota registered a number of trademarks and patents for the Supra name. Several years previously, Toyota had announced a joint sports car development program with BMW, which would yield both a new car for Toyota and a new generation of BMW Z4. It isn’t new territory, as Toyota also collaborated with Subaru to develop the Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S, and with BMW two companies on fuel cell and other alternate drive train technology.
Toyota and BMW had been hard at work on the design phase of the joint sports car project, according to Bloomberg, and by November 2014, had completed a “technical feasibility study,” thus putting the project into the “concept phase” according to Road and Track.
Will not be an FR-S successor
Assuming the Toyota-badged car that comes of Toyota and BMW’s partnership wears the Supra badge, it isn’t likely to be a successor to the FR-S/BRZ, or, for that matter, the (also discontinued) MR2 Spyder. Supras of generations past were capable of serious performance and priced to match, so a budget performance car compared to the FR-S, Nissan Z or Mazda MX-5 is probably not the next Supra’s destiny. Likely, according to Car and Driver, the BMW Z4 will have a higher base price, and the Toyota should start somewhere at or near $40,000.
Whether any of the design cues from the FT-1 concept carry over remains to be seen, but it isn’t too likely. Regardless, Toyota is slowly but surely clawing its way back from being an econobox maker into a car company that does it all, from vehicles that excel at getting from A to B to making some truly epic cars to drive.