Just in time to cash in on this new wave of Celica Supra popularity I’ve decided to review my first car. Problem is that it is likely part of Lowe’s latest appliance sale. So I’ve decided to travel back in time and road test my 1982 Toyota Celica Supra in 2008. Considering that I’ve actually traveled in time, and am in no way just piecing together my memories with rose tinted glasses, you can be certain of a factual and in no way biased piece of automotive journalism.
Full Disclosure: Toyota wanted me to drive this car so badly that they sold it to someone in Louisville who sold it to a tiny defunct used car lot. Who sold it to a father likely tired of driving his son around.
At some point in this car’s 24 years of existence it was cheaply resprayed white over it’s factory original Beige Metallic with rust trim. As with any half assed respray, the rust started to win again. This car was going to win no concourse awards. The natural collections of dents and dings that occur under the stewardship of a teenage male did nothing to improve things. However it is a fairly solid design so it gets a couple points for that. I added another point for the unpictured P-type wheels that looked so meaty filling out those wheel wells and forever sold me on the narrow fendered Mk2’s.
The sunfaded 80’s maroon interior wasn’t a bright spot. The rear hatch carpet was in tatters when it was bought, so it was soon removed for stage 1 weight reduction. It smelled like a 20+ year old toyota smells with hints of mildew if an irresponsible owner left the sunroof open at the wrong time. The upgraded equalizer radio was the only option selected for this car, unfortunately aside from a couple equalizer lights, it didn’t work. In the car’s defense the layout and general ergonomics were good and it is an easy cabin to learn. I also upgraded the seats to the lauded factory Recaros, and those are still the best seats for sports driving that I’ve owned. Granted, my current cars are a Nissan Murano and an Impala SS, so the bar isn’t high, better than leather Miata (NA) seats at least. Unfortunately, I also replaced the dashboard. While successful, it had gaps that would feel at home at the Shanghai autoshow. Tip: Don’t bother replacing the dash unless you really have to.
As fast as a Ferrari! A Mondial 8, but still! For the time it was adaquate, but it was 1982 so relative to nearly any other time, slow. ~10 seconds to 60 and ~17 seconds for a standing 1/4 mile. Not impressive. But what it lacked it outright speed it made up in a well developed motor. The 5M-GE had usable power all throughout the rev range, although it flattened a bit past 5500 rpm. This made it a fun motor to rev out while still feeling gutsy at low rpms, a trick that isn’t always accomplished even today.
The handling of the Mk2 Supra was tuned by Lotus so despite its soft GT compromises was still quite good. Cloverleafs were fun as you could adjust your line accurately with the throttle. It had some friendly understeer at the limit but if you were overly aggressive you could still lose your tail. The Mk2 was never sprightly, but it’d do what you asked without complaint. Well, it wasn’t a big fan of slaloms, but I figure the old bushings didn’t help any. The Mk2 handles well, if not fast compared to modern cars.
As I mentioned the radio didn’t work. The most common question asked by passengers was if the engine was in the back, as the rear differential was the loudest noise. However, on one faithful day the muffler nearly fell off as a punched the throttle to pass a truck. As the muffler was hanging off by a rubber hanger I quickly pulled over, let it cool and tossed it in the back hatch. As I drove home the next day my dad said that he’d take care of it if he could borrow it a while. Sure, I didn’t want to pay for it. When I went with him to pick it up at a shady exhaust shop he paid only about $100 bucks. Quickly, I put together that the catylytic converter was part of the purchase price. I guess some could complain, but I was busy enjoying the noises of a lightly muffled inline-6. It was quiet enough at low throttle-low rpm but I was definitely shifting later than usual for a while. Plus the engine braking and high rpms was intoxicating. It easily sounded like it had 3 times the power. Which is important when you are 20. But not as a responsible father and member of proper society. Wouldn’t enjoy it one bit right now. Because loud things are bad.
Easy to modulate, good feel, probably limited by the tires more than anything. The only time I experienced fade was after the tail of the dragon chasing my friends in much faster cars. No fade during an autoX. Simple to work on too. Although the parking brake sucked and froze on me once.
An old GT suspension with tired parts won’t give you a Lexus-quality ride, but it was good enough. Long suspension travel soaked up bumps but gave a fair share of roll and pitch too. You could go a few states over without too much complaint....at least about the ride.
Considering the W58 in the Mk2 survived through the non-turbo Mk4 Supra and until the end of the IS300, I’d have to claim it is a well engineered piece of machinery. I guess it won’t take 1000ft/lbs of torque, but that’s hardly a demerit. Mine was a bit notchy when cold, but always shifted well even though the shifter bushings were distant memories. If I can put it this way, a good portion of my desire for a IS300 is knowing what that transmission is.
It was well equipped for its time, power locks/windows/mirrors/sunroof. It also had cruise control and sometimes functional a/c. Nothing to brag about in 2008. However if it had the digital dash this score would be 5 points higher.
As far as I could tell, the Celica Supra was bought for about $1500 and it was a largely reliable daily driver for most of the 5 years my family owned it. So yeah, great value. It’d probably still be rusting away today provided that my dad didn’t display laughably bad passing judgement and crash into an F-250. Fortunately, he was ok, but the Toyota was totalled. I never saw it after it was wrecked, but I still carry the key with me. Now excuse me while I go check the Celicasupra.com for sale board...