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Toyota Supra (A80) | Spotted

As the Japanese marque launches a new homegrown performance hero, we seek out its last one...

By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Toyota potentially won 2020 just a few days in with the announcement of the WRC homologation GR Yaris, its first wholly in-house-developed all-wheel drive performance machine for 20 years. Unlike the BMW-influenced GR Supra and Subaru-powered GT86, the bespoke-platformed Yaris was created only by the Japanese company's road and rallying divisions, which means four-time WRC World Drivers' Champion Tommi Mäkinen had some input into the setup. Awesome.

Naturally, the excitement surrounding such a car, not to mention the accompanying announcement of a return to production for old Supra parts, had us dreaming up ways of buying a former Toyota hero, the A80. Particularly a twin turbocharged example, in which a gentleman's agreement-breaking 324hp and nineties looks combined to create a new template for desirable Japanese performance cars. With a blown 3.0-litre straight-six under the bonnet and an enormous fixed rear wing on the tail, it's been a formula for never-ending admiration.

The Fast and Furious films helped re-boost the appeal for the model a few years into its production life, but they also encouraged many owners to frankly ruin their machines with outrageous modifications. Some were simply breathed-on with more power; the legendary 2JZ-GTE six being heavily catered for on the aftermarket and, in some cases, reaching four-figure outputs. But too many cars found themselves dressed in offensive bodykits and paintjobs. A shame now more than ever, with the knowledge of just how special the original specification car was.

Even with so much power on offer, Toyota wanted to ensure the car remained light. So aluminium was used to make the bonnet, suspension componentry and bumper supports. A single exhaust was chosen to save weight when a two-pipe alternative was found to deliver no more power. And there were savings in the cabin, too, with no steering column telescopic adjustment, a magnesium steering-wheel mount and - no joke - hollow carpet fibres. But the car did get twin airbags, electric seats and a healthy dose of period tech, all fitted into a fantastic wraparound dashboard.

Tipping the scales just under 1,600kg, it's never been a featherweight, but it has a better horsepower per tonne than the 348, Ferrari's mid-engined V8 offering of the day. And thanks to a limited-slip diff, there are true sports car-like dynamics held within the Supra's rear-drive chassis. The motor's torque delivery might be savage - there is lag to contend with - but the A80 Supra has earned itself a reputation for being brilliantly judged. It certainly isn't out to kill you, although with a top speed supposedly far above the 155mph limiter, the twin-turbo car is apparently well-catered to let you try for yourself.

Given the aforementioned period of F&F modifications and risks to survival associated with such a high-performance car, it's refreshing to see several unmolested A80s on PH's classifieds. A80s seem to have been crawling out of the woodwork in recent years, as values increase (remember last year's £390k one?) and owners seek to repair and restore examples. Although only 200 A80s were officially produced for the UK, meaning a large portion are actually imported JDM cars.

Today's Spotted is an original UK car, though, a manual with two former keepers and 100,000 miles on the clock. As those enormous power figures proved, Toyota's old straight-six is a tough lump, so those miles need not be of significant concern - and they equate to an average of fewer than 4,000 per year for this 1994 model. It looks to be remarkably healthy, although at just shy of £30k it's also sat among some of the best-kept cars currently for sale. This one appears deserving of that ranking, though - and should something go wrong, there's always Toyota's new parts supply to turn to.


SPECIFICATION - TOYOTA SUPRA (A80)

Engine: 2,997cc, straight six, twin-turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power(hp): 324@5,600rpm
Torque(lb ft): 315@4,000rpm
MPG: 25
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1994
Recorded mileage: 100,000
Price new: £42,839 (UK price 1996)
Yours for: £29,995

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