So for the first time in a quarter of a century, UK buyers are being offered a Toyota Supra with a manual gearbox. Which feels a pretty courageous (and commendable) move by Toyota, given the general shift (no pun intended) away from three pedals. And, let’s be frank, the relatively modest success of the A90 Supra; it’s not a car you see every day, and here’s a new option that will probably only appeal to a small subset of potential buyers.
But it’s happened, and enthusiasts should be pleased about the concession. Especially as, by all accounts, it’s a decent six-speed, making for the most engaging and enjoyable Supra yet. It certainly impressed on circuit when we drove it in Spain, and the opportunity to try one in the UK is a genuinely exciting prospect. Which maybe hasn’t always been the case with this A90 Supra.
It’s all the excuse needed, moreover, to feature an old manual Supra. Because it really is more than 25 years since six-cylinder, six-speed Supras were here; Toyota may have made A80s right up to 2002, but such was the reception over here - only 600 were sold in almost three years on sale - that the last ones were sold in late 1996. It’s easy to forget nowadays with the nitrous-fuelled Supra cult that exists, but the model was intended as a comfy, cushy sports GT back in the day rather than a 10-second car. Even with the tweaks for UK versions over the JDM equivalent, with some more power, larger brakes, tweaked suspension and the bonnet scoop, it was no road racer. One magazine put the Supra up against the Aston Martin DB7 when it was new, in fact. And while it was very good, the same problem that afflicted so many similar cars meant the Supra came a cropper as well: buyers wanted prestigious badges on their expensive two-door coupes. You could argue it’s a problem that still holds the current Supra back today.
It must have been hard back in the mid-1990s to imagine the reverence that surrounds the fourth-generation Supra today, and it shows absolutely no signs of going anywhere. There are videos on YouTube that have racked up millions of views merely featuring the 2JZ-GTE engine - the Supra’s famously durable twin-turbo straight six - before even considering those about the car itself. Thanks to Fast & Furious, Need for Speed, Max Power and the fact a 2JZ can make 2,000hp, the Supra became an icon to young enthusiasts. Even if most of the cars sold in the UK definitely had a four-speed auto and probably went to the golf club a lot.
All of which makes this Supra quite the discovery. Not only is it a manual, UK car, it’s also got a very low mileage - just 48k showing - and is said to feature not one single modification. Even the radio is as it left the factory in 1995. Given that’s now 27 years ago, and with everything that’s happened to the Supra’s image in that time, it’s an incredible survivor. Looks great, too; firstly just from the perspective of seeing the standard seats, wheels and engine bay, as well as the condition they’ve survived in.
You know the bit that comes next. The privilege of owning a Supra this special won’t come cheap. Opt for the Pro Special Edition of the new manual Supra and it’ll cost £55,995 - this one is even a little more than that, at £59,995. Which will likely draw some comments. But such is the fervour around the Japanese icons now. For context this NSX is a similar mileage to the Toyota and more than £100k, this R34 GT-R is one of the UK allocation but heavily modified and £140,000, while this Impreza P1 with more than 90,000 miles is £45k. They’re bonafide classics now, with price tags to match. And even if now is no longer the time to buy to make money, the rarity and significance of a UK, manual A80 Supra will ensure it has appeal for long, long while yet.
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
First registered: 1995
Recorded mileage: 48,000
Price new: £42,839 (UK price 1996)
Yours for: £59,995
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