The OG Supra
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Today's automotive buzzword has to be Supra, the new Toyota Supra is in, on, and around every car magazine, website, blog, and Instagram post. The hype beast surrounding the new MK5 or A90 had reached epic proportions, and with the sheets pulled off; Supra-mania has started again.
While most see the 4th generation Supra as the last in the line of a car balancing between a sports and a grand touring car; those who see it as the only Supra forget the humble beginnings of a now legendary model. The example that drove down the I95 from Maryland to attend Toyota Fest was without a 2JZ, sans the Fast and Furious graphics, or a dyno sheet proving numbers that it could reach a quarter mile in under 10 seconds. What Greg and Rachelle Altig brought to the party was the "OG", an original 1979 MA46 Toyota Celica Supra in mint condition. Wearing it's original black metallic paint code, Lord Vader's car was ready just in time for The Empire Strikes Back.
If you're looking for a 2JZ with a huge turbo, please read the next couple of articles that will showcase some examples, what we have here is the predecessor to the JZ series of engines; the M. The 4M-E is derived from the 3M in the 2000GT which was developed by Yamaha, the straight six fuel injected power plant produced 110 HP from it's 2.6 liters, delivering 0-60 times of 11.5 seconds; not too shabby for it's time. Competing for buyers of Datsun's Z as well as American muscle cars of that same era, Toyota focused on bringing performance, comfort, and style in to one overall package.
The Supra or Celica XX as it was known in Japan, was as much about technology as it was about driving enjoyment. This vehicle and many other examples featured a bevy of options including power windows, power door locks, cruise control, and an electric sunroof. Plush seats and a 4 spoke steering wheel with the Supra emblem in the center were touches that attracted buyers to this "grown up Celica." MA46's featured two transmission options, the base W50 5-speed manual that would be featured in cars well in to the 90's, and the A40D 4-speed automatic with an over-drive function to save on gas.
Owners Greg and Rachelle put together a list of the unique features of their all original Supra. With just 98,000 miles on the odometer, it is safe to say this is an important car 40 years after it's creation. All of the creature comforts for the year were included on the build sheet, even air conditioning and a tilting steering column which isn't even standard on most cars today! It is great to see passionate enthusiasts care for vehicles at such a high level, very few cosmetic defects could be found, and everything inside works.
The dragon logo of the Celica lineage is also placed on the Supra, until the third generation Supra this emblem was attached to the front, pillars, and steering wheels of both vehicles. In the past Toyota had various logos for their different models, some an ode to mythology, others to Japanese culture; even the simplified font on the new Supra has meaning behind it.
Chrome is the universal symbol of luxury in the automotive world, or at least it was at the time. The Supra had chrome bits scattered throughout to prove it was an upscale evolution to the Celica it was derived from. While today's Supra that we will receive in just a couple of months is a sports car, the previous generations were more of a grand touring or GT car; featuring rear seats and easy to handle driving dyanmics.
I don't know about you, but on some cars, I love louvers. The original dealer optioned Shadow side and rear louvers were a special touch on this Supra. Louvers are definitely an old school option that conjure some serious nostalgia, used to help shade passengers in the rear seats, they also look super cool and complement this MA46's style lines. While many kits exist today for cars like the Toyota 86, vintage examples of louvers are hard to find, cracking from wear and tear, sun exposure, or just getting discarded means that finding a set in perfect condition like these are a visual gem.
Low quantities of original Toyota Celica Supras exist today, some could not pass the test of time due to the usual variables, rust, accidents, and the disposable nature of vehicles itself leading them to junkyards before being recycled. Most Toyota enthusiasts know the first generation Supra for it's disc rear end, capable of withstanding more than your stock AE86, this sold rear axle has made it's way in to many drag racers and performance oriented builds including my own personal car. The OG Supra featured disc brakes at all four corners, a limited slip differential, 4-link rear suspension, and McPherson struts up front, although a soft ride for today's standards while riding on it's original 14 x 5 inch wheels, the Supra was competitive in it's class. It's important for time capsules like this one to remind us of how pure cars used to be, even with high-end features like a cassette deck in the 70's; retro rides do without the endless driver assisting aides, crash standard based styling, and over-size wheels... back then it was just about turning the key and getting to your destination however you chose.