We are often asked what cars will be collectable investments in the future. While its impossible to say for certain, there are some cars that seem like smart choices. They were inspiring to their generation, and delivered performance and style that defined a genre. The Supra Twin Turbo was such a car, particularly to a younger generation that grew up with Japanese supercars instead of Detroit muscle. With the advantage of history and experience on our side, its probably safe to say that the final Toyota Supra twin turbo is the Hemi Cuda of the 1990s. Rare, fast, and flat-out brutal, it will likely never be duplicated by a mainstream manufacturer, least of all Toyota.
This 1997 Supra 15th Anniversary Limited Edition (with limited being the key word: all 1997 Supras were Limited Edition models) was delivered new to Sheridan Toyota in Santa Monica, California by way of the port at Long Beach. It is a 2-owner California car, and shows just 18,787 original miles. More miraculously, it is completely unmodified, not even a K&N air filter, although Sheridan installed a LoJack system at the original buyers request. Looking over the original window sticker, everything was standard, from power seats to automatic climate control, blurring the line between performance and luxury. The only extras available were things like California emissions, locking lug nuts, and mudguards, all of which this car has. Today, this cars astounding condition is proof that it has never been raced or abused. There may be cars with lower mileage, but Ill wager that most of those cars have had their clocks turned a quarter-mile at a time. If you want what is perhaps the last unmolested, perfectly preserved, low-mileage Supra on the planet, this may very well be it.
Renaissance Red goes with the Supra body like hot fudge on a scoop of vanilla ice cream: its exactly right. While the Supra cant exactly be called sexy, the shape is purposeful and makes no apologies for what it is. From the large flush-fitting headlights to the towering rear wing, it looks like a giant coiled spring: 100% potential energy. Youll note that every body panel is completely stock, and that this car has never had any accident repairs or panel replacements. Toyota was at the top of their game when this car was built, and quality is visible everywhere. The paint lays down without the heavy orange peel you see in other production cars, the gaps are incredibly precise (remember that Lexus commercial with the ball bearing sliding down the hood line?), and the structure is solid. This car is so nice that even the chin has not been scraped on some steep driveway apron, and theres almost no road rash behind the wheel wells. Someone really took care of this one!
Trim? There isnt much. Theres certainly no chrome, and theres a decided lack of extraneous ornamentation on the car. Theres the Toyota badge on the nose, I suppose, along with the 15 Anniversary Limited Edition badges, but otherwise, nothing of note. The black window frames remain deep and lustrous, with no fading or UV damage. The lift-off roof (what were they thinking putting this much power in an open car?) fits easily, suggesting that the car has never been hammered, and the wing doesnt sag. And, of course, there are those wonderful Supra taillights with four individual round lenses. Yeah, this is one heck of a nice car.
But the real reason Supras are so insanely popular, rare, and expensive lies under the hood. For the same reason that the Hemi made a garden-variety Barracuda special, the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six in the Supra makes the car. By 1997, inline sixes were archaic; long and tall, they werent great for under-hood packaging. However, they are silky smooth and present easy routing for turbochargers. Also, Toyota had them already on the shelf, ready to rock, thanks to several Japanese domestic market vehicles still using them. So they stuffed it in, turned up the boost, and made 320 horsepower thanks to dual sequential turbochargers. What this means is plenty of flexible power with little turbo lag. The first turbo spools up at low engine speeds for quick throttle response, while the second comes in at higher speeds, and feels a lot like a second stage rocket separation. There is a slight hesitation in acceleration, then the car explodes with an adrenaline-rush of power that slews it sideways as the tires struggle to hold on. And thats when its STOCK! As you can see from the photos, the engine bay is spotless, and the only non-stock component is the batteryunfortunately, nothing will keep a car battery alive for 15 years, but the replacement is an actual Toyota battery, so its the next best thing. Every component is glittering and fresh, with no wear or dirt, and certainly no corrosion thanks to climate-controlled storage since new. But if youre looking at buying this car, Im guessing that the stock parts originality doesnt really matter to you, does it?
Although they were available with automatics, the Supras perform best with the 6-speed manual found in this car. These transmissions seem to survive behind modified Supras with more than 700 horsepower, so handling the stock cars output should be a piece of cake. The suspension is fully independent front and back, and is extremely capable while allowing a smooth, comfortable ride. Youll note from the ride height that the suspension on this car is completely stock, and nothing has been modified or replaced during the past 15 years. Even the exhaust system is original, and makes this Corvette eater as quiet as a Lexus. Massive disc brakes with ABS live at all four corners, and they are also over-engineered for the car in its stock configurationits almost as if Toyota engineers knew their customers would be modifying these cars. This car also still wears its original polished 17-inch alloys with 235/45/17 front and 255/40/17 rear Bridgestone Potenzas that may very well be the original tires.
The interior features very unusual Ivory leather, a pleasant change from the predominantly black buckets in most Supras. Wonderfully preserved, the seats show almost no signs of use and despite their light coloring, no dirt or wear. Heck, theyre hardly even wrinkled, which is completely unavoidable if anyone actually sits in the car. The dash and console are black, of course, and provide a striking contrast to the light upholstery. Everything is angled towards the driver, and controls are straightforward and well laid out in finest Toyota tradition. These cars were heavy on the technology, so every gadget the engineers could think up went into this flagship, and everything works properly today, including the aftermarket LoJack theft recovery system (youd better believe these cars are hot properties, so be safe). Tan carpets are in excellent condition thanks to a set of Supra monogrammed floor mats and Im thinking your passenger may appreciate the grab handle afforded him just under the glove box. The trunk in this car is immaculate as well, with the original liner, spare, and tool kit intact.
Documentation is what youd expect from an enthusiast. We have the original window sticker from Sheridan Toyota, owners manual, brochures, odometer disclosure statements, LoJack system manuals, and registrations dating back to new that verify the cars two-owner status and actual mileage claims. Finally, we have receipts for routine maintenance, which has always been performed by Toyota.
If youre reading this and getting excited, Im guessing you already know more about the car than I do. Perhaps its this cars fate to be preserved as-is for the future as perhaps the last stock Supra Turbo on the planet. But I dont think thatll happen. Unmolested cars like this are simply impossible to find, and theres probably a guy out there with very deep pockets looking for exactly this piece to build something extraordinary. Well, here it is. Whatever your plan, preservation or modification, Supra Turbos simply dont get any better than this.
The day is likely not far off when these will be $100,000 vehicles, and if you were to ask us what newer cars will be collectable and appreciate in the coming years, the Supra Turbo would be at the head of that list. Except for perhaps the first generation Mustang, its almost unprecedented that a vehicle would become an icon only 15 years after it was built, but the Supra is such a car. Call today!
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