The Gypsy Queens have been started, the stewardess is on hand with sandwiches and tea, let’s all board the “Carchive Airways” De Haviland Dove of wisdom and take a slow, low flight through motoring history. Our destination is quite a few refuelling stops away, mind: Today we’re off to Japan. We’re taking a look at the first vehicle ever to bear the Supra name with this 1982 brochure for the baddest of all the Celicas. “The new Toyota Celica Supra. Pure sports styling, exacting engineering and performance to match the best that Europe can offer” This piece of literature is interesting in as much as the brochure within is a generic, printed in Japan, global document while the sleeve it’s presented in was specific to he UK market, as if they had decided to sell it here but only decided the specification at the last minute. In fact, the brochure and its photos refer to the Supra in “L” trim, as other markets would have it, which saw the Supra shorn of the wider wheels and attendant wheelarch extensions which identified the “P” (Performance) versions. In fact, I believe that every single one of these machines I’ve seen in the UK has fallen into the latter category; I’ve only ever seen these wheels on Celicas (and Space Cruisers, and in truth I probably haven’t seen a set in a decade and a half) “This is what it’s like to be in the seat of power” Today, when you design a car which is supposed to be sporty, you give it a “sporty” steering wheel. This usually means a fat leather or alcantara rim, perhaps a few moulded contours for your thumbs to grip. Not so when designing the Toyota Supra. I like to think that the Japanese design team thought of this, tried a number of styles, but arrived at this one as the best ‘wheel for the job. Oh, the ’80s, with its fake stitching and acres of brown plastic.Aside from the steering wheel it was the seats that defined the interior of the Supra, those at the front enjoying eight-way adjustment as well as rich velour which looks like it could have created enough static electricity that the car could manage without a battery. “An engineering feat that tops them all. Proud owners agree it’s a true GT. Celica Supra” We were spoiled in the UK. Right from the word go, all our A60 Supras enjoyed 170hp from their twin-cm 5M-GE straight-six motors, while poor saps West of the Atlantic had to make do with 145hp at the beginning. Official performance figures in ’82 were 8.3 seconds for the 0-60 dash and a 136mph top end. That was properly quick back in ’82, and gave the Supra very good grand-touring credentials indeed. As did the level of standard equipment. The number of sporting cars on the UK market that had air conditioning as a standard fit item were few outside the blue-chip luxury market, you could get A/C on a few of the ritzier mass market sedans, but they were a world away from the Supra in every other respect. An electric sunroof and a stereo tape with five speakers went to create quite an air of luxury. “The Toyota Celica Supra- who could ask for anything more?” I have always loved these things. I think central to the appeal these have is the fact that they’re like a Celica-Plus one. A very nice car, improved with the addition of a little more of the stuff you want. It took the nice, healthy salad of the Celica and added a juicy side order of steak and fries, and a couple of beers. And a hearty dessert. This shape of Supra came to a natural end for the ’86 model year, replaced by the very handsome A70 Supra which now had absolutely nothing to do with the mere Celica, which switched to a front-drive platform, albeit quite an impressive one. Since 2002 our world has been free of freshly produced Supras, and that’s a teeny bit sad. (All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me on a ’98 Audi backdrop. Copyright remains property of Toyota)
The Carchive: The 1982 Toyota Supra
RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.