Apr 13, 2013 // General MKIV //
Many of you who own or have owned the MKIV Toyota Supra must have come across this thought provoking question a few times in your life. The Supra, to some, is now a twenty year old vehicle. It is branded as “old technology”, “90’s technology”, “techno-tronik, MC hammer”… Many of us have contemplated moving on to something with newer creature comforts, better interior design and materials, dual clutch transmissions, a hundred airbags and safety features, etc. But is it a wise choice? Here is my breakdown on a few scenarios (these observations assume you have another capable daily driver, or so called “beater”):
(A) You own a Supra with low mileage, prestine, afraid to drive it for fear of rock chips, potential damage, racking on miles, getting it dirty, thus affecting resale. You need to find something more enjoyable.
(B) You own a Supra with extensive modifications, so extensive that it can only run on special gas, requires an army to tend after, making it cumbersome to take out and drive on a regular basis. You need to find something more enjoyable.
(C) You own a Supra with mild modifications (BPU+++), still maintains all of its original amenities, makes decent horsepower, perfectly happy with what you have. You’ve had it for what feels like decades. You still need to find something more “modern”.
I stand somewhere between (B) and (C), and have been having a hard time justifying purchasing something different. I’ve scoured the market for old and new, and at every turn, keep finding an excuse to hold my ground. Below are some of my justifications:
– Four seats!: I can fit my kids back there, and take the family on short trips. This is an important quality to me as the vehicle needs some practicality. There have been many times when a road trip to family on a beautiful day prompted me to take out the Supra, and was I glad I could do so being that the twins could hop in the back and we could enjoy some fun in the sun (targa off and all!).
– Easy to work on, great fairly inexpensive aftermarket, great user base: After years of working on these vehicles, there isn’t a thing I can’t do to the Supra to keep it running, make it faster or make it modern. Folks have made 1000+ horsepower, and they’ve turned the Supra into a capable road racing rocket as well.
– Potential for tons of horsepower(s): For just a few grand, you can make up to 800 wheel horsepower reliably. You can make more still drive it on the road daily if you like (if done well).
– Cockpit interior: Interior design is one of a kind, unlike anything out there on the market.
– Lightweight: 3300lb! This matters to me for many reasons, one of them being I do enjoy road coarse racing. Many modern vehicles are pushing the 4000lb threshold, and although they pull it off seamlessly, a light vehicle will always have advantages. Also, you can move faster with less power (common physics).
– Rarity / Exotic and Timeless look: Only a few thousand made, so it is rare. The look is classy and very muscular, yet different than anything else out on the road. When you see one on the road, you can’t help but say to yourself, “Oh look, it’s a Supra!”
Let’s jump to the chase: What can I replace it with? Why do I want to replace it with something else? After deciding that owning a second vehicle would make more sense (note: I already own a practical and potent daily driver), here is what I began comparing against:
– Nissan R35 GTR: It meets most of the Supra criteria listed above, but it is also $65k+. For that money, I would feel guilty driving it around. I know I would leave the GTR in automatic mode all the time. Also, I enjoy vehicles that require work to drive properly (my preference), thus not having a 6spd would not fit the bill. I do not like the looks of it. I do not need to have the latest technology to beat everyone on the road.
– Porsche 911 Turbo (any year): Only flaw I could find for these vehicles is ability and ease to work on it, as well as the price. Changing sparks plugs is an affair, and the world knows I love to tinker! I’m not fond of the 996 body style either, which seems to have the lowest resale value of all other years (I wonder why?!) :/
– Audi TTRS: This seems like a good contender. APR stage3 gets you to 600hp, has back seats, AWD (actually FWD with AWD bias when needed), rare, nice body lines. Due to the naturally turbo charged engine from factory, upgrading for more power should be a no-brainer. Also, 3200 lb vehicle weight! I’ve read of mediocre reviews on the TTRS as far as handling and power delivery. Not that I would drive it to the edge everyday. So, this remains a contender.
– American muscle: We have the new Stingray, the GT500, the new Viper. Neither have back seats (other than the GT500). Super expensive ($90k+), leaving only the GT500. Not very fond of the ford’s interior. Also heavy. Exterior is gorgeous at some angles. You do see many Mustangs on the road, even though this model is unique, it may not catch the eye of your standard driver. A contender but at the bottom of my list.
– BMW Z3M/Z4M Coupe: This one breaks the “no back seats” rule, but it is one sexy car. Not fond of the Z3 “clown shoe” look, so lets focus on the Z4M Coupe. Spartan interior and materials. S54 power addition doesn’t come cheap, nor easy for a non-turbo charged factory engine. It is just a contender since I love to stare at one for hours, period.
– Aston Martin, Lamborghini: $$$
– Ferrari F355: I love this one, and the price isn’t that bad. Classic V8 flat-crank sound. Unfortunately, low on power compared to today’s standards, servicing cost is a nightmare, finding parts is a nightmare, it isn’t a vehicle I would feel comfortable driving around to work when all my coworkers drive Kia and Priuses.
– Mercedes C63 and other variants: The Mercedes bridges the gap between American muscle and European finesse, but I’ve not been fond of AMG for having driven and owned previous models. I haven’t really known anyone who’s owned an AMG vehicle that didn’t require frequent servicing or repairs, or used a lot of oil, you name it. Still, it would be a contender although the image of Mercedes to me has always been similar to Cadillac: My grandparent’s sports car.
– Cadillac CTS-V and other variants: They get expensive, and am not fond of the sheet metal design of their latest offerings. Very heavy vehicles as well.
– Subaru 2014 WRX (concept currently: This one is peaking my interest for many reasons. I love the design thus far. I would rather skip the four door approach, but I believe they integrated this one nicely. It isn’t a contender yet, but one that I’m watching.
– 90s hotrods: Acura NSX (no back seats, limited power adaptability, not too fond of interior quality), 300ZX (cramped engine bay, not too fond of the exterior shape, sub-par interior quality), RX7 (Very elegant, but I’ll pass. Besides, an LS swap would be the first thing I would want to do to it, and i’m not looking forward to Frankenstein vehicles), Mitsubishi GSX (I had one! Transmission is the weakest link bar none), Mitsubishi EVO (Not exclusive enough, although I respect the EVO for what is has been capable of, interior is very grocery-getter like)
In the end, I could not justify selling the Supra, although others may have legitimate reasons for doing so (financial, garage space, wife, kids college, etc). So the decision had been made a long time ago that it won’t be sold and will always be a project vehicle going forward. This will entail many hours in the garage servicing, upgrading, modifying, many things that we all enjoy doing since we can’t just leave it alone for more than a few weeks. So, it will satisfy my bug for tinkering for years to come.
I cannot find a perfect Supra-like addition to the family, given all of my criteria. Having said that, I am still on the quest for a Supra-like replacement of which has all the qualities, can make good reliable horsepower, but can be used as my “enjoyable” sports car while the Supra is under the knife.
You are more than welcome to comment your thoughts and opinions! Please be kind in your comments!
(This post reflects my opinions and musings. All comparisons are solely based on my judgement and criteria. I plan to update this list as I keep searching for the perfect Supra replacement!)