Put the Ruler Down:
The Mark 2 Toyota Supra
I love boxy cars from the ’80s, but I just can’t warm up to the 1982-1986 (Mark 2) Supra.
On paper, it checks all my boxes (pun intended): RWD, 5-speed, cruiserweight of 3,000 lbs, rack-and-pinion steering, all-independent suspension, straight-6 engine up front and imbued with just the right mix of sportiness and luxury. It’s a classic GT, the car type I’m most drawn to.
Contemporary auto reviews back up my regard for the Mark 2 Supra’s objective virtues. Car and Driver, in awarding it a close second in a 1985 comparison test, wrote about it:
The big reason we love this car is that it does everything elegantly and never seems to breathe hard. Around the burbs and out on the freeway it coddles you with a ride that’s cushy but never wobbly. Its straight-line stability is laser-keen. Lane changes are sharp. The twin-cam six is pure velvet. There is some wind, road, and rear-axle noise, but it’s less than disturbing.
When you want to boogie, the Supra is right there to be your partner. The engine howls as if it believed it’s in a BMW. Come to think of it, the whole driving experience is what you’d expect from a big Bimmer coupe. The difference is that we mere mortals can afford the Supra.
This car’s footwork is nearly flawless. It’s absolutely at home clawing along the jagged coastal highways at go-to-jail velocities. Its steering accuracy and feel rival the big-name brands’. And when you make a mistake, the Supra covers for you.
Add to that glowing review the fact the Mark 2 Supra is about 500 lbs lighter than its successor, the ’86.5-’92 Mark 3 Supra, and nearly as upgradeable—either the Mark 3′s single-turbo 7M-GTE or twin-turbo 1JZ-GTE engine will nestle perfectly into the Mark 2′s bay—and a dismissal of it as a platform becomes even more difficult. A 3,000 lb car with a converted single-turbo 1JZ pushing 500+ reliable hp is a recipe for serious speed, and the kind of formula that makes my pulse quicken.
So what’s up? Why am I not on this car like white on rice? The looks. As much a fan as I am of angular, wedge-y ’80s styling, the Mark 2 Supra just crosses the line, in particular with its Borg-like nose treatment that looks for all the world like a docking proboscis for some kind of interstellar battleship. In light of its sub-sheetmetal qualities, I’ve tried mightily to like its design, stared at images of it for some time trying to get used to the styling details, but…if I’m honest with myself, I simply can’t do it. In fairness, there are certain color combinations in which the fascia rises to the level of acceptability, if not outright attractiveness—usually when color-keyed to the body—but the design still never rises to the point where I’d seriously consider it as a potential purchase. The angularity is simply too much.
Image credits: caranddriver.com, toyotanation.com