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Put the Ruler Down:
The Mark 2 Toyota Supra

February 11, 2013 by Matt

Toyota Supra Mark 2 Mk2 Boxy Black Dark

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.

Toyota Supra Mark 2 Mk2 Boxy Black Dark

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.

Toyota Supra Mark 2 Mk2 Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

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

Filed under: Toyota

7 Comments

  1. Gene Gagne says:

    I gotta disagree on this one. I love the look of the outside of this Supra but I just can’t get excited about the inside. I would love to get to know one though and see how it sizes up against my e30 and other cars from that era.

    One thing is for sure, it was a LOT better looking then the model preceding it. I had one of those and looking back I don’t think Toyota has made an uglier car.

    • Matt says:

      Agreed about the Mark 1, and even the contemporary Celica. Oof. Those are pretty gag-inducing shapes.

      If there’s one thing I give Toyota props for with the Mark 2, it’s being committed. You certainly can’t examine it and conclude they chickened out anywhere. I just wish I loved it the way I love the early Mark 3’s styling, you know?

  2. I agree — I wouldn’t say that the Mark II is an attractive car. The Mitsubishi Starion, on the other hand..

    Also, I am genuinely surprised that the Mark III weighs 3,500 lbs. That’s fairly porky for an ’80s two-door car, in my mind.

    • Matt says:

      My old ’88 Supra Turbo tipped the scales at around 3,450 and the ’89-’92 “refresh” models were a little heavier here and there. It’s a beast of a car because Toyota tried to make it all things to all people, so to speak. Later they got wise and spun the “luxury GT” part of the concept off onto the Lexus SC and kept the “sports GT” idea with the more-focused Mark 4 Supra.

      The Starion/Conquest is a good looking car, and underrated! Wrote about it here:

      http://www.spannerhead.com/2012/02/18/mitsubishi-starion-japanese-glam-rocker/

      I wish Mitsu had offered more than a 4-cyl under the hood, though. :(

  3. Automobiliac says:

    I agree that the car’s looks are sort of a let down. having said that, on the rare occasion when I see one lately, I do stop and look. It is aging well.

    • Matt says:

      It turns my head too, in the same way a classic ’80s synthpop song catches my attention. I think uncompromising “period” styling will always be well-regarded, if for no other reason than it just stands as a kind of monument to the look and feel of the era.

  4. R says:

    I think it looks awesome. It looks better than the MK3 to me. Love the angles and fender-flares. It looks mean and badass. Especially in Black, (my favorite color for an MK2). They also look sick in Maroon or Red.

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