Owners Review: 1993 (MKIV) Toyota Supra

From the guy who waited seven years to get his hand on his dream car – was it worth the wait?

First Supra

Owner/Reviewer: Yannis Paravalos
Model: 1993 and 1995 Toyota Supras
Purchased: 2000 (first Supra)
Price: N/A
Where: Sydney, Australia

Check out his great story now…

By Yannis Paravalos

My love affair with the MKIV Toyota Supra started in 1994. At the time, I lived in Sydney, Australia. The MKIV was never released on to the Australian market, and due to ‘grey import’ regulations, a car has to be seven years old before it can be imported. So the waiting game had begun. I could import a 1993 twin turbo Supra in 2000, only seven years to go!!!

Plenty of time to read, learn, play with other cars, experiment with turbos, find a job at TRD (Toyota Racing Development and Toyota Motor Corporation Australia) and plenty of time to get involved in the aftermarket industry in Australia. Afterall, you do need sponsors and trade accounts to get parts cheap!

Finally got it

Fast forward to November 2000 and I was in possession of the second MKIV Toyota Supra in Sydney. A nice 1993 twin turbo example, with a grade A body (no dents or blemishes on the paint) and with only 34,000kms (Japan is a small country).

And so the fun had begun. Did I mention it was an aero top? The only one in Australia at the time? I knew it was an aero top, the dealer didn’t. At the time I went to pick up the car, it was raining, a lot…the dealer needed to get compliance plates for the car, registration and I could pick it up in three days. I signed on the dotted line, paid my deposit for the agreed price and three days later I went to pick up my new toy. In the mean time, the dealer had realized he just sold me an aero top, which was $10,000k more than the hard top version. Sadly for him, the papers were already signed.

Rarer than driving a Ferrari

Driving a Supra in Sydney in 2000 gave you more street cred than driving a Ferrari 355 or a 360. You just didn’t see a Supra driving around, period. I remember the first time I was pulled over for random breath testing and eventually got a defect notice for being too low and too loud, and the police wrote Toyota MR2 on the defect notice, not even they knew what a Supra was.

The fun was about to begin. First things first, off to my best friend’s panel shop for a respray in stock factory 202 black (I respray all my cars as soon as I buy them).

Modifying

Once that was out of the way, I learned how the car behaves and start modifying. BPU was the way to go at first, get both turbos to boost at the same time, rather than sequential mode. Give you some more power, bigger kick when you hit boost, but eventually that gets old, you look for more.

In the mean time, I had taken care or aesthetics, no body kit, the stock TRD side skirts and rear pods were perfect for the lines of the car, I didn’t want to ruin the ‘Pure Sport’ Supra JDM styling, so I went with some HKS HyperMax II coil overs for better handling, lowered the car two inches, got some 18 inch wheels from my other ‘best mate’ and a 3 1/2 inch turbo back custom exhaust from my other ‘mate’ from Hi-Tech mufflers in Sydney. Working on contacts and being heavily involved in the after market scene was paying off.

Founding the Supra Club

I needed more power, however, especially now that I had founded the NSW Supra Club (which started with 5 members and now has more than 200). Since I was a veteran Supra owner and had the right contacts, not to mention the TRD job, I was always first off the line with modifications. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, destroyed 2 getrag gear boxes and picked the wrong turbo, but it didn’t take long to learn. Turbo technology is not hard to understand. Big turbo equals massive lag but one hell of a kick once you hit full boost, mid size turbo equal some lag but boost at lower RPM through to the red line but not as much power as the bigger turbo, and smallish turbo equals hardly any lag and even boost and power right through to the red line.

Massive Turbo sucks in small children

My first turbo was a T88…massive thing, it could literally suck in small children once it started to spool. The modification list was huge, but in short terms, it went something like

T88 turbo Hi-tech Mufflers 3 1/2 inch turbo back custom built system with dump pipe Tial Westgate (external) 1000cc injectors BLITZ FMIC (front mount intercooler) BLITZ oil cooler HKS coilovers Microtech ECU Bosch in-tank fuel pump x 2 Surge tank and custom built fuel set up TRD diff TRD strut brace and sway bars BLITZ gauges (boost, oil temp, exhaust temp) BLITZ boost controller TRD carbon fibre custom made bonnet (only one was ever made as a test bonnet) 6 speed conversion (all aero tops came in automatic only)

There were other small bits and pieces, but those were the main mods on the car. It made a nice 420+ rwkws (rear wheel kilowatts, Australia goes by KW not HP). Boost, however, would kick in at about 5200RPM, even a WRX would beat me off the line, so I realized my first mistake. Sure, once I hit full boost nothing could keep up, but how often would I have enough open road to hit full boost and how often would I be able to keep it going when the speed limit is 110kph on freeways in Australia without losing my license (they don’t have the 20kph over the posted limit thing in OZ).

Stolen!

I was a little frustrated with my poor choice in turbo, so I decided to downsize, and just as I was about to order a smaller turbo…my car was stolen…!!! From FOX Studio in Sydney, secure car park. I parked for just over an hour and according to the security video, the ‘gentleman’, who was wearing my cap and sunglasses, drove out 8 minutes before I went back to the spot where I had parked.

The car was never found, it probably ended up in Lebanon as at the time, there was a Lebanese ‘rebirthing gang’ operating in Sydney and they were targeting high performance imports.

Devastated did not even begin to describe how I felt. Insurance paid me out and within a week, I was in possession of nice, black again, hard top 6 speed, stock standard 1995 MKIV Supra. It was time to get back to work…!

Next Supra – start again

Having learned from my previous mistake and knowing the car was never going to see any track time, I was out to build a street monster. Tuned to perfection, and for street racing and quarter mile runs. Suspension was now supplied by TEIN with a EDFC controller. This time, I went with a body kit. Having being involved in the launch of the original Fast & Furious movie in Sydney, by providing Supras from the NSW Supra Club for the premier, I went with the Bomex body kit. Just for the record, the front bar is way too long at the front and it would scrape on everything that wasn’t straight…I hated it with a passion, but the car looked mean.

The engine modification list was similar to the first Supra, but this time, everything was from Greddy and I used a smaller turbo. I went with the GT35/40, rated at 700hp @ around 20psi, boost comes on at about 3500rpm and hits hard through to the redline. All the work was done by the same people as my first car, with the only difference being that this time I got a BLITZ NUR V Spec full exhaust system rather than a custom built one. Of course, the car was resprayed as the body kit was fitted again. I also got a triple plate brass button clutch, courtesy of OS Giken, with a OS Giken LSD, close ratio gear kit and adjustable cam gears.

More of a road racer

This time, the car was much better to drive. Faster spool time, smoother power delivery, instead of a kick in the back with the T88 turbo on my first Supra and the car was much easier to control on the streets, you knew when the turbo would start to spool and how to control it. I had a lot of fun in that car and a lot of races. This is where I blew two getrag gear boxes. The first, racing a V-Spec R34 GTR, I blew the doors off it…but also blew my gear box in the process, the second, launching hard for a quarter mile run. Live and learn, and at $3,500 per gearbox, you learn fast. The car was making a nice 390rwkw on 21psi, so I was happy with it.

While driving ‘ZEUS’ around Sydney, I also built another Supra as an experiment with a friend of mine from a work shop I co-owned. We wanted to develop a NA/T kit for naturally aspirated Supras, not a NA to TT engine conversion. So we built my third Supra. Naturally aspirated to turbo meant we had to lower compression, which was done by a thicker head gasket, easy, we just had to come up with the best set up, fuel, turbo, injectors, ECU possible and at the same time keep prices low so it was attractive enough for people to buy. Many people didn’t want to sell their NA Supras, they wanted to do an engine conversion, that, however, was costly, especially the engine and gear box, not to mention all the labour, tuning etc. So for half the price, we could offer an NA/T kit.

Resprayed

The third Supra was again black, resprayed by my ‘mate’ (who happened to be one of the best panel beaters in Sydney). The rolling shell went to the shop and we got into it.

Gear box was to remain a 5 speed, after all, we were trying to build a low cost NA/T kit, last thing we wanted was to replace gear boxes. Building a NA/T kit was easy, if you knew what you were doing. So the modification list was as follows.

TD0625G Greddy turbo, spools from around 2100rpm, good for around 500hp @ 20psi. GREX forged pistons and rods, Greddy FMIC, Greddy oil cooler, Greddy gauges, Greddy boost controller (boost, oil temp, exhaust temp), by now, you would have guessed we had a sponsorship deal and an account with Greddy for most parts. Bosch in-tank fuel pump, BLITZ exhaust, HKS F-CON V ECU. The car was making 340rwks @18psi, which wasn’t bad for Sydney streets. The weak point eventually, was the gear box…the 5 speed could not handle anything over 220hp apparently. So we custom built and strengthened the stock 5 speed gear box and offered that as an option or a 6 speed conversion.

Sold to a girl!

My second Supra was sold, to a 19 year old girl, who took 25 minutes to get it moving. High hills, and triple plate clutch was not a good combination. It was up for sale again three months later. I kept the NA/T, which was literally ballistic in its performance. It would put to shame many TT/single turbo converted Supras, GTRs, Ferraris, it was just built and tuned to go hard. Boost would kick in early and kept pulling.

My love affair with the MKIV lasted eight long years. It ended when I moved to Dubai in 2008, and even now, I often look at photos of my Supras and videos on Youtube and I miss it. For its time, the Supra was extremely over engineered from the factory. Easy to modify and tune, with a very strong engine (2JZGTE or 2JZGE, both are extremely strong) and amazing looks. Now, as I get older, I have to be more responsible, so I have a four door boring saloon to get me from A to B, in the form of a BMW E60 M5, once you’ve had 500+ hp under your foot, you simply cannot go back to anything less!

Reliable, fast and great looking

My review on the Supra, amazing cars. Extremely reliable and extremely fast. Predictable in handling, easy to drive and looks great stock or with a kit. There is nothing Toyota did wrong with the car, hence the legendary status of the MKIV Supra. If I could find a clean example in the UAE I’d buy it, sadly, all the ones I have seen are beat down and badly modified.

Should Toyota release a MKV Supra I’m sure it will leave up to the performance standards set by its predecessor, and of course I would be first on the waiting list.

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