The long-announced day has finally come. The "wait" is over, and the moment has arrived. Finally, after what seemed like 4 entire decades, the new Toyota Supra has finally been "revealed". And the only real thing that can be conclusively said about it is that Toyota killed the meme. They killed the Supra entirely, and now it is dead.
At its core, the word meme simply refers to a piece of culture that passes from person to person via a non-genetic vector. Those little internet pictures are memes, lines you and your friends quote from TV shows are memes, and idioms are memes. Car culture is full of memes, and indeed this is yet another part of the culture that I resist because it gives us pretty much only bad and annoying stuff like jokes about minivan drivers and really, really dumb t-shirts. But every now and then there is a car that passes through this zone of annoyance to become a meme itself. The Toyota Supra was one such car, and it used to be a pretty good meme, too. And hold on to your socks, because if you can believe it, this was a car we got in America all the way back to the first generation. Wild stuff!
Originally, the Supra was just a top-tier trim option for the 1979 Toyota Celica, offering features like power windows, power locks, and automatic climate control. In 1982 the redesigned Celica Supra appeared on lots with a performance trim and a luxury trim called the L. You could get your Supra L with velour, so...take that I guess. Finally, in 1986, the Supra split from the Celica and became its own car. While the Celica went FWD, the Supra stayed RWD and became a performance-focused car with an adjustable suspension and a limited slip differential backing up the turbo inline 6 engine. Interestingly enough, Toyota launched their American luxury arm Lexus in 1989, and I think there's a strong case to be made that the Supra pioneered Lexus' entire segment, but that's for another day.
And so we arrive at the meme machine, the Gen 4 Toyota Supra, which launched in 1993. I mean, remember this?
Remember Paul Walker racing that guy in the Ferrari? Remember the paint job and the green underglow? Yes, you do. This scene is one of the most famous from the first Fast movie. Aside from the movie reference, every inch of the Gen 4 Supra is iconic in modern car culture, from the headlights to the taillights, to the spoiler, to the stock wheels and the targa top. But perhaps no bit of this car is as iconic or as mythologized as the engine, or rather, one possible engine. The 2JZ-GTE. Car people are so weird, because I didn't even have to look that designation up to get it right. Aahh the 2JZ-GTE, what a legend it is.
You see, the thing about this engine, seen primarily in the Supra RZ, is that it is massively over-engineered, and therefore incredibly tunable. It's a 3.0L inline 6, strapped with 2 sequential turbochargers and mated (preferably and hopefully) to a 6 speed manual gearbox. From the factory, this engine produced 320HP and 315ft/lbs, with the turbo boost kicking in as early as 1800 RPM. That's some pretty sharp performance, but I doubt it took tuners more than 5 minutes to realize that with some very basic part swaps like bigger injectors, the Supra was capable of pushing 450HP. A tune and a few more serious part swaps later to account for things like the clutch and the boost controller, and 550HP was right there. Gearbox replacement and bigger turbos will sit these cars at 700HP. And with a skilled and determined tuner working the parts, the stock 2JT-GTE engine is capable of producing over 1000HP - reliably. There are some 2JZ engines out there now sitting at 1500 or 1600HP, which is pure insanity. The very youngest 2JZ engines are 12 years old. That's an incredible feat of engineering, and it has deservedly formed its own subculture. Just go to Google and search 2JZ. Its all right there at your fingertips, the entire culture, and all of that stems directly from the Gen 4 Supra, this one car. A 10 second car, Dom? How about a 6 second car?
But all of this is over now. Supras are cancelled, and Toyota is to blame. They made it not fun anymore. Quite obviously, the red car in the cover picture is the brand new 2020 Toyota Supra. It looks...fine. I actually think it looks like a modern interpretation of the Gen 4 Supra, with the main problem being that the 1993 design doesn't translate well. But what I need to show you is this, something called the FT-1 that Toyota announced way back in 2014.
It's the same car. It's the same damned car. Sure, try to talk to me about the microscopic design changes and whatever, but it won't make a difference. Toyota introduced the new Supra in 2014, then spent the past 2 entire years doing that stupid camo-wrapped pre-launch garbage, and then they introduced the laughable NASCAR version, and now after all of that, they want me to be excited about their badge-engineered BMW Z4. And BMW even screwed them out of the good engine! The Z4 makes more power! I'm probably too late on this, but no. We need to say NO to Toyota.
The Gen 5 Supra is exactly what happens to memes when corporations get a hold on them. They strangle the fun and the life right out of the meme by being clueless idiots about what people enjoyed in the first place. Wendy's, I'm death-staring directly at you. I'm about to share a link so we're all on the same page, but only click on it if you have absolutely nothing to live for anymore and are not nursing or pregnant. This commercial is exactly like if the Deepwater Horizon did Chernobyl. It's just so bad, and the Supra is the same. There's no joy in this car, there's no exuberance or excitement. Maybe there WAS, years and years ago, but not anymore. This new Supra will be exactly like the BRZ triplets - there will be wild praise at first, and then people will settle down and realize they just got taken by a business and that the car...kinda sucks. There won't be any massive tuning potential hidden away in this new Supra, its got a BMW engine! Its gonna be all high strung and high-maintenance. I'll even say that I don't think the new Supra is going to have much of a cultural impact at all. I mean, there is already this kind of talk going on about the car, and I gotta tell you, Toyota: If forum junkies are breaking down the logo font of your new halo car like three days after it gets announced, then you have fucked up in a very real way. You took too long. You tweeted out pictures of the "unrevealed" Supra every other day for like 18 months. WE GOT IT ALREADY. Total market saturation, and the car isn't even OUT for another 9 months or so.
So RIP Toyota Supra. You were great, but now you're dead. I'll miss you, and thousands and thousands of other people will also miss you when they finally realize that you are indeed dead and never coming back-
Wait. I just saw something. I just saw it, you guys. I just saw it. We are through the looking glass here, people. The price tag for the new Supra will START at $50,000, and this launch pushed prices for all older Supras into the ionosphere, with some Gen 4s passing well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even as high as half a million. Oh my god. Could it be? Could Toyota be memeing on all of us? Is it possible the this whole thing is just so that Toyota salespeople can look at each and every one of us and drop the bomb?