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The mkiv Supra Owners Club

What are the various Supra models available and which one do I want? (Part IV)


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So what was the original question again?! Ah yes - which model do you actually want.


Assuming you've been through the NA/TT, Auto/Manual, and UK/J-Spec quandaries you may find yourself deciding on a J spec TT. With the J spec NA there's only two models to choose from so the choice isn't so tough to make (and to be honest the differences between the two are slight), but with the TT there are a few more things to think about. Is any particular TT model more desirable than the others? Initially you may be thinking that you simply want the top of the range GZ model, but stop and ask yourself why. Yes you get all the optional extras, but do you actually need them? Some of what follows also applies to the NA models too.


Leather seats - okay, so your car doesn't come with leather seats. You can get the front ones retrimmed for around £500-£800 and in your own choice of colour/design. Original Toyota leather seats come up for sale every now and then as well and swapping them over is a 10 minute job. If you plan on fitting aftermarket seats anyway then it doesn't matter a jot what front seats you have.


Active spoiler - the most obvious thing to say here is that if you intend fitting a bodykit or a new nosecone you're going to ditch the active spoiler anyway so why bother getting a car with it fitted? No aftermarket nosecones will accept the active spoiler so it's not as if you can transfer it over. Besides which it's a heavy bit of kit - quite a few people dump the thing anyway to save a bit of weight.


Big brakes - ah now, this is something that you may want to consider. The smaller J spec brakes are a bit weedy and while you can beef them up with some decent aftermarket pads (after which they become perfectly acceptable) the bigger brakes are really a different league altogether. Lots of people just change the front brakes to the larger UK-spec to improve the braking, but even this is a £400+ expense. So if you can get a J spec with the optional larger brakes all round then do so as it's a worthwhile upgrade.


Cruise control - this isn't a common fit on cars in general, so most of us are used to driving around without the help of cruise control, and so it's not as if this is something you're going to miss. I generally only use mine in speed limit areas where it's handy to just set it at 30mph and then pootle through the village or whatever. Apart from that I can't really say I use mine a great deal, and it's certainly not something I would be bothered about if it wasn't fitted on my next Supra. Do you really need this?


VVTi engine - for the extra 25bhp alone this is worth getting. Initially there were problems/rumours (depending on who you believe...) about it not being possible to go for big power with the VVTi engine, but that's old news now. The VVTi engine is as tuneable as the original unit, so you won't be restricting yourself from a turbo upgrade or single conversion at a later date. Of course, this engine is only available on the later facelifted models, so you'll get several other differences at the same time (headlights, rear lights, 5 gauge dashboard, etc, etc).


So some of these extras aren't really worthwhile anyway, particularly if you have plans to change certain things about the car once you own it, and once you factor in the options list all the different models pretty much blur into one anyway. Out of the entire options list just about the only one that is definitely useful and worth having is the bigger brake upgrade. Now these were optional on every model, so you could get lucky and find a car with them fitted, but it's worth pointing out that the 1995-onwards RZ model had them fitted as standard, and the facelifted RZ models also have the Recaro seats as an added bonus, so if you go for the 1995+ RZ you're sure of getting just about the only option that everyone agrees is worth having.


What if you have the opportunity of getting one of the other models? Well bear in mind that Toyota options list again and as said before treat each car seperately - you never know what you're getting for definite with each model. Secondly remember that so much of this stuff can be retrofitted - facelift rear lights on a pre-facelift car? No problem. Big brakes? Yep, can be done. Active spoiler? All the mounting points are there, you can put this on if you want to. Apart from the obvious mechanical stuff like VVTi just about the only other thing you can pretty much forget about is cruise control. Not only is retro fitting it going to be difficult there actually seems little point in doing it for the limited gains. Depending on how far you want to go you could probably even fit a facelifted 5 gauge dashboard to the pre-facelift car, but you'd have to be completely in love with the facelift dash to want to go that far. But the point is this: if there are options missing from the car you're looking at, don't despair. Nearly all of it can be upgraded at a later date.


Cost for all this retrofitting? You will have to pay for the parts and labour to fit all this stuff (and again it's those big brakes that loom large at £800+ for the parts alone) but there's always the option of buying secondhand and fitting the stuff yourself. There's loads of knowledge out there on virtually all aspects of the Supra now, and as each year goes by so that knowledge builds and grows. So consider the 1995+ RZ as probably the 'ideal' Supra (and the late-1997 onwards facelifted RZ as the absolute pinnacle) but also remember that they are all pretty much alike and can be upgraded to whatever spec you personally want with time and money. The options are just 'nice to haves' and not 'must haves'.


Oh, and one final thing - remember that the RZ was manual only from 1995 onwards. So if you want an auto you're outta luck on that particular model. Bah.


Courtesy of Aerotop Dave

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