Whatever Happened to the Toyota Supra MK3?

Toyota Supra MK3

Car lovers can probably spot a Toyota Supra Mk 3 from a mile away. After all, they do have a distinctive appearance that allows even the casual connoisseur of automobiles to identify them almost immediately. However, being able to identify one and actually owning one or two very different things. The Toyota Supra has an interesting relationship with car lovers, largely because it has been produced in various forms for a number of years, yet this particular model is also banned in some countries, including the United States. If anything, that only makes car lovers want to own one more than ever, but it also raises the question of why. As it turns out, the story of the Toyota Supra Mk 3 is one that has a lot of twists and turns of its own.

Movie Magic

Even those who aren’t widely familiar with the Toyota Supra can probably remember seeing one, at least on the big screen. As a matter of fact, it was a bright orange 1992 Toyota Supra Mk 3 that appeared in the original Fast and Furious. That car recently sold at an auction for $185,000, largely because of the fact that it had been driven in many of the films stunts. Some film aficionados might even argue that this is where the craze for the Toyota Supra actually started. Others will tell you that it has absolutely nothing to do with the film itself and everything to do with the car. After all, the car is lightweight and close to the ground with a big spoiler on the back, meaning that it was built for performance. However, this is also the exact same thing that has gotten the automaker into some legal hot water in some areas. The car is definitely built for performance, there is no question about that. In some cases, it seems to pack a little too much punch for its own good. More will be discussed about all of this in the following paragraphs, as well as why so many car collectors are clamoring to get their hands on one.

Production History

At first glance, the production history of the Toyota Supra seems about as confusing as trying to solve one of those math problems that takes an entire black board to write from start to finish. This is largely because there are so many different generations of the model that have to be sifted through. In case you were wondering, the Mk 3 is the third generation, produced only between 1986 and 1992. However, that certainly doesn’t encompass the full production run of the Toyota Supra as a whole. In fact, the first generation of this sporty little car rolled off the assembly line as far back as 1979. In total, there have been no less than five different generations of the Toyota Supra, with the last generation, the Mk 5, coming off the assembly line in 2019. In that year alone, more than 2,800 of the cars were made. It’s also worth mentioning that before the Toyota Supra ever came into existence, it had a predecessor on which much of its design was based, the Toyota Celica. If you want to make things even more confusing, consider this fact. There was a 20 year time frame in which the Toyota Supra was not produced in any capacity. In fact, the new 2020 models that rolled off of the assembly line in 2019 were the first to be produced since 2002. For those living in the United States, the drought has lasted even longer. Previous models of the car had not been sold in that particular part of the world since 1998 because sales had not been what Toyota expected them to be.

Why Was The Car Banned?

To be fair, it wasn’t actually the Toyota Supra Mk 3 that was banned, but a model that came out two years later. This involved the Mk 4 that was produced in 1994, a car that was determined to have so many drivability issues that it was actually banned from being sold in the United States. If that’s not enough, the car was also blacklisted so that no imports of this particular model year can ever be brought into the country. As a result, there are only a handful of examples of this exact model still left in the United States, examples that existed before the car was banned. Considering the reliability issues that caused it to get banned in the first place, it’s highly unlikely that any of those examples are actually still drivable. This is something that is highly uncharacteristic for an automotive manufacturer like Toyota, one who prides themselves on producing cars that are capable of lasting for 20 years or more. While the overwhelming majority of Toyota Supras produced by the company have been considered to be reliable automobiles, that certainly wasn’t the case here. It probably also goes a long way toward explaining the slow sales of the Toyota Supra in North America and the reason that Toyota ultimately decided to pull the plug on the entire project for that region in 1998.

If you have ever had the chance to drive or even ride in a Toyota Supra, it is probably an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. This is true whether you are talking about a third generation vehicle or the newer fifth generation examples that are just becoming available for sale. Whatever the case might be, the Toyota Supra is a car that has made its place in both automotive history and as an icon of pop culture. Some of the models produced were better than others, there is no question about that. As far as the third generation line-up is concerned, they were far superior to the fourth generation automobiles that came just a couple of years later. That said, it seems that Toyota has largely learned from their mistakes and applied those lessons to the newer vehicles that are now being produced. Only time will tell, but for many car owners, the prospect of being able to go out and get their hands on a new Toyota Supra is almost as exciting as getting their hands on a Supra Mk 3.

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