When the third-generation Toyota Supra made its debut, it came with a lot of firsts for the model. The most important was Toyota’s decision to finally develop the Supra as its own stand-alone sports car , free from any tie-ups between the Celica . It was a risk that Toyota took because the Supra had become so successful that it finally needed to stand on its own four wheels and shine. In addition to that, the third generation was also the first time that Supra didn’t come in the full-on fastback look that the first two generations did. While still retaining some of the basic design, the third-gen Supra’s length was cut by 1.6 inches but was wider by an inch, making for a stouter appearance than its elongated predecessors.
An oft-overlooked fact about the third-generation Supra is that Toyota initially slated it for release in the early 1986 model year, but production delays pushed it back to May 1986. This meant that there were actually two wholly different Supras available in the same model year, so the MK III Supra used the 1986.5 model year designation for clarity.
It was with the third-generation model that the world finally started to recognize the Supra was one of Toyota’s best works. The version lasted for a little over five years, quickly becoming one of the most sought-after Japanese sports cars in the market at that time.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1986.5 - 1992 Toyota Supra.
**Note** Our software does not recognize half model years, so please do not hate us in the comments because we listed this as a "1986" model in the title.
The retractable headlights remained the crown jewel of the front end and for the first time in the Supra's history, the model finally received the sport-roof panel
The third-generation Supra made its debut midway through the 1986 model year and was largely seen as the first big evolution of the model. Gone was its association with the Celica, leaving the Supra to essentially carry its own weight. As it turned out, the model had little problem doing that, establishing itself as one of the most important sports cars Toyota had built to date.
As far as its design goes, the third-gen Supra came with a redesigned body that was far more in tune with what enthusiasts thought a sports coupe should look like. The retractable headlights remained the crown jewel of the front end and for the first time in the Supra’s history, the model finally received the sport-roof panel — what we now know as the Supra’s famous targa roof.
In 1987, the changes included the addition of headlight washers and that horrid beige/tan, two-tone color scheme.
Toyota made a handful of changes to the 1988 Supra, beginning with the mercy killing of the two-toned brown exterior paint that it introduced just a year earlier. The automaker also changed the Turbo model’s spoiler-mounted brake light from a boring square to trapezoid.
In 1989, Toyota introduced the "White Package," a new option that basically consisted of an all-white look complete with white wheels. The Supra also gained new taillights, front bumper with an integrated lower grille, turn signals, side-view mirrors, upper grille and fog lights.
The Turbo Supra, which was already two-years old at this point, also received its own upgrades, beginning with a three-piece rear wing with an LED spoiler-mounted brake light.
A larger protective laminate in front of the rear wheels was one of the biggest changes in the 1990 model, but it wasn’t the only one. Most of those changes, though, came in the interior of the Supra.
The 1991 Supra was the first of its generation to use the modern Toyota oval logo, taking the place of the "Supra" emblem that had been around in past models. New body molding colors were done to match the exterior and standard 16-inch five-spoke alloy wheels were also added into the standard equation.
If you had a standard 1992 Supra, you’re probably wondering where the Sport-Roof Panel went. Well, 1992 was the year Toyota decided to drop it out of the base model and make it exclusive to the Turbo model.
1986.5 - 1992 Toyota Supra - Exterior Dimensions
|Curb weight||3,389 lbs (manual)/ 3,516 lbs (automatic)|
The third-gen Supra was the first time Toyota really made it a mission to provide a more premium look and feel to the cabin of the sports car. Standard features like automatic climate control, tilt and telescoping wheel, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and door locks, and a top-level audio system were still included.
The 1988 Supra saw a few interior changes to the Supra, including new coverings on the climate control and gear shifter, as well as a change in seat fabric that saw the old square patterns replaced with lines.
Not much changed in the interior of the 1989 Supra other than Toyota replacing the old two-point seat belts with three-point versions.
The 1990 model year became a banner year of safety for the Supra, as it gained a driver-side airbag.
A new speedometer made its debut in the 1991 Supra and was joined by the introduction of the Shadow Gray and Deep Red interior colors, signalling a shift from the Medium Gray, Tan and Burgundy colors that were available in past models. In addition, the car’s front speakers became significantly bigger, increase in size from 3.5 inches to 6.5 inches.
A CD player and subwoofer became an added options for the Supra, which at that time was some of the fanciest technological entertainment options available in cars. Additionally, the Shadow Gray leather seats gained black inserts.
In 1987, the Supra made an even bigger mark on the industry when Toyota released the new, 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder.
A 3.0-liter, inline-six engine became standard for the third-generation Toyota Supra. With the new engine in tow, the Supra finally was able to produce 200 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque. Unfortunately, the output numbers of the third-gen Supra remained unchanged throughout its life — the new Turbo model in later years was the exception — a stark difference from the first two generations when it seemed that every year, Toyota was finding ways to squeeze more ponies from the engine.
The engine came mated to the W58 five-speed manual transmission and had the A340D automatic available as an option. Both transmissions delivered power to the rear wheels. The base Supra hit 60 mph in between seven and eight seconds.
In 1987, the Supra made an even bigger mark on the industry when Toyota released the new, 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder. This engine injected 230 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque into the Supra Turbo. The turbo model used the R154 five-speed manual gearbox, which had higher first and fifth gear ratios than the W58 transmission, but lower second and third gear ratios.
1986.5 - 1992 Toyota Supra - Drivetrain/Specifications
|Type||3.0 liters straight 6||3.0 liters straight 6 turbocharged|
|Output (HP @ RPM)||200 @ 6,000||230 @ 6,500|
|Torque (LB-FT @ RPM)||196 @ N/A||246 @ 4,000|
|Transmission||5-speed manual/4-speed automatic optional||5-speed manual/4-speed automatic optional|
In 1987, the Toyota Supra retailed for $19,990 with the Toyota Supra Turbo fetching a price of $22,260. By 1992, the prices for the Supra skyrocketed to $25,280 for the base Supra and $28,750 for the turbo version.
|Model Year||Toyota Supra||Toyota Supra Turbo|
The third-generation Nissan Z again arrived in 1984, slightly earlier than the third-generation Supra. In a lot of ways, the Z was also far ahead of the Supra in terms of its sports car design. That was evident with the arrival of the 1984 300ZX, which featured a pronounced wedge shape with distinctive pop-up headlights. Likewise, the turbo models had a distinctive scoop along the left side of their hoods.
Under its hood, the Nissan Z was given a new 3.0 liter, V-6, SOHC engine that came either naturally aspirated or turbocharged. The normally aspirated engine produced 160 horsepower while the turbocharged model had 200 ponies to tap into.
Gallery Nissan Z-Car
The third-generation Toyota Supra officially signaled the arrival of the model sans the Celica prefix. Not only was that a brilliant move on Toyota’s part, but it also allowed the Supra a platform of its own to showcase to the world just how awesome it was. It lasted for seven model years, but those years were some of the best in Toyota’s history and the Supra was a huge part of it.
- Sporty and modern look
- First time the Celica reached 200 horsepower
- The turbocharged Supra arrived with 230 horses and buckets of torque
- Set the stage for the legend that followed
- Still had its hands full with the Nissan Z line
- Outside of the turbo’s arrival, the model didn’t get a whole lot of changes throughout its life