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Meet Smokey Nagata

The man behind the legendary twin-turbo V12 Toyota Supra build.

Meet the iconic TOM's Toyota Supra - the car that dethroned the Skyline GTR with a smaller engine

2020-05-17 12:00

Robin Classen

Castrol Toms supra

Image: Ultimatecarpage

The fourth-generation Toyota Supra is one of the most iconic Japanese performance cars of the last 30 years.

To this day, many racing enthusiasts and tuners alike hold its twin-turbocharged, straight-six 2JZ-GTE engine in high regard for the amount of power that can be extracted from it with minor bolt-on upgrades.

The 2J legend

When the MkIV Supra was introduced in the mid-'90s, it was meant to be Toyota's answer to compete with Nissan and the Skyline GTR which, at the time, was dominating the Japanese Touring Car Championship (JTCC).

READ | Fastest Toyota yet in SA: What the next-gen Supra sports car means for Mzansi

With the expertise of performance arm Tachi Oiwa Motor Sports or TOM's for short, the objective was to give the 'Godzilla' a reason to look over its shoulder.

The Castrol TOM's Supra first made its debut in the 1995 All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship sporting the now iconic red, green and white livery, the very same used on its Celica GT-Four rally cars.

toyota toms supra engine

                                                                     Image: Ultimatecarpage

Instead of using the more powerful 2JZ engine, Toyota opted to ditch the bigger, and more powerful, 3.0-litre engine in favour of a 2.0-litre turbo - or other wise known as the 3SGTE.

Taking the fight

The regulation at the time allowed cars to run any engine, as long as it was in the original manufacturer's range.

Despite it being smaller and less potent than the 2JZ, and the GTR's RB26, it was much lighter. This, and the fact that the car weighed around 1150kg, directly contributed to better handling characteristics than the heavier all-wheel-drive GTRs.

WATCH | Supra here, Supra there, Supra everywhere - Toyota's icon dominates at the SEMA show

The 2.0-litre engine received extensive tuning to match the rest of the pack and made around 360kW/600Nm at the time. The rest, as they say, is history. That same year, the Supra achieved its first win and would serve as the basis on which they would use to dethrone their fellow Japanese counterparts.

Castrol Toms supra

                                                                 Image: Ultimatecarpage

The car later received aerodynamic tweaks as well as a sequential-shift gearbox that helped it clinch the GT500 championship in 1997 and ignite a rivalry with Nissan that exists to this day.

Many die-hard motorsport fans know about the Castrol TOM's Supra and the marker it laid down back in the 90's when Japanese performance cars were at their peak.

It also highlighted the fact that a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine had the tuning potential to make big power.

Just like the Mazda 787B when it won the 24 Hour of Le Mans race in 1991, the Supra went into Japanese racing folklore and will forever remain etched in the record books.

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