$185,000. That’s what the Mark IV Supra from the first Fast and Furious sold for. A car that started at around $40,000 MSRP in 1993 is now worth over 4 times that! And now, some mad lads are asking for over $500,000 for a Mark IV Supra, and it’s not even Paul’s! When will it end?
Why are these old Toyotas going for insane prices? You know we’re about to find out!
There’s an old cliche about great artists never being appreciated until they’re dead. Van Gogh, Monet, Bach, Poe, and… the Supra. All masters of their craft that really didn’t get the love they deserved until they were dead in the ground. Sure, the Supra’s kind of risen from the grave now, but the A80 generation Supra still holds a fonder place in our hearts than the new and sort of rebadged BMW Z4 Supra. And their prices on the market reflect that, with good examples of Supras selling for well over six figures.
Why? It’s not the fastest. Sure, it had power, but only about as much as an M3 at the time. It’s not the prettiest. I don’t care what you say, it’s downright ugly from some angles. It’s not very rare, and wasn’t that expensive when it debuted. So, why are these twenty-year-old Japanese muscle cars selling for absolutely bonkers prices now? And why is every car dude obsessed with them?
I spent the last few days scouring the internet, reading forum posts, Reddit, and magazines. So much reading. Anyway, I think I might finally have a handle on how the Supra became arguably the most valuable word in the automotive dictionary. To understand how the Mark IV Supra became a six-figure sales monster post-mortem, we should probably time travel back to the age of its youth, the nineties!
You see, back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, there was a war. Now, this wasn’t the war between G.I. Joe and Cobra Command, this was a war with a little more firepower. As Japan’s economy skyrocketed back then, Japan’s premiere automotive companies had a little extra cash, and decided to have an arms race.
The greatest generations of Japanese sports cars were the result! Like the 3rd generation rotary-powered RX-7, the FD3, the 2nd generation 300ZX, the twin-turbo Z32, both the R32 and the R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R’s, the 1st generation Honda NSX, of course, the A80 Mark IV Supra and who could forget the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4? Yuck.
Anyway, these were all created as a result of the exploding Japanese economy! The Mark IV Supra started late in the Japanese supercar race, but definitely took the checkered flag. It blew the doors off of everything Japan, and most of the world, had to offer. Compared to the previous generation, the Supra was lighter, smaller, lower, had six gears, and of course, most importantly, it had the three most important letters in Japanese car history: 2JZ.
It came in two flavors, the who-really-gives-a-sh*t naturally-aspirated version, and the Holy Grail, the 2JZ-GTE, which was a 3-liter twin-turbo straight-6 that put down around 320 ponies from the factory. Sure, that’s a decent number, but is a 320-horsepower coupe with pretty unremarkable styling really worth all that money?
At launch, the Supra was well received. Car journalists adored it, but the hype wasn’t near as fever pitched as it is now. Maybe Americans hadn’t quite yet caught on back in the 90’s that Japan really could build a true world-beating sports car, or maybe it was the Supra’s low initial price and classically bland Toyota styling that made it blend in with the rest. Most likely, it was due to Japanese coupe sales declining in the U.S. and restrictive emissions laws slowly pushing big twin-turbo six-cylinders out of the market.
Whatever the cause, the Supra stopped hitting American shores in 1996, only four years after it arrived, and it seemed like it would fade into history known only to a select few.
In 2001, the import car scene exploded thanks to a little independent art film you may have heard of, The Fast and the Furious. Paul Walker’s breakout role as Brian O’Conner cemented him as a tuner icon in our hearts. And hey, by the way, his R34 is worth over $1 million! And you can learn all about it in our video!
Anyway, his co-star in that movie, the neon orange A80 Toyota Supra, instantly captured the imagination of every high school kid with a dream of owning a fast import. Watching a brightly colored JDM car with a GT wing blow the doors off of our fathers’ dream hot rod, the 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, was just the angsty act of rebellion car dudes of my generation needed to forever fall in love with the Supra.
And it was around then that car magazines started putting out articles about the insane numbers tuners were getting from the 2JZ’s. 700 horsepower on stock short blocks, 1,000 horsepower with a little work, all the way up to Bugatti-like numbers of over 2,000 horses. Holy sh*t! And I think that’s really the main reason for the cult-like infatuation with the Mark IV Supra.
It’s the king of the dyno, and it’s a potentially-1,000-horsepower monster that we poor car dudes could maybe afford. Well, we can’t afford them now, but more on that in a minute. None of us driving around in our beat up 240SX’s back in 2001 ever dreamed we’d own a 1,000-horsepower supercar.
Constantly mocked for driving imports, called “ricers”, or worse, now we had our supercar. It was faster, lighter, meaner, and way cheaper than anything it competed with. Plus, it wasn’t just Japanese, it was a Toyota, the most respected Japanese brand, or at least at the time. Known for off-road trucks and SUVs that last a lifetime, and nimble cheap sports cars like the Corolla that’re fun even if they’re not very fast.
The AE86 Corolla, the AW11 MR2, the Celica All-Trac, the 2000GT, when Toyota made a sports car, they made icons. And the Supra was just a late-blooming icon, I guess. And this new-found love of the Mark IV has turned this once-faded sports car into one of the most desirable and most valuable items on any auction block. What kicked this price surge off? The announcement of the Mark V A90 Supra.
You have the money, what’re you buying? That’s a tough one. Old and busted Mark IV or the new hotness Mark V Supra?
Anyway, you only need to look on Bring a Trailer to see when the spike happened, right after the 2019 SEMA show that debuted the A90, Mark IV Supra sales went through the roof. Prior to that announcement, Supras were selling for around $20,000 to $30,000. But after?
The sales started hitting around $50,000 and beyond, way beyond, like the 7,000-mile black A80 that recently sold for $176,000, or Paul Walker’s A80 Supra that went for $185,000, or the absolutely mental Supra for sale recently for a $500,000 that had 37,000 miles on it. Alright, Supras are great, but not that great, dudes.
Now, if you asked me, which you didn’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway, even if I had the money, I’d never buy one. An FD RX-7? Yes, please! A 300ZX Twin Turbo? Why not? A Skyline R32? Shopping right now! But a Supra? I can’t be bothered! Not for that price!
Let’s be honest, they sound great on paper. Massive horsepower, bragging to your friends about how big your turbos are and how fast it does a quarter mile. But, in reality, as a car to own, they seem about as much fun as a saltine cracker. They ain’t pretty, the A80 looks like a Toyota Celica left out in the sun too long. They’re too valuable, I’d be terrified to take mine out and thrash it, I’d lose tens of thousands of dollars! And they’re so easy to make power with, it’s almost boring! No thanks!
I am totally ready to be roasted, and maybe I deserve it. So, lay it on me. How wrong am I? I mean, I guess you could buy one and just sit on it for a few years and resell it for huge profits, but what fun is that?