All the weird stuff Toyota did to make the new Supra easier to modify
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Without question the single biggest mission for the new fifth-gen Toyota GR Supra is whether it can fill the lofty shoes of its fourth-gen forefather.
It's a topic that's prompted plenty of keyboard bashing worldwide. But, before we can even come close to considering answering the point it's worth also asking what made the old Supra so good.
Some of that is rose-tint nostalgia stuff, like its cameo appearances in popular culture like Fast & Furious and Gran Turismo. We'll undoubtedly delve into more of that stuff when the first Supras land in New Zealand and someone lobs us the keys (fingers crossed).
I'd argue that the biggest attribute of the last Supra was its customisability. It always had incredible aftermarket support, whether it was through that illustrious 2JZ inline six heart or through silly body-kits. It was a car made and fostered by its own community.
And, it looks like the Japanese marque are doing everything in their power to try and recreate that formula.
The first formal launch of the Toyota Supra took place last week in the US, with the impressions embargo dropping earlier this week. What followed was a deluge of Supra videos and stories, with countless North American journos dropping their verdicts.
In the midst of all the metaphors and tracking shots, one of the other curious outcomes to all the stories are all the under-the-skin tech details of the Supra that have broken. Most interestingly, all the stuff that Toyota has done to make it an approachable car for the aftermarket world.
Take the engine-bay, for instance. It's probably the most controversial element of the 'shared platform' saga — despite the fact that BMW has an incredible record with inline sixes (both in terms of making good 'uns, and in terms of people modifying the heck out of them to develop four-figure horsepower numbers).
But it's not the engine we're concerned over, it's the surroundings. Toyota have dug shapes out of certain components (namely the air-box, situated bottom left) to accommodate additional strut braces. There's even additional threaded mounting points on the strut tower and nose to make that update process easier.
"With the current balance that we've put together, with reinforcement bars installed there we found too much actually, [it was] too stiff," Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, said at the North American launch through a translator.
"These are things that we're going to allow the aftermarket, and other people, to use as updates for the chassis."
Before all the first drives and Instagram posts, Toyota USA allowed aftermarket companies to pour over the Supra through SEMA Garage. There, these companies measured and scanned every nook and cranny of the sports car to help with the development of their own performance parts down the line.
The other big way that the Supra accommodates the aftermarket is through its cooling.
Those who hate fake vents (guilty as charged) will have noticed the enormous volume of fake vents on the front of the Supra. From the tear-drops under the headlights, to the twin slits on the bonnet, to the solid portions of the primary grill underneath.
Well, Toyota's answer to why all the fake vents exist is perhaps the most ingenious yet — depending on who you ask. Speaking at the North American event, Tada-San said that all the vents are designed to be capped-ports for the aftermarket to create cooling systems around.
The big primary grill can be opened up to send more air to the engine, the headlight ducts can be hollowed out to direct air to the front brakes, and the bonnet vents can function as an exit point for the swirling turbulent air in each wheel well. It's worth noting that, in the case of the bonnet vents at least, the faux vents sit on top of the bodywork rather than actually being some kind of passage.
One might ask the question of why Toyota wouldn't simply sell the car with hollowed vents anyway. Perhaps it's in part a means of cost cutting, an effort to reduce the car's drag and improve fuel efficiency ... or maybe a combination of both.
Does posing that question miss the point of what Toyota are clearly trying to accomplish? Maybe it does. Is it any different from inanely asking why Tesla doesn't make all of its cars with infinite electric range, or to ask why Holden doesn't just dust off those old Aussie factories and start making V8 Commodores again?
And that's before we get to all the truly concealed stuff Toyota has done to the Supra to aid in modifying it. There's space underneath specifically to house additional cooling for the transmission, there's reinforcements under the rear hatch specifically for mounting a rear wing onto ... the amount of bizarre little elements where Toyota have sunken money and time specifically for the aftermarket community to wreak their havoc is utterly fascinating.
Here's is normally where the 'well, I guess time will tell' bit of the story goes. But to be honest, Toyota's plan of a self-fostered aftermarket is already well and truly in action. Thanks to opening doors early, companies are already developing performance solutions before cars have arrived at showrooms.
You've already got Japanese drift legend Daigo Saito, who hacked up his GR Supra — wedging a 2JZ under the bonnet. He's not alone either, with fellow former D1GP champ Masato Kawabata also performing what's sure to be a rather popular heart transplant.
Can't wait to see what Kiwis do to them when they finally arrive.
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