When the MK4 Toyota Supra launched in 1993, the purchase price was $39,000 – that’s $70,000 in today’s money.
And since the early 2000s, the value has climbed to astronomical proportions. The popularity of the nameplate gives us some clue as to the reason why.
It’s reached a popularity status not even Toyota was anticipating. Like the first-generation Lexus LS, a lot of research and development went into the A80 Supra.
And like the Ford Mustang for the boomer generation, the MK4 Supra captured the hearts and imaginations of Gen Xers and millennials alike.
Strap in as we look into what makes the MK4 Toyota Supra rare.
1. Supra History
Like many hot cars that came before it, the Supra nameplate began life as a trim level for the Celica lineup.
It was first introduced to the U.S. in 1979 as the Celica Supra. It had a stretched wheelbase to accommodate the engine.
Then in 1981 came the second gen, swapping out the live rear axle for independent semi-trailing arms which gave it better handling than a Lotus, Porsche or Ferrari.
In 1986 came the Mark III Supra dropping the Celica name and gaining a 3.0-liter inline-six engine that made 200 horsepower.
Then finally, 1993 brought the legendary Supra with seductive swoopy curves riding on the same platform as the Lexus SC coupe.
2. Bad Boy Status
Adding to the Supra’s legend is its checkered past.
While the Mark IV Supra enjoyed a production run spanning from 1993 to 2002 in Japan. In the U.S., we only got the Supra from 1993 to 1998.
Because sales were declining.
Why were sales declining?
Because in 1994, NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) imposed a moratorium on importing Supras into the U.S. due to serious long-term reliability issues.
As you can imagine, this has made the 1994 year one of the rarest among Supras.
3. Collectors and Enthusiasts
While they may not be exotics, a mint MK4 Toyota Supra can fetch a pretty penny. Current prices demonstrate their rarity.
Collectors are pushing the prices higher on clean examples of A80 Supras.
Although the 1998 Toyota Supra is most recognized for its rarity due to being the final production year in America.
It’s a mint factory condition 1994 twin-turbo example that recently sold at auction for an eye popping $121,000.
4. Desirable Drivetrain
Another facet adding to the MK4 Supra’s rarity is its desirable drivetrain.
The average Mark IV Supra on the used car market has been modified to within an inch of its life.
On a website like Cargurus, you’ll mostly find examples with the lesser base inline six-cylinder engine.
They’re often paired with a four-speed automatic. Or at best, a five-speed manual instead of the coveted six-speed manual.
The one at auction commanded a lofty price tag for its 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged inline-six engine producing 320 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission.
5. Desirable Power Plant
Go to any car event and the Supra makes a strong statement.
Another consideration adding to the MK4’s rarity is the fact that the fourth generation is the fastest Supra created.
The 2JZ powerplant has received much deserved notoriety for being sturdy and easy to modify to ridiculous horsepower numbers.
The internet demonstrates that with minor performance upgrades, the Supra can reach exotic car performance for a fraction of the price.
A standard Mark IV Supra comes with a 3.0-liter inline-six engine producing 220 horsepower.
That’s just ten less than the turbo version of the Mark III Supra!
But if you can get a twin-turbo variant like the one that sold at auction, you get 100 horsepower on top of that.
7. The Great Japanese Sports Car Extinction
It happened to the Mitsubishi 3000GT. It happened to the Mazda RX7. And sadly, MotorWeek predicted it: the end of an era.
The end of turbo charged V6 performance cars from Japan.
What caused this? The rise of trucks and SUVs. While Japanese sports cars are fun, trucks and SUVs are more practical.
The MK4 was the worst selling Supra generation despite being the best in terms of what it had to offer.
Sales went on a death spiral from a high of 15,000 cars in 1993 down to 332 units by the end of its production run.
8. The Rarest Supra
image source: AutoEvolution
It’s a unique spec for sure. But its rarity is dubious.
All dressed up in Solar Yellow (which was never offered as a color option in North America), this 1998 example is a one-of-one specification.
It’s an aerotop Supra which means the roof comes off. It’s all stock inside and out with a complete history.
It’s even been verified by The Supra Registry as a true one-of-one creation – good.
But when you get down to the nitty gritty, defending this particular Supra as rare is challenging. For one it has cloth seats.
For another, under the hood is a normally aspirated inline-six with reportedly 57,788 miles on the clock.
Moreover, it’s an automatic (according to the registry, most yellow Supras are automatic). It recently went on sale for about $71,605.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s still a very cool car. It’s not every day you get to come across a factory yellow Supra.
9. The New Supra
We’re saying this for the sake of all the diehard fans out there: As desirous as we are for the return of the legend, this latest A90 Supra is not a Supra.
There was an interview in a GQ magazine from ten years ago where the head writer of Breaking Bad was asked about the writing process for each episode.
He responded that if he found himself rewriting more than 40% of a script that’s turned into him, he submits it with his name on it.
Most of this new Supra is BMW all the way. Hopefully one day we’ll get to see a true return of the legend.