Photos: Ahbaar Mohammad
There was a time, a long time back when Toyota was an adventurous sort of manufacturer. The Japanese were riding the high of a technological boom in the 80s—everything from tape decks to calculators to washing machines carried the “Made in Japan” tag, and were valued for it. Toyota was free from the load of keeping up the title of “World’s Largest Automotive Manufacturer” that they carry at present and took the chance of good fortunes to develop some of the most desirable sports cars on the planet. The MR2, Celica and Supra were instant global hits, with a cult following that would last decades and make the childlike motor-heads of today froth at the mouth.
It was a different time, free of the controversy and the “boring” image that followed the brand around for much of the 2000s and 2010s. Back then, Toyota had enough mettle to bring together different elements to create a car that stood its ground—not just a badge engineering exercise, as evidenced by the 2020 MKV Toyota Supra/BMW Z4.
The story of the A70 MKIII Supra is one of new beginnings and the path to greatness. While the world may have collectively gone off the rocker after the launch of the A80 MKIV Toyota Supra and its fame from Hollywood, racing games and (much later) social media, it’s easy to trace the elements of greatness that began in the A70, just one generation earlier.
For one, just look at it. The A70 is the perfect genesis of 80s wedge design and Japanese design thinking. Long, low and sleek, but with a subtle sense of restraint and compactness. If a Japanese zen garden had wheels (and pop-up headlights!), this would be it. In photos it might be difficult to understand, but standing next to it, you get the distinct feeling that the car promotes aggression in a wholly unobtrusive way, without any direct attempt at screaming itself hoarse like the A80 or A90 does.
Open up the wide, mile-long door and you’re met with a cabin that tries its best to wrap you in a cocoon of 80s Grand Touring style comfort. The wide leather bucket seats sink beneath your weight, the controls are within easy reach and the wrap-around dash, while reflecting a layout similar to lesser Toyotas of the era like the E90 Corolla and V30 Camry, invites you for a drive. It’s quite different from the fighter jet cockpit of the A80 and the BMW sourced cabin of the A90.
Under the hood is a 2.5 litre twin-turbo straight-six. The 1JZGTE might be a familiar motor thanks to the widespread popularity of X-chassis projects in Bangladesh, but back when the A70 was introduced, the parallel twin-turbo 1JZGTE was a range-topping option in the Japan-only JZA70, offering 276 HP as opposed to the twin-turbo 1G-GTE motor in the GA70, which offered 207 HP.
When this particular Supra started life however, it was as a GA70 (with no more than a shell of a car with no engine) that was eventually upgraded to a JZA70 with the help of a CKD and its previous owner, Nasib Newaz. With the help of close friends Tanweer Zaman, Munir Chowdhury Sakin and Bony Hasan, the MKIII was restored to near-perfection at the now-famous Anwar’s garage. Nishat Newaz, Nasib’s younger brother, as well as his friend and current owner of the Supra, Partha Das, played a crucial role in putting the Supra together.
Partha loves Supra ownership. “Driving an older car is a big source of pleasure and pride for me. It’s comfortable as a sports GT and reliable since it’s a Toyota. It’s very fun to drive and push, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to enjoy it in Dhaka since the road condition is deteriorating every day. The police aren’t very cooperative either,” Partha says.
The non-VVTi 1JZGTE packs quite the punch, especially coupled with the R154 5 speed manual gearbox. The shifter clicks into place with the shortest throw (possibly) of any car you will ever get to drive, with sharp, dynamic response from the steering. Despite being a big, heavy RWD GT car, the Supra is surprisingly nimble and stable darting in and out of traffic. On boost, the Supra turns into a cruise missile that barrels down the road in a frenzy of fuel and fire that seems to have only been perfected over the years and across subsequent generations of the nameplate. One of only two (with rumours of a third example unconfirmed as yet) units in the country, this car shows that the MKIII is truly the start of the greatness of the Supra nameplate.