The '90s all of a sudden became a whole lot less intriguing the moment you realized non-turbocharged versions of cars like Toyota's Supra or, say, Nissan's 300ZX existed. You thought the decade revolved around factory-applied boost, and you were once again wrong. Guys like Brendan Taft make your wrongness more palatable, though, as he's gone on to piece together the sort of naturally aspirated MkIV Supra that'll make you forget about the 2JZ-GTE, if only for a moment.
Forgetting about the 2JZ-GTE and all its boost and embracing the non-turbocharged 2JZ-GE starts with the individual throttle body—equipped intake manifold Brendan had Hill Performance Solutions whip up, and ends with things like a thoroughly revised top end and fuel system. "I looked into a handful of companies that offered [manifolds] as well as factory setups from [Nissan's] RB26 and [BMW's] E46 M3," he says about his quest for a row of six throttle bodies all packaged up into their own plenum. "But it would bother me to the end of the world if this engine had another brand's parts." To that end, Brendan looked to Toyota's own AE111 throttle bodies for the answer.
Individual throttle bodies and a naturally aspirated Supra wasn't always the plan, though, and according to Brendan, getting the car at all was pretty much a fluke. "I had my heart set on a classic muscle car to restore, [like] a '69 Charger or a '72 Cuda. But with gas prices on the rise and me being a broke high school teenager, I couldn't afford [it]." So, he did something that didn't make any more sense: like consider the already turbocharged 300ZX and RX-7 of the same era. It didn't take him long to figure out neither of those would cost him any less than a 40-year-old Dodge or Plymouth. "It was hard to find a decent, used FD that wasn't completely dilapidated, where [its] turbos weren't holding boost or [its] interior wasn't falling apart," he says. All of which led to a wrong turn on eBay that culminated in a 36,000-mile MKIV Supra missing those turbos. "It was just within my price range," he says about the car he'd yet to even consider, "and it was a sound idea, being a six-cylinder with Toyota reliability and a clean interior."
Wrong turns on eBay often lead to something special. Brendan made sure this one did, multiple times over during the last 10 years, in fact, with numerous exterior treatments, the latest of which he had commissioned to celebrate the introduction of the MKV Supra and the history of the badge at last year's SEMA show at the behest of Toyota. The treatment begins with the car's Infiniti G35 red paint, custom TS front bumper, and widebody fenders. Details like the Uchida rear spoiler, chassis-mounted front splitter, Voltex canards, and Advan livery help make sure nobody'll care about any turbos this Supra may or may not have.
Having 280 naturally aspirated horsepower also means Brendan doesn't have to miss those turbos. Those 2JZ-GTE—like numbers are had by way of Web cams, a custom equal-length header, and, of course, those ITBs, all controlled by AEM's Infinity 6 engine management. "I really am fond of this engine," he says. "Though not very fast in NA form, it is undeniably durable. With its stout, iron block, it's a brute of a machine, and I'm not afraid of doing multiple hot laps at the track in it without signs of worry. Also, it's an easy engine to work on."
And Brendan's not necessarily done, either. "There is still the final phase of building the block to unlock the potential of my 2JZ," he says about what's next." I've played around with the idea of building a high-compression block so I can safely rev to 9,000 rpm if I want."
"I didn't know much about what was fast or what would hold value," Brendan says about what he knew and didn't know about cars like the Supra or those RX-7s and 300ZXs he was eyeballing. "It was simply aesthetics that won me over when looking at cars." And, to be fair, its aesthetics that've led to so many of the cars of the '90s maintaining their popularity some 30 years later—turbocharged or not.
Back in the Day to Today
Rewind the tapes to our January 2016 issue, and you'll remember we introduced Brendan and his Supra before. His backstory is quite a unique one, as he was on the fast track to becoming a professional athlete at the age of nine with the U.S. Olympic badminton team. He was living a busy life, often not having time to hang out with friends or watch TV and only able to flip through car magazines when he wasn't training or studying. After retiring from competition after an unfortunate injury at the age of 20, he continued his passion for cars, which started out with a hand-me-down Honda Accord followed by this Supra.
Over the last decade, Brendan updated his Supra a number of times. However, since his feature three years ago, he's really stepped up his game, and his build was recognized at last year's SEMA show in the Toyota booth. The exterior received a major refresh, as Auto Explosion widened the front fenders while the previous Shine Auto bumper was replaced by a modified TS bumper with deleted side vents and Voltex canards. Brendan enlisted the help of Ken Suen of Project Import to fabricate carbon-fiber vent block-off plates as well as design a chassis-mounted front splitter with quick-release pins. The wheels were updated from bronze Professor SP1s to a more retro design with SSR's Formula Mesh Aeros. Brendan also installed a Uchida hatch wing gifted to him by his late friend Brian Householder in 2017. Last but not least are the iconic Advan graphics, which Yokohama granted permission to do prior to SEMA. We're not big on liveries, but we have to say, Brendan executed his to a tee!