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 |   |  1991 Toyota Supra Turbo - Jazz it!
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1991 Toyota Supra Turbo - Jazz it!

We Can Rebuild It; JDM Bionics on a 1991 Supra

Brent Romans
Feb 1, 2001
Photographer: Jonathan Wong

Much like an NFL game between two suck-ass teams (say, the Chargers and the Bears; Hey, the Chargers aren’t that bad!—JK), third-gen Supras have never been able to hold much of my interest. These Toyotas, in general, are rather heavy, slow unless turbocharged, and constantly cowering in the shadows of the superior fourth-gen Supras. But stupid me. There are always exceptions to the rule. Mike Urbano’s ’91 Toyota Supra Turbo is one of them.

The Supra Turbo debuted in the states back in ’87. Equipped with a 3.0L DOHC inline-six and a single turbocharger, it produced 230 hp. Decent, certainly, until you consider that any knob in an Integra GS-R can get the same power with a 50-shot of nitrous and do it in a car that weighs about 800 pounds less. And like Star Trek’s Scotty, we simply need more power here.

Interestingly enough, the third-gen Supra did come with more power, but only in Japan. (A higher horsepower car built in Japan that never made it to the states? Get out. That’s crazy talk.) In ’91 and ’92, the Toyota Supra in Japan came equipped with a 2.5L DOHC twin turbo engine. This was the JZA70, the forerunner to the 320hp, 3.0L twin turbo JZA80 found in the ’93-’97 Supra Turbo. Stock, the JZA70 makes 280 hp. And guess what? Mike’s Supra ain’t stock.

So, yes, as you might have guessed, Mike’s Supra has a JZA70 dynamo under the hood. He says he had always read Japanese magazines like Option and knew he wanted to build up a third-gen Supra the way Japanese enthusiasts were doing it. He worked with ToySport to acquire a front clip of a ’91 Supra Turbo shipped over from Japan. The installation of the JZA70 was a pretty straightforward affair, and Mike says the hardest parts were rerouting the engine’s wiring harness and trying to translate the Japanese shop manuals.

Once the engine was installed, Mike began the process of equipping it with a selection of go-fast parts. Well, “selection” is probably an understatement. It seems to me, Mike just opened up the HKS master catalog, went to the Supra section, and said, “Hmm, yeah, I think I’ll need all of this.” The block, head, and turbos are still stock, but everything else has been replaced with HKS goodies. Much of the material was sourced during Mike’s trip to Japan for the Tokyo Auto Salon.

Things start out with an HKS Super Mega Flow air filter, an HKS Evolution Japan-only competition dual exhaust, an HKS off-road down pipe, and an HKS stainless steel catalytic converter. To increase turbo boost and keep the fuel levels in check, there’s an HKS EVC Pro boost controller, an HKS FCON-V, and a HKS GCC II. A denser intake charge is thanks to an HKS GT intercooler kit along with HKS piping. Other enhancements include HKS camshafts with a 264-degree duration, adjustable camshaft gears, an HKS metal head gasket, and an HKS Twin Power ignition system. Mike says that, with these mods, his Supra generates an estimated 495 hp at the rear wheels.

To keep that power consistent back to the rear wheels, Mike has installed an HKS twin plate clutch, a lightened flywheel, and a TRD limited-slip rear differential. The Supra’s wheels are three-piece Work Equips measuring 18x9.5 inches in back and 18x8.5 inches in the front. Wrapping them are 265/35R18 Bridgestone SO-2 tires in back and 235/40R18s in front. For improved handling, the suspension features HKS Hiper coilovers, an HKS carbon-fiber front strut tower bar, and Suspension Techniques antiroll bars. When it comes time to slow down, Brembo Sport rotors, Axxis metal brake pads, and TRD stainless steel brake lines step up and serve.

Just having the JZA70 and all of the engine and suspension mods is enough to impress me. But Mike didn’t stop there. The exterior and interior are also pretty tight. The body kit you see is from Bomex, and it includes a Type III front lip, Type II mirrors, a Type I rear spoiler, side skirts, a rear valance, and a front vent scoop. Inside, there are Recaro seats (standard equipment in the Japanese Supra), a MOMO steering wheel, and enough HKS gauges to monitor a day’s worth of Danni Ashe Web page downloads.

Speaking of which, that’s what I plan to check out right after I’m done writing this story. I do have a newfound appreciation for third-gen Supras, though. You should, too. I’m also going to check out OK, the last shameless plug. For now.

By Brent Romans
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