If you’ve never had the unpleasant circumstance of visiting North Dakota most of the year, allow us to describe it for you:
All that white space? That’s supposed to represent snow, because for most of the year (except, of course, for the two months of searing summer heat), freezing, cold snow spans as far as the eye can see in one of the country’s northernmost continental states—one with a landscape almost as flat as a sheet of plain, white paper, too. It’s average year-round temperature is only 40 degrees F. It’s cold. Imagine trying to build and enjoy cars in that climate.
Now imagine doing the same in a climate about 400 miles farther north, in an area where summer temperatures last only about two weeks and rarely eclipse 80 degrees. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Edmonton is sort of an enigma in the tuning community. Because of its very Northern climate (cold starting conditions, pothole-ridden roadways), sports cars are usually seen as impractical and unnecessary. And yet, this Supra—with its twin HKS GT2835 turbos pushing near 600 whp, Hipermax suspension, endlessly clean Top Secret exterior styling, and giant 19-inch Work Meisters—blends quite nicely into the Edmonton tuning landscape. We could practically see its owner smiling in disbelief over the phone the first time we talked about a feature. “Are you sure you want it? There are a ton of good cars up here,” he asked.
A little history: Rob Blackmore cut his tuning teeth at an early age, modifying older Toyota MR2s (also popular in the Canadian north). After a few stints at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where he received a certificate in both business and digital/interactive media design, he decided the idea of sitting in front of a desk 9 to 5 wasn’t for him. This led him in 2006 to open a tuning shop called Project Omega. “I just wanted to get back to working on cars,” he says.
Rob also felt that the area’s shops were behind the times on offering the more popular JDM goods so many enthusiasts were looking for. He’d made those connections with his past projects, but something was missing—something to let his future customers know just how in the loop he was. “Every great tuning shop has a great car to showcase what they can do,” he says. “I didn’t have that when I started Project Omega, so I decided to build the Supra.”
OK, so maybe the Supra “blending into” the Edmonton scene is kind of a stretch—they are quite rare. Canada’s importation laws allow vehicles 15 years or older to be brought into the country and licensed for road use, but back in 2007, the latest model Supras coming in were MKIIIs; MKIVs were hard to come by.
But Rob got lucky. A friend of his had purchased a naturally aspirated five-speed MKIV Supra from the States a few years back, but due to some cash problems the car sat in an empty field for over a year. Bad for Rob’s friend; good for Rob. He picked up the car for a steal, along with a 2JZ-GTE engine from an imported Toyota Aristo that had been neglected nearly as long.
As soon as Rob got the car to his shop, he started stripping it down. The engine bay was shaved and prepped to have all the wiring hidden and the fuse box relocated to the trunk. He added a Top Secret Aero kit and a carbon diffuser and hood. He decided on Lexus IS350 green for the interior, engine bay, and exterior. Then, he stuffed a set of 19-inch gold Work Meisters (the style of wheel he’d fallen in love with back in his MR2 days) aggressively under the car’s fenders—not a move most Supra owners make, especially not those who traverse frigid Northern roadways.
Under the hood, it’s all HKS: the aforementioned GT2835 slugs, along with 264/264 cams, adjustable cam gears, twin 200mm intakes, a timing belt, a DLI ignition amplifier, an SSQ racing blow-off valve, and a carbon/titanium exhaust. “I’ve built enough cars to know which companies can build a quality part,” Rob says. “So, I tried to stick with top-quality parts when reliability/performance was of the utmost importance. HKS gets a lot of love from me.”
Watchful eyes will also spot some purple pulleys in there. Those are from Greddy, custom anodized to match the HKS swag, just like the fuel fittings feeding the 1,000cc/min injectors from the twin Walbro 255s in the tank through the Powerhouse Racing twin-feed fuel rail and Aeromotive regulator. It seems like Rob wanted to make sure the fuel system had room to grow—just in case he ever decided to ditch the twins for an HKS T51R SPL or something a little heavier in the top end . . . not that he hinted on this three times throughout our interview, or anything. “I’d probably never give up the smooth power and great streetability the twins offer,” he says, before, “but building for overkill isn’t a bad thing, either.” Rob is our kind of guy.
Following the logic of that overbuilt fuel system is an overbuilt driveline, consisting of an RPS carbon/carbon twin-disc clutch, TRD differential, and Boost Logic driveshaft. That last one was added after he launched hard enough at his local dragstrip to twist the stock part completely in half. Sub-zero temperatures: awesome for bragging rights.
If you saw Rob’s latest MR2 before it was retired, the interior of his Supra will look familiar; his leather Bride Ergo seats, Takata harnesses, Veilside steering wheel/hub combo, and head unit descended directly from it. The interchangeability of Toyota parts: awesome for the bank account. Plus, it allowed Rob to afford some bigger subs for the Supra’s bigger trunk. “Nothing beats pounding some heavy bass when you’re rolling street bikes on the highway.” We did mention Rob’s our kind of guy, right?
Rob’s a firm believer that you get what you pay for. “If you can’t afford what you really want, just keep saving,” he says. “Most good things in life are worth waiting for.” He’s happy with how everything turned out on the Supra, and while it unarguably sports a unique style, its balance between performance and driveability could heat up any spot in the world. Even a really, really cold one.
Behind the Build
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Project Omega Shop Owner
Cars, traveling, snowboarding
To experience new things and get the most out of life
1995 Toyota Supra
Engine 2JZ-GTE engine; Aquamist HFS-6 meth kit (direct port); HKS 264/264 cams, adjustable cam gears, GT2835 twin-turbo upgrade, 200mm intake (x2), timing belt, DLI ignition amplifier, SSQ Racing blow-off valve, Carbon Ti exhaust, Type S boost controller, Type 1 turbo timer; Greddy 4-row intercooler, intake manifold, TPS adapter, lightweight pulleys; Q45 throttle body; ATI crank pulley; Powerhouse Racing fuel rails (x2); Precision 1,000cc/min fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; Walbro 255-lph fuel pumps (x2); NGK BKR8EIX plugs; custom clear valley cover; ARC oil cap, radiator cap; Koyo radiator; TRD thermostat, engine mounts; AAP Motorsports polished dual fan shroud; Samco Sport radiator hoses, couplers; Innovative XD-16 wideband; Vipec V88 ECU
Driveline Getrag six-speed transmission; TRD transmission mount, 1.5-way limited-slip differential; Boost Logic driveshaft; Supra Twin Turbo rear end, axles; RPS carbon-fiber twin-disc clutch; stainless clutch line
Suspension HKS Hipermax RS coilovers; Tein rear strut bar; custom Targa chassis braces
Wheels/Tires Work Meister three-piece wheels (19x9.5 front, 19x11 rear); BFG KDW G-Force tires (235/35-19 front, 275/35-19 rear)
Brakes Supra Twin Turbo brake conversion, Goodridge stainless lines; Rotora slotted rotors; EBC Greenstuff pads; ABS delete
Exterior Lexus Desert Sage metallic paint; shaved antenna, rear wiper, rear side markers, emblems; Shine Top Secret–style diffuser; Top Secret sides and front bumper; Seibon TS carbon-fiber hood; Top Secret hoodpins; ’98 Supra headlights, taillights
Interior TRD tachometer, speedometer; DEFI BF-series gauges (boost, EGT, water temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, fuel pressure); red LED cluster conversion; battery relocation to trunk; billet battery tie-downs; fuse box relocation to trunk; Titan carbon-fiber fuse box cover; Bride Ergo leather/gradation seats; custom harness bar; Takata harnesses; Veilside steering wheel, shift knob; Works Bell snap-off hub; Boss slim hub adapter; leather rear seats
Electronics Sony head unit; Alpine amplifier; JL 10W3 subs; custom stereo enclosure
Gratitude Thanks to my project crew: Paul, Justin, and Jeff; Jeff, Jack, Sneaky Petes, Frenchy, and Kiel for the late-night help; Doug, Mark, and everyone at Doug’s place; Greg, Jon, Sam, and everyone who has supported me and my shop over the years