Supra, Supra, Supra In the last year, you've probably been inundated with more Toyota Supra news and content, like this 2020 A90 Toyota Supra, than you could have possibly bargained for. And, if you're one of those purists that still cringe at the fact that the A90 and A91 Supras are powered by a 3.0-liter 24-valve BMW B58 inline-six and not a modern version of the 2JZ-GTE, as well as an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and not a six-speed manual gearbox, then you've likely turned off social media and disappeared into a cave since last July. However, if you're not a crybaby and still want to be a part of the exciting car community that we live in, then hopefully you've been able to appreciate everything that has come out of the triumphant return of the Supra, which included dozens of modified A90s at SEMA (like our very own project car) as well as wilder examples, like Daniel Song's '20.
We decided to highlight Daniel's Supra because it's not just a "body kit and wheels." Everything that's been sourced and installed on the car is well thought-out, using only the most reputable brands possible, like RAYS, Brembo, Recaro, KW and so-on. You also won't find any components that don't fit right or painted pieces that aren't 110% properly color-matched. It's the epitome of how a SEMA show car should be, and while it didn't receive the same level of fame as other YouTube and social media builds, the enthusiast with a trained eye will likely notice that there's more quality and wisdom than meets the eye.
1-on-1 Interview with Daniel Song
You modified Hondas and Scions in your early days, then put together one of the sweetest modern-style Z restorations we've ever seen, with the help of JDM Legends. My first question is what made you want to take on yet another project car?
It's probably the same question my wife wonders all the time, except with less curiosity and more cynicism. Another car? Another project?? I guess the desire to always constantly work on a new project or something new is part of the "tuner sickness" that we all probably share in common. I've just been super fortunate to have had these opportunities to do multiple builds rather than work on one project for an extended period of time. Some cars I will fall in love with and keep around for a long time, while other projects are simply things that I am infatuated with for that season. I would never consider myself a "Honda" guy or a brand loyal fan. I like all cars. I think every platform, every model provides a unique experience. The last major product I undertook was the tribute Fairlady Z restoration project. That was a long and patient project, almost four years, and the results justify the time it took.
Why the new Supra?
There was a lot of buzz about the new A90 Supra, both good and bad. Early on, I had an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Supra and you could tell this would be a platform that would lend itself well to the tuner community. I basically knew the Supra would be fun because of all the cool stuff you could do with it! Eventually I was able to grab a very early allocation of the Supra and got the blessing from Stan Chen at Toyo Tires to build it for the coveted SEMA Toyo Treadpass booth. Those two factors sort of cemented my desire to do an all-out Supra build in 42 days.
Did you ever own a Mk4 Supra before?
I absolutely love the Mk4 along with all of its legendary classmates of that era like the NSX, and R34, and I hope to have an MK4 in my collection sometime soon.
What didn't you like about the fifth generation Supra, because there was so much criticism on the car?
I was initially hesitant on the final production design of the A90. I get that not all concept cars will translate well into the final production vehicle. The Scion FR-S seemed like it did well from concept the production, so I had high hopes that Toyota's FT-1 concept would translate well into the A90. It didn't. The proportions of the car seemed a bit odd - a lot bulkier and taller in the final form, but yet deceivingly small in real life. In photos, it looked like a beefy "GT-R" but in real life it's like an 86-sized car. So odd
How about its overall powertrain and DNA?
While most of the internet couldn't get over the BMW guts of the Supra, I didn't care. You can't love and praise the M2, M3, M4, M6, etc., while hating on the fact that the Supra gets to benefit from all of the proven performance benefits. I guess not being a Mk4 owner gave me less reason to have an overly romanticized or nostalgic attachment to the Supra name. The hate seemed very similar to the people who hated on the NC1 NSX. Most of the NC1 haters were owners of the original NSX. I had an original NSX and was able to judge the NC1 on its own merits and loved the car. The last car that created such a frenzy in the aftermarket world, in my opinion, was the FR-S/BRZ.
What would you say is your car's overall theme?
Something radical, buff, but also motorsports inspired. Look, I get that this build is probably 70% show car, 30% functional performance and I knew that in order to keep up with all the heavy hitters in the Treadpass, I needed to have something a bit more extreme. Going wide was the one obvious way to do that, but it's the little things like not doing large, 20-inch "deep dish" three-piece forged wheels that you see on a lot of these modern widebody show cars. I went with relatively conservative one-piece, 19-inch TE37 Ultra wheels and thick and beefy R888R tires that weren't stretched.
Definitely can appreciate the more motorsport-inspired look and feel, and not some bling'd out twenties. Speaking of motorsports, the Formula One Mercedes AMG/Petronas-style livery is interesting. What led you to that?
I didn't want to build a loud and bright car. I picked Turbulence Gray because of its more muted appearance. The color has a lot of depth and shifts a lot in different lighting conditions. Once the car was being assembled, I realized that the it might have been too muted. Gray body, black wheels, gray brakes, etc. So, I wanted to introduce an accent color in the livery to give it some pop. I've been a huge Petronas F1 team fan and have been following Lewis Hamilton's career the last few years. I've always liked the non-common combination of silver and teal. I snapped a quick photo of my car and started to add some color in photoshop to see what it would look like. I sent it off to Protective Film Solutions and they were able to do the installation. Also, I didn't want my car looking like an advertisement billboard with sponsor names. With SEMA, it's unavoidable, since there are so many sponsors involved and marketing is the underlying reason why most cars are there. If you notice, the roll call was done in a very subtle, cool gray that is only a few shades darker than the body of the car. It gives it enough contrast to be legible and visible but without really creating a ton of visual distractions to the overall car.
Subtle is definitely a better way to go and we commend you for it! But how'd you feel about Pandem widebody Supras being everywhere at SEMA. Was there a reason why you went with Pandem?
The Pandem kit was the only production-ready and available widebody kit for the Supra at the time. With a 42-day build window, you couldn't chance waiting to see if someone else came to market with a kit. The only two widebody variants at SEMA were: StreetHunter kit made for TJ Hunt, a mega YouTube star, and the HKS widebody kit. So, Pandem was ultimately the reliable and dependable solution for the short window for SEMA. Again, that being said, I do think the Pandem widebody kit looks good. So many of the other widebody kits that have come since the Pandem have very similar influence and styling cues from what Kei Miura came up with originally.
Is there anything that makes your conversion different?
There were 13 Pandem widebody cars built for SEMA, but people who take the time to really examine the cars will find subtle but important differences in detail. I spent a lot of time and effort on making sure the fitment of the kit was on point. We ditched using the rubber trim molding pieces which is designed to hide uneven gaps between the panels and the body. All the panels line up with a consistent paper-thin edge along the body. That wasn't by accident. Tuan and Vu of Pigment spent countless hours reshaping and sanding the panels to fit. I ended up painting the full kit twice because of my OCD about paint matching. The first time it was painted, it was only off by a little, but it bothered me. So, we repainted the car just seven days before the car was due to get on a truck! We ran the version 1.5 GT wing versus the giant '90s era combat-style wing (not even sure what you'd call that look). Pigment also shaved and deleted the goofy LED lights in the side skirts. We didn't use any of the supplied hardware which includes generic sheet metal screws. We used high quality button head fasteners and I was even particular about how large or small each button head would be. I won't say who, but one of the Pandem cars had button heads and washers that were literally the size of a dime! In the end, I couldn't change the fact that 12 Supras would show up to SEMA with the same outfit, but I made damn sure that I had the best tailor!
Well said, Daniel. Next, the turbo upgrade is interesting as we're hearing there's a lot of power to unlock with the B58, even without building the motor. Can you elaborate on what it entails? Is it tuned and dyno'd?
I went with the Pure Turbos Pure700 upgrade. It's a really simple and straight forward solution for some increased power. From the outside, the turbo is the exact same housing and fit as OEM, but the internals have been improved for more power. The Pure700 is fed air by the Eventuri carbon fiber intake box and flows out to an SSR Performance charge pipe and Remark exhaust. SSR tuned the car with a street tune, and they've seen similar setups getting up in the high 600hp range. Being in California, I'm limited to 91-octane, and I wanted something I could use in the streets without the need for race fuel or methanol. The car is currently doing 485hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. We think more can be done with a better tune. Just haven't had the time yet.
What parts are the rarest on the project?
My guess would be the Recaro Pro Racer RMS seats. These seats were only offered by Recaro Japan and have months of lead time and back order time. The seats look absolutely bonkers and super modern. Luckily, Evasive Motorsports had a pair coming in one of their shipments and the guys were kind enough to let me grab the set from them. I've only seen a handful of these seats stateside. Also, I do literally have the very first Eventuri carbon intake box. Each of Eventuri's products have a badge with a serial number. My box doesn't have a serial number but says "prototype," which means it's their very first unit. The guys from Eventuri literally hand carried the intake box from the U.K. to SEMA and installed it on opening day of the show.
What was the most challenging aspect of the build?
Trying to finish the car in 42 days. For some reason, the Supra deliveries on the West Coast were three weeks later than the East and Midwest regions. I was patiently watching on Instagram as guys like Chris Hill and Garrett Jarboe had their full kits installed and were well into their build process while I waited for my car to show up. The time we took on body and paint were probably the most extensive part of the process. The guys at Pigment don't do what they do full time, but they do it as a side-gig, so I had to wait between their days off in their primary career for them to work on the Supra.
What's the end goal of the project now?
I've been tightening up and finishing up on a lot of the loose end items that weren't completed by SEMA. More work had to be done to modify the body and suspension to create better clearance for the wheels under the fenders. We repainted the red Cusco tow hooks into the matching teal color in our livery. I do plan on making a major visual change on the car sometime this summer, but that has me debating on selling this "version 1" build as-is and starting on a brand new Supra.
I think it's great that an entry-level Supra is being provided for more people to consider the platform. There's a part of me that enjoys the exclusivity of some of the cars I own, but another part of me that understands that in business, you do need sales and numbers to support projects like this. If we want Toyota to continue to develop exciting cars like the Supra, we need the cars to be reasonably popular. I think the 2.0-liter Supra is going to do that. I do wonder if the power upgrade in the 3.0-liter is more so now the more "accurate" numbers to the known and underrated cars in 2020? And if there legitimately is more power, then I'm sure it means just more potential in these cars. The fact that the car is evolving just six months after being released is both exciting and unsettlingly.
Before we finish, what about your Supra would you like everyone to understand the most?
Quality over quantity. A lot of the work and details in project cars get lost on social media and YouTube. You have drones and legions of fans who blindly assume their favorite social media stars have flawless builds and it's absolute heresy. We should be light to judge on style and personalization since we are all entitled to how we want to express our builds, but we should also appreciate the level and attention to detail that some of the more mature builders will go through with their projects. Slapping on a kit in one day and sending it out to be vinyl-wrapped the next is not a quality build. Just not possible. Lastly, I wanted to thank my buddy Jonny Grunwald for all his help on this Supra project. Jonny was absolutely instrumental in helping me to open doors and make connections to the right supporters for this project. No way that this car would have been done in 42 days and with the caliber of partners and sponsors we did without the TRMNL-touch.