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Toyota takes the tuning world by storm with eight Supra-based builds

The Toyota Supra has always played a starring role in the annual SEMA show, an event dedicated to tuners and aftermarket parts, due to its God-like status among enthusiasts. Toyota gave the new fifth-generation model a star-studded debut by traveling to the 2019 edition of the show with no less than eight Supra-based builds in tow.

Our favorite concept is the Heritage Edition model. It stands out visually with aerodynamic add-ons, custom lights on both ends, and a specific shade of red, but the real news is under the hood. The stock Supra’s 3.0-liter straight-six engine gains a bigger turbocharger, a new intake, and a bigger exhaust to produce 500 horsepower, which represents a healthy, 165-horse bump. Wider wheels, beefier brakes, and a redesigned suspension round out the changes made to the Heritage Edition.

NASCAR analyst Rutledge Wood led the team that built the Supra HyperBoost concept. It challenges the aforementioned Heritage Edition model with carbon fiber body kit, three-piece wheels with carbon fiber lips, and, significantly, a 750-hp evolution of the standard straight-six. Dialing in that much power was far more difficult than it sounds.

“To make more power, you have to outwit all of the technology. When you start to make significant gains, the ECM locks you out and goes into safe mode based on the torque sensors protecting the driveline. The car is so advanced, you have to outsmart it to build it,” explained Rick Leos, the project’s lead builder.

Another highlight is the 3000GT concept. It’s a racing-inspired tribute to the limited-edition evolution of the fourth-generation Supra unveiled in 1994. It gains a full body kit that adds bigger air vents chiseled into the front bumper, wider wheel arches, and a huge wing modeled after the one worn by the original car. 19-inch alloy wheels hang from a lowered suspension to give the 3000GT a more menacing look than the Supra found in Toyota showrooms. The cabin receives a pair of sport seats, and an upgraded sound system that includes Pioneer speakers. There are no mechanical modifications, the 335-horsepower straight-six remains, but it exhales through a custom-built exhaust system.

Toyota’s Genuine Accessory team built the fittingly named Wasabi Concept to gauge customer interest in factory-built tuning parts. Painted bright green, it wears a splitter attached to the bottom part of the front bumper, a trunk-mounted spoiler, and a new exhaust. Some of these parts might reach production sooner or later, according to Toyota.

The Supra Performance Line concept is the work of Toyota Customizing & Development. Pelted where road and track intersect, it was developed with an eye on aerodynamic efficiency, so it gains add-ons that make it more stable at high speeds by adding downforce. They’re made with carbon fiber to keep weight in check. It’s the most low-key build of the bunch.

Finally, Toyota displayed the Supra that performs pace car duties at NASCAR events, the GR Supra Racing Concept it unveiled during last year’s edition of the SEMA show, and the track-ready Supra GT4 unveiled during the 2019 edition of the Geneva Auto Show. The Avalon — which is hardly one of Toyota’s most exciting models — interrupted the Supra-fest by unexpectedly morphing into a 330-horsepower race car.

Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to what’s next for Toyota’s SEMA stars. While it’s clear the Wasabi Concept might influence future production parts, and the pace car will remain exactly what its name suggests, the firm remained suspiciously quiet about what the future holds for the rest of the pack. We love the thought of a 500-hp Supra, and one with 750 hp would be downright epic, so we’re hoping they influence upcoming variants of Toyota’s born-again coupe instead of merely ending their days in a dark, dusty warehouse.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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