Turbocharged Fun: 1989 Toyota Supra

I just recently finished reading about the new, reintroduced Toyota Supra. I was a bit intrigued by this newly released uber sports car from generally buttoned-down Toyota so I thought it appropriate to take a look at a previous iteration, especially in light of the fact that the Supra has been out of production for eighteen years. I chose this 1989 model, which is located in Los Angeles, California and listed here on craigslist for $5,500, because it seems reasonably priced for its condition and I used to own a ’90 model which is essentially the same car!

The Supra was originally based on the Celica model but in ’86 went to its own platform and developed its unique identity. While the Celica was competition for the moderately powered Camaro & Mustang, the Supra competitively positioned it self against the Z28 Camaro, Corvette, Mustang Cobra, Nissan 280 & 300 Z. Its calling card was quality construction, higher grade materials, excellent road manners, power (if you chose the turbo-charged option) and Toyota reliability.

This Supra is one of the cleanest that I have seen in a long time though I will admit I haven’t seen one of these gen III’s in quite a while. While there are no images of the engine, the owner indicates that it is a turbocharged 3.0 liter which is a rock-solid reliable in-line, dual overhead cam, six cylinder producing 235 horsepower. Interestingly, the 2020 Supra also uses a turbocharged 3.0 liter in-line six too but it generates an attention getting 335 horsepower. No mention made regarding the transmission type on this ’89. My 1990 Supra handled, braked and maneuvered excellently and had a very significant top end – and it was very stable at extra-illegal speeds. As for acceleration? Not so much so, but I had the non turbo-charged 200 HP version of the 3.0 liter six.

This Supra has the popular Targa top option which is interesting in that it is attached to the windshield header with Allen bolts in either front corner – no quick release latch! Toyota provided a ratchet Allen wrench in its own pouch to loosen or tighten the bolts. I recall from my ’90 Supra that it wasn’t a big ordeal to remove the panel but it did take some time. There are stanchions positioned in the rear hatch area to securely hold the Targa panel when not located in its usual place.

The owner mentions that the interior needs some TLC but it is hard to tell from the image because there is so much “stuff” in the front seat. It also appears that there is an after-market seat cover adorning the passenger seat. The dash pad and steering wheel wrap are both clearly done. There is no discussion regarding the car’s structural integrity but if it is a life long SoCal car, there shouldn’t be a problem with the floors, etc.

At 156K miles, this is hardly just-around-the-block mileage but it’s not excessive either considering this example’s age. It will be interesting to see if the impending introduction of the 2020 Supra generates interest in these older models. And if it does, is this one a good buy? It certainly has a clean exterior and I’d have to say timeless styling.


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  1. davew833d

    $5500 and they couldn’t clean out the interior for the picture?

    Like 2
  2. LARRY

    The new supra is more BMW than Toyota and I personally don’t care much for the new model…the older models yeeessss

    Like 8
    • Eric

      Yeah, not sure what Toyota was thinking. Their own engine would’ve been much better.

      Like 2
      • Fiete T.

        Toyota & BMW are already recalling & replacing cars for weld failures. Severe enough apparently to recall & replace…nice!

        Like 2
  3. nycbjr Member

    It’s a 5 speed in the interim shot.

    Nice car nice price!

    Like 3
    • rpol35

      Good catch! Makes it more desirable.

    • Cooter914 Cooter914 Member

      Agreed. The auto shifter is massive, even if we couldn’t see the 5sp pattern.

      Like 1
  4. TimM

    Great car!! Super fun to drive even know I only drove one once!!! This would be cool if gotten at the right price!!!

    Like 3
  5. ccrvtt

    Not a Toyota fan but this car and the 2nd gen MR2 are two I would gladly own. My ’95 C4 had the same cumbersome targa roof attachment system. Dumb, and probably cheaper than a twist lock.

    As far as the new Supra goes… well, yuck.

    Like 2
  6. CCFisher

    The contemporary Corvette also used a bolt-in targa panel and included a wrench.

  7. Eusebius2

    This is one of my 3 dream cars, shame I live on the East Coast.

  8. sparkster

    Funny this is listed under ” Auto Parts” on Craigslist.

    Like 1
    • Calipag

      People started to list cars for sale under the “Auto Parts” listings to avoid paying the listing fee. Saving a whole $5.00.

      Like 4
  9. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Wish it were in NC. I’d be making an offer. I loved them when they first came out. The engine looks almost like the 4.2 liter (or later 4.0L) Jaguar DOHC 6. Lots of torque and smooth pulling power. This body alone makes it worth a good bit. Replacing dash and reupholstering seats won’t be easy or cheap, but finally a seller who at least cleaned the exterior up. Could have emptied the interior for the pix.

    Like 4
  10. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. This was when Toyota produced lovely looking cars. They produced good quality cars, but at the same time, they produced beautiful looking cars. If only today’s Toyotas and Lexus were this nice.

    Like 1
  11. Raymond J Lawson III

    The ad says it’s actually only 130k miles, not 156k. Not bad.

  12. stillrunners stillrunners Member


  13. JoeNYWF64

    Always thought the wider FRONT wheel drive(insane!) 3000gt looked a lot more exotic with possibly a more durable less likely to crack dashboard.

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