This 1985 Toyota Supra Started As A Father Son Project, But It Quickly Evolved
Story by Jason Poco & Photography By Michael Mauro
My 1985 Toyota Supra started off as a father-son project back in 2000 when my dad saw an ad in the local car shopper’s magazine as we waited in the parking lot for my mom to grab some quick groceries. As my father perused the ads, his eye caught a quick description of a Toyota Supra that simply stated, “1985 Supra, black, runs – $600.” At the time, I was 13 and just getting into tinkering with cars and learning the basics of automotive maintenance through my father. I would always remember my dad passionately describing stories of his Ford Escort MK2 that he modified and raced around the streets of the Philippines before he immigrated to the US. Before heading home that day, my dad decided to call the number listed in the ad only to find out that the car was located in the next town over.
Long story short, my father fell in love with the car at first sight, immediately overlooking the obvious rusted quarter panels, cracked and hissing vacuum lines, and faded black paint. At the time, I didn’t quite understand why he was smitten with the car or why he didn’t even bother to bargain. As we followed the tow truck that hauled the car home, I remember him saying, “In the Philippines, if you had a Supra, you were the man.” Since that moment and to this day, I share that sentiment every time I drive the car or show it at the local meets.
While growing up and following all the current trends, I resisted the temptations of every teenage automotive hobbyist’s automatic urge to add body kits, gaudy stickers, neon lights, or more recently to “stance” out the car. I tried keep true to the beautiful and distinct sharp body lines of the Mark II Supra and keep the original iconic fender flares that made the body look so much more muscular.
Over the years, I have fought a love-hate relationship as I poured hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars to get the car to this point. During my college days, as my friends were out partying and spending their money at the clubs and bars, I would spend my weekends grinding away at rusty suspension pieces and researching engine swaps. In fact, I have contemplated selling this car a handful of times over the past few years as I questioned why I continued to pour money and time into a car that spent more time under construction than actually running. However, during these times of tribulation, my ever supportive girlfriend and now wife would remind me how this car kept me sane while going through rigorous college and graduate school. And now it keeps me busy on the weekends as my wife completes her medical residency training. Thankfully being high school sweethearts has allowed my wife to experience all that I have been through with this car. It’s even shared some special moments in both our lives. Most recently it served as our wedding car when we wed about 3 years ago. She has also made me vow that this car stays in our family forever.
Ok, enough with the love story and more about the car. Over the past 16 years since owning the car, I have gone through every system and component on the car. With either replacing using new OEM parts, refurbishing those that were no longer available, or modifying the car with tasteful aftermarket components, I’ve tried to bring this Supra to a point that would make any Japanese classic car enthusiast swoon.
Today, from the outside, the car looks like a very clean, original-looking, stock bodied 1985 with a nice shiny paint job and some nice polished lipped wheels. That’s the look I wanted to accomplish; the “Sleeper” look. At its core, however, the car has a swapped built 7mgte inline six cylinder which originally came equipped in the next generation Supras. It’s outfitted with a Garrett TO4Z single turbo, HKS cast iron long runner exhaust manifold, custom front facing intake manifold, custom intercooler and piping, Raptor Racing cat back exhaust, and a fully upgraded fuel system with a sumped fuel tank that puts out over 400rwhp at 16lbs of boost. The transmission was upgraded to the beefier R154 5-speed accompanied with an ACT street/strip clutch. The car also boasts complete front and rear Raptor Racing big brakes with Wilwood brake calipers that help it reliably slow down when needed.
I am meticulous for all the small details as well. To the detailed eye, one would notice all the nuances and intricate details I have incorporated. In the engine bay, almost all hoses have braided AN lines ending with all matching black/titanium fittings. In addition, numerous components and brackets were powder coated wrinkle black to give a clean, almost OEM look to the engine bay. The CNC valve covers from Arizona Performance (rumor has it that only 10 sets were ever produced) give the top of the engine a nice touch that hints towards the now infamous 2JZ engines found in the MKIV Supras. Almost all the hardware throughout the engine bay has been replaced with stainless steel hardware to prevent the development of rust which makes me cringe at the very sight. I relocated the Odyssey PC680 battery to the rear which hides in the spare tire well and stays hidden out of sight. The 17” Simmons black multi-spoke wheels with deep polished step lips give the car that classy yet aggressive look. In the interior, I like to keep it simple yet functional with a Defi boost gauge mounted on the steering column and a Defi multi-display which keeps the interior looking somewhat original yet functional with all the desired parameters displayed for the driver at any given time. I also added some tasteful modifications like a rare Tom’s period correct steering wheel and a wooden shift knob with a matching TEQ logo. Moreover, I installed some sport seats with customs rails that keep the driver and passenger in a low yet comfortable position.
Overall, the exterior body also has distinct details like a shaved antenna and rear hatch key hole which gives the body lines a smooth and sleeker look. All the body moldings, mud guards, door handles, fender flare trims, and even the rear SUPRA billboard decal were replaced with OEM Toyota parts after the shell spent over 2 years at the body shop during restoration. At this point, the paint is about 13 years old but still has a mirror shine from keeping the car garaged and under a cover when stored. The under carriage was stripped and coated with bed liner and all the suspension components were stripped, sanded, and repainted to look new again.
I share this passion for creating “restomods” with my two older brothers who also have their own project cars that share the same theme of restored, clean, tastefully modified, Japanese classics. In addition to this 1985 Supra, in the stable you can currently find a 1974 Toyota Celica GT, a 1989 Toyota Supra, three 1993 Mazda RX7s, a 2006 Mini Cooper S Convertible, and a 2016 Subaru STI. This passion for cars has kept us close and has even given birth recently to a moniker we named JP3 Motorsports so people can recognize our cars and we can showcase our work. (JP3 because we all have names starting with “J”). We all work in the healthcare field and share no formal mechanical/engineering training but that has not stopped us from pushing our limits and acquiring new skills through research and trial and error (which can be costly at times). This dedication for restoration and modifications has led us to meet many other enthusiasts that share our same passions. This is how I met Mike Mauro, the photographer, who introduced me to the fine folks of the Petrolicious community who have allowed me to share my car and its story with you.
This car has been an endless project that keeps my mind continuously pondering though the work week until I get time to tinker and make more subtle modifications on the weekends. It has helped my dad and brothers build such a close relationship and I hope to keep it in the family long enough for my own children to enjoy it too. Be sure to look out for me at local cars and coffee meets if you live in the Central New Jersey area and I look forward to sharing my car’s story to anyone who has a listening ear.
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