Seven years ago, Simon Hart purchased this silver Supra as a bare shell with the intent of turning it into a reliable, robust, and extremely capable track car. After five years of developing the car at some of Europe’s fastest tracks, he’s made himself a machine that demonstrates excellent stability at speed, ferocious acceleration, and more traction than most people assume a Supra could have.
He’s also taken some major records in the process—including the fastest Nürburgring lap ever recorded by a fourth-gen Toyota Supra. It’s at its best on long, fast circuits like Spa Francorchamps or Silverstone, and it’s at the latter where he shows us how this car compares to a modern M3 with comparable power.
A Complete Car
The Supra’s engine, the venerable 2JZ-GTE, is forged, balanced, and capable of making more power than its traction is currently limited to. To generate a surprisingly manageable 700 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, it’s fed by a BorgWarner S366 turbocharger, Precision 800cc injectors, and two Walbro 450 fuel pumps. An Accusump dry-sump system prevents oil starvation, and the Syvecs ECU keeps everything running smoothly. Interestingly, it’s not the whistling powerplant that makes this car so capable.
Hart’s done an exemplary job of making this aging chassis deploy the power, turn, and stop as well as— if not better than — most modern track cars. A Tomei 2-way differential, Nitron NTR coilovers, and AP Racing brakes give this Toyota more than enough traction, grip, and stopping power to outrun Radicals at the Nürburgring. Like the big brakes it wears, the tires are sourced from British touring cars! Clearly, this man knows where to shop for go-fast parts.
Though he’s stripped the interior and pared the car down within reason, the ~3,100-pound Supra is still a little on the portly side, but its balance and aerodynamics help it belie its size. The slippery shape of the car, relatively long wheelbase and overhangs, and custom aero package give it great stability at speed — a handy feature for a fast track like Silverstone. With an APR rear wing, homemade front splitter, undertray, and carbon front canards, the Supra’s balance and stability help it navigate fast corners like Copse (2:19) with ease.
Different Deliveries, Different Driving
The same couldn’t be said of the BMW ahead. As the driver in the F80 M3 lays long strips of black, Hart wisely gives him a wide berth. The M3’s S55 engine is upgraded with a hybrid turbocharger: one which retains the stock turbo housing but uses an updated, high-flow center section. As a result, the responsive motor has a broad powerband and 650 horsepower — and that gives it the right straight-line advantage. Both the Supra’s 2JZ and the M3’s S55 are turbocharged-inline-sixes displacing the same, but their power deliveries are quite different.
The Supra’s linear power delivery is complemented by Hart’s sublimely smooth style — the kind that would impress Alain Prost. This combo keeps the Supra underneath him at all times, whereas the man in the M3 — a much spikier car — takes every opportunity to upset the car with big steering angles and aggressive stabs at the throttle. That high-speed shimmy through Copse takes cojones (1:08), but the way he tosses the car around like a ragdoll suggests he’s not fazed — or he’s just a daredevil.
Torque and bravery aren’t all that’s needed on a fast track like Silverstone. Hart has those two in spades, and he also has the stopping power of the AP six-piston brakes, aided by downforce, to bring his Supra to a halt. The way he claws back distance under heavy braking into Brooklands (1:40) negates any straight-line advantage the BMW may have. If it doesn’t, the way this Supra can make Hart’s friends laugh does.
Between the chuckling and the big drifts, it’s clear these loons are out having fun and not after lap times, but their respective strengths shine through nonetheless. Sure, the modern BMW may have the broad powerband we expect from modern turbocharged engines, but there’s something special about a 30-year-old Toyota that’s one of the fastest cars on a given Silverstone track day. At the very least, it’ll hold onto its tires longer than some cars with similar power.