Sunday 3 October 2021

JZA80sHERO; I mean who the hell _pays_ to brighten up a Toyota Supra SZ?!

"I think it holds a certain... sentimental value, you know?"

Or more accurately in my case: "what's that? [insert random vehicle] has been in my ownership for more than a minute now?! *pins wallet open* By all means, help yourself!"

A trap I fall into time and time again. I get attached. A well-intentioned automotive hoarder. It has genuinely got to the point I have to be careful/selective when initially shopping any additional vehicle, knowing full well I'll likely slot it into that already-brimming "Oh that's a keeper!" category once again, followed by subconsciously doing my best to be financially upside-down on the damn thing!  

Yes, just as I rambled about in the grey Supra's previous post here, I originally bought this vehicle sight-unseen as a parts-car for another project - the blue Abflug-kitted Supra. It was a heavily-optioned facelift car, absolutely unmodified and cheap; back before the rapid 2018-onwards thinning of local JZA80 numbers as exporters attempted to satisfy the USA's relentless appetite for the chassis; it needed work at a time when little more would get you one that didn't. Ultimately the recipe for a perfect parts car, nothing more. 

Again though, the car hadn't even completed the trouble-free journey home before it was obvious it still had much more to give. Behind the weathered paint and years of deferred maintenance was a low-km car that still drove too damn nicely. Still too solid. 
Next thing you know, the '84 4Runner has retired from go-to daily-driver duties, replaced by the faded grey Supra that's the subject of this post.

And all went well.

Interestingly the next 18 months saw the Supra market evolve to where you'd be mad to strip any complete, running and driving car for parts. Whether holy-grail 8LP RZ six-speed or peasant 199 SZ auto, a Supra's a Supra; relatively low production and increasing worldwide demand determined there was now justification to save them all. Every last one. 
Yessir, the grey Supra had survived... but now I had two Supra projects. 
While the blue Supra was still the one of the two I pictured owning long-term, miraculously the grey number had found itself at a point in time where I'd worst-case get a ninety-five-cents-on-the-dollar return if the money was spent objectively improving it; not just rare for anyone that's ever sunk coin into an old car, but a blindingly-bright green-light for a project if the funds are there! How am I supposed to say no to that?! I'm not made of stone!
So parts were gathered and a full repaint organized, foolishly also giving me the go-ahead to buy a 'temporary' daily-driver (oh boy, another car..!) to fill the Supra's shoes while the work took place. 

Would you be surprised to know that over two years later that 'temporary' replacement is still my daily-driver, every day tormenting me for its turn at restoration and retirement? Yes, I am an idiot.. 

But I digress. 

It's time we launch into a little more detail on the grey Supra's 2019 tidy-up. To fill in the gaps between the Instagram posts below:
"Plastic Gold. The last bits and bobs finally rolling in for the grey Supra's well deserved (and long overdue!) tidy up later this year. Much of it a result of falling down that Toyota Genuine Parts rabbit hole when sourcing the handful of parts actually *required* for new paint: the fixed-window seals, quarter glass, glued badging, spoiler gaskets and so on. It's certainly hard not to grab what I can, while I still can; the youngest examples are now 17 years old - those items as seemingly silly as armrests or dash buttons aren't going to sit in Toyota's warehouses forever! While it still can't help but feel a little odd for a model that's so much more recent in my mind, that grey Supra really is now every bit as old as my AW11 was when I gave it its first thorough tidy-up back in 2009. You better believe I can see this thing taking the same hilariously slow and wallet-torturing spiral from aging daily to dedicated toy over the next decade.. #noragrets #jza80shero #toyotagenuineparts #toyotagenuineaccessories #toyota #teq #トヨタ #スープラ #toyotasupra #supra #suprasz #mkiv #mkivsupra #mk4supra #supranation #supraregistry #supraculture #jza80 #2jz #2jzge #2jzgte #classictoyota #oldschooltoyota #radwood #japanesenostalgiccar #1997"

"..a quiet and largely-uneventful couple of months later, and yep, the grey Supra's thorough freshen-up I rambled about back in May is done and dusted; the shiny chunk of late-90s making the journey North to the NSW Toyota Club's (Toymods) 16th annual 'Toyotafest' car show at Castle Hill Toyota on the weekend. The local launch of a new Supra made for an expectedly Supra-heavy show, so here's some.. Supra: my stocker parked alongside two far wilder examples for a bit of unintentional contrast. All went well. #jza80shero #toymods #toyotafest #castlehilltoyota #nswsupraclub #toyota #teq #トヨタ #スープラ #toyotasupra #supra #suprasz #mkiv #mkivsupra #mk4supra #supranation #supraregistry #supraculture #jza80 #a80supra #2jz #2jzge #2jzgte #classictoyota #oldschooltoyota #radwood #japanesenostalgiccar #1997"

"Eventually got around to taking some photographicals of the grey number recently, almost a year after its thorough midlife tart-up. I know, it’s not one of the older potatoes in the unintentionally-Toyota-heavy fleet, but an.. err.. ‘entertaining’ 2020 shared worldwide has meant I haven’t been to Melbourne for some of the more traditional “car shenanigans” since bloody January. So with any luck this’ll do for the minute. Other news on a coincidentally related note? I finally bit the bullet and shook off that blue Abflug Supra last week. I know, I know, again - there’s shame here, believe me! A project I’d dreamed of getting to for so damn long; but sitting untouched in storage since 2016, and *still* yet to see the end of that tunnel so much as brighten.. well yeah, it’s time to move it on. With any luck those of you around the Melbourne car scene’ll see a little more action on that front in coming months, even if that mightn’t be the case for me too - I’m just hoping I can get back down there before Classic Japan comes around again at the end of the year..! #jza80shero #mid90s #90shero #toyota #teq #トヨタ #スープラ #toyotasupra #supra #suprasz #6N0 #mkiv #mkivsupra #mk4supra #supranation #supraregistry #supraculture #jza80 #a80supra #2jz #2jzge #2jzgte #classictoyota #oldschooltoyota #radwood #japanesenostalgiccar"
,..those three Instagram posts covering the parts collected by May 2019, the completed car's debut cruise in October 2019, and finally, eventually, the walkaround photoset taken in July 2020. 
Also wangdangled into that last post there is the fact that 10 months into having the now-shiny grey Supra sit around as little more than a toy, I'd lost some of the drive to get to the blue Supra at all. It still didn't have a forever-home, and those continual years of storage weren't free; it was a serious project that needed serious money to complete. With COVID uncertainly at the time putting the final nail in that coffin, I grit my teeth and moved it on. 
While it still bothers me, would I have done anything with it in the year since? That same 15 months hasn't seen me organize the motor build for the grey Supra either, so whether it's due to being too busy or simply too lazy, the answer is "unfortunately not". 

But yeah, looking back at those comparatively-motivated months in the middle of 2019, if only for my self-esteem at this point:
New leather wrestled onto the original foams to replace the faded and/or split fabrics. I'd have paid a trimmer to do this had I known one locally. 
Having fitted this semi-successfully, combined with a healthy splash of near-20:20 hindsight? Yep, absolutely, I'd pay a trimmer to do this if I knew one locally.

Those new armrests, replacing the nasty warped ones that are a given for any facelift car that's seen so much as a a pleasant winter's day.

Then attention shifts to the dashboard electronics, wielding a butter knife... 
...I mean, are you even a A80 Supra owner if you haven't replaced your yellowing HVAC buttons with fresh new ones? While the fact it's easy, cheap and satisfying goes a long way to answering why this became a thing, I'm still curious as to why in the hell Toyota even bothered stockpiling so damn many of the buttons in the first place! It's not even as though they're failing. Just.. err.. less white.
While ordering the rest of the parts above though? Well sure, I'll grab those buttons too...

The interior back together, along with that nice new gear-knob and cargo blind.

At this point I also stumbled across someone looking to swap the standard side trims and plastics for the far rarer option skirts and pods. Genuine Toyota plastic ones, and facelift-specific
The chance of this happening within driving distance of the automotive-enthusiast desert I've found myself in for the last couple years? While it wasn't something I was actively hunting prior to the repaint, I'd have been silly not to. It not only happened to be fitting for what is otherwise an already very heavily optioned car, but is a nice nod to the first Supra I tried to buy years earlier...
...a similarly-loaded 1996 facelift RZ, back in 2011, that heartbreakingly sold while I was in hurried discussions with both the selling dealer and the importer I'd chosen to use. That "I have unfortunate news" email is still a kick in the guts all these years later. 

Still.. disheartened but not deterred, the continued hunt eventually ended two months later with the successful bid on a 1998 CP9A Evo 5 GSR of all things:
...I mean, a good turbo six-speed Supra was hundreds of thousands of yen *cough* more. Some madmen were even parting with a million yen to buy those things! Who's got time for that?! Oh how times have changed. 
While I loved my little Evo, I'm still gutted at what could have been.

..aaand again, I've digressed!

The Supra's paint. Yes. The long-winded and roundabout journey from tatty example to a dang hollow replica of one I tried to buy years earlier for a flippin' fraction of the price. Yep. Good. Great. Grand. WONDERFUL. 
Down in Melbourne at a good mate's panel shop. Glass out, paint stripped and a full repaint in PPG 6N0 'Moonstone Pearl' Greyish Green Mica - a Japan-specific colour introduced with the '1997' facelift in 1996. 
The mate that painted and oversaw disassembly/reassembly of the car did an absolutely fantastic job, and by late September 2019 the car was complete. I ripped back down to Melbourne to pick the car up for its 800km journey home.

Home, washed and a quick set of photos taken with the phone to capture it while it was still, essentially, perfect
Partly taken as a reference to what-once-was on the off chance a tree fell on it the following day, but moreso to reassure my mate that it made the agonizingly-careful journey back up the Hume with not so much as a stone-chip! 


For whatever reason it would be another 9 months before I dusted off the DSLR for that proper walkaround photoset of the car...
...most of which was shown in July 2020's post on Instagram. 

But how's that eh! Look like we've finally filled in those gaps between flaking clear and Spruce Moose! 

The following 15 months and ~5,000km has seen little more than continued pointless pampering in its new life as a garage-ornament. I guess I did finally pull the damn night-sky tint back off more recently, so I mean.. there's that?
In any case, it goes that final step toward making this thing feel genuinely showroom-fresh. 
From the original cassette-deck to the staggered tyre sizes on the option alloys, from plastic airbox to the single exhaust; an example that looks, goes, stops, turns and sounds every bit what Toyota intended a Toyota Supra SZ to be. A near-perfect example of what's, well, an arguably-underwhelming sportscar in this trim: a stylish commuter from a time when sportscars were still the aspirational vehicle for the successful professional. 
This one just happens to be the flagship sporting chassis from one of the world's largest automobile manufacturers, designed during an epic era of Japanese vehicle engineering. These have long since traded on the potential I'm flat-out obligated to tackle next...

Cheers to the New Zealand MKIV Supra website for those great scans of the original brochures used in part above. What a goldmine.

Otherwise that'll be all for now. Done!