1997 Toyota Supra – Japanese Muscle


This may seem like a strange request, but take a moment to think back to a few of the muscle car builds you’ve seen in your lifetime. You already know the type: Packs more horsepower than you are able to, even though old American iron that looks pretty tame externally, save for some fat tires out back or a blower poking out from the hood. It’s no secret that a lot of muscle car guys aren’t fans of our scene, largely according to some of the gaudy, body-kit-clad, neon-colored imports built back during the days of the 1st Fast & Furious movies. For the most part, these old-school-era machines tend to depend upon a simple exterior look, focusing their time and effort on the powerplant that lies within the hood.

Believe it or not, the owner and visionary of the beautiful Supra was nearly convinced to jump ship from import tuning to the world of muscle machines. Though Christopher Ocampo had built Japanese cars many times in the past, the main objective was always on modifications more fitting of the car show scene than the dragstrip. After years of wrenching on Japanese platforms, Chris was drawn to Detroit muscle for your raw power the cars possess, all while hiding under a neat and relatively unassuming exterior.

Chris was hell-bent on creating a powerful American ride for his next project, as well as a good friend mentioned to him that the Toyota Supra may be an import worthy of consideration. Another mutual friend owned a used car dealership and just happened to have a beautiful ’97 twin turbo example from Florida sitting onThe moment I laid eyes about the black curves of the Supra, I fell in love. The power and sound this animal produced had sold me instantly, Chris recalls, even though not only did it hold the aggressive lines and a sleek look. Before he was driving home in his unique Japanese muscle car, it wasn’t long. What Chris didn’t know was which he would spend countless hours over a span of several years with his car crew, Chii Racing Culture, turning his new ride into a seriously fast street car.

Though it seems like a stretch, there are a lot of aspects of a successful muscle car build present in the theme of Chris’ Supra. The most obvious of these traits at a glance is the car’s exterior. Although things have been kept very tame in comparison to the direction Chris could have taken, don’t be fooled-this is definitely one bad Supra. Several items through the car’s exterior have been smoothed and shaved, including the emblems, rear hatch spoiler, rear wiper, and radio antenna. With the large factory spoiler removed, this Supra immediately assumes a tough and different muscle car-like stance. A Wings West front lip and Top Secret rear diffuser help to add subtle touches for the car’s appearance without being too intrusive or crazy looking. The only hint of what lies beneath the bonnet comes from a large intake duct molded into the custom Dark Alley Designz headlights.

On the reverse side of that headlight duct lies the heart in the beast. Chris’ Supra is powered by the mother of all Toyota powerplants, the 2JZGTE, as you might expect. The factory twin turbocharger setup has been ditched in favor of a lot larger Garrett GT42-76R single turbocharger. The engine’s top end continues to be worked over with a slew of components from Apex and Brian Crower to ensure that everything holds together with the additional jam produced by the greater snail. The 2JZ is recognized to have a notoriously strong bottom end, hence the work on the top end provides plenty of prospect of big numbers.

With a big turbo of this size bolted up to the engine, the exhaust and fuel systems need every one of the help they can get to keep up. The turbo is fed via a massive 4-inch intake pipe mated to the headlight duct we mentioned earlier. Spent gases are forced out of the turbo via an SP 4-inchdownpipe and midpipe, and after-cat exhaust system. The fuel system has also been beefed up to meet demand, fortified with dual 255-lph Walbro fuel pumps, an SP fuel rail, and Precision 1,000cc fuel injectors. All parameters and tuning needs are kept in check via an AEM standalone engine management system. Helping the engine bay to search the part, a bunch of factory and aftermarket components have been polished to provide the motor that hot rod-esque look.

Now that the inline six-cylinder is putting down big power, the factory drivetrain needed attention. In true muscle car fashion, Chris chose to choose a TSI custom reverse pattern TH400 automatic transmission for his build. Though you might think it is a cop-out, let’s be honest-6-speed manual trans Supras aren’t exactly known for their stellar quarter-mile times, even when they’re making 1,000 hp. The automated trans allows the power to get put down more efficiently and consistently. A Precision 5000 torque Suburban and converter heavy-duty driveshaft are the final drivetrain components necessary toa couple of subtle race car amenities. Most dragstrips won’t allow a car this quick to perform without a rollcage, so Chris turned to CJM Racing to TIG-weld an S&W eight-point rollcage in to the car’s cockpit. To keep things streetable, the ‘cage continues to be painted black and wrapped in protective padding. A pair of red Sparco racing seats and six-point racing harnesses keep the drive as well as a likely terrified passenger securely in place throughout a blast across the 1320. Finally, a Pioneer in-dash DVD unit was tossed in to keep your eyes and ears happy if the hum in the 2JZ is able to become a lot of to handle.

Using a build as extensive as this, the wheel and tire setup must match the power and killer looks. Some three-piece SSR Professor SP1 wheels with custom black powdercoated centers was working in a double-staggered setup, measuring 18×8.5 up front as well as a wild 19×11.5 out back-talk about a hot rod-inspired stance! Massive 305/30/19 Continental drag radials transfer all the of this Supra’s power to the ground as possible. KYB AGX adjustable Eibach and struts Pro Kit springs are definitely the perfect setup for drag racing, while also adding a light drop along the way.

In the end, Chris’ desire to develop a big-power American muscle car has transformed this Supra into a great example of what can be done with some out-of-the-box thinking. So next time you’re at a random car show filled with muscle cars that may not be your cup of tea, try and look just a little closer and appreciate the things you observe. You never know? You might just be struck by some inspiration for your own build!