Sale of the Week

Was this 1983 Toyota Supra a steal?

by Stefan Lombard
29 September 2023 3 min read
Bring a Trailer / The_Dude_Abides

When it debuted in late 1970, the Toyota Celica was aimed squarely at drivers. Ignoring for a moment the exclusive 2000 GT, the distinction is important, because to that point Toyota customers had strictly been in it for the econobox Corollas and slightly upscale but no less economical Coronas that had been populating American roads for half a decade. Based on the staid Carina sedan, the Celica was something altogether new for Toyota—a stylish, sporty little notchback coupe the company viewed as its answer to the Ford Mustang. Which is to say, a fun car built atop a boring one. Power came from a series of four-cylinder engines, and bodystyles eventually included a hatchback, or liftback, in Toyota parlance.

With its long flat nose and laid-back roofline, the second-generation Celica furthered the car’s sporty pretensions. In an effort to pit it against the Datsun 280ZX, in 1979 Toyota fitted the Celica with a single-overhead-cam 2.6-liter inline-six and added Supra badging to help distinguish it as something more than sporty. A proper sports car, even. But it wasn’t quite that. The Celica Supra was too luxurious, too lifeless on the road, and too ambiguous to be great. In its August 1979 review, Road & Track dismissed it as “nothing but a boulevard GT.”

Thankfully for enthusiasts, Toyota kept at it, and the next Celica Supra, internally designated A60, debuted in 1982 as a completely different beast, all hard edges and sharp corners, with pop-up headlights and a cockpit that absorbed its passengers. By this point the company had perfected the twin-cam six, and the 150-hp 2.8-liter unit fitted in the Supra was silky smooth. So, too, were the Supra’s road manners, thanks to a fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. “The new Supra is a nearly perfect car,” wrote Car and Driver’s David E. Davis at the time.

Bring a Trailer / The_Dude_Abides

As nearly perfect Supras go, our Sale of the Week is right up there. This 36,000-mile 1983 model sold via Bring A Trailer on September 27 for $24,250.

The Supra, in Super White over a Terra Cotta cloth interior, lived most of its life in New York with a long-term owner who clearly babied it. The seller (who was offering the car through a broker with the BAT handle The_Dude_Abides) owned it for less than a year and in that time correctly refinished the bumpers, side mirrors, and rear wing, as well as the right-rear lower quarter panel, and the left inner-door jamb. Slight damage was noted on the right rocker panel. The car came with a fair amount of paperwork, including original purchase documents, and one video depicted the pop-up headlights in perfect working order.

Original equipment includes that 5M-GE twin-cam inline-six and a five-speed manual, along with a limited-slip differential, 14-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, and 8-way power seats. (The seats and the aggressive flared fiberglass wheelarches, it should be noted, are two elements that distinguish the P-type A60 Supra from the less desirable L-type.) In the comments, The Dude did note that there was no record of a timing belt change ever having been done, and that the seller would replace the car’s aged tires for the buyer.

Bring a Trailer / The_Dude_Abides

Hagerty values these cars at around $36,600 for a #1 (Concours) example, and $22,100 for one in #2 (Excellent) condition, and it is the latter where this Supra seems to fall, and more likely in #2+ range. The very first comment when the listing went live said, “This will go right through $30k.” The very last comment, when the bidding was at $24,250 not five minutes before the auction closed, was posted by the same commenter: “It’s about to get real. Buckle up.” Clearly, someone was waiting for the heavens to part over this Supra, but it just didn’t happen. The auction closed with a whimper, not a bang. Which is great news for the buyer.

Past BAT sales of A60 Supras have seen them go for much higher, including a 63,000-mile ’86 that made $45,000 earlier in the month. Back in March, a different ’86 with 92,000 miles, minor rust, and curb-rashed wheels sold for the same money as our feature car.

But was this Supra a steal? Well, since real-world sales involve enough variables (like that biggie, emotion) to disconnect them somewhat from price guide figures, it’s easy to make the case that it certainly could have gone for more, even a lot more. Conversely, one could also argue that the noted minor rocker damage and the needed timing belt replacement put this car right where it should be. We’re going to err on the side of bargains, however. Because it appears that very soon, this Supra will indeed go for more, as the buyer is not the end user here but is instead a broker of classic cars to the Middle East. The Supra is already listed for $35,000 on his Instagram sales page. Assuming he does indeed sell it on for that price, the $24,250 BAT result was absolutely a steal—and a tidy profit.

Let’s just hope whoever ultimately ends up with this crisp Supra services that timing belt and then enjoys the heck out of it for years to come.

Bring a Trailer / The_Dude_Abides


  • Scott Sniff says:

    Nice clean car! I had an 86 Cressida with the same engine and the 5-speed, which was quite rare in that car. While doing the timing belt isn’t a bad idea, even the manual didn’t call for it at any time, unless you went by the Severe Schedule. Those older engines were non-interference valve design, so not only would no damage be done if it broke, those original Toyota belts were such high quality that they really never broke under normal driving conditions. The same went even for the early Lexus V8s (through the 94 model year); no need for timing belt in the Normal Schedule. My dad had a 99 LS400 and never had the timing belt done. When I ended up owning it, I was surprised to see that old belt on an over 200k engine! While this was negligence on his part, and could have caused major engine damage, it was still humming along happily, with all the cogs intact, though the back of it was starting to crack. I did all the maintenance that should have been done over the previous 12 years, but it’s still a testament to Toyota quality! If you’ve got a Honda or anything else, keep on top of that belt! If you’ve got an older Toyota, you probably don’t need to worry about it except for peace of mind or if you want to go on a long trip.

  • Paul Ipolito says:

    The wannabe auctioneers on BaT are a good reason to avoid reading the comments.

    • Brian W says:

      I’m sorry but what exactly is a wannabe auctioneer. If you don’t want to read the comments why are you commenting? Last time I checked everyone’s cash is just as green as the next person’s. GLWA to seller, and taking your trolling elsewhere please.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    So it was not bought to be enjoyed which is too bad. These are great cars but it deserves a home that will be long term not some useless flipper.

  • Norman Resnick says:

    I bought a 1983 Supra loaded from Boch Toyota in Mass. (stick)
    Car was fantastic to drive, except in wet weather.
    Had to replace all 4 wheels with narrower tires to use during winter months.
    Put over 150 K before selling

  • CudaRay says:

    I had a 1983 Celica GTS as a company car in 1983 – 1984. It was essentially a Supra with a 4-cylinder engine. Everything else was the same. I liked that car so much, that when the lease was up, I purchased the car via purchase option for $8,000 and had it for another 10 years and 263,000 miles. The only thing repairs that had to be done, other than routine maintenance, was a clutch and a water plump. And unless I am mistaken, I believe the 22R engine has a timing chain, not a belt.

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