I have done some simple things to my Supras to improve performance, handling, braking and appearance.
In its current state, my 1983 Supra has run the quarter mile in 16.1 seconds at 84.3 MPH. For comparison, when the car was new, professional drivers got it to run the quarter mile in 16.8 seconds at 82 MPH.
Custom Cool Air Intake
Catback Exhaust System
Air Flow Meter
* New * Weight Reduction
Converting Foglights to Driving Lights
Cleaning Stock Rims
Refinishing Valve Covers
Replacing Rocker Panel Moldings
Changing Dash Display Colours
Standard Disclaimer: These modifications worked for me on my 1983 Supra. I try to describe them as clearly as possible. I make no warranty that they will work on your car. Attempting these on your car may not work due to wiring, etc that may vary from one model year to another. Try them at your own risk.
All text and images are Copyrighted © 2002 by Dean Anderson. Not to be used without express written permission.
Intake temperatures were measured with a small thermocouple inserted into the intake air stream just before the throttle body and are given in degrees F.
Note: Every 10 deg F reduction in intake air temp gains you 1.8% more power, or approx 3 HP.
All tests were conducted with a fully warmed up engine bay, after having driven the car for at least one hour. The temperatures were recorded while driving at 60 MPH in 5th gear for a long enough period for the temperature readings to become stable.
Numbers shown are the measured intake temperature increase over the outdoor ambient temperature.
K&N filter in drilled airbox, fenderwell hole, 50 deg outside.     +30 deg
Cone filter, no cool air pipe, fenderwell hole, 93 deg outside.     +30 deg
Cone filter, with cool air pipe and heat shield, 93 deg outside.     +19 deg   ~   11 deg F drop
Cone filter, no cool air pipe, fenderwell hole, 80 deg outside.     +31 deg
Cone filter, with cool air pipe and heat shield, 80 deg outside.     +21 deg   ~   10 deg F drop
Cone filter, with cool air pipe and heat shield, 80 deg outside.     +19 deg
K&N filter in drilled airbox shown below:
New Cool Air Pipe and prototype Heat Shield shown below:
An improved design has been tested on my 82 Supra at the track. Trapspeeds were increased by 1.5 MPH, indicating a gain of approx 10 HP from the cold air intake.
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I have a Pacesetter header on one of my Supras.
I am planning on modifying the header to improve flow. The current setup has cylinders 1-3 being collected into one 2 inch pipe, and cylinders 4-6 being collected in another 2 inch pipe. These two collectors then join into a single 2 inch pipe which leads to the catalytic converter. I'm planning on having them collect into a single 2.5 inch pipe to improve flow.
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Raptor Racing makes a very nice stainless steel exhaust for the Supra. It is available in 2.5 inch and 3 inch versions. Check out raptorracing.com
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If you have already replaced the stock intake and exhaust systems with improved versions to allow the engine to breathe easier, you may have noticed an annoying "Check Engine" light coming on at the bottom of the dash under some circumstances. This usually happens when you are cruising at a constant speed on the highway and then press the gas pedal slightly to accelerate. The "Check Engine" light may come on for a few seconds and then go out. If you check the error codes stored by the ECU (Electronic Control Unit, or engine computer), you will likely find an Oxygen sensor code. This indicates that the engine is running slightly lean when you first press the gas after cruising at constant speed. Adjusting the Air Flow Meter (AFM) should eliminate this annoying little problem.
For an excellent write-up describing how to adjust the AFM, go to Wes Hetrick's page.   He has an easy to follow procedure with pictures.
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Eibach Pro Kit (4 springs) - These lower the car by approx 1". Cost approx $300 Cdn.
Tokico - High Performance (HP) - Part number HZ3062 - Approx $90 Cdn each.
Tokico - High Performance (HP) - Part number HE2483 - Approx $60 Cdn each.
Total cost - Approx $600 Cdn for 4 springs, 2 struts and 2 shocks.
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Replace all 4 rotors with new Brembo OEM rotors.   Cost approx $250 Cdn.
Use KVR Carbon Fiber brake pads at all 4 wheels.   Cost approx $140 Cdn.
Flush entire brake system with DOT 4 brake fluid.   Cost approx   $10 Cdn.
(Flush should be done every couple of years)
Total cost:   Approx $400 Cdn.
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Note that this will shorten the shifter height, but will not shorten the shift throw. It will also not change the angle of the shifter lever significantly.
First of all, you should definitely get a spare shifter from a junkyard. That way, if you break or melt something important, your car is not out of service. They are cheap, and you can get one from any 1982 through 1985 Celica or Supra, so they are easy to find. I think I paid $10 for one at a local U-Pull yard a few years ago.
If you notice any looseness or "slop" in your shifter, be sure to replace the rubber lever seat that the large metal ball rests on as well as the plastic bushing at the very end of the shifter where it goes into the top of the transmission.
These must be purchased from a Toyota dealer, and will cost about $20 for the pair. Be sure to get them before you begin this procedure, since you don't want to tear apart the console and shifter twice when you only need to do it once. Toyota part numbers are:
Rubber lever seat: 33505-35020
Nylon bushing: 33548-31010
Note that this is really hard to describe in writing, but is pretty self-explanatory when you start to do it!
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It is possible to re-wire the foglights so that they can be switched on at any time the ignition is on.
This is a 30 minute job. Here are step-by-step instructions:
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In order to remove this deflector plate, you will need to remove the glass from the foglight housing. This can be done by heating the edge of the metal housing with a heat gun or a gentle yellow flame from a plumbers propane torch. This will soften the adhesive used to hold the glass onto the metal. Gently pry out the glass. Then, grind off the rivets that hold the little metal deflector in front of the bulb. Remove deflector. Clean everything up. Seal glass back in place. Be sure to use a sealant that can handle reasonably high temperatures as these lights can get pretty hot.
I put them in both the red 1984 Supra and the white 1983 Supra, and all I can say is WOW! What a difference in light output! No need to get higher wattage bulbs, these things look as bright as headlights now! The light pattern is still wide like before (due to the flutes in the glass lens which disperse the light side to side) but the pattern has been lengthened, allowing them to light up the road a much longer distance ahead of the car. The light pattern is much more like a true driving light now. After testing these on country roads at night, I would recommend that you still use your headlights at night. These modified foglights still do not light up the road far enough ahead for you to drive safely at night without headlights.
If you use your foglights as daytime running lights then I would recommend this mod.
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The P-type rims did not have a clear coat on 1982 Supras. Toyota started putting the clear coat on the rims in 1983, at least up here in Canada. If your rims have clearcoat, you'll need to remove it with a paint stripper. See Greg G's excellent write-up for info on how he refinished his rims.
All 8 of my rims were really beat looking. They were covered with brake dust that was ground into the rims. I tried power washing and lots of cleaners! None of them would get them clean.
Finally, I decided to try fine sandpaper, and it did the trick. I used 400 grit emery paper to start, and it removed the brake dust and other baked on crap really well. I used this in the non-polished areas and on the polished areas. Be careful on the polished areas and don't rub too hard, or you may make deep scratches. At this point, you need to choose whether or not you want to remove the old machining lines that are on the spokes. I decided to remove them to get the smoothest, most mirror-like finish. Greg G. chose to keep the lines, since he wanted a totally stock look. Be warned, using the emery paper will remove these fine lines.
When all the brake dust is loosened up, switch to 600 grit emery paper and repeat. Then switch to 1000 grit emery paper, and polish the spokes and lip. You can do this with the paper either wet or dry, I found it easier when dry. Final polish should be done with a good aluminum polish on a cloth. I used Mothers Aluminum Mag Wheel polish, and it worked well.
Expect to spend about 2 hours per wheel on this, and to have very sore hands afterwards. Wear gloves. I did one wheel per day, for two days, took a week off for my hands to recover, then did the other 2.
Next step is to mask off all the polished areas and then clean and spray paint the non-polished areas the color of your choice. Be sure to mask off the tire if it is still mounted, you don't want silver tires. Also mask off the inside of the hub and the holes for the lugs. I used some silver spray paint. A semi-flat gray may look more like stock. Silver looks a little brighter/flashier. Lots of people with black cars paint them black. It makes the polished areas stand out even more than mine. To avoid drips and sags in the paint, apply it in about 3 or 4 thin coats. Allow each coat to dry to the touch before putting on the next coat. Vary your angle of attack with the spray can to get all areas evenly covered.
When the paint is dry, remove the masking tape, and get a very fine brush and some black enamel to paint the little indented lines in the spokes. Take your time on this, or get a friend with a steady hand to help you out. Paint the bottom of the valley and the side walls of the valley black. If you get some on the polished face of the spoke, just let it dry and scrape the excess off later with your fingernail. Some people choose to paint these stripes the same color as their car (red, white, black, yellow, whatever). I also painted the little JWL raised logo black with this very fine brush.
You can see the results below, in the before and after pictures.
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Remove the large phillips screws and remove the valve covers. Use paint stripper or sandpaper to remove any remaining paint on them. If you like, you can remove any rough casting marks from them using a dremel tool.
Using emery paper, polish the tops of the raised portions of the valve covers. Start with about 400 grit, then use 600, then 1000 grit paper. Finally, polish them with a good aluminum polish.
Use masking tape to protect areas that you don't want to get painted, such as the undersides, the area where the oil cap threads onto, etc. Place pennies in the holes where the phillips screws were. Paint the entire valve cover with a high temperature paint in the colour of your choice. Use multiple light coats of spray paint. If you wish to get a low gloss finish with a slight wrinkle look to it (like the factory finish) try applying the very light final coat keeping the spray can about 2 to 3 feet above the parts. That way, the fine drops of paint are starting to dry before they hit the part and they give a lower gloss wrinkle look.
After the parts are dry, use a rag dampened with mineral spirits to remove the paint from the polished areas, being careful not to touch the paint on the lower areas.
Here is a picture of the valve covers, before and after re-finishing. In the bottom picture, the bottom of the two valve covers still needs to have the paint removed from the polished raised portions. The pennies still need to be removed from the screw holes in both valve covers.
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Go to your favorite Home Depot or other building supply store and check out their selection of wood molding (like you would put up around a door or use as a baseboard). Find one that has a similar profile to the rocker panel molding, cut it to length, alter the profile slightly with a hand plane if needed, and paint it black. Put on a few coats of paint to seal the wood well. I tried this on my 84 P-type project car, and it looked good. I've had many comments on it. Nobody can believe that its wood! It looks better than old, imperfect rocker panel moldings that are loose or bulged with rust pockets. It is held on with the 3 original screws (countersunk into the wood) at the normal mounting locations. I suspect it may rot after a few years, maybe sooner, maybe later, depending on how often it gets wet, how well the paint seals it, if the car is garage kept, winter driven, etc, etc. However, it was really inexpensive, costing about $10 to do both sides. This idea can save you some $$$ if you don't care about having a 100% original look.
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The first step is to find new light bulbs for the instrument cluster. You can find replacement bulbs with blue or red glass at most high performance automotive shops, as many people choose to use them (illegally) in their front marker lights. You will need 5 of the number 194 bulbs, in the colour of your choice. They should cost approx $4 per pair.
The next step is to find little "condoms" in the colour of your choice to wrap around the other dash lights. There is a small light on the climate control panel, and small bulbs in the cruise and rear defroster controls that mount in the pods on the side of the cluster shroud on the 82 and 83 models. Alternatively, you may choose to simply remove the green "condoms" that are already in place on the lights, giving the remainder of the dash a more-or-less white appearance. I found these little "condoms" at an electronics parts store. Just look for an electronics parts store that sells stuff like transistors, resistors, capacitors, potentiometers, LEDs, etc. I got enough to do all my various sized dash lights for about 2 or 3 dollars.
Now, simply remove the cluster and replace all the light bulbs that give the cluster its backlighting. You will find that they have green condoms on them in the 84-85 clusters. The 82-83 clusters use plastic covers that need to be removed from the inside of the cluster. Extra steps for disassembly are included below if you have an 82-83 model and need to disassemble the cluster.
Here are the best step-by step instructions I can give you for removal of the cluster.
If your car is an 84 or 85 model, you simply need to remove the 5 sockets that contain the bulbs that provide the backlighting of the cluster. You can either remove the green condoms and replace them with the colour of your choice, or replace the bulbs with coloured glass bulbs.
If your car is an 82 or 83 model, you will need to continue with the following steps to disassemble the cluster in order to remove the coloured plastic covers inside.
If you are nervous, try this on an old cluster that you don't care about for practice. You might find one at a junkyard.
Here are pictures of the instrument cluster, with blue lights and red lights.
Back to topAll text and images are Copyrighted © 2002 by Dean Anderson. Not to be used without express written permission.