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The Perfect Ride - 1997 Toyota Supra

Being A Virgin Can Be A Good Thing When It Comes To Cars

Text By Carter Jung, Photography by Eric Kieu

When Toyota launched the Mark IV Supra back in '93, it heralded the golden age of the Japanese sports car. Nissan kindled it with the sculpted Z32 300ZX, Acura introduced its F1-derived NSX, Mazda the rotary marvel RX-7 and Mitsubishi the 3000GT. All was right with the world.

And while each manufacturers' creation had their merits and their own avid followers in the U.S., none was as responsive as the Supra to tuning. None.

Not that the others were slackers, mind you. With the exception of the exotic-class N/A NSX, all offered highly receptive twin-turbo'd V6 and rotary variants that with subtle tweaking, made mad horsepower. But the Supra and its raucous 3.0L inline-6 was a beast begging to be let loose from its restrictive stock confines. Think stage-shackled King Kong, in heat, with a naked Ann Darrow just out of reach.

The now-infamous 2JZ-GTE mill with its cast-iron block and forged internals have seen many fourth-gen Supras running 600-plus ponies all-day every-damn-day using only simple modifications. Unlike its peers who required head gaskets, pistons, rods or apex seal upgrades, the bottom end on most horsepower-doubled Supras, unlike your girlfriend, have never been touched by another man.

SJ's Supra from Orange County, Calif., is part of the 600-plus hp, virgin bottom-end club; 689 unmolested hp at 617 lb-ft of torque, to be exact. Purchased fresh from the showroom as a '97 model, SJ's name is the one and only ever to be listed on the pink slip. Like a post-prom romp, they were each other's first. That gleaming green paint? With the exception of the TRD hood, Stillen front bumper, side skirts and carbon wing that were sprayed to match the rest of the exterior; it's all original. Impossible you say? It's very plausible considering the Supra only has 17k miles on the odometer. Using an abacus, that's a scant 1,500 miles a year, equating to 130 miles a month or what I call my daily commute to the Anaheim office.

To create the supercar-stomping horsepower, SJ took his Supra to XS Engineering located in Garden Grove, Calif. Notorious for being able to double and triple a cars stable count on a whim, XS Engineering decided to leave the short block stock to get to the reliable, yet very drivable power SJ wanted for the streets. Like a female casting call for a late-night Cinemax flick, XS Engineering went with bolt-ons. No double-Ds here, however. SJ went bigger going all the way up to a H-size by means of HKS: HKS twin GT2835 ball-bearing turbos, twin intake, sequential blow-off valves, front-mount intercooler and piping now replace the stock (read: small) turbo equipment. XS fab'ed up a custom downpipe feeding to a sewer-pipe thick 102mm HKS Racing Ti exhaust, swapped in HKS 272-degree cams and adjustable cam sprockets and ported the head and intake manifold to take full advantage of the free-flowing HKS parts.

The air quotient of the combustion equation more than sated, XS Engineering had to increase the two remaining components: fuel and spark. For fuel, six HKS 1,000cc injectors and an SX fuel pressure regulator flood the chambers with petrol. On the spark side, an HKS Twin Power ignition amplifier and a set of HKS spark plugs prime the fuel-heavy mix. All of this, plus a slew of under-the-hood polished parts and goods are meticulously orchestrated by XS Engineering via a HKS F-Con V-Pro and countless hours of tuning on their dyno.

By Carter Jung
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