While most people are flicking through Instagram to relax and switch off, I’m usually searching for new cars to shoot or new locations to shoot them in. Since I moved to Japan, Google Maps has become a close friend.
While I was looking for some aesthetically-pleasing backstreets around Yokohama recently, one car kept popping up in every search. Let me introduce Yasu Hiro’s 600PS, 2JZ-swapped MkIII Toyota Supra.
It’s a 1988 MA70 3.0 GT Turbo Limited model that Yasu-san has owned since 1997. He tells me there aren’t many MkIII Supras left in Japan due to overseas demand, let alone in left-hand drive spec. Yes, I kept trying to open the driver’s door as a passenger.
Yasu-san is one of those brilliant people who actually drives his car on a daily basis – and not just to the shops or to work. His Instagram is proof of this, with pics of the car in various locations around Tokyo and Kanagawa. So, when I approached Yasu-san for a Speedhunters feature, it thought it might be interesting for him to show me some of his favourite car-shooting locations around Yokohama.
Now, before you get excited, this is Yokohama, on a Sunday, and it’s always busy around popular spots. So, we decided to go to some lesser-known places around the docks, at least until a bit later in the day.
We arrived in what at first seemed like a quiet place out of harm’s way, but as soon as we parked and got out of the car, it was obviously quite the opposite. A group of bikers were ragging their bikes at the far end of the street, smoking up donuts and popping wheelies with astonishing vertical trajectory. Regardless of the deafening noise, it was a good opportunity to take a look around the Supra and see what was making all that power. Because 600PS doesn’t come from nowhere.
After having owned the car for four years, the original turbocharged 7M-GTE decided to give up the ghost, releasing its spirit to the heavens in a cloud of white smoke. Yasu-san decided to replace the ruined 7M with a 2JZ-GTE, the natural choice for this particular build.
Subsequent upgrades include a big single Trust GReddy T78-33D turbo, hand-fabricated custom aluminium air intake, and a Sard fuel rail fed via a surge tank, all controlled by an HKS F-CON V Pro Version 3.4 engine management system.
Weighing in at 1,550kg (3,417lb) the MkIII Supra is no lightweight, so stopping this grand tourer requires some serious brakes. Yasu-san has given this duty to Trust GREX Alcon units front and rear.
While the MkIV Supra is revered as a high-performance weapon, I never really liked its interior. It all looks too big and clunky, overpowering and far too distracting. It kind of reminds me of the Tomy Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard. It may be fine if you’re out driving alone, but if you have a passenger, shouldn’t they be able to change the tunes without needing Go Go Gadget Arms to access the buttons? The MkIII on the other hand has a much simpler layout which takes up far less space, while being driver focused in terms of gauges and buttons.
You might have also noticed the blue vinyl door cards, seats, carpets and dash. They were swapped in by Yasu-san, replacing the original grey trim.
Looks are of course subjective, so let’s talk money.
I came into this story thinking that the MkIII might be the affordable Supra for those of us whose money trees are bare. While that may be the case overseas, a quick search on Carsensor, one of Japan’s big auto trading websites, tells a different story. You can actually expect to pay the same for a manual MkIII as a manual MkIV. While specs can obviously vary hugely and are reflected in asking prices, the point is that any Supra in Japan is worth its weight in gold. Not only are they performance and design classics, they’re getting pretty rare too.
By now the rowdy bikers were making it hard to think and breathe with all their wheelies and donuts, so we decide to head to another location. Yasu-san, presumably feeling heavy-footed from all the bike action, gave the Supra some stick, prompting the massive turbo to flutter and the torque to pin me back into the passenger seat like a wet sponge falling from a skyscraper.
Our next stop was a popular fishing spot under one of many motorway overpasses that connect Yokohama with Tokyo and beyond. It was a great location at this time of the day, and probably would have been enough to shoot this entire feature. But as promised, Yasu-san had a couple more spots where we could get some shots without being disturbed by Sunday drivers, the police, or crazy bikers.
Driving through the city traffic, I was surprised at how comfortable the Supra was. Gear changes were swift and easy, the ride was compliant, and at low revs the noise level was sedate. It’s all very classy and well balanced, but I did want Yasu-san to punch it again.
Ōsanbashi Pier in the Port of Yokohama was once the main point of trade with the west. However, its primary purpose now is to dock mega cruise ships including Queen Elizabeth 2. Japan only opened its gates to foreign trade in 1859, and up until 1894 stone wharfs were all that were available to international ships. A new steel pier was designed by British engineer Henry Spencer Palmer, and it’s survived earthquakes, tsunamis and World War 2. It was reconstructed before the ’62 Tokyo Olympics, and further redeveloped between 1988 and 2002. There’s a fantastic view of Yokohama City from the public space on top of the current pier, if you’re ever in the area.
As blue hour approached, we made our way over to The Red Brick Warehouses, which some of you may remember as the location of the Exciting Porsche event. On our way we stopped at Bankokubashi, a bridge with uninterrupted views of Yokohama City where, for some reason, stopping is permitted. I’ve often seen people stopped here to take photos of their ride, and as a few police cars passed us without a second glance I snapped away happily, enjoying the sunset and atmosphere of Yokohama Bay.
We wrapped up our tour of the Yokohama docks with a few shots featuring the much anticipated and inevitable pop-up lights, a party tick with which the MkIII steals the spotlight from its big brother.
So there it is, the lesser-lauded Supra photographed in the Japanese wild. With a retrofitted 2JZ-GTE on board, how does it compare to its superstar sibling?