FEATURE: ROYAL TREATMENT JZA80 SUPRA

– Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: Robert Parr.

“I’m the kind of guy that thinks if you’re going to do it, do it once.” That’s how my conversation with Crawford starts. He’s a JZA80 fan from way back, and his Supra has raised the bar as far as detailing goes. Coming from a background in modified muscle cars, Crawford’s approach is different to the typical Supra owner. “My dad used to build show cars,” he says. “Every part of the car has to be top quality.”

Back in the early days of the Victorian Supra Club, Crawford’s car was fairly well known. There weren’t too many manual, twin-turbo models around, in fact any Mark IV Supra on the street was a rare sight. The first owner had imported it himself and sold it to “a young guy from Tasmania who poured money into it,” says Crawford.

At the time Crawford was living in Tassie. “I used to see it around. It started to look quite different.” The bodywork went from Anthracite in colour to a custom tinted shade of ‘Ego’, a colour used by Ford on BA-BF Falcons and Territorys, with plenty of extra metallic to make it pop under sunlight. Also new was the set of Volk Racing GT-Vs.

“I always loved it when I saw it in Tassie,” says Crawford. “I knew I wanted to get hold of it if I ever could.” As luck would have it, that day came after the owner from Tasmania moved to Queensland. “It came up for sale and I bought it, I drove it all the way back from Queensland to Victoria. I already had a naturally aspirated one, but I always wanted a turbo so I sold it to buy this.”

The drive from Brisbane to Melbourne is over 1,600kms, plenty of time for Crawford to get to know his new purchase. Unfortunately it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. “There were some issues,” Crawford says. “The coilovers were flogged, the clutch was knackered, the turbos were leaking oil; a lot of stuff was needed.” So, just one week into ownership the car was off to ProTek Automotive.

“I had some money leftover after buying the car, so I wanted to get some little details fixed. It was supposed to be a clean daily for me.” Famous last words for so many people. “I went in to ProTek for rebuilt stock twins and a new clutch. ‘For a bit more money you could go single,’ they said. After one week I’d dropped over $15,000 into it.”

ProTek’s work is first class, and Crawford’s cash brought a whole lot of new life to the car including completely rebuilt suspension, new bushes, a brand new twin-plate clutch and a Garrett GT35R turbo. “The guys at ProTek became really good friends. They basically gave me a corner of the workshop to go out and do little bits and pieces on the car.” Unfortunately once the single turbo work was finished they noticed that the valve steam seals were gone. “The head came off and it turned out the motor was looking a bit the worse for wear.”

“I thought we had better freshen it up,” says Crawford. “The head was all rebuilt, and while it was out of the car I started the first heap of mini-modifications.” Being the OCD clean-freak that he is, Crawford totally detailed the engine bay from top to toe. Nothing was left untouched, he took the showcar approach he had grown up with. “That was the first stage complete.”

“I was like, okay let’s go have this fun daily, but that plan just did not work out.┬áThe twin-plate clutch I’d put in was terrible; it grips like crazy but it’s an absolute pig to drive. I thought, I can’t drive this in Melbourne traffic, I need a daily now. I had done this before; so many times I’ve ended up riding my push bike or sitting on public transport because the ‘daily’ is totally impractical. The Supra has had the royal treatment since the day I got it. I’ve done about 3,000kms in the time I’ve owned it, 1,000 of that I forced myself to do to run in the rebuilt motor.”

Word got out on the Supra forum. “This guy had an ’88 Corolla junker for $600. I ended up driving that around for years! Here’s this Supra I’ve put all my money into and I’m driving this piece of crap,” laughs Crawford. “It’s been a love/hate story with this car.” To show off the car’s amazing workmanship Crawford took it on the boat to Tasmania and drove it out to Powercruise. “It had a really good reception. We ended up picking up three trophies.”

“I brought the car back to Melbourne and I didn’t need to drive it, I had the Corolla. The Supra sat in the shed as a weekender. I thought, what can I do now? So I put the car up on jack stands to fix some tiny oil leak. Nine months later the undercarriage was totally stripped – nut and bolt rebuild.”

It started by removing the petrol tank cover. Crawford thought he might as well paint it, “but everything else would look crap next to the perfect new part.” Eventually the gearbox was out, every nut and bolt replated, floorpan painted, every component was replaced or refurbished. “It was a total and utter overhaul.” All on his own, on stands, in a single car garage! “It was nine months of me giving myself chiropractic bills!”

“That was an epic part of the build,” says Crawford. “I learned so much about the car. What I like most about my Supra is that it’s a bit different to all the others out there. There are thousands of them, but there’s only a handful of really nicely built ones, and not too many have gone down the highly detailed path like mine. It was meant to be a nice daily but it’s turned out to be something that I drive once in a blue moon. I hate that it’s gone this far because I’m always worried about stone chips and dirt, but I love what it is and how it looks.”

Thankfully, when the Supra does get driven it’s enjoyed the way it should be. “On the highway is my favourite place to drive it. I blast my way out of the city and then blast back again. It’s a proper wangan car.” Crawford’s one regret is not going bigger with the turbo setup, and if he keeps it he has plans to put a T51R on there and look for 500rwkW.

“I really get into SuperGT racing. I’ve always had a dream of building a GT300 widebody, but I love the car to bits, it has real character as it is. I’m not sure I could destroy what it’s like now to go down that path.” So torn, is Crawford, that he’s considering parting ways with the Supra, for the right money. If you’re interested drop us a line and we will put you in touch.

SPECIFICATIONS:

VEHICLE:
1994 Toyota JZA80 Supra

ENGINE:
– 3.0L 2JZ-GTE six-cylinder turbo

HARDWARE:
– Garrett GT35R turbo
– Ferrea valves
– Rebuilt head, cleaned up the runners, slight polish job
– Bosch 044 fuel pump
– Sard 650cc injectors
– Hybrid custom radiator
– Apex’i N1 exhaust, fully polished
– Custom down pipe and mid pipe
– Haltech ECU
– TurboSmart wastegate

DRIVELINE:
– Six-speed manual
– Standard LSD
– Exedy twin-plate clutch

SUSPENSION & BRAKES:
– Tein Super Street coilovers
– TRD callipers F: four-piston, R: two-piston
– Slotted rotors
– TRD pads
– TRD Swaybars

WHEELS:
– Volk Racing GT-V F: 19×9.5, R: 19×10.5

BODYWORK:
– Custom Ford ‘Ego’ paint blend
– Top Secret bonnet
– 2EEK front bar
– TRD wing
– Aero side skirts
– Shaved rear
– Shaved badges

INTERIOR:
– Isotta Talladega interior
– HKS boost gauge
– Series 2 carpet
– LED lights
– TRD pedals
– Alpine stereo

PERFORMANCE:
– 310rwkW

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