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A Targa Top Toyota GR Supra Does Exist, and We Take a Closer Look
BY Sam Du //
August 4, 2021
@duspeed
  • Toyota builds a one-off targa top A90 Supra that pays homage to the Mk4 with a removable roof.
  • Based on a 2021 GR Supra, the factory roof was surgically cut, while two 3D-printed composite panels function as a removable top that follows the contour of the factory lines.
  • Additional reinforcement was added to the roof, engine bay, and undercarriage to maintain structural integrity.
  • The open-air Supra concept was unveiled digitally at last year’s SEMA360; however, it has never been put on public display to date.

TOYOTA’S ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE

There were three major questions critics had when the fifth generation Toyota GR Supra launched in 2019:
• Will there be a six-speed manual option?
• Why was it manufactured using the engine and drivetrain shared with the BMW Z4?
• Is there a targa top model coming out?

We hope you’ve already come to terms with the first two questions because the A90/A91 Supra has been one of the more exciting rear-wheel-drive Japanese coupes that have come out into the sports car market for quite some time. Haters can whine and moan all they want about the absence of a successor to the twin-turbo 2JZ-GTE or the lack of a six-speed manual gearbox. But for those that have sat behind the wheel of a turbocharged Mk5 Supra and have been able to throw it around their favorite canyon road or local road course, that’s where you truly get to appreciate what took engineers from Japan and Germany several years to collaborate together on. All in an effort to create Toyota’s version of the ultimate driving machine.

REMEMBERING THE TARGA TOP MK4

Now, for that third question. If you’re a ‘90s baby, you’ll remember one of the more fashionable options on the Mk4 Supra was the targa top model. It featured a removable top designed to fit in the trunk, which ultimately allowed for an open-air cockpit sensation that could let you hear and soak in all those lovely notes from the boosted inline-six. Still can’t remember? Well, as corny as it sounds now, the targa top’s biggest claim to fame was when Paul Walker and Vin Diesel race an F355 Spider in their Lamborghini Orange, Bomex-kitted Supra. Yes, we know the car was quite hideous, but the point is that the targa top option was a staple of the Mk4 Supra among diehard enthusiasts and on the big screen.

DEBUTED AT THE SEMA SHOW THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN

Turn back the clocks to last year, and you’ll recall that the annual SEMA Show faced hurdles due to COVID-19 restrictions. The physical show at the Las Vegas Convention Center was canceled; however, a digital marketplace known as SEMA360 would host several custom build debuts, including the 2021 GR Supra Sport Top.

It’s pretty wild to think that the big wigs at Toyota gave the green light to build this Sport Top iteration. It’s a complete one-off concept that takes a standard 2021 Supra off the dealer lot, chops it up, and Toyota’s motorsport garage team modifies it. This is most interesting (and maybe even a little perplexing) because this concept was never intended to be produced in Austria’s assembly line. It’s a bespoke build, meaning this was purely a marketing exercise, or perhaps are they gauging people’s interest?

GOODBYE STOCK ROOF

First on the list was tearing out the original roof, an intricate and time-consuming process. The build team started with an air saw but had to switch up to something heavier duty. Eventually, the roof was stripped out after a couple of hours, while several more manhours were required to tidy up the incision and prepare for a removable top.

In theory, the idea was to reuse the factory roof panel, but that was quickly thrown out the window. In its place is a latch system and two 3D-printed composite pieces that come together to form the targa top.

Another hope was to use a remote to release the two-piece top, but again, things don’t always go according to plan. The top is released using two pull levers located below the A-pillars on both sides of the dash where the doors open.

Because of the absence of a solid roof, Toyota had to ensure the structural integrity of the Supra was not compromised. They reinforced the car with additional metal to the engine bay, around the headliner, and also down below in the undercarriage to prevent the frame from possibly crumpling.

You’ll notice some other mods that were sprinkled in, like the hand-built stainless steel rear diffuser, center-exit exhaust, Heritage Edition body styling, Brembo brakes, and HRE wheels.

THE SUN FEELS GOOD

The GR Supra Sport Top was destined to make a huge splash at last year’s SEMA Show. Obviously, that didn’t happen, so I was determined to see it in the flesh, being an A90 Supra owner myself. After bugging Toyota for months, I was finally granted access to check it out in a top-secret storage facility in Los Angeles.

There’s not much to comment on regarding different driving dynamics because it’s more or less stock. However, having the open-air cockpit with a straight-through, center-exit exhaust was pretty damn exhilarating. I immediately felt convinced the GR Supra would do awesome as a targa top because the driving experience is that much more amplified when hearing the turbocharged inline-six kick into gear and having the sun shine down on your face. With the targa top closed, the team at Toyota did an excellent job retaining the OEM fit and finish as well as keeping noise to a minimum. My biggest gripe with the Sport Top concept, though, was the ease of removing the top. Yes, I know it’s a concept car, but boy, was it a challenge to pull the levers just right to unlatch the top. It was a two-man job, and quite frankly, a pain in the ass, but of course, this was never meant to go into production and land in the hands of the public.

Over the last two years, we’ve heard Toyota’s stand on a six-speed manual, and there are no signs that lead to a “yes”. With the idea of a targa top, though, while there’s no chatter of one coming soon, Toyota gives us a glimmer of hope that they entertained the idea with the Sport Top concept. Maybe one day, even if it’s five or ten years from now, our prayers might be answered for another targa top Supra.


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