It’s a fitting tribute. In the very same movie where Paul Walker made his Fast & Furious debut, the Toyota Supra MI IV also won the hearts of many. It’s the famous 10-second car that made the ever-lasting bond between Brian and Dom possible. As a final goodbye, the computer-generated Paul Walker in Fast & Furious 7 also drives off in a white Toyota Supra. The ends are neatly tied, and Brian O’Conner has left his racing days behind to take care of his family. In reality, however, Paul Walker left behind a daughter and millions of bereaved fans as his life ended in a fiery crash, along with a friend.
Walker’s sudden and untimely death immortalized Brian O’Conner and the cars he drove in the Fast & Furious franchise. Most notable of Walker/Conner’s cars were the Nissan Skyline, and of course, the Toyota Supra that started it all. It may have started in orange and ended in white, but the Toyota Supra would have never reached the cult status it enjoys today had it not been for Paul Walker and that $38 million budget movie that spawned a monstrously profitable franchise.
This begs the question of whether Toyota Supra would even be so revered all over the world had there not been for Paul Walker and Fast & Furious. And would JDM cars have been such a craze in the US? This one thing time can never tell, but the fact remains, the orange Supra is now one of the most recognizable cars in pop culture and automotive culture alike. And here’s what you may not have known about it…
Brian O’Conner And His Supra
Even before the movies, it was hard to find a JDM fan who wasn’t already in love with the Supra, but it was Walker and O’Conner that spurred Supras to almost manic popularity heights. For those of you who live under a rock and have not watched the Fast & Furious franchise, well, it all starts with Brian O’Conner playing an undercover cop and infiltrating a chop-shop co-run by Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) to bring it to an end. Of course, O’Conner and Toretto end up becoming friends, even if it does end up costing O’Conner his badge. The Supra is the cover car O’Conner is working on, and there comes a scene in the movie where the souped-up Supra ends up smoking a Ferrari. Japan 1, Italy 0!
There’s also the last scene of the movie, where O’Conner and Toretto race the Toyota Supra and Dodge Charger side-by-side, barging through a railway track just in the nick of time as the train barrels behind them. Dom crashes his Dodge Charger and O’Conner offers him his 10-second car as a getaway vehicle with the sirens closing in. And that’s it, the Toyota Supra became the stuff of legends and Fast & Furious went about making a ton of money.
So, when Paul Walker suddenly passed away in the middle of the seventh movie, the makers got his brother (and some serious CGI effects) to complete the story. Brian O’Conner retires, with him and Dom driving off into divergent paths with a tearful-rendition of “See You Again” by Charlie Puth playing in the background, befittingly. O’Conner and the white Toyota Supra wish Fast & Furious goodbye as they drive off into the blinding beyond. And yes, we did get teary-eyed.
The Supra’s Humble Beginnings
The Supra, at the start, wasn’t a nameplate. It was the sportiest trim of the Toyota Celica of the ‘70s. The Celica Supra had a longer wheelbase for superior driving as well as more souped-up engines. So, in the beginning, the Supra was a nobody. It was in 1986 that the Supra broke off from the Celica nameplate and began to stand on its own – but even then, the initial few years weren’t kind to the Supra. It wasn’t until Mark IV, the fourth generation of the Toyota Supra, introduced in 1994, that things got interesting. Not only did the MK IV Toyota Supra look sportier, but it also had snazzier options under the hood.
Two 3.0-liter inline-six engines were on offer – a naturally aspirated 2JZ-GE engine with 220 horses, and a twin-turbocharged 2JZ-GTE for 276 horses. Remember that these horsepower figures were officially capped. The open-engine format of the Toyota Supra made it child’s play for anyone to add in upgrades, revving up the horsepower to 500 with ease. And many took it to four digits as well.
The MKIV Toyota Supra was a serious performance car, the only sad thing is sales in the US stopped in 1998. But the car was a marvel far ahead of its time. Little details like hollow carpet fibers and a hollow rear spoiler were used to reduce weight as was an aluminum hood. Formula car-like braking made it break and set new records at will.
The Supra Paul Walker Loved
Paul Walker was a petrolhead even before Fast & Furious happened to him, but he didn’t know what Japanese cars were truly capable of until he did the movie and discovered the Toyota Supra (and later, the Nissan Skyline). While shooting Fast & Furious, Walker began to get into JDMs, and he felt that he owed Japanese cars his success as Brian O’Conner. In an interview with Ask Men, Walker said about JDM cars, “in terms of performance and what you get — bang for the buck — nobody does it better than the Japanese. Because everything’s so modular, everything’s just plug-and-play. It’s like they’re big-kid, mechanical Legos. Consistently, things are overbuilt in terms of their stoutness, so it allows you the flexibility to put on bigger turbos and crank up the boost without having to worry about blowing everything up.”
Of course, the Supra in Fast & Furious in no stock car. It’s jacked up enough to be a stunt car and survive as much of the filming as it could. Other than the bright orange paint and custom graphics, the orange Supra boasted a roll-cage, racing seats, enhanced fuel tank as well as a coil-over suspension.
One of the surviving orange Supras did head to an auction in 2015 and sold for a cool $185,000. To put this into perspective, a 2019 Supra can be had from $50,000. So clearly, O’Conner’s Supra is a big deal for fans indeed. And will always be so, for as long as Fast & Furious movies and O’Conner remain etched in our memories.