PROJECTS - 1990 Toyota Supra

This car is for sale of as Nov 6, 2016. Watch the video below to see the car. Email me ( ) for more info or respond to the threads on Supramania or Supraforums. Asking price is $9,200.

The Purchase

July 2007

This was purchased from a recent immigrant to Colorado from California. The car had spent its entire life in California between Oceanside and Carlsbad. Just about all records had been kept. Original window sticker, oil change receipts, tires, brake inspections, everything for nearly all 270,000 miles. It was purchased non-turbo (7MGE motor) with the W58 manual 5 speed transmission.

1990 Toyota Supra Targa Non-Turbo

Mileage: 270,000

Price: $3,000


7/10. The paint was recently resprayed, but the quality was not top notch. There were at least a dozen paint chips and the previous owner brushed up against something in a parking lot and scraped the front bumper. The rear upper window trim was missing and the lower trim was not perfect. All this said, the car had no major dents or rust and the overall paint job looked quite nice. No oxidation or dead clear coat was present. This was a pretty standard 10 footer.


7/10. The seats were in great shape with no tears, but did have the cord ripped out on the driverís side. The dash had a corner pulled up near the passenger footwell. Door trim was in good shape, but had some small cracks in the vinyl. Floor mats were worn and the cargo mat was in poor shape.


The motor ran strong upon purchase. It had been overhauled recently to fix a blown head gasket. The transmission/driveshaft/differential were making a faint whining noise, but nothing could be felt.


The clutch master and slave cylinder had just been replaced prior to my purchase and the brakes were in good shape. All undercarriage was rust free with no known problems.


Everything worked aside from Air Conditioning. This turned out to be from a leaking system and not an electrical fault.

Get It Running

Nothing needed.

Now It Runs! What's Still Wrong?

Hood Struts

August 2007

June 2012

Hood struts are a beautiful, functional, completely positive featureÖ until they go out. Hood struts only last so long. Once they fail they make you look really dumb. Until I could get replacements I used a long stick, lovingly named the ďSupra StickĒ. I felt like an idiot every time I had to prop the hood. Replacements are cheap and readily available from or Autozone/AdvanceAuto. My replacements lasted about 5 years.


August 2007

When I purchased the car there was a slight whine in every gear except 4th. This is a tell-tale sign of a bad transmission bearing. 4th gear is a straight through gear in the Supra meaning that less force is acting on the bearings of the input and output shafts. Consequently, if a bearing is going bad in the transmission it will be most quiet in 4th gear. Eventually my whine got annoying enough to remove the entire thing and hand it over to Aamco to give it a thorough rebuild. They charged a reasonable $900 in 2008 to rebuild the transmission with all new synchros and assured me the gears within the transmission still looked solid with no real signs of wear. As of this writing in 2014 after a LOT of abuse, a turbo swap and about 50,000 miles I can attest they did a great job on the rebuild. Iíve heard some folks trash Aamco, but Iíd give them another transmission to rebuild in a heartbeat.

Brake Rotors

August 2007

July 2008

Over time many rotors will develop a vibration when you press the brake pedal. This is not normally ďwarpingĒ of the rotor, but rather a build-up of pad material on the rotor surface. This build up can be ground off at a shop that ďturnsĒ rotors or you can buy new rotors. If your rotors are too thin youíll have to just buy new ones. There are minimum thicknesses for every rotor and itís important to keep the rotor thicker than the minimum. The first time I replaced my rotors I opted for cheap parts store replacements. The cost was low (around $75 for two rotors) and the quality was fine for a street driven non-turbo Supra.

Hatch Struts

November 2007

Similar to the hood struts these make you look dumb when they fail. The hatch is HEAVY and without good struts you might find it hard to use the hatch. Replacement struts are relatively cheap (~$35 each), but it takes a fair amount of labor to install them.

Tail Light Gaskets

December 2007

The taillights can show condensation on the inside and it looks bad. Not only that, but it may cause your bulbs or bulb sockets to fail prematurely. Thankfully the fix is cheap and easy. Toyota still sold the gaskets as of 2011.

Blown Head Gasket

January 2008

Mk3 Supra head gaskets have an affinity for failure due to a factory oversight/error in the gasket and fastener design and specification. This poor 7M had been through a few head gaskets in its first 270,000 miles. Since my records are so complete I can say BHG #1 occurred at 150,000 miles in Nov 1996 and cost the owner over $3,000. BHG #2 happened at 217,000 miles in April 2000 and cost the owner $4,500 including a new clutch. BHG #3 happened at 250,000 miles in Nov 2005 and cost the owner $1,800. I had the honor owning her for BHG #4 in Jan of 2008 at 277,000 miles. My BHG was repaired in my own garage for $550 including a few parts that werenít entirely necessary, but were convenient to replace at the same time (IE PCV hoses, coolant hoses). This is some great evidence that doing work at home yourself can save a TON of cash.

Shift and E-Brake Boot

June 2008

My shift boot and E-brake boot were well worn and had many holes. Replacing the boots with wither OEM parts or specially made aftermarket parts makes a HUGE difference to the interior feel of the car. If yours are worn I would make this a priority. The benefit to cash ratio is very high. Youíll feel the difference every time you get in the car.

Rear Window Trim

July 2008

The rear window trim helps to hold the rear window sprayer on the top and helps to seal the glass and body at the bottom. If either is bad youíll notice it. My top molding was flat out missing when I bought the car. A new Toyota part fixed my problem and gave the car much better appearance from behind.

Engine Undercover

July 2008

Many mk3 Supras have lost their undercovers. Most casual owners donít notice. Any mechanic worth their salt SHOULD notice. The undercover protects the engine and leaves it clean while directing air flow to the needed areas. It also works to force air through your radiator/AC condenser. Missing the undercover makes maintenance access easier, but can decrease performance and make the engine dirty as hell. I bought a new undercover from Toyota in 2008 for just over $100.

A/C Refill

July 2008

My A/C had never worked since my purchase. Summers in Colorado get hot and A/C is a great luxury to have when itís 100+ and you park in the sun. My system was the original R-12 and I planned to get it refilled. I had a Toyota dealer check the system for leaks and refill with R-12. The system worked incredibly well for 9 months or so until the R-12 leaked out somewhere and my system was broken again. I later retrofitted the entire system myself to R-134a. The retrofit is mentioned below.

A/C Pulley Bearing

December 2008

All of sudden in the winter I heard this horrible squeal on my way home from work. I drove home and immediately popped the hood. I had a feeling it was a drive pulley because itís a pretty recognizable metal squeal. I felt the various pulleys and the A/C idler pulley was scorching hot compared to all the other pulleys. I removed the A/C belt and the squeal went away entirely. This was proof for me the A/C belt was to blame. Sure enough, the pulley was bad and an OEM replacement fixed the problem.

Hatch Cushions

March 2009

The hatch rests on a few cushions placed between the hatch and body. If these cushions wear out the hatch can rattle. If this happens you might lose your mind on long car trips. The Supra should feel like a luxury cruiser and not a cheap Corolla. Replacement of the hatch cushions is a great first step in getting rid of rattles. The cushions on my car were well worn.

Door Switches

March 2009

The door switches can wear out leave the car thinking the doors are closed when theyíre actually open. The switches are easy to replace once you pull away some interior trim. I replaced my switches when I installed an aftermarket alarm/keyless entry/remote start.

Flywheel Resurfacing

June 2010

Anytime a clutch is replaced itís a good idea to resurface the flywheel. The flywheel and your clutch disc interact similar to your brake pads and rotors. Your clutch disc is a friction material similar to your brake pads and your flywheel is a smooth metallic surface like your brake rotors.

Targa Weatherstrips

December 2010

The Targa is a neat feature when the seals are sealing like theyíre supposed to. When the seals fail you get a wet lap and your significant other will be at least mildly upset when they get a lap full of water. Replacement takes some patience, but is very doable for just about anyone.

Steering Stops

December 2010

See the article on replacement here. Super simple, cheap and effective.

R-134a Retrofit

July 2012

Iím not classifying this as an upgrade because it will actually decrease the performance of the system. It does, however, make servicing the system easier, cheaper and less harmful to the environment. I needed to swap out a bad adapter valve before I got good performance out of the system, but once I got the leaking adapter sorted out the system worked well enough for me.


1991-1992 Wheels

March 2008

The Toyota Supra came with the ďsawbladeĒ wheel design from its launch in 1986.5 up to 1990. These wheels definitely belong in the 80ís. The redesigned wheels came out in 1991 and make a huge difference in the presence of the car. I found someone parting out a 92 Supra and snagged the wheels. I would highly recommend these to anyone who wants to cheaply upgrade the wheels. They look classy and much more modern than the early mk3 Supra wheels. Looking at the new style itís hard to imagine why anyone would prefer the ďsawbladesĒ. To each his own, I suppose.

Interior Lighting

November 2008

The interior lighting of the Supra was making me feel like I was driving an old car. To freshen the interior up I wanted to update everything I could. Most lighting is a simply drop in replacement while some will require some electrical circuit knowledge and soldering.

Viper Alarm

February 2009

An alarm system has its benefits, especially when the factory system from Toyota doesnít include remote keyless entry. I purchased a Viper alarm while working for Best Buy at a STEEP discount. It was somewhere around 80% off retail and still well below any online retailers at the time. My model (5701) includes remote start with a special sequence for manual transmissions. The installation of an alarm system involves a lot of wiring and is not recommended for a complete beginner. Especially in regards to the remote start features, a botched install can be very difficult to repair. This is not the kind of job you take on lightly. Screw up here and youíll be sorry you didnít pay a pro. This being said, I accomplished a successful install with some basic, ordinary tools and a lot of patience. I spent around 20 hours on the install and much more planning everything out ahead of time. A pro could do it much faster, Iím sure. The system includes a starter kill, remote entry, remote start, turbo timer, timer start mode for very cold weather (the car will start, run for a set time and turn off so it never gets too cold), tach learning, in cabin thermometer, and a bunch of other nifty features. Most aftermarket alarms WILL drain your battery faster and you should keep an eye on a parked car to avoid killing your battery over a few weeks.

LSD Differential

Oct 2009

The factory differential in most NA mk3 Supras is a completely open differential. That means if one rear wheel slips, you arenít going anywhere. This was annoying for me in simple parking situations. A little ice was embarrassing. Toyota included Limited Slip Differentials on all Turbo models and on N/Aís with the ďsport packageĒ and as a stand-alone package. The open differential is a 4.3 ratio. The LSD came in a 4.3, 3.9 or 3.73 depending on the year and N/A vs Turbo.

7MGTE Swap

March 2009

If you want to make more power and go faster in a Supra the easiest way to achieve that is with a turbo. Starting with an N/A mk3 the easiest way to make that happen is with a 7MGTE swap. I bought a used, running motor from a forum member and had it shipped halfway across the country. This was a risky purchase, but it worked out for me. Hello boost!

Apex'i Open Element Intake

March 2010

This isnít really an upgrade, perse, but it does give you a great chance to hear the turbo. An open element filter allows you to really hear the engine suck in air. Unfortunately, these filters mean youíre sucking in hot air and losing a lot of efficiency. The factory uses a nice hidden, boxed in filter for a good reason, it just doesnít look or sound as cool. If Iím honest, this is not a modification Iíd choose. I got this with my turbo motor when I did the GTE swap and havenít bothered to change it out or create a nice enclosure for it.


Oct 2009

When upgrading to the 7MGTE I kept the N/A W58 transmission. This transmission is fine for more than factory turbo power, but the clutch is weak and known to go out. I upgraded to a Competition Stage Two Clutch which is said to handle 80% more torque than the factory clutch. Thatís around 360 ft-lbs of torque at the crank. Plenty for me while I get the rest of the car up to snuff.

Prosport Boost Gauge

June 2010 2009

Since my car started out non-turbo I didnít have a boost gauge. I opted for a Prosport gauge with peak/hold features. This gauge allows a review of peak pressures and alarms when a certain boost level is hit.

Lotek Pillar Pod

June 2010

Since my car didnít have a Boost gauge built into the dash I needed a place to put my boost gauge.I like the idea of a factory looking solution and the Lotek Gauge pod seemed like the best way to do that without a lot of custom fab in the dash. My pillar pod fit pretty well, but not perfect. The material looks factory, but itís a hard plastic and would offer no protection at all in a crash compared to the factory trim which is foam and would save your skull in a crash. Given the price, the Lotek pillar pod isnít bad, but itís not perfect. Iíd gladly pay double the price to get one that fits and functions like factory.

Die Hard Platinum P-2 Group 65 Battery

August 2010

Batteries have come a long ways in the last 2 decades. Checking your battery water levels is a thing of the past with AGM style sealed batteries. I like a bit of insurance and extra cranking power so I bought the largest, most powerful battery I could get locally. This battery is NOT a drop in replacement and required some rework on my battery cables. The terminals are reversed so youíll need some extra cable length. In hindsight, a regular group 35 battery would have been fine. Group 35 ratings are 850/130 CCA and RC vs the group 65 ratings of 930/135.

Mishimoto Radiator

September 2010

The factory radiator is normally not a performance concern, but it can wear out. The factory unit has plastic end tanks which fail over time. Aftermarket units are available in all aluminum that should provide longer life if the workmanship is good. Many of these units also offer a thicker core for more cooling ability which could pay off in rush hour traffic. I went with a Mishimoto and the fit was nearly perfect. Others have said their Mishimoto didnít quite fit, but mine was dead on.

Bosch 710N ByPass Valve

Oct 2010

The factory By-Pass Valve or BPV fails over time and doesnít expel much more than factory boost pressures efficiently. Bosch is known for their BPVís in the Porsche and Audi worlds. If itís good enough for a 911 turbo, itís good enough for me and my 20 year old Toyota. The Bosch units are available in a few varieties and the names keep changing. They build these units to fit a specific model (S4, S6, 911 Turbo, etcÖ), but many are very similar in design and dimensions. They mount well in the factory location and are a great choice for replacing the factory Toyota unit. Youíll need a little bit of hose to make the Bosch unit fit.

StopTech Brake Pads

December 2010

The factory Toyota pads havenít changed in 20 years, but brake technology in general certainly has. StopTech offers affordable street performance brake pads that will be a tad louder and dirtier than the OEM Toyotas, but they stop great and seem to take a little more abuse. I had one instance of complete brake fade on a mountain run with the factory pads and just above scared myself to death. Brake fade on a mountain at night isnít something to scoff at and I wanted to keep that from happening again.

Raptor Racing Exhaust

February 2011

The factory exhaust had finally torn at the downpipe and was basically trash from there down. I wanted something quiet that would improve power potential and last the life of the vehicle. I settled on Raptor Racingís 3Ē divorced, rerouted, ceramic coated downpipe and their 3Ē Stainless Steel cat back with a modified Magnaflow muffler. It looks classy and should be good for upwards of 400 RWHP.

5Zigen FN01RCN Wheels

March 2011

The Toyota Supra wheels from 91-92 look pretty good, but Iíd always loved the look of the 5Zigen FN01RC wheels. When a set came up on Craigslist in the right size I had to have them. The wheels were in good shape, minus a few paint chips and made a big improvement in the carís appearance.

Boost Controller

August 2011

What good is a turbo that you canít turn up? After becoming accustomed to the factory boost level I wanted a little extra. The Greddy Profec B is one of the most popular boost controllers for imports. Itís relatively simple and easy to use and mount. Ideally, you want the controller mounted right at the turbo, which is what I managed to do by locating it just under the water neck. This location is in front of the turbo so it should not see too much heat and gets the controller right up against the wastegate making for short air lines. The shorter the air line, the more accurately you can control the boost.

AEM Wideband

Oct 2009

To keep an eye of AFR I wanted a wideband. Afterall, I have a turbo motor and a non-turbo fuel pump. In addition I started turning up the boost with stock injectors. This was a recipe for disaster so before I got too carried away I got a wideband to keep an eye on things. The AEM gauge looks awesome and works very well. Iíve been very pleased with it and wished I bought an AEM boost gauge to match. In case youíre wondering, yes my AFRs are completely safe up to 12 psi even with the factory non-turbo fuel pump.

Tefzel Wire Harness

Oct 2009

The harness that came with my motor was very badly damaged and hacked. Somebody got brave with their splices and the result was a bad harness that left me stranded on multiple occasions. Wires were literally crumbling apart and connectors were breaking every other time I took them apart. My solution was a 100% self-made harness with mil-spec Tefzel wiring, new terminals on every single wire, new connectors where available and new, color coded sheathing on every section of wire. I took this chance to reroute some of the wiring to what I felt were more convenient locations. This is not a task for the weak. This consumed nearly 100 hours of research, documentation, labor and troubleshooting. If you want something fast and cheap a new harness build is NOT something you should attempt.

Tires - BFG GForce KDW 245/40/17

May 2012

Awesome tread, great performance, reasonable price. Nothing more to say here, enjoy a picture of this mean tread:

Turbo Oil Lines - Braided SS and -AN fittings

June 2012

The CT-26 is a pain in the ass to install because of its hard line attachments. There is no flex at all and you need to somehow navigate the oil drain and feed lines onto their small studs while getting the turbo assembly aligned onto its 4 main mounting studs. Itís not bad with a helper over/under the car, but itís a pain by yourself, not to mention you have gaskets that are difficult to reach that will probably need replacement every time you take the turbo off. Thankfully there are ĖAN fitting alternatives which do not require a new gasket every time you take them off and are flexible, making the install easier and the final product a LOT better looking. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the parts I got from ARZ and would recommend them to anyone using a CT-26.

50 Trim CT-26 from Driftmotion

June 2012

My build is based around a power limit of under 400 rwhp. For that power level and below Iíd prefer the quickest turbo spool possible. In simple terms that means I need the smallest turbo needed to reach my power level. When modifying a ct-26, the larger the wheel gets, the less stable and less reliable/durable it will be. This is general rule with turbos although there are certainly well built large turbos that will last a long time. Driftmotion is known for their reliable turbos and better than average customer service. Iíve always had good luck with them and was excited to upgrade my turbo through them. I opted for the ceramic coated and polished option which makes for a very nice looking turbo. Spool time is barely longer than stock and the 50 trim provides a slightly improved power potential. Itís a great match for my goals.

Koni Sport Shocks and Tanabe GF210 Springs

June 2014

Follow this link to the DIY page on this upgrade.

Final Product