The Toyota Supra is one of the most iconic Japanese performance cars of all time, particularly the MKIV Toyota Supra (read our guide here to which Supra generation is best for more information about the differences between the generations).
The Supra is seen as a “JDM icon” by many, but is the Toyota Supra actually a JDM car?
Here at Garage Dreams we are enthusiastic about classic and current Japanese performance cars, and find the “JDM issue” to be particularly interesting.
If you’ve read our guide to the meaning of JDM, then you’ll know that there are a lot of misconceptions about JDM cars.
The most common misconception that people have is they believe all Japanese cars are JDM. However, this simply isn’t true.
A Toyota Camry might be built in Japan but sold new in New Zealand – this means it isn’t JDM.
JDM specifically refers to cars built for the Japanese domestic market.
On that basis, is the Toyota Supra JDM?
This is where it actually gets a bit complicated.
The Toyota Supra is not a true JDM car.
We know this because there were specific export models built for the US/European/Australasian markets.
If the Supra was a true JDM car then it would only have been sold in Japan (and examples on the road elsewhere would be used exports).
An example of a true JDM car – for comparison’s sake – that is related to the Supra is the Toyota Aristo Twin Vertex. This had the twin turbo engine from the Supra, mated to a smooth automatic gearbox and in a less-glitzy Lexus GS300 body with Toyota badging … a real sleeper sedan for the up-and-coming business exec that likes to get everywhere fast.
The Supra, on the other hand, was sold in Japan but also sold new in North America, Europe and other locations.
There were differences between the models as well.
For example, a the USDM/export Supra had smaller, steel wheel turbochargers and larger fuel injectors compared to the JDM Supras.
The USDM version also was the first Toyota to feature a passenger airbag as standard, which wasn’t a standard feature on the JDM model.
European market Supras featured a factory bonnet scoop, which wasn’t present on North American or Japanese models.
Two of the most notable differences were that JDM Supras were (on paper at least) limited to 276hp versus 320hp for USDM (although if you have read our guide to why Japanese cars are limited to 276hp, you’ll know that this figure probably isn’t 100% accurate).
JDM Supras were limited to 180km/h as well, with speedometers that only read to 180 – read our article on why Japanese cars are limited to 180km/h for more information on this.
Finally, the JDM Supra has a steering wheel on the right hand side of the car, whereas USDM and European versions have the steering wheel on the left (except for models sold in the United Kingdom).
This article has some excellent information on the differences between the JDM and USDM and export Supras.
With all that in mind, let’s revisit the question of this article – is the Toyota Supra a JDM car?
No, not really.
You can buy JDM variants of the Supra, but it is not a uniquely JDM car – make sure you read our article on the meaning of JDM for more information on understanding this difference,ce
If you’re thinking of buying a MKIV Toyota Supra, then read our Supra buyer’s guide here for more information on how to source yourself a great example of this ever-popular car.
With prices skyrocketing it’s important to ensure that you get the best possible example; our guide will help you to achieve that.
You might also wish to read our guide on why the Toyota Supra is so popular for more information on how this car came to be one of the most desirable vehicles ever to come from the Land of the Rising Sun.