Based on the number of Toyota Supra features and specific events that we cover (not to mention the release and extended coverage of the A90 MK5 model), it's safe to say the Super Street Network has a thing for the long-running, recently reestablished RWD sportscar, but what we don't see often are pre-Mk4 model feature cars like this 1985 Celica Supra P-Type. You could probably even bank on the fact that many younger generation enthusiasts have no idea the Supra family extends all the way back to late '70s.
Lust at First Sight
Evan Poole took a liking to the Supra early on, right alongside Toyota's AE86. "I lived in Virginia Beach, where there is a large Filipino community from the Navy base, and I would see these cars around in the late '90s." In '97, Evan's service in the Air Force sent him to Oklahoma; "B.F.E. Oklahoma, at that." Almost immediately, he took notice of an '85 Supra that a pilot he worked with was scooting the base in. "It was Maroon Metallic (brown to some people), not a common color. It was immaculate. I would always see him and his wife in it and I would always talk to him about it, and we'd shoot the stuff about Toyotas. He loved that car. He'd got it after graduating the USAF Academy."
For a few years, Evan drooled over the spotless, mid-'80s Supra, but in reality wasn't anywhere near being able to afford one of his own. In the late '90s, they were fetching $12-15K, and as an E-3 service member at just 21 years old at that time, it wasn't in the cards. He began a search for a more affordable AE86, but his timing couldn't have been any worse, as the hype of Initial D and the incoming drift movement put a heavy tax on even the most distraught examples, with people in the Dallas Ft. Worth area demanding $6-10K. Back to reality, Evan pulled back and made do with his '90 Accord.
Opportunity Comes Knockin'
An opportunity for Evan came about in 2000, the sort of opportunity that rarely, if ever, comes along and one that you don't waste time thinking about—you take action. "In the summer I noticed the Supra was sitting in the parking lot of the squadron I was in for months and hadn't moved. I asked around and was told the pilot was stationed out of the country and couldn't take his car, so he was going to leave it and deal with it when had time." Evan emailed him right away, not to try to buy the car, but rather to offer a helping hand and told the pilot that he'd be more than willing to help care for the car in his absence, even offering to keep it secured in storage until he got back. The pilot wasn't at all interested and instead told Evan that he would sell him the car if he wanted. "I went silent. I was in disbelief, and I stuttered 'Sure, I would love to buy your car sir, but I can't afford it." The pilot was well aware of his financial status and he threw out a number that absolutely floored Evan. "I know how much you enjoy the car and I would love for you to have it—I know you'll take good care of it. How does $750 sound?"
An Act of Kindness
A mid-'80s Celica Supra in mint condition at that time was still fetching five figures and this was a once in a lifetime thing, but admittedly, even that price was out of reach for Evan and his current pay at that time. That didn't matter, as the pilot told him he could just make payments and that's exactly what Evan did, like clockwork, month after month sending him money orders for $100 each as his tight budget barely allowed. As promised, the consecutive payments didn't stop until the car was paid off. That was 20 years ago, and today the car remains in excellent condition. Everything still works as it should, it's never been in an accident and never seen a spec of rust, though, it didn't remain completely stock over all of those years.
In 2010, Evan returned home from his second tour in Afghanistan, and having put away some money he decided it was time to get the car repainted in its original unique color, being that the California sun caused some clearcoat fading and peeling. A full body-off respray revitalized the 25-year-old paint before his attention was turned toward completely updating the suspension. He adds, "I did some research and cross-referenced part numbers, spent time on forums and figured out how to build my own front coilover system using Ground Control adjustable springs/sleeves with KYB gas inserts from a Ford Focus RS. The rear springs came from a company in New Zealand." New control arms and pillow ball upper mounts joined a set of sway bars to complete the handling makeover.
Treat Yo' Self
Just a few years later, in 2013, a third tour in Afghanistan provided sufficient funds to make the biggest upgrade to the build. "I always loved the Mk4 Supra but have a real soft spot for the boxy Mk2. I figured what the hell, let's put a 2J in my car. I'd been wanting to do it since the mid-2000s and I figured if I made it back alive, this was going to be my present to myself." While on tour, Evan did his research on the swap and its parts, as well as which wheels he'd be using, and as the return home grew closer, he began sourcing those parts.
Once stateside, Evan found a shop in the Bay Area whose owner assured him they could make the build happen. The engine and associated parts were dropped off with the car and, over time, more parts ordered to help make the swap a reality. Things were going smoothly, but along the way a few issues arose and tested Evan's patience. "The owner did a great job assisting me with the whole build process and working with me to get the goals I wanted. However, I had setback after setback with the shop's foreman and it was frustrating." The shop owner wanted to make Evan happy and help him see his vision through, so he brought the car to Alex at Limitless Motorsports—but didn't just send him on his way, he also spent some late nights at the new shop with Alex to help complete the build.
In 2016, after almost three years of progress, Evan finally got to drive his 2JZ-powered Celica Supra. Alex provided a base map to get the car on the road, but in order to fully dial it in properly, he recommended taking the car to Lawrence Shipman, a well-respected 2JZ tuning guru in Santa Rosa who would not only provide the tuning aspect but also fabricate some additional pieces for the build. On the rollers, the completed tune on the single GTX3582R turbo-converted swap produced 430whp on pump gas, with 500hp available on race gas—more than enough to keep Evan happy.
Too Much Is Never Enough
About a year after the initial tuning, Evan brought the car back to Lawrence with some additional upgrades that called for a new set of maps. "That's when numbers really got wild—upwards of 530whp on pump, 610whp on race and that wasn't even maxing out the turbo or the amount of boost. Lawrence is a mastermind on these 2JZ tunes and builds." Achieving such a big jump in power was the result of a Supertech-enhanced valvetrain and Kelford T202-C cams, as well as a more tuning. You've seen these engines make over 1,000hp and it's almost become commonplace, but this is a street car and as Evan notes, "I have lots of room left with my turbo but with a car that weighs less than 3,000 lbs., it can get a bit scary."
The outside of the Mk2 has remained relatively stock over that chunk of time. The RS Watanabe wheels that he fell in love with during that third tour in Afghanistan remain, and in fact, he has a set of R Type and a set of magnesium to choose from. Inside, there's no race buckets or complex roll cage tubing to contend with, and plopping down into one of the original, 35-year-old seats is a time travel experience.
Some of the more recent updates to the swap include a Sharp Customs one-piece intake manifold, a completely reworked fuel system, improved cooling and overall lower engine temps. The changes came as a result of working with a local Sacramento builder at the suggestion of Lawrence. "Since Lawrence moved out of California and going to the Bay Area to get my car worked on was a bit much, having a great builder in Sacramento really helped. So now he takes my car in when I need things done to it."
The dust, dirt and occasional bump or bruise that you'd expect to find on a dedicated street car is certainly there, but you'd be hard pressed to find too many other MKII Celica Supras in the sort of condition that Evan's car is—especially when you consider that he bought it for a cool $750!
With over two decades spent with his '80s icon that now makes more than three times the power Toyota had ever intended for the chassis, what's Evan's next move? "I'm considering going to an E-85 setup and I'm currently developing a front air diffuser to mount to the car as I want to start competing in the Never Lift Drag/Race events in SoCal. Overall this car has been a part of my life for 20 years and I plan on keeping it forever and passing this down to my kids."