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History

Here is a brief story of Supras, the name as well as the company. From Marxist-inspired Latin-infused Ticinese beginnings (Switzerland), via a bright red, elegant and fast Japanese-inspired stop-over (United States), to a more concerned and responsible stance (Norway) ...


Marxist-inspired and Latin-infused Ticinese beginnings ...

In the early 1990s I, that is, Lars, worked as Asst. Professor at the Dept. of Anthropology at University of Zurich. Together with good colleagues I set up a consulting firm. There were some clear rationales for doing this. We were partly interested in applying anthropology to development issues, partly in exposing our teaching and research work to applied anthropology, partly we saw the advantages of collaborating as a team, and partly we were drawn by the possibilities a company presented in connection with income taxation. A well-known consultant company in Switzerland, Infras, became a model of sorts, but in a special way. Infras focused on infrastructure (hence, the name). We, on the other hand, were anthropologists, and more or less Marxist-oriented at that. Thus, our concern would not be infrastructure (or the Base/basis in Marxist terminology), but societies' superstructure (to use another key Marxian term). And, partly in a word play on the company name Infras, and partly infused by the promise of Latin, we decided on “Supras” as a fitting name for our company (“supras” in Latin, of course, variously means “above,” “beyond,” “greater than,” “on top of,” “over,” or “transcending”). (In the same Latin context, we found it interesting that “infras” means “below,” “beneath” or “inferior to.”) Thus, all things told, Supras was born one fine day in 1992, to four proud parents, namely Christian Erni, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, Andreas Wimmer and myself. As it happened, this incarnation of the Supras ethos and spirit turned out to be short lived. We did too little consulting and far too much research, teaching, writing and whatever else that occupied us, for it to be viable. Eventually we all left for other (and, I believe, greener) pastures, my colleagues to Denmark/Thailand, Germany and United States (where they still live), and, as for me, I moved to the United States for some years before relocating back to Norway. With this the first incarnation of Supras fast faded into history and memory.

Charles' Supra with Wendy on the hood Toyota Supra MkII

Meanwhile, my good friend Charles Duyne that lives in Losone, Ticino, in Switzerland, owned a couple of nice cars, one of which by a happy coincidence happened to be a Toyota Celica-Supra. Earlier not really seen as a full-fledged Supra, it is now classified as Supra generation 2 (or MkII). It was produced from 1983 to 1986, and featured a 2.8 liter Double-Overhead-Cam (DOHC) inline 6-cylinder engine (the 5M-GE). The engine was vastly superior to the base model Celica, and generated 145bhp as standard. In 1985 some changes were introduced to this model, including new more dominating wheel design, flared wheel arches to accommodate the new wheels, and new designs for front spoiler, grill and bumper. Mechanical changes included an advanced suspension system borrowed from Lotus. However, most importantly, “Celica” was dropped from the name, thus we got the very first true Toyota Supra. Charles had the modified MkII model which I drove quite a bit, and I fell instantly and insanely in love.

... via a bright red, elegant and fast Japanese-inspired stop-over ...

Toyota Supra MkIII Toyota Supra ma-70 xray

In the United States, working at the World Bank meant there was no need – nor indeed possibility – for consulting and thus for setting up a company. There was, however, definitely a need for a car. Jacob George, my expert car consultant (and Aman’s father), said he had just the right car for me. It turned out to be the Supra 1990 model, bright red. Strangely, George (as he is called for short) did not know about my past Supra history. Another happy coincidence! Easy told, I was sold, and so was the car.

My Toyota Supra MA-760 My Toyota Supra MA-760 My Toyota Supra MA-760

This is Supra generation 3 (or MkIII), in production in the period 1986-1992. Mine was the MA-70 model, with a 3.0i liter engine, fuel injected (7M-GE), NA (normally aspirated). It is a 5 speed manual, with targa roof and ABS, capable of 200+ mph. The speed aside, it was nothing but pure and sensual pleasure to behold and to drive. Others saw different things. Deepali Tewari loved the electric wizardry of the driver seat that leaves one virtually horizontal, and she could not get enough of lying there looking up at the starry nights through the opened targa roof while we sped along, not to mention Aman George, small as he was, who enjoyed standing between us in the front seat as we sped down the highways, his head sticking out over the roof and catching the breeze (yes, I know, every safety rule in the book was broken). Shashi Kolavalli, a friend, took a series of pictures of the man and his car. When I moved back to Norway I wanted to take the car along, but the Norwegian import tax was killing, and so I left it behind, to be enjoyed by Deepali and Aman.

Toyota Supra MkIV Toyota Supra MkIV

To end the Supra story, as far as Toyota is concerned, I have to mention the Toyota Supra generation 4 (or MkIV) that appeared in 1993. This awesome sports car is regarded by many as one of the best all round sports cars that money could by. It was produced up to 1998, and came in two basic models: normally aspirated and twin turbo. The engine on the normally aspirate model: 3.0-liter twin-cam 24-valve EFI inline 6-cylinder with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing); 225 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 220 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm. The engine on the twin turbo model: 3.0-liter twin-cam 24-valve EFI inline 6-cylinder with intercooled sequential twin turbochargers; 320 hp 5,600 rpm; 315 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm. Some further specs. for the twin turbo model: intercooled sequential twin turbochargers that help the 3.0-liter twin-cam 24-valve EFI in-line 6-cylinder engine produce 320 hp @ 5,600 rpm. The Turbo also includes a Traction Control System (TRAC), a Premium 3-in-1 sound system with 7 speakers, 17” 5-spoke polished aluminum alloy wheels and a distributorless Toyota Direct Ignition system. It is available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration for the twin turbo model: 0-06: 4.6 sec. 1/4 mile: 13.1 / 109 mph.

This is the end of the Toyota Supra story, except that there is some talk about a 5th generation (or MkV) ...

Finally, for everything else you always wanted to know about the Supra – and then some – consult this exhaustive Wikipedia article.

... to a more concerned and responsible stance

In Norway the outlook on fast red cars turned out to be rather somber, and for a number of reasons, including little availability, exorbitant costs, very low speed limits and draconian enforcement, as well as inclement weather.

The idea of Supras in the form of a legal entity, a company, however, again acquired prominence. And so it was that in 2000 the second generation Supras – understood as a legal entity – came into being. The rest of the present chapter of the Supras story you can read for yourself on this website ...