Full fathom five thy father lies
Of his bones are coral made
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Some of you who happen to know this portion of “Tempest” may ask – what the hell Shakespeare has to do with the new Supra you pretentious mf? And I’d ask a lot of you to just simply bear with me. It isn’t enough, given how tired our poor Toyota already is.
This is what pretty much sums up Full Fathom Five: you have a character singing about a dead guy at the bottom of the sea that’s not decomposing as expected. Instead, he starts to unify with what’s around which is an impressive take on death for a 1611 play. Eyes get turned into pearls, ribs into coral, you get the idea. So, when looking at Pollock’s Full Fathom Five, you won’t freak out trying to grasp any meaning, are you? Well… a lot of people did just that. Missed the whole point and still miss it completely. I mean, the hint, as strong as it gets, is in the title. It’s not some three-layered meta, one-object piece standing without description at Vienna’s Mumok so that art nerds can feel dumb. No, it simply introduces itself like a good host Jackson Pollock was. Draws you in with the initial idea and leaves alone. What you think of it later on is up to your interpretation. YOU have to decide if the final sentence will be condescending “broken seismograph” or something more. Delirious? It may be. Very much like Jackson’s alcoholism. The surface seems messy, as if the rhythm of his wrist deliberately coded the shipwreck from Shakespeare. It’s full of physical shapes and objects. Paint, nails, buttons, reunited in different order to create something new, hopefully of value. It all sounds very simple, nice and well put together. Getting to this conclusion 70 years ago was far more difficult. But it’s a good start for us.
Toyota in the late 80’s tried similar thing. Gathered everything lying around and went fully overboard Commando style to tailor a perfect rival for every luxury car out there. It had a respect-inducing V8 and classically handsome Cary Grant looks. Exchange rate, on par with golden age for Japanese industries not only allowed to overbuild everything like crazy and sell it for cheap with profit, but also to focus on philosophy as much as on sales. Seeing the right opportunity, they instantly grabbed it by the neck and started squeezing what’s inside to liquefy the thin air that was supposed to create a brand. Lexus then went on to create one of the greatest cars ever. Possibly completely changed the future fate of its big daddy.
Challenge or not, Toyota still had enough dough to pop out fourth generation of Supra. Fiat had a Coupe and Lotus turned Opel’s boring box into the fastest sedan in the world. Crazy times. And Mk IV? Even if you had it with an automatic trans and naturally aspirated engine, you still got gorgeous body, 220 horsepower with comfy seats and precise ride to show for in 1993, which is a pretty damn good worst case scenario. What’s mythical we all know. God seemed to have descended for a minute and helped in creation of indestructible 2JZ. And yet, in the early 2000s, it just died alongside its rival RB26 and never came back. Investment strategy took over, what seemed like a joke became for enthusiasts automotive cancer because Japanese suddenly shifted the tide to create one of the most hated cars ever – XW20 Prius. It was both crazily bold and stupidly inconsistent decision in minds of petrol-heads, who made sure to complain about it for the next 10 years. Of course we could at least try to give them some credit.
Alright, that’s enough.
running in circles
MR-2 we all loved went through an experimental plastic surgery that was supposed to make it sweet-16-worthy like VW Beetle, and no one bought it. Last generation Celica got a screaming Yamaha engine with not enough power and front wheel drive so, of course, no one bought it. E110 had the guts to call its coupe “Levin” and some are laughing till this day. There were supercharged versions of popular models but regardless of choice everything felt like a step back. It didn’t matter that we had unbalancing-fast Corolla when what we really wanted was to maintain 1993 touge video tape on an eternal loop. Even Toyota’s concept and limited edition cars drastically changed. Here it is, the title game again. Sera, “will be” in French, used to be a small car with overly complicated door game and a whole bunch of factory options to throw at it. Now Origin on the other hand, a strange recreation of 1950s styling, with naturally aspirated 2JZ in the front coupled with four speed automatic powering the ugly bastard with a 70 grand price tag. Think PT Cruiser for rich people. They’ve been trying to be futuristic and retro-conservative at the same time. You want fast? Okay, but not past the reaction time of typical Camry buyer. 2007 arrived and there wasn’t a single sporty Toyota on sale that would matter.
In the midst of it all Akio Toyoda, for whatever reason, decided to continue current direction and make the greatest not-fast-enough car ever. And DAMN did he succeed with a heavyweight swagger. What came as not much of a surprise was LFA. They’ve seemed to be back at it again, over-thinking every millimeter, not leaving out any detail and almost scrapping entire five years of development just to shed weight and switch construction elements to carbon fiber. In financial language it meant that the next incarnation of Toyota’s greatness turned from [LS400] loss-leader into loss-maker. It’s a good example in this case and shows how much it costs to develop an engine from scratch for just one car. It will stay forever in our nerdy minds, but it failed miserably. In 2012, Nissan GT-R had a power upgrade taking its acceleration down to ridiculous 2.8 seconds for a bargain price. You still needed some money to have all that but even if taking a loan you took a third of what LFA went for. Premium segment has its places where a new venture can thrive. What they fought to achieve, got taken over by Pagani, and what Lexus used to represent started to go soft.
Looking at Toyota in this time period, there’s a pattern emerging. You had ideologue LS400, fun Supra, mysterious Prius. Ideologue LFA, fun GT86 and to continue the same cycle, came another mystery. Supra.
Jack Baruth, at some more opinion-forming outlet, tried to prove that Mk V Supra should’ve been an SUV. Am I here to argue? We’ll find out. But if young and successful drive Porsche Macan’s then in theory Eclipse SUV, which is an actual thing, should continue what the last great Eclipse coupe left us with. And you see them in pretty much the same numbers. Low. Someone once told me that out of all manufacturers suddenly trying to ditch everything but SUV’s, Mitsubishi was the one to do it early enough. And shame on me because if we’re here to make an argument about 20 something’s, crossover outsold the coupe in United States, even if you combine GT86 and BRZ. Well, maybe Jack was right? Or even more. Depending on the source you get, worldwide production numbers for 1998 Mk IV Supra never exceed 3000 units and it only got worse from there. Every model year after that stayed below 1000.
I’ve been already talking about this and I’m gonna say it again – buying new cars is the best message to manufacturers you can send. It’s exactly the reason why there are no VR6’es and new MX-5 got an angry face. It’s why Ford plans to leave Mustang as the only non-SUV vehicle. At the end of the day, there’s planning for another day. Hate Prius all you want, it sold good enough to endure. But if new Supra is supposed to appeal to young – as they seem to think – they’re too young for Mk IV nostalgia and too broke to buy a GT86. Who is this car for goddamnit? BMW management, to happily whisper that they’ve made an external company to produce a Z4 coupe?
No, of course not. It’s for people willing to overpay for the same performance in different packaging. Speed and acceleration slowly stop to matter. Almost anything can make huge power, it ain’t magic. Targeted people know very well what’s at the top and bottom of justification graph. The cheapest V8 equals Mustang, cheapest roadster equals Miata and there will always be an easy answer for anything. Look at Volkswagen’s MQB platform – you can get the same 300hp+-capable four-cylinder in A3, Golf, Leon or Octavia packaging that gets from left to right less luxurious and more affordable. Doesn’t matter if you don’t want an Audi because is too tech-driven or you simply can’t afford it, you still have an opportunity to purchase a great performance platform that’ll be reliable. Hell, certain places will even mod it without breaching the terms of warranty. Some time ago experts complained about customers driven by looks, but some corporate giants have noticed an addressed that.
Throw it all away
Looking for Mk V’s identity is hard. Oh, Toyota is back? With a child? Oh, how wonderful hey wait it’s not. It was just born, named after its grandfather and everybody hate it, considering it a fruit of classic misalliance. This is what is it all about. BMW M240i standing 10 grand below Supra, hell of a car, will always look well put together in comparison. Besides the fact that it needs a lot of time to create memories with. Engine makes sounds, rear wheels do things, back seats exist so you can bring both your Pomeranian AND boyfriend for an exciting ride. Hopefully near the end of your lease it all adds up to something more, but people looking at you may not understand. Message sent collides with intentions. The color palette is too safe, styling is too safe, car itself is too much of a video game experience and most of all – it’s a safe statement of somebody who can afford to look the way he or she desires. Otherwise they’d buy a GT86.
So what? Toyota got caught up in trying to out-do itself so much that they’ve ended up selling turbo-ed Yaris but can’t think of a way to stop people from comparing newest creation to The Force Awakens? At this point – just to continue movie references – I felt like breaking Toyota’s skull just to look for answers. Time for cheap “BMW-logos” joke? No, another person hit me up with Jaguar F Type being of similar dimensions and starting price but can’t we all just leave it alone? Is the whole car culture character building exercise solely based on comparisons and seeking rivalry?
Yeah, it is. Regardless of if you like it or not. NSX appeared to conquer. And when you thought that M-Spec was the last version of R34 they’ve made Nür. We could go all soft on it and say that Pollock only gave Full Fathom Five a name-hint with everything else going in a direction of its own. Then go on to admit it doesn’t matter that critics think your album got thrown away from the hot season for music sales thinking it’s not worthy. You saw that, addressed that and went at it even harder to turn into a titan. But where does that Post Malone reference brings us to?
I think I’m of last generation caring about Mk IV Supra. I grew up watching 2 Fast 2 Furious, sure, but it’s a guilty pleasure now. What aged like wine is Best Motoring with both F40 and modified Supra about to do some serious racing. They even weighed every driver to put the lightest one into the heaviest car. This approach is burned into the core of my whole history with cars. Some who don’t have it yet outnumber me though. I think Toyota made a car for them.
While it might seem like the Westworld of cars, with its carefully manufactured, fake past of running at Goodwood and appearing already ready to race, there’s a platidude-grade choice to be made. We used to live in a pretty closed off markets. We heard rumors about what other camp had, we might have even seen it in a movie but never had full certainty let alone knowledge. When the barrier broke, and we were all flooded by what other kingdom spent a lot of free time on, we started comparing. JDM, Muscle and European Exotics all fighting on asphalt. This, right there? It isn’t fighting. Mystery had been unveiled a long time ago. Advanced telemetry on par with GPS positioning will help in making YouTube drag race extremely boring. People will bash it like grumpy grandparents but in the end, they even accepted Subaru-powered Toyota.