The first Celica Supra was introduced to America in 1979 as Toyota's response to the popular Datsun (a.k.a Nissan) Z-Car. Built on a Celica chassis that was lengthened 5.1 inches, the Supra replaced the Celica's 4-cylinder with a 2.6-liter SOHC inline-6.
In appearance, the Supra was distinguished from the Celica by it's longer wheelbase, wide "B" pillar, unique grille (styled after the 2000GT) and its badging. The first generation Supra is commonly referred to as the Mark I (MKI).
1979: The first Celica Supra is introduced in America. Built on a Celica chassis that was lengthened 5.1 inches, the Supra replaced the Celica's 4-cylinder with a 2.6-liter SOHC inline-6. It also featured a four-link rear suspension with coil springs, lateral track bar and stabilizer bar. In appearance, the Supra was distinguished from the Celica by its longer wheelbase, wide "B" pillar, unique grille (styled after the 2000 GT) and its badging.
1980:(Ed note: Thanks to Christopher Eng for the following information) Changes are mostly cosmetic for the interior and exterior. The interior gets a redesigned/reshaped center console and a digital quart clock (the 79s had a analog quartz clock). On the exterior are redesigned left/right side view mirrors, the 14x5.5 aluminum rims, which were optional in 79, are now standard (the 79s had steel rims w/plastic wheel covers standard). In addition body molded mudflaps become available. On the Copper Metallic and White cars the flaps were painted the body color while on all other colors the flaps were left black. On the rear of the flaps, painted in white lettering, was the word "Celica".
1981: The big news is a new 2.8 liter SOHC engine that boasts 116 hp and 145 ft-lbs of torque. (hey it may not seem like much today but in 1981 these were fairly respectable numbers). A new Sports Performance Package is offered as an option including sport suspension, raised white letter tires, and front and rear spoilers. Alas this is the last year that an 8-track stereo tape deck is to be offered.