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Driving The World's First Manual Toyota Supra

Test Drive / Comments

Not all heroes wear capes. Some do manual swaps.

When the 2020 Toyota Supra was finally revealed to the world, we had mixed emotions. Here was this radical new sports car with an all-new chassis, head-turning styling, and a reasonable price tag of under $50,000, but there was something missing.

In all the excitement of the fifth-generation Supra's arrival, plenty of would-be customers expressed their dissatisfaction that Toyota wasn't offering the car with a manual transmission. Having driven the new Supra on multiple occasions, we have no complaints with its ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. But how fun would the car be to drive with a third pedal?

That's something European Auto Group wanted to find out. So the San Antonio-based tuner devised a manual swap for the A90-generation Supra. And we had the chance to drive it. But before we tell you about that, we need to tell you about how the shop got its start with one of the most unique vehicles we've ever driven.

European Auto Group
European Auto Group
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The Ferrari 430 Scuderia

EAG's core business involves manual-swapping Ferrari models like the F430 and 599 GTB, so the company knows its way around a transmission. It's best known manual swap is a Ferrari 430 Scuderia (a car that was only sold with an F1 automatic transmission), and as far as we know it's the only manual example in the world.

The 430 Scuderia formula is already a winning one with a 503-horsepower V8 mounted in the middle of a 2,975-pound supercar. Most of the sound-deadening has been removed, so every single vibration from the howling V8 is delivered directly into your eardrum. Now with a gated manual box, every gear change requires the utmost precision, making it all the more satisfying when you nail the perfect shift.

It's as pure as a driving experience gets. The steering communicates every imperfection of the road, the suspension is racy without being too stiff, and the throttle feels directly bolted to your spinal cord. This Ferrari is proof that these are the guys you should trust for your Supra manual swap. EAG's brilliance is on full display here and the manual Scuderia ranks among the best cars we've ever driven.

European Auto Group
European Auto Group
European Auto Group

The Manual Supra

Before we talk about EAG's work on the manual Supra, we have to mention that the one we sampled is still a development car and customer cars will differ. Since the Supra was co-developed using a BMW chassis with a BMW engine, swapping in a manual transmission from BMW is a relatively straightforward affair. Getting the transmission to play nice with the rest of the car's electronics is a different story though, which is why we recommend paying EAG to do the swap rather than attempt it yourself.

The shift knob you see in the photos comes from the last-generation Z4 and is only temporary. Customer cars will have a unique shifter with an option for a flip-up sport mode button. Different gear ratios will be available depending on how you plan to use the car. The car we drove, for example, uses a BMW 520d transmission that is durable enough to handle over 1,000 hp and a top speed well over 200 mph. This combination would be ideal if you plan to do runway races but we felt the gear ratios were too tall for everyday enjoyment on stock power. 1,000 hp might be a different story.

European Auto Group
European Auto Group
European Auto Group

As we mentioned, the development car is not yet complete and features the pedal box from the owner's M4 (his car was temporarily sitting on jack stands). The M4 box was designed for a larger footwell so the pedals are too close to the driver's feet and the clutch was located too far to the right to have room to reach the dead pedal. Customer cars will use the pedal box from an M2, which is angled to the right and should be more appropriate in the Supra's footwell. EAG is currently waiting on an M2 pedal box from Germany but unlike how the Fast & Furious movies would lead you to believe, the parts don't come overnight.

While the pedal box was completely incorrect for the car, we were able to get a glimpse at what the Supra feels like with a manual. The clutch has a nice weight to it, similar to what you'd find in a factory BMW M car. Likewise, the shifter offers the same feel as most BMW cars. The B58 inline-six engine pulls hard when you are in the correct gear and still backfires in sport mode when you lift off the throttle.

European Auto Group
European Auto Group
European Auto Group

There is an issue where the traction control cuts throttle when it detects too much slip but EAG told us it is working on a solution in the car's ECU. Swapping a manual transmission into a modern car that wasn't designed for it is not a simple task but our experience with the Ferrari gives us faith that EAG will sort it out. For now, the traction control can be disabled to eliminate the issue. We hope to visit EAG again when the M2 pedal box and shorter gears are installed because we know the shop is close to building something special here.

European Auto Group
European Auto Group
European Auto Group

Pricing

EAG has priced the manual swap at $12,000 all-in (not including the price of the Supra) with a $6,000 deposit required up-front. Of course, swapping in a new transmission will void Toyota's warranty but EAG will offer aftermarket warranties ranging from one to three years for an additional cost covering the transmission and all major components. "If Toyota doesn't pick up the warranty, then EAG will," says owner Art Bartosik.

This is not a small amount to spend modifying a brand-new $50,000 car but if you want to have one of the most unique Supras on the road, we feel it could be worth the price. Bartosik says EAG will perform 16 swaps in 2020, meaning there won't be many of these cars driving around.

European Auto Group
European Auto Group

Future Projects

Once EAG is all out of Supra swaps, the company will turn its sights to other manual conversions. Bartosik says EAG has already received several calls to build a manual-swapped Shelby GT500 and the C8 Chevrolet Corvette has been the most requested car for a manual transmission. We can't even imagine how hard it would be to manual swap a C8 but Bartosik says "we've already got a transmission in mind." EAG will also be the first to swap a manual into a Ferrari 458 Italia and CarBuzz was even given a sneak peek of EAG's next manual swap, a Lamborghini Huracan!

European Auto Group
European Auto Group
European Auto Group

Gallery

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Photos