Toyota may need to collaborate with another automaker to justify the costs involved.
While we’re still waiting for the reborn Supra to arrive, it’s worth remembering that it isn’t the only legendary sports car Toyota could bring back from the dead. Once the Supra launches, Toyota could potentially revive another classic name from its history such as the Celica or MR2.
"We want to have Celica back, we want to have the MR2 back," Masayuki Kai, the Supra's Assistant Chief Engineer, told Road & Track. "The biggest was Supra. Supra was number one, the biggest demand from the market," he continued. "Now that we've brought Supra back, what will come next depends on the market needs."
Kai went on to say that the Celica could come back in the form of an all-wheel-drive compact performance coupe as an alternative to the rear-drive Toyota 86 and Supra. A mid-engine MR2 could also be in the cards if its financially viable. "Or maybe it could be a completely different model," Kai teased. "We'll have to wait and see."
Toyota and BMW have collaborated to develop the new Supra and Z4 Roadster. According to Kai, partnering with other companies to cut costs is the only way Toyota can make a business case for new sports cars, so this strategy may need to be repeated to justify developing a new Celica or MR2.
"Sports cars are becoming more and more expensive to develop," Kai told Road & Track. "So a single company cannot afford to invest in all the tooling for parts and components, because the volume of sports car is quite small. A sports car requires a lot of specific components that you cannot share with other cars."
The exception to that rule is Mazda, which has managed to produce the MX-5 Miata for decades without having to partner with another automaker. "Maybe if you're developing sports cars over a very, very long time, like Mazda, you have to know how to make it cheaper," Kai said. "I believe they have a lot of know-how, gathered throughout the development of the MX-5."
Toyota, on the other hand, hasn’t produced a high-performance sports car for over a decade. "I believe there are a lot of things we need to learn from Mazda. They never stopped developing the MX-5. They continuously developed that car. If you don't do this—like Toyota, stopping the Supra for 16 years—it's extremely difficult to bring it back."