February 2, 2023

Meet Big Rhonda

Supra Practicality Test cover

As some of you may know I bought a Supra.  And as some others have pointed out, it’s “the wrong one”.  The implication being that any Supra that isn’t a twin turbo, six speed Mark IV is inferior.  Let me tell you why that’s bullsh*t.  #1: Mark 3s, like my Rhonda (I’ll explain later)  used to race in Group A competition in Japan… Where it didn’t do too well.  The problem?  It’s the size of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, and weighs just as much.  AND it competed (mostly) turbocharged, which added a penalty.  It won it’s debut JTCC at Sugo, but never secured a title losing to Ford Sierra RS Cosworths, Sierra RS500s, R31 GTS-R Skylines and (starting in 1990) the now legendary R32 Skyline GT-R.

It also had in house competition.  The Celica WRC program was vacuuming up money, so the MA70 just kinda kicked around.  Frankly ALL Supras just kicked around until 1996, when the Castrol TOM”S Supra won a GT500 title in JGTC.  But that’s a Mark 4, and neither here nor there.  This is about MY Supra, and my basement that needed some sprucing up…

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But first, some pertinent information about the car.  She’s a 1987 Turbo.  Yes, that means there is a 7M-GTE lurking underneath all forty feet of hood.  The three liter, turbocharged straight six is stock aside from a Cometic metal head gasket and ARP head studs.  There are three pedals, because I’m a man!  And because I’m a man, and the kid I bought it from is a lying liar, there is an Exedy clutch master cylinder replacing the stock one the kid said he replaced.  There’s also a three inch stainless steel V Band exhaust that I have to replace because it is getting pretty rusty, and because it’s not what I want on the car.  She’s also burgundy, which led to some calling her Ron.  I am of the school of thought that important things like cars, boats or golf clubs she be given female names, so I declared her Big Rhonda.  And here we are.

It being a Tuesday I knew Dave was available for shenanigans to help out, so I made my way down to Endless Garage to grab him, and to look around Endless.  After the impromptu tour, and meet and greet, we hopped in Rhonda and made our way north to the bastion of Swedish flat pack furniture.

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The big girl has some quirks.  First: despite having a radio AND speakers, neither seem to work at the same time.  The radio turns on, but it only sends sound out to the right side speaker.  Singular.  And most of the time that speaker doesn’t work, so I bought a little bluetooth speaker and jam out on that.  She also decided to double down on boost.  From the factory these Supras made 8psi.  On a fateful trip to Idaho Rhonda decided to run all the way up to 15 and introduce me to fuel cut.  Instead of solving the problem I learned to feather the throttle to keep her in boost and under fuel cut.  The little speaker did it’s job, and I really didn’t need to dip into positive pressure too much.  We pulled in, found a parking spot that allowed for a good photo, parked, snapped a photo, then made our way into the steel crate that is Ikea.

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The pathway through the store makes for a great shopping cart drift circuit.  Being the red blooded, fun loving Americans we are we took full advantage of the opportunity presented to us.  I did well, Dave killed it, the staff and other shoppers gave us dirty looks.  Soon after the death glares and fun, we emerged victorious: two area rugs, a welcome mat, some weird mat thing and a roll of no slip material.  Now was the real test: will all of it fit?

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I folded the utterly useless back seats down while Dave snapped the cargo cover up, and moved my space age hood/hatch prop and shovel and salt.  And would ya look at that!  THERE’S SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!

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As you can see we didn’t take the cargo cover out.  We didn’t need to and we really didn’t have a place to put it.  So there’s that.  And the salt and shovel are in there because this beast was my only means of conveyance for about a month.  My brother was borrowing my Subaru while his was at Ziptie, and I still had to get to work.

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ANYWHO, with our bounty loaded we returned the cart and made off for our next stop…

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I needed drapery and I needed it cheap.  We drove a few miles up the freeway to a Target, because I’m willing to pay to not go to Walmart, repeated the Ikea parking procedure, and headed to the home furnishings section.  Supra Practicality Test (13 of 13)

And would you believe it?  We crammed MORE stuff in there!  AND THERE WAS STILL TONS OF ROOM!!!  JUST LOOK AT THE GAPING CHASM THAT IS AFT OF THE FRONT SEATS!!!  Shopping done, we got burgers and then got to decorating.  Rhonda proved extremely practical this day.

You haven’t seen the last of her on these pages.  She needs maintenance work (she’s twenty-six after all), and a better, more legal way to affix the license plate on the back.  We’ve also got to deal with the sudden boost increase, the amount of daylight visible underneath her, the rusty exhaust and a bunch of other things.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

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