Happy 86 Day! Today is a special day for this specific vehicle called AE86. Proud 86 owners will bring their car outside for major gatherings to celebrate this day. For those who are unfamiliar with AE86 might think, why is it necessary, why that old car and so on. In this post, I am going to share some details why this car is so special in the automotive world.
Let's start with the name. AE86 is the chassis code for the 5th generation of Toyota Corolla. AE86 or the Japanese called it 'Hachiroku' (ハチロク - Eight Six) was the last rear-wheel drive (RWD) model in the Corolla family. Since it was the last RWD model, the Toyota designers ought to create an affordable sports car that will be remembered for many years to come or in other words, legendary.
Toyota introduced AE86 in 1983 as two models, the Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno. Both models have the same chassis structure but differ at the front headlights; Levin has fixed headlights while Trueno has pop-out headlights.
Interestingly, the word 'Levin' means lightning in Old English, and 'Trueno' means thunder in Spanish.
There are two types of AE86 body styles in the market, commonly the 3-door hatchback, and the 2-door coupe. The difference is at the top rear end structure of the car. Do they make any difference? Yes, hatchback model has better drag coefficient than the coupe. Even with heavier weight for the hatchback (rear), it helps giving 50:50 weight distribution which is an important point for a balanced car. The coupe has 57:43 weight ratio. However, coupe model design is considered to be more rigid.
After deciding your favourite body styles, Toyota offered three different specs in the brochure; GT-Apex, GT-V and GT. (SR spec falls under AE85 group, not AE86). GT-V (hatchback) & GT (coupe) specs were pure sports model without any luxury components like power steering, sunroof and aircon. GT-Apex was available in coupe and hatchback bodies. It was the top range spec of AE86 and fitted with luxury components plus it offered lot more options than GT-V and GT spec like power windows, power steering, sunroof, power mirrors just to name a few.
AE86's production period was from 1983 (first introduced) till 1987. During this period, minor facelift took effect and separated into two categories. Original 'Zenki' (前期 - early period) is referred to the models sold between the year 1983 to 1985. Facelifted 'Kouki' (後期 - latter period) is referred to models from 1986 to 1987. Both Zenki and Kouki series applied on various AE86 specs: GT-APEX, GT-V & GT.
This car weighs less a tonne (at 970kg) and powered by Twin Cam 16V 1.6L 4A-GE engine which produced about 125hp. Little horsepower for a sports car but the 4A-GE engine in it was built for high output and quick response which allowed drivers to experience thrill of the screaming 4A-GE at 7500rpm (according to Toyota). Excellent fuel economy and superior reliability were the key features of the engine.
Okay, so what makes it so popular?
Firstly, thanks to Initial D, AE86 popularity has been increased. Many people who watched/read it would think AE86 is such a cool, quick and agile car which is best for drifting. The main character, Takumi Fujiwara drives his father's AE86 Trueno for daily tofu deliveries and using his hidden driving talent, he was able to defeat any opponents (using higher powered cars) who challenges him.
Another important person who contributed to the fame of AE86 is Mr Keiichi Tsuchiya aka Drift King. When he was in his early racing days, he showed his drifting skills to overtake cars on the race track. At that time, he was driving the red Advan-Kurata AE86. Personally, he owns one too and regularly his white Trueno appears in a specific segment called Gunsai Touge of Hot Version/Best Motoring. In his videos, he often shares his tips on creating a fun-to-drive hachiroku and even created a dedicated 'AE86 Club' DVD which features only AE86s. Not to forget, he's the consultant for Initial D too.
The Advan-Kurata AE86 Keiichi Tsuchiya was driving during 1984 Fuji Freshman series.
Carland is a dedicated AE86 workshop located in Kyoto that restores and maintains entire of Japan's AE86s. They are known famous for building 100% replica of Initial D's Trueno, restoring old AE86 to almost factory condition and selling them. And, thanks to Carland, 86 owners and enthusiast can obtain new/used car parts to keep their AE86 soul going.
The drifting culture, affordable sports car (that time), lightweight and balanced, high rev engine with great sound, all these points made AE86 well known throughout the world since the 80's. To respect, remember and to grow its popularity, gatherings, 86 owners meetup, special-make races were held yearly.
The most common one is the 86 Day on August 6th (8月6日). On that night, Daikoku Futo Parking Area would be full with 86, each being different and unique in their own ways.
Next, is the HachiRock Festa. This annual 86 owners meeting is organized at Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest in the month of September. However, Hachiroku owners have to register themselves in this event as limited parking space is available at Sagamiko Resort.
Other 86 events are like 86 Matsuri at Tsukuba Circuit, Okayama 86 Festival at Okayama Circuit and 86 Style at Fuji Speedway Circuit.
Oh my god! Just look at the amount of 86 in annual events like this. I wish I was there. T_T
I always get very excited when I saw an 86 on the road regardless it is parked idle or moving on the road. My eyes would be locked onto it until the car is out of my sight. For parked AE86, I would go near it, admire the tiny details and then take a picture of it as a remembrance (souvenir). LOL!
This picture was probably my first take using film camera. Haha! Check out the date.
I love 86 but yet to have the chance to own and drive one. At the mean time, I just have to be patient and be contented with the smaller scales I have now. Hahaha. :D
Since it AE86 is no longer in production and definitely hard to own one, I should consider on the newer one named Toyota GT86. It had been awarded car of the year 2012 by Top Gear Magazine. Looks like the legend continues with this one.
After reading this post, I hope you guys understand a little better on AE86 and why people are still putting effort in maintaining it even after for 30 years. Its design features, its historical value, and its driving characteristic, create a unique personality to the car and thus, we should not oversee it and instead recognize and appreciate the purpose of a true sports car, the AE86.
*I would like to thank the parties below for the pictures and videos used in this article. ありがとう！*
Photo Credit: [Burnpavement.com, Club4age.com, Driftworks.com, Eg6maxx.over-blog.com, Speedhunters.com, Hot-version.jp, Hachiroku.com.au, Chris-chrisgray.blogspot.com, Jyuroku.com, Aeu86.org, Myae86.no.sapo.pt]
Video Credit: [Jyuroku.com]
Please enjoy the brochures of AE86 below. :)