ICONIC CARS – THE KING OF STREET RACING
The Toyota Corolla AE86, or, as its commonly known, “AE86” or just “86”, is arguably one of the most famous cars of all time. It’s listed along with the GT-R, Mustang, and RX-7. The body of the vehicle is iconic and instantly recognizable, and the engine note can be recognized from miles away. There are some who might see this vehicle as just any other Corolla from the 1980’s; however, auto enthusiast will be the first to tell you that The Eight-Six is much more.
UNDER THE HOOD
The Toyota Corolla AE86 began production in 1983 and was available with a 4A-GE engine that housed 128 horsepower and 110lbs of torque, all sent through a T50 5-speed manual transmission. The 4A-GE engines used in the AE86 were also equipped with T-VIS (Toyota Variable Intake System), a variable intake system designed by Toyota to improve the low-end performance of multi-valve engines. The vehicle came as a hatchback or a coupe. In addition, there were two front-end options. The first option was a fixed headlight version known as the Levin. The second option was the Trueno, which sported pop up headlights. In Middle English, Levin means lightning. Trueno, on the other hand, means thunder in Spanish. The vehicle also featured rear and front sway bars. Having both sway bars allowed the AE86 to keep tight cornering while remaining controllable (even when racing and drifting).
During its production run, The Toyota AE86 became a very popular choice for showroom stock, Group A and Group N racing (especially in Rallying and Circuit Races). Its popularity never dwindled and it is still a popular choice, in rallying and club races, to this day. This can be attributed to its layout and design, which allowed it to dominate on the track. In Group A touring car races, the car dominated the lower category, where it competed against the Honda Civic and late model Corollas. In 1986, the AE86 competed in the European Touring Car Championship where it beat the BMW M6, BMW 325i, Rover Vitesse, Volvo 240 Turbo, Merkur XR4Ti, Mazda 929, Holden Commodore, Alfa Romeo 75 and Mercedes 190E to win the Manufacturers’ Championship with 267 points.
THE DRIFT KING
During this time, the AE86 had gained popularity among Japanese hashiria (Japanese street racers), who raced in the mountain passes throughout Japan. It was during this time that Japanese racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya, also known as The Drift King, helped popularize the sport of drifting and the AE86 was his car of choice. Drifting is a driving technique where a driver will internationally oversteer, causing a loss of traction in the wheels, yet maintaining control through a corner – something the AE86 was perfectly suited for. Keiichi used the AE86 on Japan’s mountain passes, showing off the new sport of drifting. He also displayed these skills in a video known as The Drift Pluspy. Ultimately, Keiichi got his racing license suspended because of the illegal racing showed in his video. This, however, did not stop the explosion in popularity of the Pluspy video, drifting or the AE86. Shortly thereafter, many street racers across Japan were inspired to use the AE86 and make their own videos.
A LEGENDARY VEHICLE
The Toyota Corolla AE86 is an absolute legend. The vehicle has gone on to inspire many racers throughout the world, while, at the same time, remaining relevant in popular culture by appearing in the Fast and The Furious film franchise and the popular manga Initial D. In fact, it is because of its continued popularity that the AE86 continues to have a high resale price despite it being over 30 years old. In recent years, Toyota released the Toyota 86, a successor to the historic AE86.