Posted by: futurevehicles | April 29, 2009

Car of the day 1- My 4AGE-powered lover.

I’ll try and keep the ‘car of the day’ segment going- it all depends on what my schedule is looking like and if i can find enough cars to make a worthy list. All I can say is that the cars that will appear in this category are cars that have special meaning or significance for me. Some I have seen as a child and never forgotten. Some I have seen in my travels on the internet and are worthy of a place on this blog. All of them are a celebration of the automobile.

I’ll begin with my favourite- a car that I have grown up with in one way or another. I have driven one, ridden in several, seen hundreds, talked about them for hours on end, helped build one in to a race car and even watched one on a Japanese anime show.

I’m talking about the legendary Toyota AE86.


For those who don’t understand the significance of this little car, I guess I should give you a bit of background info before we go any further.


The AE86 generation of the Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno is a small, lightweight coupe introduced by Toyota in 1983 as part of the fifth generation Toyota Corolla line-up. For the purpose of brevity, the insider-chassis code of “AE86” is used to describe the whole range. In classic Toyota code, the “A” represents the engine that came in the car (the 3A and 4A) and the E86 represents the 6th revision of the fifth generation (E80 series) of the E model which is the Corolla. The visual difference between the Levin and Trueno is that the former has fixed-headlights and the latter has retractable headlights. The export model name Corolla covers both variations. The AE86 (along with the lower spec 1,452 cubic centimetres (1.452 L) AE85 and 1587 cc SR5 versions) was rear wheel drive (unlike the front wheel drive CE80, EE80 and AE82 models), and is among the last rear-drive cars of its type, at a time when most passenger cars were being switched to front-drive. The AE86 was replaced in 1987 by the front wheel drive AE92 Corolla/Sprinter range. In Japan, the AE86 was also known as the Hachi-Roku.

The AE86 is diminuitive in its appearance. To a random ock on the street, it just looks like another mid-80’s hatch like the Nissan Gazelle or Skyline- but it is so much more than that. It was an incredibly well built car given the flimsiness and cheapness of the materials used. The chassis is incredibly stiff when compared to the conventional Fords or Holdens that grace our roads, and it’s virtually bulletproof engine/driveline combination proved popular with the youth of Japan who illegally raced these cars in the mountains.


My dad once described the AE86 as “sneaky” in its appearance- and I couldn’t help but smile because i’d never heard a car described in this way. It IS sneaky. It is subtle. It is reserved in it’s appearance- and yet it is so effective in it’s purpose: to be a driver’s car. While it is almost impossible to find a completely original AE86 out on the roads thanks to the thousands that were totalled during illegal street races, devoted fans of the car (such as my brother) have taken it upon themselves to restore these magnificently simple machines to their former glory.

 AE86 club meets are held every month and they have obtained a true ‘legend’ status among those who are passionate car enthusiasts. While many 86’s still sit in rural Japanese paddocks, rusting away into eternity, many have survived the onslaught and can regularly be seen on Melbourne’s streets. All one can hope for is that people respect this car for what it really is: a true, no-holds-barred driving machine.




  1. Just had to put Keiichi’s N2 beast in there didn’t you..

    Good read. Wish I had the motivation to build mine 😦

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