Almost straight out of Initial D - Hayashi86’s Toyota Corolla AE86
Special thanks to Lim (hayashi86.com) for this opportunity to feature his Toyota Corolla AE86. Before we go on, it is important to note that the Toyota Corolla AE86 that we have here is NOT the same car that Takumi Fujiwara drives in Initial D. This is a ‘Kouki’ AE86 whereas the Initial D car is a ‘Zenki’ AE86.
Why does one drive an AE86?
We can’t deny the influence of Initial D here. The majority of AE86 owners own AE86s because they got hooked on it through the fictional story. But the fictional story leads you to discover a real story with real people and real events.
And that real story has something to do with a man named Keiichi Tsuchiya - the Drift King/Dorikin. Mr. Tsuchiya used to practise on the mountain pass (‘Touge’) and beat other racers (on track) with his less powerful AE86. Dori Dori-san has also made a cameo in “The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006).
Somewhat related: A 200 km/h 90s Japanese Saloon - BIADAP's Toyota Corolla AE101
Is the Toyota Corolla AE86 a great car?
Well, it might actually be the opposite of that. According to my friend, Kazuto, there was a time when guys who drove R32 Skylines decided to switch to the AE86 (because of the sudden popularity) and absolutely regretted downgrading to such an old car. In other words, it kind of sucks. It's also slow.
But if you enjoy very analogue cars and can't resist pop-up headlights, the AE86 might just be the perfect car for you.
What I can confidently say is that the AE86, is an underdog. That’s just how it is portrayed in Initial D. And everybody loves an underdog story. For a car enthusiast, a car is an extension of one's self and perhaps some guys like the underdog mentality.
Somewhat related: “The Reasonable Mid-Engine Sports Car” -1990 Toyota MR2 SW20
With the JDM Icon status that it has, the value of the AE86 holds pretty well - the more original the AE86 is, the better.
But Lim goes with the philosophy of modernizing whatever needs to be done underneath (for reliability’s sake) whilst maintaining as much originality as he can.
The Story of hayashi86.com
Lim learned about the Toyota Corolla AE86 through Initial D. One of the early memories he has of the AE86 was way back when he was 14. He saw an orange AE86, rushed home to get a camera just to get a picture.
He even specially requested for this particular picture to be printed in 5R size rather than the regular 3R just because it felt special.
On the day that this picture was taken, he knew right there and then that one day, he had to have an AE86. The AE86 that he drives now was purchased in 2015 at around RM 40,000. As all old cars go, the AE86 required some work to be done.
His other options at that time included a 180SX or an AE85. But driving an AE85 converted to an AE86 would go against what he dreamed of in the beginning.
On hayashi86.com (est. 2012), he shares beautiful photos and interesting articles on cars, build progress on the AE86, local car events, and even some trips to Japan.
Living with a Toyota Corolla AE86
Rust is an inevitable problem for old cars. If you have the means, the first thing you should do is get the car stripped down and sent in for a rust treatment procedure. Corners and edges are rust prone areas.
The trunk is rusted and will soon be replaced with a new one. This means saying goodbye to the ducktail spoiler that the car came with when purchased in 2015.
The Toyota 4A-GE 16-valve engine has not been touched. The only customized things are a custom intake filter, a strut bar, and a custom exhaust. It is an old engine and there are plans of rebuilding it one day.
One issue faced by Lim previously, was the distributor being melted by the heat from the exhaust manifold. It is a custom exhaust so some things may have been overlooked during the installation. To solve this, a custom heat shield has been installed between the distributor and the exhaust manifold.
What Is It like to drive a Toyota Corolla AE86?
This interior is bare and simple. It felt ancient but the analogue experience was enjoyable. The gear shifter is also angled towards you when in Neutral, so that takes some getting used to.
The hydraulic steering feels good, the suspension is a bit stiff, and the car sits low. The exhaust sound was great and the 4A-GE seemed pretty rev happy.
The 4A-GE is equipped with Toyota’s T-VIS (Toyota Variable Induction System) that compensates the low air speed at low RPMs. It has dual intake runners and the butterfly valves open at 4,200rpm, opening all eight runners.
At low RPMs, only four of the eight runners are used, forcing the engine to draw in all its air through half the runners. This increases the airspeed, improves cylinder filling, and improves fuel atomization (due to an asymmetrical airflow, a swirl is created).
The car is fitted with bucket seats (for the driver only) and the dash is decorated with signatures from icons from the Japanese car scene such as Mr. Akira Nakai. AE86s are infamous for their cracked dashboards, but with the signature of those legends, this dashboard is here to stay.
The hood is long, like most front engine, rear-wheel-drive cars. Visibility is decent, since the roof pillars are thin and the windows are huge. Space in the back isn’t great. The sloping roofline doesn’t help with headspace for the rear passenger.
The first row can be adjusted to be right in the middle of the wheelbase, so that's nice. It’s long and low. That's also nice.
A lot of effort has been done by Lim to own this AE86. From saving up, looking for a good deal, fixing it up, and solving unexpected problems with the car. There’s also a lot of true passion that goes into a project like this.
It's a costly hobby, but the joy of an analogue NA car is what some us need for that extra joy in life.