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27 Oct 2013

Toyota Corolla AE86


Text and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis

I doubt there are any car enthusiasts left on the Planet that haven’t seen the Initial D anime or movie. If you haven’t – shame on you! The famous tofu delivery guy, Takuma Fujiwara, in his dad’s Hachi-Roku drifting round the mountainous hill roads of Japan. This car is a legend on its own and will live on forever with the amount of the followers this car has worldwide, and Chris from Northern Ireland is one of the biggest of them all.

Having lived in Japan for a long time before moving back to Northern Ireland, he has been inspired greatly by the local car culture over there. After meeting Chris for the first time I knew that I could talk with him for ages and ages being a massive Japanese car fan myself. His knowledge of Japanese cars just amazed me. Chris has a very impressive history of cars, including Skylines, 180SX etc. however this is his first AE86. He admitted “never before have I had such a love for one type of car”. The Hachi-Roku was acquired 6 years ago, and Chris has been infected by the AE86 bug since. He is now running a website called AE86 World and he imports and exports car parts from Japan worldwide, and generally enjoying the World of AE86.

Since the car has such a history and influence in Japan, there are hundreds of tuning companies and inspirational drivers dedicating their lives to keep the AE86 on top of the world’s most favourite car lists. Chris has been lucky enough to meet loads of them whilst he lived in Japan. Influenced by his friends Tsuchiya-San, Orido-San, Iida-San, and the best AE86 Tuning Shops, Impulse Japan, Tec-Arts, Techno Pro Spirits, Carland, etc. he set a goal to build a proper Toyota Corolla AE86.
There is a huge variety of tuning parts available on the market and furthermore many more still being developed and produced and as Chris said: “these are the things that keep the AE86 scene alive and interesting”. There have been loads of engine swaps for these gorgeous little cars and they have been widely used for drifting; however Chris wanted a car that he can jump in at any time, and just go for a drive, but that doesn’t mean his car is just an average Corolla. Hell no, his spec list is longer than the average book you can buy in shops. His car had to be ready for some sideways and track time as well.
Chris found a very good, clean base car to start with. The bodywork has been restored and re-sprayed in the original Toyota 147 silver metallic color. The car is covered with some rare JDM parts like TIOS front and rear bumpers, TRD rear spoiler, J-Blood Carbon fibre bonnet (TIOS was the collaboration between the four famous Japanese Racing Car Drivers and AE86 enthusiasts, Tsuchiya, Iida, Orido and Suga.; they developed this Aero Kit specifically for the AE86, and it’s almost impossible to find one today). 
Other body modifications include GT-Apex side skirts, orange Kouki lenses, JDM glass grill with yellow fog lamps, rare discontinued TRD carbon fibre emblems on the front wings, “White Line” tail lights, racing tow-eye crafted into the lower bumper and to finish of the car has got rear flared arches. Car is sitting on Rays Volk Racing TE37’s dressed into Yokohama S-Drive tires. However this car rarely can be seen with the same wheels for long, Chris loves to change them regularly. He adds: “It’s something addictive that comes with being involved in the AE86 Scene, we love our wheels and some of my favourite sets include SSR Mesh, XR4 Longchamps and Hayashi Streets.”
Now off to the engine bay…
The mighty Hachi-Roku came standard with a 4AGE 16 valve 1.6 engine, and when the car weighs less than 1000kg, this engine was powerful enough to put the car in front of any other competitors of the time. I absolutely adore the note of that engine noise coming through the exhaust. I am glad Chris decided to stay with the original engine, but by no means leave it stock. It is a fully built high compression “Tec-Art” with fully balanced bottom end on Toda 82mm piston kit, Toda, valve springs, Headwork ported & polished, TRD 0.8mm head-gasket, Toda 272° Camshafts, ACL Bearings, ARP Bolts, Trust Airmax Intake, Greddy E-manage ECU, Walbro Fuel Pump and Ultra Leads. The engine bay has been very neatly tidied looking awesome with the help of details such as TRD oil cap, TOM’s radiator cap, distributor heat shield, LAILE Radiator Shroud, TRIAL Catch Tank, Silk Road Engine Damper and Carbon Fibre Radiator Brackets, Plug Cover and Timing Cover. The music from the engine comes through a custom Masuda Full Titanium Racing Muffler, Zacetec Japan Decat, and 4 into 1 Greddy Trust Manifold. The Transmission is a T50 5-Speed on TRD mounts, TRD 2-Way LSD, 4:7 Final Drive, TRD Short-Shift Gear set, with Cusco Single Plate Clutch & Flywheel, all running Millers High Grade Oils.
As this car has seen the surface of tracks in Japan, as well as the narrow, twisty and bumpy roads of Ireland, the suspension set up was a big part of the car build. The suspension set up consists of the TRD Front Coilovers, adjustable top mounts, TRD blue rear shocks and springs, adjustable lateral rod, TRD front and rear anti-roll bars, Cusco arm kit, Nagisa auto Ueo Spec Chassis 4-link rear kit, spot welding and bracing, Cusco rear strut-brace, Cusco ‘Oval’ front strut-brace with T3 Tri-Bar add on. Silk Road engine damper, Cusco roll cage wrapped in black foam padding. New brake calipers front and back, Brembo discs and Endless SSS(Super Street Sports) pads front and back and Goodridge lines help the Hachi-Roku brake in no time.
Now off to the “office”. Since the inside of the car is where we spend most of the time, Chris agrees that he tried to give as much attention to the details in the inside as he did to the outside. Since this is car is already the lightweight GTV model, things already were light and simple and didn’t need much; he decided to keep the things that way, without going to the extreme. First thing that jumps into your eyes is the Tatami checker floor mats. The dash is the standard GTV with original dials and upgraded bulbs. The foam wrapped Cusco cage, Recaro speed reclining seats, Momo race steering wheel, TRD shifter, JDM cup holders sets the interior off nicely. The rear seats have been removed to reduce some more weight. Whenever Chris is not listening to the lovely engine noise, he enjoys his Carozzeria rear and Eclipse front speakers, powered by a rear amplifier and custom head unit.

This car has been built by a proper enthusiast that is for sure, and whilst doing the shoot I noticed he had “that” stare at the car… I think after owning the car for 6 years, he still looks at it, like he would have got it 6 days ago. We both greatly enjoyed the mountainous roads to the location of the shoot and that is what I think a proper AE86 is about – good weather, open roads and passion for cars.

Technical Spec:

Toyota Corolla Levin AE86
Year of Production: 1985
Paint: Toyota 147 silver metallic
Engine: 1.6 16v 4AGE
Fully balanced bottom end
Toda 82mm piston kit
Toda valve springs
Headwork ported & polished
TRD 0.8mm head-gasket
Toda 272° Camshafts
ACL Bearings
ARP Bolts
Trust Airmax Intake
Greddy E-manage ECU
Walbro Fuel Pump and Ultra Leads
TRD oil cap
TOM’s radiator cap
Distributor heat shield
LAILE Radiator Shroud
TRIAL Catch Tank
Silk Road Engine Damper
Carbon Fibre Radiator Brackets, Plug Cover and Timing Cover
Masuda Full Titanium Racing Muffler
Zacetec Japan Decat
4 into 1 Greddy Trust Manifold

T50 5-Speed
TRD mounts
4:7 Final Drive
TRD Short-Shift Gear set
Cusco Single Plate Clutch & Flywheel

Wheels and tires:
Rays Volk Racing TE37
Yokohama S-Drive

TIOS front and rear bumper
TRD Spoiler
J-Blood Carbon fibre bonnet
GT-Apex side skirts
Orange lenses
Yellow fog lamps
TRD Carbon fibre emblems
White Line tail lights
Racing tow-eye
Flared arches

Tatami checker floor mats
Foam wrapped Cusco cage
Recaro speed reclining seats
Momo race steering wheel
TRD shifter
JDM cup holders
Removed Rear Seats

Carozzeria rear and Eclipse front speakers
Boot install amplifier

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