Toyota Automobile Company

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May 1983, a new Toyota Corolla model with a fac NN;L.M’;Mtory index AE86 arrives in Japanese car dealerships. Then no one knew that this car would become a cult for all motorsport fans, an icon of drifting, a star of movies and anime series.

Rear-wheel drive layout is the cornerstone of success

In March 1972, in the Toyota lineup, sports modifications of the Toyota Corolla appeared for the first time under the name Sprinter Trueno and Levin. Technically, the cars were completely identical. There were only minor external differences in the form of design of the front cladding and taillights. Trueno and Levin positioned themselves as sports models and actively participated in the rally, and with considerable success.

In the early 80s, following the worldwide trend, Toyota began to gradually abandon rear-wheel drive. In 1979, the Japanese began developing the fifth-generation front-wheel drive Toyota Corolla, under the E80 index. However, in the case of Levin and Trueno, the company’s management decided to keep the rear-wheel drive layout. And as history will show, it was a very right decision.


Sprinter Trueno AE86 1983

Toyota Corolla Sprinter Trueno was offered in both two and three-door body styles.

The new AE86 model was based on the previous generation Corolla TE71 platform. Under the guidance of talented engineer Nobuaki Katayama, the specialists updated the chassis a bit: upgraded the suspension and installed a disc brake system. But most importantly, under the hood of the AE86, an advanced new-generation engine, the 4A-GE, was registered. This is the first four-cylinder engine of the Japanese company with four valves per cylinder and two camshafts (DOHC). In addition, it was equipped with the innovative T-VIS intake manifold geometry change system and fuel injection system.

  • Engine 4A-GE
  • Engine 4A-GE

4A-GE engine with 124 hp had a “twisting” character with a red zone at around 7400 rpm. In addition, the motor had a very large potential for improvements and high reliability.

Toyota Corolla AE86

Salon AE86 did not differ in special sophistication, but none of the drivers cared.

Toyota Corolla AE86 turned out to be a light and fast car. Journalists noted that Hachiroku felt like a much more powerful car on the go, and the car was nicknamed “200-horsepower kart” for its sharp and precise steering. By the way, the nickname Hachiroku, the car got for its index: in Japanese, the number 8 sounds like “hachi”, and 6 like “roku”.

  • Toyota Corolla AE86 in pop culture and drifting
  • Toyota Corolla Levin
  • Toyota Corolla Levin at circuit competitions

In the late 1980s, a new type of illegal street racing called drifting was born in Japan. Often they took place on mountain serpentines, the turns in which took place in a controlled skid. In such conditions, the rear-wheel drive 86th with a cross-axle differential lock showed itself perfectly. In addition, the almost perfect weight distribution (53% on the front axle and 47% on the rear axle) made the Hachiroku an ideal car for drifting. Putting the AE86 into a perfect drift was not easy, but those who succeeded subsequently reached unprecedented heights in drifting. For example, the unsurpassed drift master Keiichi Tsuchiya started with the 86th. He respected her so much that he called Hachiroku none other than the drift queen.

Initial D

A frame from the anime Initial D, where the main character races on the Sprinter Trueno AE86

However, the stunning rise in popularity of the Toyota Corolla AE86 was not due to drifting (although it was not without it). In 1998, Japan released the animated series Initial D, which tells about illegal racers – drifters. In it, the main character Takumi Fujiwara was engaged in the delivery during the day, and in the evening he participated in street races on Hachiroku. The anime became very popular in Japan and brought a lot of attention to the protagonist’s car.

As a result, the growing popularity of the AE86 was immediately reflected in its value. After the release of the series, the prices for the car grew every year, reaching absolutely not decent values. This phenomenon is called the “Takumi tax”.


Forever in history

Toyota Corolla AE86 is one of the most outstanding Japanese cars. His success in motorsport, drifting and pop culture has given him cult status. In 1987, the model was discontinued, in total about 35 thousand Sprinter Trueno and 66 thousand Levin were produced.

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