Toyota AE86 LeVin
The “eight” as lucky number in Japan transcends people, in fact, the old company Toyoda Loom Works, when a subsidiary company was oriented to motoring, the name is changed into Toyota, because, in Japanese, is written throughout 8 traces. Such was the coincidence that one of the most remembered and one of the beginnings of the legend in the competition’s world has the 8 as predominant number. It’s the fifth edition of the historic saga of Toyota Corolla, known as E80 from which great models appeared, conversely one of them stands out over the years and it’s the one that we present in this article, this is the AE86 named as “Hachi-Roku” what means 8-6 in japanese. The A refers to the engine called 4A; the E for belonging to Corolla saga; the 8 for being part of the fifth generation of the series and the 6 as a division from the rest of the models with this engine. From this moment on numbers 8 and 6 together weren’t unnoticed anymore.
The Toyota AE86 was the bid of Japanese people who, in 1983, decided to launch a reachable with rear-wheel drive, this feature, apart from its chassis and its price made this vehicle famous, despite the fact of coexist with other superior models. This Toyota had two versions: Trueno and Levin. The former became famous over the years and, the latter, closer to the competition. Differences were evident, considering headlamps and rear lights, the Trueno version possessed pop-ups. Both had two and three door bodies in the first editions known as Zenki, as the model that we are shown in the article, as well as Kouki versions which were the last reviews of the car.
In Japanese world, the name Zenki refers to the first generation (1983-1985) and Kouki (1985-1987), the last edition of it. This unit mounted since 84’ to 87’ with an injection engine denominated 4A-GE, successor of the 2T-G historically dubbed as reliable and resistant engine.
This vehicle achieved its fame when Keiichi Tsuchiya, a humble petrolhead who practiced in “Touge” races, which consist on racing over the tricky roads of Japan. Such was the mastery of Keichii that, according to him, he was winning so easily that he didn’t want people to get bored, that’s the reason why he started to drive sliding the rear of the car forcing oversteer. The AE86 was ideal for the mentioned purpose. This meant the increase of popularity the drive style named as Drift. The comeback to the fame for this car occurred with manga, later converted to an Anime known as INITIAL D launched in 1995. Focused on urban races told throughout an 18 years old teenager called Takumi Fujiwara, a student and a “Tofu” deliver in the familiar business who was used to drive around the near hilly roads and challenged other competitors showing its knowledge and skills on the public roads driving an AE86 Sprinter Trueno GT-Apex.
The personal history of Manu with this car is, at least, curious and shows that, considering its own words “over the years you realize that some things are predestined for you”. Between its plans was not own a Japanese car, in fact, the 205 Rallye or the Clio Williams were the most attractive cars when he started to become interested for the motoring. Conversely, Roberto’s influence, one of his high school colleagues, who insisted about Japanese cars quality, added to the beginning of the Internet influenced Manu to start downloading Best Motoring videos which “luckily, were subtitled in English” or Drifting reviews where the AE86 highlighted, unknown discipline back then in Spain.
One day, in 2006, in the surroundings of his neighborhood saw his current car, but, with a completely different aesthetics to the one shown in the images, that following Manu, went unnoticed, painted in bluish gray and with stock modifications. The plate from Ourense contributed to confound him completely making him think that he could see it again soon; he was wrong, he didn’t gaze the AE86 upon a year later in the same place like the first time and on this occasion, he didn’t doubt about making an offer to the original owner. He wasn’t able to understand the interest on his humble Levin from Manu. After a couple days negotiating the purchase they came to an agreement and he started enjoying the car over the awesome roads closed to his home in Grou a village located in the Baixa Limia near the border between Portugal and Galicia. The car is used to transport the music equipment when he plays as DJ because, according to him, it fits perfectly on the cage. On his house the vehicle has a fan specifically the youngest of the home who is amazed with only the aesthetics of the car.
After a tie of belonging it, he took the car to A Madalena racetrack where he realized the car needed a lot of work to reach the iconic AE86 he saw at his childhood videos. Before, showing off the amount of customizations this vehicle has, we will review the technical details of the original “Hachi-Roku”
The cylinder head of the original engine, designed by Yamaha, was equipped with 4 valves per cylinder, two camshafts (DOHC) and a system, called T-VIS, that increased the geometry of the intake from about 4,200rpm. It had 1,587cmᶾ, 120 hp and weighted 940 kilos, providing this vehicle with exquisite features that ensure a top speed of 120 miles / h and a 0-60 in 8.5 seconds. The Japanese brand emphasized, in addition to designing an effective mechanics, in taking care of the building and materials used so that it was also robust, manufacturing for the Japanese market a version with 130 hp.
These numbers made the AE86 a competition car being a direct rival, in the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC), for iconic models like the Mercedes 190E or the BMW 6 Series, winning the brand’s championship with 267 points. It was used in rallyes as well, being a competitive car even after its retirement. The discipline in which the Levin standed out was in Drift, where it reached fame thanks to well-known drivers.
Despite this car had impressive characteristics for that time, mounting a limited-slip differential, Manu decided to make some changes adapting to his driving style. The engine itself didn’t accept turbocharging due to mechanical limitations in the conrods and crankshaft, so Manu decided to buy a new engine which belongs to a Toyota MR2 Supercharger (4AGZE) from Ireland and rebuilt it on his own. It also has a ceramic clutch from TRD and a custom made exhaust which came from Japan and is located under the axis, not like the original. Talking about control, it has better brakes and Bilstein coilovers with narrow springs and polyurethane bushings in both stabilizer bars, apart from a Quaife direction and improved arms.
The Toyota AE86 was an exponent of Drift movement, in cultural environment, appearances in The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift and other films, stand out and popularized the discipline all over Europe, or in the mentioned Initial D, as well as in famous videogames such as Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, Forza and more.
It was so influent that Toyota launched a car named GT86 in 2012, after a great reception of his prototype FT-86 mechanically inspired in honour to this myth for all petrolheads.