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LuxInterior
LuxInterior HalfDork
4/26/17 2:08 p.m.

I've been on youtube watching video love for the Toyota AE86 from Petrolicious, Mr. Regular, etc.

I've heard so much AE86 hype. I was skeptical. I expected the car to be portrayed as Legendary, Jesus on wheels, the second coming of tacos, etc... But the videos make them look like cool little momentum cars and a total hoot to drive.

I must have been living under a rock when these happened. What do we think of 'em? Who here has driven both the "real" RHD version from Japan and the LHD Corolla GTS available in the US? How different is the driving experience?

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
4/26/17 2:16 p.m.

The driving experience should be almost the same since there are very few differences between the two. The biggest is probably the much heavier and less attractive bumpers on the US version.

The prices on AE86s have gone through the roof now because most of them were slammed into walls sideways when drifting was taking off as an organized sport.

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 HalfDork
4/26/17 2:47 p.m.

I've had three AE86s total and had at least one since the mid-90's. I've driven friends JDM cars and the only thing you'd notice in terms of different driving experience is which side the steering wheel is on.

The North American cars are "real" AE86s, just like the Japanese models. The mechanicals are generally 98% the same. In Japan they got the choice of pop-up lights on the Trueno, or fixed lights on the Levin, and all of North American cars came with pop-ups. All of European cars were fixed. Japan and America got a choice of hatchback or coupe, and Europe got all coupes. These differences are almost purely cosmetic. The hatch has easier loading for cargo, and the coupe is a tiny but quieter on the highway, but the difference in feel behind the wheel is minuscule.

Here's the little detail stuff that won't really change the driving experience much, but you might notice if you start crawling all over both Japanese and American versions side-by-side:

Less crash-protection and less safety for the passengers on the JDM cars. The bumpers and door beams are essentially non-existent. They are a touch lighter, but not worth obsessing over.

More trim levels available on the Japanese cars. We got the base singlecam DX, singlecam SR5, and performance GT-S with more options. In Japan they got some total stripper cheap singlecam models below our base spec, some versions aimed at the young women, twincam GT and GT-V performance models that are fairly similar to our GT-S in terms of performance/driving experience (4AGE engine, stiffer suspension, swaybars, disc brakes, optional limited slip, etc) but often have less of the comfort/convenience features that many (but not all) of the U.S. market GT-Ss came with, like power steering, electric mirrors, sunroof, A/C, rear wiper, cruise etc. Japan also got a range topping Limited model with special trim, power folding mirrors, digital dash, and a few gimmicks we never got.

JDM ECUs measure incoming air with a MAP sensor. American cars measure incoming air with an AFM. The condition of the 30+ year old engine will have a bigger impact on what the car is like than the tiny difference in how the ECU measures air....if the car in question still even has the original parts. The other differences mostly have to do with different legal requirements in diffferent countries, like different side marker lights, different emissions equipment, etc. Once again, an aesthetic difference, and your preferences and condition of the car will be the biggest factors here, rather than the theoretical superiority of one over the other.

So many of these cars have been modified and had parts swapped around that discussing trim levels and factory options on American cars is a purely academic exercise at this point. JDM cars might be found closer to stock, but not always.

I can go into more detail if you want. Hope this helps! :D

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
4/26/17 2:49 p.m.

We had one of the cleanest AE86s in existence when I first started at GRM about 15 years ago. It was a former TRD car, and was immaculate, although it had an unfortunate (very 80's) paint job.

I drove it around for quite a while, and even entered it into a very early Hyperfest drifting contest. (I placed 4th out of 17 IIRC) They are fun, as they goad you into beating the living crap out of them. You kind of have to, as they don't make much power. They do rev to the moon, and have a spunky personality though.

Compared to pretty much anything these days, they are very slow. However, they are nimble, nicely laid out, practical and fun. They have a rabid following, mostly due to the Initial-D cartoon series which a lot of folks grew up watching, so the prices are a bit out of whack for what they are.

Good (stock) examples are very hard to find, as most were modified, or thrashed within inches of their lives.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
4/26/17 3:06 p.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: It was a former TRD car, and was immaculate, although it had an unfortunate (very 80's) paint job.

There's nothing unfortunate about 80s paint jobs to me, got pics?

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 HalfDork
4/26/17 3:17 p.m.

I remember the GRM project car, and it was a bit...unfortunate because it had an 80's 'custom' look that didn't age as well as liveries like the classic TRD Japan gray/orange/red over white, or the Toyota red/orange/yellow over white like on Ironman Stewart's trucks.

Think more mini-truck scene and less classic race car livery.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
4/26/17 3:19 p.m.

Oh, "Custom" '80s paint, I can see how that would be unfortunate...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/26/17 3:19 p.m.
GameboyRMH wrote:
Joe Gearin wrote: It was a former TRD car, and was immaculate, although it had an unfortunate (very 80's) paint job.

There's nothing unfortunate about 80s paint jobs to me, got pics?

It wasn't that bad.

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 HalfDork
4/26/17 3:23 p.m.

Hehe...there it is! Better than I remembered it. It does look a little bit dated, but still a lot better than some of the orange-peeled rattle-canned flat black AE86s I see on Craigslist!

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
4/26/17 4:18 p.m.

^^ yeah, the paint was very high quality---- as was the entire car really. It was like brand new on the inside. I really should have bought that one.......

It made me miss my 1980 Corolla two-door sedan.

DocV
DocV New Reader
4/26/17 5:59 p.m.

I would rock that 80's paint all day every day...

hhaase
hhaase Reader
4/27/17 9:22 a.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: They are fun, as they goad you into beating the living crap out of them. You kind of have to, as they don't make much power. They do rev to the moon, and have a spunky personality though.

Gotta love it when your powerband basically STARTS at the redline for older engines. Same engine as the first generation MR2's, and I'm sure you know the reputation on them :)

When you autocross a 4AGE powered car your target RPM band is 5,000 to 7,500. Peak on a stock engine is around 6,500 or so. Very sharp and peaky powerband, so you want to keep as close as you can to that peak number, and shift nearly at the redline every time.

-Hans

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
4/27/17 9:39 a.m.
hhaase wrote: Very sharp and peaky powerband, so you want to keep as close as you can to that peak number, and shift nearly at the redline every time. -Hans

Bunta Approves (especially if the redline is 11krpm)

Robbie
Robbie UberDork
4/27/17 9:47 a.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: Good (stock) examples are very hard to find, as most were modified, or thrashed within inches of their lives.

This is probably the highest honor the general public can give to a car.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/27/17 9:52 a.m.

A number of them were also cut up for Locost donors because they were cheap, rusty and had a live rear axle. They were just called Corolla GTSs then.

Then Initial D happened and they became priceless icons

Fitzauto
Fitzauto Dork
4/27/17 10:09 a.m.

I love the one I bought. That being said there isnt much AE86 left. All new suspension, big sticky tires and 4azge swap make it feel way different than a stock one. Its a blast to drive and begs to be hooned.

LuxInterior
LuxInterior HalfDork
4/27/17 11:47 a.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: A number of them were also cut up for Locost donors because they were cheap, rusty and had a live rear axle. They were just called Corolla GTSs then. Then Initial D happened and they became priceless icons

I'm seeing some decent looking examples on CL in the $6500 range. I might need a GT-S project to keep my track prepped Miata company

OldGray320i
OldGray320i Dork
4/27/17 5:34 p.m.
David S. Wallens wrote:
GameboyRMH wrote:
Joe Gearin wrote: It was a former TRD car, and was immaculate, although it had an unfortunate (very 80's) paint job.

There's nothing unfortunate about 80s paint jobs to me, got pics?

It wasn't that bad.

Yes, actually, it was (is...) - and I'm an 80's homer.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
4/28/17 7:46 a.m.
OldGray320i wrote:
David S. Wallens wrote:
GameboyRMH wrote:
Joe Gearin wrote: It was a former TRD car, and was immaculate, although it had an unfortunate (very 80's) paint job.

There's nothing unfortunate about 80s paint jobs to me, got pics?

It wasn't that bad.

Yes, actually, it was (is...) - and I'm an 80's homer.

If you think that paint is bad, you're not trying hard enough.

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan Dork
4/28/17 8:31 a.m.
ae86andkp61 wrote: Japan and America got a choice of hatchback or coupe, and Europe got all coupes.

Not sure about Europe but in the U.K. and Ireland I've only seen hatchbacks and never a coupe.
Same with the 80s 200sx/Silvia. I think almost all the U.K. ones ended up in Ireland at one point in the 90s. With the prevalence of tarmac rallying there really wasn't the need for the Initial D hype.

c0rbin9
c0rbin9 Reader
4/28/17 1:24 p.m.

How do they compare to an E30?

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
4/28/17 1:42 p.m.
c0rbin9 wrote: How do they compare to an E30?

Very, very different animals. E30 BMW's feel very solid, planted and vault-like. They are fun to throw around, but they feel much more substantial than an AE86, which feels like a flyweight in comparison. (not sure what the weight difference is...but the Toyota feels much lighter) Pretty much any E30 (besides maybe a non "s" 318) will outrun an AE86----- a 325is, or M3 would leave one for dead on anything bigger than an autocross course. That said---- an AE86 would likely be a lot more fun on an autocross course than all but the E30 M3--- which is a similar car in principal to the AE86. (high-revving 4-banger---that needs to rev, lively chassis, etc)

Power isn't the point of the AE86, as they don't make much. They love to rev, feel spunky, and are lively handlers. If you are looking for thrust--- they aren't the best choice.

I find an E30 325is is a far better street car than an E30 M3. The M3 shines on track, but on the street they are buzzy, low on torque, and a bit unrefined. The six in the 325 is smooth, torquey and satisfying. The added weight up front shows itself in attack mode-- but can be mitigated with chassis set-up.

I know I'm alone in the wilderness, but I never liked the E30 M3's boy-racer styling either. I prefer the non-flared car. (ducks and runs)

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 HalfDork
4/28/17 1:57 p.m.

In reply to nutherjrfan:

I think you are right. Levin coupes for the continent, and Levin hatchbacks for the U.K.

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 HalfDork
4/28/17 1:59 p.m.

I've always wondered how it compares to an Escort RS1800, but being from the States, never had the chance to sample one. I always imagined the driving experience would be similar.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
4/28/17 2:28 p.m.

The 4AGE engine was used in Toyota World Sport Racer cars: https://www.lanemotormuseum.org/collection/cars/item/toyota-wsr-race-car-1996 There was a racing series for them back in the 90s that's not active anymore but there are still some cars out there. I used to see a couple of them at Hallett and they were pretty quick.

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