THE-LOWDOWN FEATURE CAR | TOYOTA AE86 TRUENO
Special for a Reason
In a world dominated by 0-60 times and horsepower figures, Kak’s Toyota AE86 provides a breath of fresh air.
Sold in Japan from 1983 to 1987, the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive Toyota AE86 was packaged with a 1.6 litre, inline-four powerplant known as the 4A-GE. However, the AE86 was no ordinary car for Toyota to produce. In the early 1980s, the Japanese auto industry pivoted away from the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and instead heralded front-wheel-drive as the new black.
The controversial AE86 emerged as a dark horse from Toyota, and with the help of the Japanese manga series and anime; Initial D, the AE86 became an instant cult classic, predestined to inspire generations of car enthusiasts to come.
Today, the AE86’s desirability stems from the fact that it provides a window back into a simpler time, offering an analogue purity that’s unattainable in cars of today. For a society craving a sense of nostalgia and authenticity, it’s clear to see why the AE86 has remained so popular.
The nostalgia begins in the engine bay. When talking numbers in a room of 80s and 90s JDM engines, the 4A-GE 20V Blacktop isn’t the first to put its hand up, but that’s what makes the AE86 so unique.
A lightweight frame and a MacPherson strut in the front, paired with the optional limited-slip-differential made the AE86 plenty of fun in the corners and proved that power wasn’t everything.
It’s the aggressively styled pop-up headlights and unique 3 door design that separates the AE86 from other JDM cars of the time, and it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t exemplify character.
“It’s very difficult to find each part, but there’s a certain charm to modifying old cars”
Patience is key
Building a Japanese car from the 1980s is certainly not a project for the impatient, with the majority of Kak’s parts having to be shipped over from Japan. With the goal of retaining the retro feel of the car whilst adding his own unique flair and modern touch, Kak began curating a mix of modifications for his AE86 that turn the heads of enthusiasts and pedestrians alike.
Fragments of 80’s and 90’s Japanese car culture find themselves purposefully placed throughout Kak’s AE86, from the JBlood light covers to the East Bear mirrors and 5zigen exhaust, the car would look right at home in Japan 30 years ago. That’s not to say it’s a relic from the past, with Nitto NT01’s coupled with BC Racing Coilovers and Cusco sway bars breathing new life into the handling of the AE86. CBY Carbon Fibre flares paired with 15 inch Rays TE37V wheels also gives the AE86 an unmistakeable presence on the road.
Kak summarises the AE86 perfectly, calling it a ‘lightweight car that’s fun to drive’, and it’s clear to see that his modifications have retained that 80s charm that the AE86 is known for.
Owner Notations and Thanks
‘If I was to change anything, I would try and keep the retro styling of the AE86’
There’s not much for Kak left to do but enjoy the final product of countless hours of work and effort, with thoughts only to change the wheels, repaint the engine bay and perhaps add a little more punch to the 4A-GE with an ECU tune.
Who to thank?
It’s hard not to be drawn to the retro allure of the AE86, and Kak was no exception, referencing the Drift King himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya as a major inspiration for owning and building such a unique car.
He would also like to thank all of his Set Zero friends for the ongoing support and motivation to finish this build and to also thank Mr. Champ Pandaeng for helping repaint the AE86.
ONE-OF-A-KIND 80’S RETRO STYLING
Kak’s AE86 exhibits a harmonious balance of period correct and OEM modifications.
Explore the list of mods in the sections below.
4Age 20V Black Top
ITB Throttle Bodies
WHEELS / SUSPENSION
TE37v F15x9.5 -20 / R15x10 -25
Ray Wheels Nuts
Nitto NT01 F205/50/15 R225/45/15
BC Racing Coilovers Gold
Cusco F/R Sway Bar
- Cusco Tension Rod
CBY Carbon Flares
Jblood Light Cover
East Bear Mirror
- Nardi Steering Wheels
- Works Bell Rapfix II Quick Release
- Work Bell Boss kit
- Apexi RSM
- Apexi AFC NEO
- TRD Gear Knob
- Karo Floor Mats
- Defi Gauge
- Pivot RHU-M Retractable Headlight
- Cusco 21safety 6Point Roll Case
- Cusco Rear Sturt Bar (Carbon)
- Recaro Profi SPA (RH)
- Recaro Raptor SR3 (LH)