Soybean Runner: An Afternoon with an AE86
Different generations get hooked on cars thanks to certain vehicles. Our fathers may have clamored over the 1st gen Lancers or the TE Corollas hanging out regularly at Greenhills in the 70’s, our grandfathers may recall days of driving the odd American muscle, and perhaps the children of today look towards cars like the new 86 or the ND Miata. Whatever the case, for millennials that stuck to their televisions for entertainment, there is perhaps one car that may have fueled the gearhead inside us: a Panda White Toyota Sprinter Trueno.
With Initial D portraying the AE86 as some kind of immortal hero car that wins every single race, demand for the otherwise humble Corolla skyrocketed thanks to the bright-eyed children that have now grown up. And with the car itself as well as parts getting even rarer by the day, it’s safe to say that only a select few will be able to live the dream of truly owning a Hachiroku. Thankfully Henry Sy (no, not that Henry Sy) is dedicated enough to truly work towards acquiring and maintaining his own slice of the Initial D Tofu pie.
Upon acquiring the AE86 a year ago, Henry’s made little changes to what is already a working formula. Keen fanboys of Initial D will point out that this Trueno isn’t completely in tune with the hero car of the show – bits like the full kouki (late model) pieces, the lack of CF lamp covers, and Cibie foglights being the key differences. Thing is, the original zenki (early model) bits of the AE86 have also gone up in price thanks to fans of the show meaning changing up to make it look more original will definitely cost a heftier sum. Besides, the late model exterior gives the hachiroku that extra bit of aggression.
Supposedly this AE86 came into the country as a humble US version Corolla SR-5. Owned by an american soldier stationed here, the car was eventually sold to a local and then converted into GTS spec. That means it had bits like LSDs and better suspension eventually fitted to it. Over the years the car has thankfully been kept in working – and tasteful – order. And while prices for this humble corolla continue to rise Henry still continues to drive it regularly; The car shows clear signs of use throughout its clean panda white two-tone.
Pop the light Stage 21 carbon hood and you’ll find the signature motor that makes all the music people rave about – a 20V 4AGE Silver Top. To get its individual throttle bodies working the way they should, a Black Top ECU needed to be used as the standard box will require an actual intake system. Considering that the standard 4-AC motor from the SR5 still runs a distributor, the 20V that currently resides under the bonnet leaves so much more space thanks to its more modern electricals – a nice bonus if you want to declutter the engine bay.
Henry is one of the fortunate few in town that have the luxury of comparing his AE86 with the new 86 back-to-back on a day-to-day basis. He tells us that the heritage of the original AE86 translates fairly well to its successor. Qualities such as the cars’ sharp handling, ease of maintenance, and daily useability are all key features that carry through between both cars despite their two-decade gap. Looks like Toyota truly went through the things that made the original 80’s corolla so popular to create the new 86.
Much unlike the heroic antics of the Fujiwara Tofu Shop AE86, at the end of the day the real life AE86 is a humble corolla that wows its drivers by sheer handling instead of outright power. And for the folks that are lucky enough to keep cars like these in their garages, they know too well that power won’t give them the same feeling behind the wheel.
Happy 8/6 Day to all 86 owners new and old!
Words by Aurick Go
Photos by Jose Alroveros