The Toyota Corolla was introduced in 1966, and by 1974, it was the best-selling car worldwide. Even today the Corolla is still one of the best-selling cars in the world. However, apart from being reliable and affordable, there weren't many exciting things about the Corolla till the arrival of the AE86. For Corolla's fifth generation, Toyota released the AE86 (E80 series) in 1983. In the code name AE86, 'A' represents the 4A engine, 'E' represents the Corolla, '8' signifies the Corolla's fifth-generation (E80 series), and '6' stands for the sixth variant within the generation.
The Toyota AE86 was available in both coupe and hatchback styles, and the compact car was a wonder. It put Toyota on the map among motorsports enthusiasts and represented a cheap way to have fun on the road. During the AE86's production run, many manufacturers in Japan made imitations of it. The AE86's impact on car and game culture is vast, and here's what every gearhead should know about the icon.
10 Car Culture Influence
Pop culture is one of the biggest reasons the AE86 enjoys such widespread popularity and admiration. Toyota's AE86 has influenced an entire generation, and its impact on car culture can not be overstated. After its release, the Toyota AE86 was featured in numerous car video games. Some of these games include Shift 2: Unleashed, Gran Turismo 5, Gran Turismo 6, Forza Motorsports 2, and Forza Motorsports 4.
However, it's perhaps most famous for its iconic role in the Japanese Manga series Initial D (more on that later). The AE86 also starred in The Fastest and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and was briefly featured in Fast and Furious. In 2021, a blockbuster movie– Fast 9 showed the AE86 destroying a truck.
9 Motorsports Success
During its prime, the Toyota AE86 was very active in Motorsports. The AE86 participated in a series of races and also clinched wins, including two consecutive British Touring Car Championship wins in 1986 and 1987. Many Toyota Corollas have been used as rally cars, so it's no surprise that the AE86 took part in rally races.
After the Toyota Celica became the manufacturer's flagship model, the AE86 Corolla participated in rallies. As part of their GR Heritage program, Toyota's Gazoo racing announced in November 2012 that they'd reproduce and sell spare parts of the AE86 Corolla.
8 FWD And RWD Variants Were Offered
The first AE86 Corolla models released in 1983 were RWD, but by 1984, Toyota couldn't resist making an FWD version of the car. For starters, FWD cars are cheaper to build and, by default, more affordable. FWD vehicles also have more mileage, emit less carbon dioxide, and have more traction.
While Toyota released an FWD variant of the AE86, they continued making the RWD variant. The RWD variant is available in both coupe and hatchback styles and has two versions– the Levin and the Trueno. Both variants could be easily differentiated by their headlights. The AE86 Levin has fixed headlights, while the Trueno has pop-up headlights.
7 Lively Powertrain
Throughout the AE86's production, Toyota employed three power trains. These include the 1.6-liter 4A-C I4 SOHC, 1.6-liter 4A-GEU I4 DOHC, and the 1.6-liter 4A-GEC I4 DOHC engines. All three engines used by the AE86 are from the Toyota A engine series. The 4A-C engine was used for North American and Australian markets.
Toyota's 4A-C engine was also used for other models like the AT151 Carina II, AT160 Celica, AE71 Corolla, AT151 Corona, and the AE82 Corolla. The AE86 has about 121 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. However, many enthusiasts have modified the car and increased the power output to up to 800 horsepower.
6 Spot-On Weight Distribution
A car's weight distribution describes how its weight is spread out, directly affecting its handling and performance. Most cars around have a weight distribution of 40:60, and that's great.
The Toyota AE86, on the other hand, has its weight evenly distributed across the front and rear wheels. As a result, the AE86 can easily perform stunts and skids. The AE86's weight distribution is also one of the main reasons the car excels at drifting.
5 Drifting Legacy
Of all the Motorsports the Toyota AE86 Corolla has participated in, drifting is the sport it performs best in. Now, while the AE86 does exceptionally well in car racing, it's mostly known for drifting.
The Corolla is even referred to as the drift king. Most of the AE86's drifting abilities can be credited to its perfect engineering and evenly distributed weight. For suspension, Toyota used a live rear axle instead of an independent rear suspension. The AE86 is also a small and lightweight car, which helps it drift easily.
4 The Modern 86
There's a new 86, and of course, Toyota got a lot of inspiration from the AE86. To develop the new 86, Toyota invited Subaru to join the project. Both manufacturers worked to build a modern sports car inspired by the AE86.
The concept car was first unveiled at the 2009 North American International Auto Show as the Toyota FT-86. After a series of concept cars unveiled by Toyota and Subaru, the sports car was released in 2012 as the Scion FR-S. After the 2016 model year, Toyota started marketing the new 86 as the Toyota GT86. Subaru's version of the project is known as the Subaru BRZ. The two cars are still in production today, now in their second generation, with revamped styling, firmer chassis, and more power under the hood.
3 Initial D
The Toyota AE86 starred in many car video games and media, but the Initial D gave the car its drifting legend status. Initial D is a Japanese manga series with 48 volumes. Most enthusiasts of the AE86 were introduced to the car through Initial D.
The manga series was later adapted into a game– the Initial D Arcade Stage. Initial D's main character in the manga series– Takumi Fujiwara, is the son of a tofu seller and is tasked to deliver tofu. He uses an AE86 to deliver tofu for his father while racing the mountains. The series tells a story of illegal street racing in Japan, and of course, the drift style of racing is used.
2 Ever-Growing Fanbase
Over the years, Toyota's AE86 Corolla has built a large fan base worldwide. The Toyota AE86 is a huge deal, especially in the Japanese car culture. People who grew up with the Initial D Manga series and game bought the AE86.
However, some fans go as far as building their own AE86 Corolla from scratch. We're sure those enthusiasts are excited with Toyota Gazoo racing planning to make and sell AE86 parts. On YouTube, you'd find AE86 fans who tried to recreate the exact AE86 Corolla from the Initial D Manga series.
1 Surviving Models
While Toyota stopped production of the AE86 in 1987, you can still get your hands on the Corolla today. However, the Toyota AE86 is rare and not usually seen on the road. At certain times, some AE86 models are available for sale on car websites.
You could even decide to import the AE86 from Japan since slight style differences exist between models offered in Japan and the US. On used car websites, the price of the Toyota AE86 Corolla ranges from $15,000 to over $40,000.