Introduction:

'AE86' is the model code for Toyota's last rear-wheel drive Corolla. This car is considered by many to be one of the few truly 'classic' cars to come out of Japan in the 80's, a decade which turned out very few excellent cars. With its light body, rear wheel drive layout, and predictable handling, this car very rapidly became (and remains) the choice of many 'boy racers' and track racers alike, wherever it was sold. It is said by some that the AE86 is a car that teaches the driver, and that it does you no favours, and forces you to learn the important fundamentals of driving for yourself... With no power steering, a very direct feel, and no ABS, this can be very true.

This car has been sold in many different countries under many different names. For the purposes of this writeup it will be referred to as the AE86, as this is the only name that can be reliably understood in all the countries in which it was sold.

The Names:

First of all it is worth discussing the various names by which this car is known. Technical specifications of the individual versions will be addressed in the 'Specifications' section.

AE86:

As mentioned earlier this is the model code for the car. The A represents the engine used in the car, the 4A. There were several different versions of this engine, which will be discussed later. The 'E' designates the car as coming from the Corolla family, and the 86 is a 'revision number' of sorts. There was also an AE85, intended in Japan to be a 'low end economy model' but these were not sold outside of Japan, and are in most (visual) ways identical to the AE86. Many of the less advanced (Non-JDM) versions of the AE86 share components with the AE85.

Corolla Levin:

This was the Japanese name for the version with fixed headlights, and comes from the Spanish word for 'Lightning '.

Sprinter Trueno:

Brother to the Levin, the word Trueno comes from the Spanish word for 'thunder'. Identical in almost all ways to the Levin, the big difference being pop-up headlights. Both the Levin and Trueno come in liftback and coupe versions, and were sold between 1983 and 1987.

Corolla GTS:

Only available in coupe form, and with pop-up headlights, this is the version of the car as sold in North America. Sold in 1985 and '86.

Corolla SR-5:

Same as the GTS, with lower specification mechanical components throughout and an automatic 4 speed gearbox.

Sprinter:

In Australia the car was marketed as simply the 'Sprinter', and was available in only one trim level, in fixed headlight/ liftback form, and with most of the lower spec components of the Corolla SR-5/AE85. In Australia this car is barely known, and is usually mistaken for a FWD Corolla, or an 80's model Hyundai Excel. This has its ups and downs. Sold only in 1983 and '84.

Corolla GT:

This is what the car was known as in the UK and Ireland (Eire). It is almost identical to the US 'GTS' model, but came as a liftback.

Hachi-Roku:

This is a slang term for the car, from the Japanese word for 'Eight' and the Japanese word for 'Six'. NOT the Japanese word for 'Eighty-six'. Use of this term in serious racing circles may brand you as too much of an 'Initial D' fan, something not altogether desirable if you want to be taken seriously with this car.

Specifications:

The AE86 came in MANY different flavours. We'll start at the front of the car and work our way to the back.

Headlights:

see 'Names' section for details of which cars came with which version (popup or fixed).

Engine:

The AE86 came with two different engines, one of which came in about 4 different versions.

The 4A-GE:

This is the engine that made the AE86 famous. A dual-overhead-cam (hence the 'G' designation), 16 valve, 1.6L, 4 cylinder powerplant, with a non-interference type, narrow-valve-angle head (designed by Yamaha) and belt driven cam pulleys. Fuel is fed via a Bosch designed fuel injection system, with some models being equipped with an AFM (Air Flow Meter) and some came with the MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) sensor. MAP versions put out approximately 2kw or so more.

Variations include the 4A-GEU (Japanese specification emission controls) and the 4A-GEC (Californian specification emission controls). Quoted power on the first series of this engine is 86kw, with later versions being quoted at 88kw and 100kw respectively. As far as I know no AE86 came with the 100kw version, as it was used exclusively in AE82 and AE92 based Corollas (both FWD), and the AW11 Mk 1 MR2 (Mid engine transverse mount).

The first two of these engines came with a system called TVIS, Toyota Variable Induction System) which has the effect of making the car feel completely different as soon as it hits 3,500rpm. The difference is not unlike the feeling of a mildly turbocharged car coming on boost. In essence, this engine needs to be revved hard to show its true colours, and part of the fun of driving it is keeping it 'on the boil' all the time.

The 4A-GE puts out its full power figure at 6,600 rpm, and reaches redline at 7,700 rpm.

4A-C:

This is most definitely the lesser of the two engines. Also a 1.6L 4 cylinder engine, this version has only a single overhead camshaft, and 2 valves per cylinder, in a non-crossflow head design. This engine was not fuel-injected, instead it was fed by a single carburettor. Referred to variously as a 'boat anchor' or a 'forklift motor', most AE86 owners with these engines are wanting to swap them for something better, usually the 4A-GE, or the 4A-GZE, which was a supercharged version, found in the MR2 and later Japanese Corollas.

Gearbox:

The gearbox which came with most AE86s is the very popular Toyota 'T50' 5 speed. This gearbox came in 2 different versions, with two slightly different input shafts. This gearbox was also found in some American Celicas, and the AE71 Corolla (i.e. any Toyota with a RWD A series engine).

There was also a 4 speed automatic gearbox which was available in some Japanese/American models.

Suspension:

Macpherson strut type front end, with (fairly inadequate) anti-roll bars, and live axle type four link rear end.

Brakes:

Japanese, UK, and the US 'GTS' came with vented front discs and solid rear discs, where the SR-5 and the 'Sprinter' from USA and Australia (respectively) came with solid front discs and sub-par rear drums.

Differential:

A clutch type LSD was available as an option in Japanese and the American 'GTS' versions. LSD wasn't available in the Australian version.

Different Chassis Shapes:

There are some subtle differences between the coupe and liftback body shapes (beyond the bleeding obvious) in that the coupe is approximately 20 kg lighter, and is a stiffer chassis than the liftback. Which version looks better is a matter of personal taste, but the liftback is probably the more popular if only due to the influence of...

Initial D:

It's unfortunate (but true) that one of the influences that has brought the AE86 into the public eye slightly more than some other similar cars of the era is a cartoon. Initial D tells the story of a boy who develops superhuman driving skills while driving a liftback Trueno to deliver tofu for his father's business. I won't go into more detail here, since I know there's already a separate node for the show.

Suffice to say that there are three kinds of AE86 drivers. The sort who saw the show, and bought the car because of the show, the sort who saw the show and expend great energies trying to distance their car/driving from it, and those who've never seen it or just don't care about it.

Modifications:

AE86's are one of the most modified cars to ever come on the market, and people have shoehorned all sorts of things into the engine bay of these things, from a Mazda 20B turbo rotary engine, to a Lexus V8, to a 700hp full house Supra engine.

Anything bigger than a 4cylinder/rotary will usually cause problems for any AE86 that wants to go around corners, as the cars are simply not designed to have that sort of weight in the front. This isn't too important though, as it is perfectly possible to get up to 130hp or so at the wheels with a stock engine and no form of forced induction, and with a turbo or supercharger, a whole new world of possibilities opens up.

It is generally accepted that any more than around 150 hp at the back wheels is too much for the car to handle, as the 20 year old chassis is quite 'floppy' by modern standards, and in a car so light, (between 925 and 945kg depending on which version of the car you have) it's more than enough.

Performance Figures:

In stock form a 4A-GE equipped AE86 with good tyres can go from 0-100kph (~60mph) in about 8.5 seconds, and will go just over 200kph. The quarter mile will usually take around 16 seconds with a good driver.

Anyone with any additions/reccomendations for this writeup, feel free to /msg me.