Aside from the highly popular anime series, another strong influence that has helped elevate the 80’s era Corolla Hachi-Roku or AE86 into cult car status is no other than the man who made drifting a household name. His name is Keiichi Tsuchiya whose contribution to the sport led to organized drift competitions in both Japan, America and has spread worldwide. His personal ride? A Hachi-Roku of course.
His tuned AE86 has been featured in countless videos including his very own Drift Bible DVD. With a highly tuned engine and suspension, it’s absolutely a blast to see both car and driver in action. Since then, his car has become popular as ever and the reason why the AE86 ranks high up on almost everyone’s wish list despite its scarcity and high cost.
Our featured AE86 is owned by Michael Rojas of ROTA Wheels, who like most of us wanted to own one ever since they can remember. Lucky for him as he stumbled upon a US-Spec Left Hand Drive (LHD) unit and wasted no time in getting the whole car disassembled to facilitate all the necessary repairs. According to Michael, his goal was to create a JDM car as much as possible with details that are correct which explains why it now resembles a GT-V Trueno JDM-Spec as he adds, “The interior on the car now is a GT-Apex set since my next goal is to make it a GT-APEX variant once I complete procuring all the brown glass panels”. The high level of subtle details that really matter on the inside and outside is what really makes this AE86 stand out.
The original high revving, 16-valve, 4AGE engine is part of the reason why all enthusiasts want one as it spells sheer fun for anyone who gets behind the wheel. With the original motor long gone, Michael explains that it will never be a restored concourse level build. This is why he opted to swap a 20-valve, 4AGE “Blacktop” engine that’s supposed to mimic the mods on Drift King Keiichi Tsuchiya’s personal AE86.
A lengthy aftermarket parts list includes TODA forged pistons, TODA camshafts, a TODA metal head gasket plus more proves that this engine means business. Replacing the factory ECU is a Greddy E-Manage that’s been tuned by Francisco “Pacho” Blanco, who was able to coerce the engine to put out around 200 horses. Those wishing to get even more power should opt to use a slightly 1.8-liter 7AFE engine block or get a turbocharged engine.
Grip or drift, this AE86 has the requisite coil-over setup on all four corners with Ultra racing sway bars, while a TRD 4.7 final drive gear ratio and a KAAZ limited-slip differential allow for fun sideways action. A set of 15×8-inch wide Rota RKR wheels gives it that proper track-ready look Although not pictured, his AE86 also looks good when it rolls on wider 15×9-inch Rota Grid Classics. This fitment stretches the sidewall of the tire that’s commonly referred to as “Hipari” in Japan. Using a narrow tire on a wider wheel causes the sidewalls to stretch from the lip to the tread giving the tire a unique low-profile stance and increased sidewall rigidity.
Aside from its aesthetic appeal, it’s a common feature among drift cars as they believe that less sidewall flex means smoother weight transitions, better steering feel, and less body roll when cornering. I guess it’s pretty obvious by now that the AE86 is really a car built for tuning where the possibilities as they say are endless. One thing’s for sure, whether it’s built for grip or drift, its pure simplicity, and raw driving dynamics explain why it enjoys a huge following worldwide.
Car: 1986 Toyota Corolla
Owner: Michael Rojas, ROTA Wheels
Engine: 4AGE “Blacktop” 20 Valve
Engine Type: 1.6-Liter, Inline-4, 20v, VVT
Engine Mods: TODA (81.5mm) Forged pistons, TODA Metal Head Gasket,
TODA (268-268) Camshafts, Aftermarket Exhaust Header and muffler,
Individual throttle body velocity stacks, Cusco Oil Catch can,
Oil filter relocation kit, Samco silicone Hoses,
Aftermarket front mount oil cooler
Engine Management: Factory ECU with Greddy E-Manage (blue)
Engine Tuner: Francisco “Pacho” Blanco
Transmission: 5-speed manual with TODA Flywheel
Suspension Mods: DGR Coilover struts with camber plates, Cusco upper strut bar
ULTRA Racing swaybars (front & rear)
Differential: TRD (4.785) Final drive, Kaaz Limited Slip Diff
Brake Mods: HAWK Brake pads
Rollers: ROTA Wheels RKR (15×8) on Yokohama S-Drive Tires (195/50/15)
ROTA Wheels Grid Classic (15×9) on Bridgestone RE11 Tires (205/50/15)
Interior Mods: Complete GT-Apex interior, NARDI Steering wheel, TRD shift knob
Body & Paint: ROTA Wheels Warehouse
Kudos To: Motul, Ultra Racing, DGR and Hawk brake pads