Of the 43 million sold since 1966, the AE86 is unquestionably the finest Corolla ever created and is now without doubt a cult classic.
What it lacks in punchy looks, it more than makes up for with its bellowing exhaust. So distinct is this note, that if one of these were to rev in the vicinity, you’d know just what kind of car you’d heard without even needing to look.
The Toyota Corolla GT Coupé AE86 engine is a 1.6-litre 4A-GE, twin overhead cam with EFI producing 124bhp. It may not be the quickest, managing a modest 0-60mph time of 8.3 seconds, but it is a shining star in the circuit racing and rallying world. Perfect for drifting, this Corolla’s cornering antics are much loved by fans and it has gained a reputation for its penchant for travelling sideways.
As with any Toyota, reliability is a given and there is plenty of room to comfortably seat four adults, so when its not being thrown around a track it can behave very well as a manageable, secure family car. But of course that’s not what this classic is best known for. In fact, it was perhaps made most famous by its appearance in the anime series ‘Initial D’, as this propelled it beyond just the Japanese drifting community.
Built from 1983 to 1987, this hatchback was the last rear-wheel drive Corolla, delivering classic RWD balance and it first made its mark on British sports car history back in May 1985.The AE86 offers a welcome contrast to today’s need for gadgets and electronics, instead delivering a raw driving experience where you can really connect with the road beneath your seat and wrestle with unassisted steering.
The AE86 also goes by the name ’Hachi-Roku’ or Corolla Levin GT in Japan, and there is a version featuring pop-up headlights known as the Sprinter Trueno.
Over the years, this surprising car has developed quite a passionate following, especially online. Even with the arrival of its younger brother in the form of the GT86 that boasts power steering, sat nav and air conditioning, the original ‘generic’ Japanese car from the 80’s is still a very desirable vehicle indeed.
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