It “Rollas” around to our favourite time of year again as an AE86 enthusiast as AE86 Fest takes place in Mondello park. Held a little later in the year the anticipation for this one was a little higher than usual for me.

Over the years I’ve looked forward to this event as a photographer. It’s always a great day to browse through some of the finest 80’s Corollas that this small isle has to offer. To see the different touches each car whether it be JDM or UK spec, everybody has their own touches and take on this iconic little motor. To add to this skeptical there is always some fantastic track action to take in, split between two alternative sessions of grip and drift giving every driver the opportunity to push their little pride and joy or missile machine to its limits.

Now usually for me in the run up to this event I would be charging camera batteries and formatting SD cards, cleaning lenses and generally getting gear ready etc, boring “tog” stuff. This year would be different, I was sick of having my Trueno being “kinda, nearly there, almost, sort of ready“. I had decided that I had to get out to at least one track day before the year was out and what better event than the end of year AE86 meet. In the weeks before the event I was quietly pushing away trying to get the car ready, right up to fitting interior and exterior panels, cosmetics and wheels late the night before. With no proper time to clean the car it was loaded up on the trailer and I was as set as I was going to be for the next day.

Early the next morning we fueled up and headed off down the motorway just as the sun was rising.

On arriving in Mondello I had a different set of agendas this time. Unload the car and find somewhere decent to park up. Get her cleaned down after the two-hour haul down the country, and warmed up before going out on track. The apprehension of how she would run was high. I hadn’t had a chance to test the car since I installed the new 20v engine and set up the front suspension properly.

After a few laps run in and cool down we discovered a faulty clutch master cylinder and as I didn’t have a spare I figured my day was over before it really began. That was until Flo Muller from handed me a brand new one. We were back in action, After bleeding the line I still had slight clutch issues but decided to carry on anyway. Another few laps and it was lunch time and with the break in track action we took the opportunity to catch up on what was parked around the paddock.

Making an appearance was Neil Sheehans newly acquired yard find. This really grabbed my attention. Almost a blank canvas, or is it. How amazing would this be in clearcoat with proper built everything else. I don’t know what plans Neil has for it but will be one to watch regardless of which direction he takes.

The car was good to go and made it out for the parade lap. To see 91 Corollas line up in opposite direction back up the fast lane of Mondello is an awesome site. Where else in the world can boast a variety of road and track Ae86’s to such standard, from a broad range of people all with the love of the same thing.

Half way down the grid there was still an impressive convoy behind me

Later on in the day when things calmed down a bit I went back out for a few more runs and took fellow photographer Mark Hannay with me. Getting more confident in the car I pushed a little harder and found the car handled really well but I could tell the clutch hadn’t long left.

Few more solo runs and that was it. My clutch had given up, and I couldn’t blame it. Back into the pits and up on the trailer, my day of driving was done. Time now to chill and see how everybody else was getting on.

As promised in a previous article this little 20v 4age powered KP starlet could be seen using that extra lock to full advantage around Mondello circuit

Sham Khans AE86 Black Limited, One of only 400 ever made it was nice to see the boys bring it all the way over for the event.

IDC driver Tadgh Clogher enjoying the day in his F20c powered weapon.

Overall I had a great day. I spent a little less time behind the lens than I would have liked but compensated by spending more time behind the wheel which was much-needed. There was as much track time as anybody could want as well as great banter and atmosphere. A fantastic collection of Corollas, including an original BLACK LIMITED driven over from the UK. It’s great to see the support for this event and although it didn’t break the 100 AE86’s this year I’ll bet next year it will. Congratulations to all the AE86fest team on pulling off another spectacular day.

On reflection, I brought the car home unmarked and had a little fun in between. I cant wait for the next day out already. Ive a few more ideas on the car and some more goodies still to fit and hopefully a few improvements.

Until then peoples…
Words: Shane Ward
Photos: Shane Ward & Mark Hannay