TORCHLIGHT | AE86 Corolla GT Coupe


We all know how popular the AE86 is worldwide, so it’s no surprise we love it here at Autolifers.  Outside of Japan, I can honestly say Ireland has the biggest love affair with the Hachi-Roku.  The variety of tuning alone provides us with plenty of content to cover, but let’s take a look at something a little more original, with a little twist…


Ireland in particular has a unique love for the ‘Zenki’ (early/previous) model of AE86.  The subtle differences, such as headlights, sidelights, mirrors, bumpers and grill are the main stand out points.  Colours are also a big preference, especially in the Irish scene.  Gold and Blue would be some of the most rare and sought after, which is why I chose to shoot this beautiful example of ‘8A9 Toyota Blue’ Corolla GT Coupe.


Beautifully restored, finished in stunning 8A9 Blue paint, it’s on a day like this I realise just how special this AE86 really is.  As the sun bounces against the immaculate paint work, I can really see the true depth of this blue.  Complete contrary to a cloudy, overcast day, this is one of the reasons why many like it so much.  As mentioned before, the front end of ‘Zenki’ models came with non-trim headlights, clear/black lens sidelights, and slightly different shaped indicators.  The slot/bar Toyota grill is different to the later ‘glass’ model, while the front bumper is more subtle and has a deeper front splitter.  Back in the early 1990 years, this style was often replaced with the later ‘face lift’ parts, but now the tables have turned as people look to the past once again.


Under the bonnet is the original heart of the AE86.  Running a fresh 4AGE 16valve engine things have been kept nice and simple.  Some light engine tuning, full exhaust and manifold have been added.  NGK Blue plug leads, TRD Cap, Samco Hoses, Cusco Brake Stabilizer and Front Strut Bar dress things up nicely while also serving a purpose.


All new parts have been used, including original Toyota lights.  Anyone who is involved or interested in the AE86 scene worldwide will know just how hard it is to find many parts, especially recently.  No expense was spared in this build and it will be worth it for a collector’s car like this, which will only increase in value as the years go on.


I mentioned at the start that this AE86 was original style, but with a little twist.  Underneath the car is running full suspension upgrades front and back, with Cusco top mounts.  The original Toyota ‘Pizza cutter’ Zenki wheels have been beautifully polished and run spacers to fill out the arches giving a slightly upgraded style.


No sideskirts or bad sills here, just stunning, clean paint and bodywork throughout.  From every angle it just gets better and better.  To keep things good for the future, everything has been sealed and finished in clear waxoil.  Very important for any classic car of this standard.


Inside is as beautiful as the outside.  When you open that lightweight 80’s door you just know right away it’ll be as clean and tidy in here.  The original blue interior is in perfect condition throughout , with the only upgrades being a CD Player and rare Japanese ‘Checker’ Tatami Floor Mats.  Genuine low miles are reflected by the interior, with no wear on the original leather steering wheel and seats.


So there you have it, another AE86, but not just like ‘all the others’.  To me anyway, no AE86 is the same.  That’s why so many of us have a love and passion for the scene.  Each one can be appreciated in their own way, while some are always that little bit special.  On another day, the car above would seem ‘deep sea blue’, but on a day like this, it showed it’s true colours and why it’s one of the most special and sought after cars around.
Word & Photos:  Chris Gray