TORCHLIGHT | MCL Motorsport V8 Powered AE86


The Summer is fast approaching, and it can only mean one thing… A lot more coverage here on Autolifers! It just wouldn’t be the same without kicking things off with some AE86 action… Step up Jonny Irwin of MCL Motorsport, with his V8 Powered AE86 Corolla. Let’s take a closer look…


Jonny is no stranger to the AE86 scene, he’s been pretty well known for his stunning restoration work, his blue UK Corolla GT-Coupe, the ‘Full Throttle’ Stunt Display Team and for being an overall AE86 Mad-Man.  In recent years though he has taken things to the next level.  Following an AE86 Drift/Grip Trackday at Mondello, Jonny watched on from the pit wall as a little Hachi-Roku began to drift the entire straight and every corner of the track. Of course he knew what the car could do, but this was the epiphany he needed to take his driving to the next level… Drifting!  He was hooked from that day and set about building his own AE86 Drift Car.


Fast forward a few years, and (I think) 5 engine swaps later, this is the final result. Jonny started off with the trusty 16v 4AGE, but did the next best thing and swapped it for a 20 valve to get a bit more power. He still maintains this was his favourite setup on the car. The 20v 4AGE is the most popular swap, and suited for real AE86 enthusiasts and style of Driving. However, with competition being fierce, Jonny wanted more power from the little Corolla. Up next was the 3SGE BEAMS engine from Lexus/Altezza. Jonny did another Drift Season with this setup before taking it again to the next level… Honda F20c. The V-TEC engine from Honda’s S2000 is often described as the modern day 4AGE, due to its revy characteristics! It is like the ultimate aggressive 4AGE and needs to be driven that way!  It’s worth noting that all of these engine swaps were done solely by Jonny and engineered from scratch. He has a motto, ‘If there’s a problem, just fix it and make it work’, Never one to give up or stop at that, Jonny decided to push his mad engineering skills one last time, bringing the AE86 into a whole different league with a 1UZ-FE V8 from Lexus.


Surprisingly the big V8 dropped in nicely to the little Hachi-Roku chassis, and sits neatly under the bonnet.  Some small fabrication bits were needed, mainly to adapt the Altezza 6-Speed transmission and the rest was pretty straight forward, though I think Jonny just makes it look easy! Cooling was the main issue, so a large Aluminium Radiator from a S14 Silvia was used as well as a custom fabricated exhaust system. I can safely say it’s the only AE86 I’ve heard start up and the ground shakes beside me… and trust me, I’ve been around a lot of AE86’s.


Once Jonny had decided on this engine transplant, and it was completed, he set about fine tuning the suspension, running Kei-Office Coilovers, often described as the best out there!  Some shakedown tests and tweaks here and there with steering and camber, the car is pretty much set up just as Jonny would have wanted! It’s the finer details that make a car, settings, tweaks, tyre choice, spring rates, etc, all of these are unique to each car and driver, and as Jonny says, ‘We’re only starting to grasp that now in Europe’.


Inside of the Corolla has been on a strict diet. Stripped to the bare necessities, all carpet, trim and sound deadening has been removed and the interior repainted Grey.  The door cards have been replaced by lightweight panels, and a full Roll Cage fitted. Two OMP Bucket Seats and Sabelt Harnesses keep you in place on the track, while Jonny has the necessary Hydraulic Handbrake, Long Shifter and Gauges neatly fitted to the remaining dashboard. All other switches and controls have been neatly relocated to a control panel in the centre console! Everything is simple and within arms reach. As crazy a build this may seem, it’s actually the simplicity that makes it so good. Having seen a lot of Drift cars over the years in Japan, it’s safe to say the Japanese would be very impressed with this machine, and appreciate all of Jonny’s hard work!



Last on the list was to make this build an eye-catching Drift Car.  Jonny had been teasing me for weeks about how unique it was going to be, but wouldn’t give away much detail.  When I got the call that the car was finished, I rushed to MCL Motorsport right away!  The styling has been kept simple and original but with strong plastic moulded Bumpers, aftermarket sideskirts, FRP bootlid, and custom fenders.  Jonny cut the original wings and widened them to suit the 8.5″ Wolfrace Slot wheels on Yokohama Advan Tyres!  The AE86 had been left to Shane at ‘SignRite’ in Omagh, Co.Tyrone for a full car wrap in Desert Camo! Sponsor Logos were added next, with Lakeland Tyres of Lisnaskea taking centre stage on the side! Convenient, as they’ll get the most views when this car is constantly sideways! Jonny even kept a place on the bonnet for Autolifers… Greatly appreciated!


There we are again on the rear quarter of the AE86.  Custom made Steel over fenders have been fitted to house the Wolfrace Slot wheels and give a wider track for the rear end.  Quick release latches are being fitted as you read this, in place of the bumper Cable Ties.



I’m sure you will agree this car looks awesome from any angle. I can honestly say it’s a very impressive build and sure to set MCL Motorsport on the map.  Jonny still has a few more ideas for the car, but currently he just wants to enjoy it, and use it to help get his name out there even more. I’m sure with the impact it’s making online already, the car will be a huge success!


Take a good look at this rear end now, as it’s sure to get a few battle scars soon! Jonny is making the trip to Scotland for ‘Drift Land’, which just so happens to have a wall. Jonny loves walls, and will be getting as close as possible, pushing the limits of this AE86. It sure would be a shame to lose one of those rare Redline Tail lights, so keep practicing and just scrub bumpers instead Jonny!


Final shot of the car is showing what it can do… Make SMOKE!  Never have I heard an AE86 like it, a mix of V8 and RB Engine noise, and so much torque it will melt the racetrack.  This AE86 is a smoke machine, and you’re sure to see plenty of it over the next Year in the Drift scene.  A big shout out to Jonny at MCL Motorsport and all the Guys for a great days catch up, and for building such an awesome car for an Autolifers exclusive. The question on everyone’s mind now is… What engine swap is next?
Words & Photos: Chris Gray