By now you might've noticed that we're slightly obsessed with everything 86. Who knew the economic Toyota Corolla would become legendary in the sport compact world and remain a popular tuning platform for decades? It's strong enough for rally racing, nimble for drifting and time attack, and an all-around fun car to drive. We've featured a good amount of AE86s throughout the years, and since '16 marks the 50th anniversary of the Corolla, we decided to look back at 10 of our favorites in no specific order:
Who: Yoshinori Kamata
When: May '12
Why: Only 400 of these Black Limited editions exist in the world, and they were only available in Japan. Kamata-san of TEC-ARTS turbocharged the "7A-G" motor (essentially a 7A-FE block with a 4AG head), and it is also one of the best-looking AE86's of all-time!
Who: Steve Wilcock
When: May '11
Why: Using only a copy of TRD's rare Sports Modification manual from '85, Steve built his own N2 Spec Corolla, even with a period-correct TRD racing livery. It's not all show, either… Powering the little Toyota is an N2/Formula Atlantic spec 4AG. Straight ballin'!
Who: Kiyonori Imai
When: October '12
Why: Who says you have to be young to enjoy hooning? Kiyonori Imai, owner of Bee*R, started his drifting career at the age of 50. His roots originate in drag and road racing, but he soon found himself building this AE86 to learn how to drift. Underneath the hood is a 4AG-ZE motor, which came with a factory supercharger, but Imai-san replaced the blower with a Garrett GT25 turbo from a R32 Skyline.
Who: Katsuhiro Ueo
When: December '03
Why: Ueo's hachiroku is one of the most famous AE86s in history. Ueo defeated a more powerful S15 Silvia driven by NOB Taniguchi in the final round of the '02 D1GP USA—a real David and Goliath story! Hitoshi Matsuda from Revolver built the engine, which at the time, was running an AE92 4AG motor beefed up with an AE111 crank and rods bringing power up to 240 hp. Not crazy power by any means, but the right balance Ueo needed to conquer his opponents.
Who: Darren McNamara
When: April '07
Why: Irish drifter Darren McNamara made waves in America drifting this SR-powered Corolla. Darren has since become one of the most popular European drivers in professional drifting, and even still stays true to his AE86 roots with a rotary-powered hachi that was last seen sliding in Europe.
Who: Mickey Andrade
When: June '12 (Modified)
Why: Mickey's '87 Coupe was perhaps one of the cleanest AE86s in the last five years. It's powered by an S2000 motor with HRE wheels, Kouki bumpers, over fenders, and much more—how could you not dig this thing?!
Who: Team impulse
When: August '10
Why: No one quite does hachirokus better than Impulse in Japan. Impulse is in the business of restoring Levins and Truenos—and we mean full restorations, race cars, show builds, and more. Six years ago, we featured this dynamic duo—a left-hand drive, 20v street car with ITBs along with an N2 race car.
Who: Walter and Billy Escoto
When: September '06
Why: With no intentions of drifting or time attack, these brothers dropped a 4.0L V-8 under the hood out of a Lexus LS 400. Sacrilege? Probably. Badass? Hell, yeah!
Who: Lance Harano
When: March '13
Why: This is one of the sickest AE86s we've come across lately that's still on the show circuit today. Completely built 4A-GE, ITBs, stitch-welded chassis, 15x9/10" SSR wheels, Runfree aero, and more. We gotta give Lance props for the quality work!
Who: Kazumi Nakamura
When: August '11 (Import Tuner)
Why: First seen at Tokyo Auto Salon way back in the day, this Levin GT hails from Custom Garage Speed and is not only a looker, but a star on the track. Started out as a $600 rebuild and ended up with an N2-spec widebody, 200+hp 16v 4A-GE with carbs, and Panasport G7 wheels. Damn!