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 |   |  1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S - The Golden Child
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1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S - The Golden Child

One of SoCal's best-kept secrets is long overdue for a revisit

Jonathan Wong
Mar 30, 2017
Photographer: Stephen Brooks

During the golden era of "import tuning" (I'm gonna call it at around '00-'05), it wouldn't have been terribly hard to lay your hands on an AE86-generation Toyota Corolla like this for a fairly reasonable price. Today, these are damn near extinct and will set you back a pretty penny, no matter if you're looking for a showroom specimen or a junker to restore. So imagine being able to build a project of this caliber in '04. It was seen around SoCal often, and its owner, Allen Lugue, became well known for sourcing the very parts that made it legendary. And then one day it simply disappeared. That is, until late last year when it resurfaced like Bigfoot. Though it's been out of public view for close to a decade, Allen's Corolla remains virtually untouched, as if released from a time capsule for automotive millennials to enjoy. Of course, this makes the car eve rarer and more special than ever, which is why it deserved a long overdue visit from us.

1986 toyota corolla gts 4age red top engine Photo 2/22   |   1986 Toyota Corolla Gts 4Age Red Top Engine

I was able to catch up with Allen last winter at the AutoCon/Purist Group holiday toy drive, and being that we both own cars with their fair share of rarities, we thought it would be fun to reminisce—and truthfully, I didn't know the full history of his car until then, either. The most important feature on this car comes along with the best backstory: the Run Free aero. Don't know what Run Free is? To AE86 enthusiasts, the name Running Free represents a legendary drift team in Japan, and one of its members, Koichi Yamashita, owns a small shop bearing a slightly similar name: Run Free. To everyone in the Japanese drift and AE86 communities, Yamashita-san is one of the most well-known and respected names, period—and as a real AE86 enthusiast, he knows a thing or two about how to make them look good, real good. The front and rear bumper replacements and revised fenders all work harmoniously with the other Run Free body parts (side skirts and carbon-fiber hood) to help transform it into the ultimate AE86. Ask any 86 owner and he'll collectively agree.

Now, sourcing a Run Free kit isn't hard, but they're costly, not to mention expensive to have shipped over. Back in '04, when Do-Luck USA was around, the company was an official distributor for Run Free and Goodline, another body kit producer that's no longer in existence. Though Allen had originally contacted Do-Luck USA to purchase a Goodline kit ("It was my first choice," he says.), he joked that they should use his car as a SEMA demo car. "I knew it would be an impossible request," Allen adds. "The show was only three and a half weeks away, and they laughed at my idea." But life has a funny way of throwing curveballs at you, and the following morning, Do-Luck told Allen that they would be using his car for SEMA, but with a small twist: no Goodline kit and instead, the full Run Free! Yamashita-san overnighted the parts from Japan and the rest is history. Allen met the SEMA deadline and later "retired" the AE86 from shows as we mentioned earlier.

1986 toyota corolla gts run free aero Photo 6/22   |   1986 Toyota Corolla Gts Run Free Aero

We're both happy and relieved to see a Corolla like this back on the streets where it belongs. It's too good to keep a secret, and a damn shame to be kept under wraps. That's partly the reason why I started taking my own EF Civic out again, not just for the driving, but to stay connected to the car community as a whole, just like Allen's taken a liking to again. He says, "I brought it out because the newer and younger generation of car enthusiasts should be able to see and appreciate a piece of tuning history." This is the part where we all collectively agree with a resounding "yes."

1986 toyota corolla gts run free side skirt Photo 10/22   |   1986 Toyota Corolla Gts Run Free Side Skirt
1986 toyota corolla gts run free rear overfender Photo 14/22   |   1986 Toyota Corolla Gts Run Free Rear Overfender
1986 toyota corolla gts run free rear bumper Photo 18/22   |   1986 Toyota Corolla Gts Run Free Rear Bumper
1986 toyota corolla gts bride door panel Photo 22/22   |   1986 Toyota Corolla Gts Bride Door Panel
By Jonathan Wong
507 Articles
1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S - The Golden Child
Tuning Menu
Owner: Allen Lugue
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Accounting Clerk
Engine: JDM 1.6L 4A-GE red-top motor; TRD motor mounts, head gasket, oil filter; HKS Hi-Power exhaust, Super Flow R air filter, D1 limited-edition oil/radiator cap, adjustable cam gears
Drivetrain: KAAZ 2-way Super Q limited-slip differential
Suspension & Chassis: Silk Road SR-RMA coilovers, camber plates, roll center adjuster; Cusco four-link, tension rods
Brakes: Rotora slotted/cross-drilled rotors, pads; Goodridge lines
Wheels & Tires: 15x8.5" -7 front, 15x9" -9 rear Work Wheels Equip03 wheels; 195/50R15 front, 205/50R15 rear Toyo Proxes R888 tires
Exterior: Run Free bumpers, side skirts, carbon-fiber hood, front fenders, rear over-fenders, rear hatch; Kouki Redline taillights; JDM smoked front corner lights and shaved rear side markers; custom '00 Subaru Forester gold paint by DTM Autobody
Interior: Bride Zeta III seats, Type-RO driver-side seat rail, Type-FG passenger-side seat rail, reupholstered rear seats, door panels, and sun visors, floor mats; Tom's Racing four-point harnesses, shift knob; Nardi 350mm steering wheel; Splash Boss steering hub; Works Bell Rapfix quick-release adapter, quick release lock; Pioneer DEH-X6800BT head unit, 4" two-way front speakers
Thanks You: Mom, Dad (may he rest in peace), Arby, Arthur, Monica and Trevor; Stan Chen at Toyo Tires USA; Brooks Manabat at TNT Motorsports; Robert Co, Peter Yap and Mark Iglesias at AZN Motorsports; Koichi Yamashita at Run Free Japan; Mineo Takase and Kaoru Tomita at Tee's Corporation (Bride Japan); Toshio Takeuchi at COSEVATI Co. Ltd.; Bun Fukuyoshi at Lot USA; Lawrence Ojas at Intec Racing; Sean Igawa at Munky Wurks Garage; Victor Reyes at Emergency Hookers; Krist Srivivatanakul at Sticky Icons; Toshio Noguchi at Forged Press; Ken Nishikawa at Capsule Racing; Jhonalyn Lugue for convincing me to never sell the AE86; Doctor Dmo Nemo, Joseph Joaquin, Conrad Aquino, Deej Tribiana, Mark Martinez, Rowie Landicho and Tom Toci; Rip City Family; Garage Life



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