As far as legendary chassis go, the AE86 is most definitely on the top 10 list of all time. In fact, one can argue that it should even be in the top 5. That chassis is so good from the factory that Toyota tried to replicate the feeling of driving an AE86 some 30 years later with the FR-S. With that said, it’s a no brainer that Hachi-Roku Toyota Corolla is such a hit among the “Tuner” crowd. More often then not, the modern day examples you see of this car on the road today, are at best, barely operational. Almost all of them have cracked dashes, missing wires, cut up interiors, battle scars, rust, dents, and at least 20 other things wrong with them. There is one however, that we have had our eyes on for a while that is almost museum quality perfect. On top of that, the owner happens to be a close friend of ours and what better day to release this web feature than on #86Day?
John Ho, built his AE86 to be the perfect “driver’s” AE86. Many of you may not know exactly what that statement means so let us explain. No big body flares, no crazy motor swap, no hacked up wiring, no roll cage, nothing but quality parts, and everything done to perfection. The whole point with this car is to get in, drive it, enjoy it, and keep it reliable at all times. Even the AC and Radio still works! Now that may seem like obvious features to have in any car, but take a closer look at the next AE86 you see on the road, we’re willing to bet there’s a hole where the radio used to fit with a bunch of loose wires, along with AC that probably hasn’t worked for the past 20 years.
When building his Toyota Corolla GT-S John knew that the heart of this car was the motor, so instead of going for the monster motor build of the century, he decided to improve and expand on what the original Toyota engineers had in mind. He bought a spare 4AGE from a crashed GT-S back when he was in high school and used that motor to supply him with any replacement parts he needed for his Hachi-Roku. The first thing he did was tear everything down and drop all the vitals off at Amazon Racing in Huntington beach CA. Everything was refreshed and dialed in: from a knife balanced crank, to a 5 angle valve job, to a ported and polished head and manifold to little things like balancing the flywheel on the crank John made sure everything rotated smoothly and efficiently. John wanted to create moderate power with increasing the flow and enhancing the feel of the engine so the head was decked 2 Mil’s as well. When reassembling the motor, John also wanted to make sure that the engine bay retained its “stock” appearance, so everything that was original with the car was re-installed in the engine bay, essentially making the car look like it just left the show room floor. When everything was reassembled, John mated the drivetrain to a custom clutch and flywheel and plumbed the motor with TRD headers and a New Old Stock HKS hi-power exhaust.
With the engine complete, John turned his attention to the handling of the car. JIC coilovers were installed and mated up to rebuilt 14x8 SSR Star Sharks along with Bridgestone rubber. TRD sway bars were mounted, along with a TRD Front strut bar.
After the handling was done, John wanted to make sure the car looked as true to its roots as possible. He sourced a set of TRD AE86 Side skirts along with a JDM Zenki front bumper and lip. A tiny and often overlooked detail are the JDM rain guards that John had to source, granted, the one’s he ended up finding were technically for a Levin, they complete the look of the car nonetheless. John finished off the rear of the car with a set of Kouki “Redline” tail lights, along with a TRD spoiler that sits on top.
With everything taken care of but the interior, John wanted to keep things as mellow and understated as possible. John spent the larger part of 5 years hunting all the parts for his immaculate interior. The red door cards, match perfectly to the rest of the interior. There’s not a single scratch or crack in the dash, and all the knobs and buttons work perfectly. Not to mention, everything looks like it was preserved in a time capsule. After adding a Momo steering wheel, he wanted to make sure he stayed planted but comfortable when driving on any road. A pair of OMP seats where installed to finish off the interior. Like we said, this car was built to be the perfect example of a “driver’s AE86” and that’s exactly what it is. Everything works, everything looks in place, and the car can keep up with and even pass cars built 25 years later.