Motorsport is a tough old game. You can spend months, years even, building your own personal race car, and with one slight misjudgment, all those hours of hard work can be undone in an instant. Most of us would probably have a little cry and call it a day, but Formula D driver and Irish mad scientist Darren McNamara only saw fresh opportunity when faced with this exact dilemma.
The AE86 chassis has been good to Darren, or D-Mac as he’s known in the drift world. His first road car was a spotless UK-spec Corolla GT coupe that evolved into his infamous SR20-powered drift car with which he won the ’06 Irish Prodrift Series before exporting it stateside to compete in Formula D. Having secured a seat in a V8-powered Saturn Sky for the ’08 season, it was only natural that in ’09 he reconnected with his roots by having a little fun with a 13B rotary-powered Trueno-spec AE86.
At this time, the so-called RE-86 was a relatively simple build with no major modifications bar the engine swap and a few bolt-ons from the MCNSport (Darren’s tuning company) catalog. The car was built to showcase his company and to have some fun in, but the fun came to a rather abrupt halt when, while driving it as a guest competitor at the first round of the ’10 Irish Prodrift Series, D-Mac and his rotary Trueno had an unplanned encounter with a concrete block on the edge of the course.
Rather than sending the Trueno off to the scrapyard, Darren hatched a plan with his friends from Speedhunters and Team Need for Speed to breathe new life into this well-used hunk of ’80s J-tin. The plan was simple enough: peel the Trueno back to bare metal and rebuild it as a no-holds-barred and no-expense-spared creation designed to redefine what’s possible when modifying an AE86.
Any hatchiroku owner will tell you that weight saving is one of the best performance modifications you can make to this legendary chassis, but care needs to be taken here, as removing an extreme amount of weight can compromise chassis rigidity. To counteract the car’s Kirstie Alley–sized diet that brought this classic Corolla down to the 1,800-pound mark, a full rollcage was welded in along with seam-welding the chassis. As a result, the TNFS D-Mac 86 is now not only light on its feet but it’s also stronger than a shot of Irish whiskey.
Given the compact nature of a rotary engine and Darren’s obsession with weight reduction and distribution, it should come as no surprise that the 500-plus-rwhp, Hayward Rotary–built, 13B-REW bridge-ported engine has also been moved back into the bulkhead to centralize its weight. Although Toyota’s 4A-GE can be turned into a high-rpm screamer, the unique sound and power delivery of a turbocharged 13B two-rotor engine is like nothing else on God’s green Earth. So to say that the character of this 86 is utterly changed would be an understatement comparable to calling drifting a bit hard on the tires.
With few appealing options available to Darren when deciding on a look for the car, he decided to create his own body kit and aero package. The exterior is almost entirely covered with fiberglass panels. Although carbon fiber would be lighter, the fiberglass option allows damaged panels to be replaced quickly, and, more important, cheaply. Because it’s a drift car, one can expect Darren to go through his fair share of panels during the select European drift events it’ll be used and abused at.
The kit is composed of TRD N2–inspired items but modified and enlarged to suit the extreme concept behind the build. When asked about his inspiration for the overall look of his Trueno, Darren said he wanted to replicate the infamous Group B rally cars of the ’80s—that is, wide arches and lots of venting and ducting with some added aggression.
The resulting effort has been titled the ‘D-Mac N3’ kit and is composed of over-fenders, a hood, doors, wings, quarter-panels, front and rear bumpers, a rear diffuser, a tailgate, headlight covers, a GT wing, and a rear taillight shell. There is also a specially designed roof skin that features a series of small vents at the front to draw air into the cabin and a large scoop at the rear to pull air into the rear-mounted radiator. If that’s not a choice piece of Irish mad science, we don’t know what is.
To fill up the massive N3 wheelwells, Darren went with a custom set of Work Meister S1s, 16x9.5 up front with an offset of +4 and 17x10 out back with a mega offset of –35. The white pinstriping and branding on the satin-black finish really is sublime. Given D-Mac’s long association with Falken Tire, it should come as no surprise that the front wheels are wrapped in 225/40R16 ZE912s and the rears with 275/40R17 FK452s or RT615s, depending on the event and weather conditions.
A top-flight suspension package has also been assembled, built around MCNSport-spec AVO coilovers at the rear and AVO inserts at the front along with modified Cusco camber plates. Fully custom MCNSport items have also been used for the front lower control arms, outer tie rods, and front antiroll bar. Darren needed to fabricate his own extra steering lock kit, careful to avoid any clearance issues and stopping the wheels traveling over center. Impressively, he has used the steering rack from an RX-7 for turning duties. Out back he’s used an SP-Tec adjustable Panhard rod with custom MCNSport axle links.
As with any extreme build, the Team NFS D-Mac 86 is bound to divide opinions. On one side you will have the AE86 purists who may have their knickers in a knot over the engine swap or how few OE components remain, but on the other side, you will find the motorsports and modified AE86 fans who no doubt love how much Darren has pushed the envelope with this project. Either way, it’s impossible to deny just how special this resurrected Trueno is and how skilled Darren and his MCNSport team are to execute a build this extreme.
Specs & Detailsetails
'86 Toyota Corolla Trueno Liftback
Engine 1.3L 13B-REW turbocharged rotary
Engine Modifications Hayward Rotary bridge-ported 13B-REW; custom secondary fuel rail w/ Bosch 1,680cc injectors; custom Martelius exhaust manifold; Owen Development GT3582HA turbocharger; TiAL 60mm wastegate; MCNSport intercooler, radiator, 90mm exhaust system, and aluminum fuel cell w/ swirl pot; Bosch 044 fuel pump; Sytec bullet filter; Aeromotive FPR
Drivetrain Toyota Supra R154 gearbox; MCNSport R154-to-13B bellhousing; Carbonetic twin plate carbon clutch; custom rear axle w/ locked diff
Engine Management Apexi Power FC
Wheels, Tires & Brakes Work Meister S1 2P 16x9.5’’ +4 (f) and 17x10’’ –35 (r) wheels; Falken 225/40R16 ZE912 (f) and 275/40R17 FK452 or RT615 (r) tires; Black Diamond rotors; Mintex brake pads; ASD Motorsports hydraulic e-brake
Suspension MCNSport/AVO adjustable front strut inserts, adjustable rear coilovers; MCNSport custom front lower control arms, extra steering angle kit, outer tie rods, axle links, and front antiroll bar; modified Cusco camber plates; Mazda RX-7 steering rack; SP-Tec adjustable Panhard rods
Exterior D-Mac N3 over-fenders, hood, FRP doors, fenders, quarter-panels, roof skin w/ rad vent and cockpit air intakes, rear taillight shell; Trueno front bumper; Type 2 rear bumper, rear diffuser, rear wing, GT Wing, headlight covers, and tailgate
Interior MCNSport carbon dash; Defi gauges and control unit; Apexi AVC-R; Cobra Suzuka racing seats; TRS racing harnesses
Sponsors Team Need for Speed, Speedhunters, MCNSport, Falken Tire