This was a good year at the Tokyo Auto Salon for guys like me. It wasn't just a wonderland of cars with the newest parts on them. For once, tuners brought out more old cars than any year before. In between the new 370Zs, CR-Zs, FT-86 and GT-Rs, there also lay the Abflug R33, Unisia Jecs R32, Garage Saurus R30, Abflug Z32, Reverse R32, Custom Garage Speed AE86, Auto Gallery Yokohama R32 and the two Impulse AE86 Levins.
For those of you who don't own a hachi-roku ('eight six' in Japanese), Impulse is a tuning shop that specializes in tuning the AE86. They do everything from manufacturing and selling parts to servicing these cars. And when I say service, I mean full service, as in completely restoring Levins and Truenos. They've been known to completely strip down cars, put them on rotisseries and remove all the rusted sheetmetal. It's a grueling process only racecars and super vintage cars see, but when you love your hachi as much as the guys from Impulse do, you won't stop at anything to get it just perfect.
LHD Streetcar If you think finding a clean AE86 here in the US is hard just try to find one in Japan. It's impossible to find a clean AE86 for sale in Japan these days. All of them have been modified, wrecked or eaten up by rust. Tuners in Japan have resorted to having cleaner LHD cars sent over. Impulse did this this as well, but there's more to why they have a LHD car in their AE86 collection.
One of the biggest problems with getting a nice long tube header in the US for a Corolla is the fitment issue. Normal length headers fit fine, but the long tube designed ones are a problem. Most of the long tube headers made in Japan are for RHD cars and they won't fit on a LHD US car since it will interfere with the steering column. Knowing this, Impulse purchased a LHD Corolla in order to prototype their LHD long tube header. Corollas aren't just popular in Japan and the US, but all over the world. And now they have header that is suited for the 75% of the world that drives LHD cars. Starlets, Celicas and many other 4AG-swapped Corollas can now use the Impulse long tube header as well.
Along with the header, under the Impulse carbon-fiber hood, sits a 20-valve 4AG. The engine swap comes with the help of SS Work's water lines and a custom direct fire ignition with individual coil packs. This helps remove the distributor instead of relocating it to an awkward location. All of this is controlled by the infamous programmable Freedom ECU. Topping off the engine is the Impulse aluminum catch tank and Impulse carbon-fiber strut tower bar.
On the outside, Impulse matches their carbon-fiber hood with a carbon hatch, side skirts and window visors. And if that's not baller enough for you, the Impulse titanium exhaust and new Volk TE37V rims should do it. Ballerness continues on the inside with a Defi Super Sport gauge cluster and full Bride interior. The driver gets a Bride Cuga seat with high leg bolsters while the passenger gets a similar seat, the Bride Vorga, with lower leg bolsters. Rear seats and side panels are covered in matching Bride fabric.
RHD N2 Racecar While streetcars are cool, a real tuning shop has to put their skills to the test with a legitimate racecar. This is the Impulse N2 racecar. Like all AE86 cars in the old N2 race, it's sporting the iconic TRD N2 boxy fender flares and front lip. This is the look that most imagine when they remember N2 racing.
You might have noticed that the latest hype with kids these days are two-tone engine bays and interiors. The trend was actually started years ago with racecars like this. The interior is done just the same as the engine bay. Back then it was it wasn't high metallic or pearly colors, just strictly solid grey. All you see inside is a custom dash, a Juran GTR500 seat and a AIM cluster. Absolutely no show points here.
Under the hood is the original 16-valve 4AG engine. Getting over 200hp from a Honda B16A is a pretty amazing feat, but this 1.6L Toyota is making 213ps (210hp) without any variable valve timing. This motor was designed in 1984 when most cars were carbureted and didn't even come with EFI. It's not a surprise that the potent 4AG is such a popular engine swap for many other Toyota cars.
For the last 26 years people have been building and modifying AE86 cars. Probably not as popular as the Civic is here in the US, but worldwide the AE86 has a huge cult following. You can't 86 the 86, not with shops like Impulse around. One car at a time, they're keeping them alive.
Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 (Red LHD Street Car)
Hometown Nishi-ku, Kobe, Japan
Occupation Restoring Japan
Power 210 ps
Engine 20-valve 4AG engine swap; custom direct fire ignition and coil packs; Impulse 70mm velocity stacks, oil catch tank, LHD header, titanium exhaust and titanium hood prop; aluminum radiator; SS Work's water line kit; TRD oil cap
Impulse/Exedy clutch; TRD limited-slip differential
Footwork & Chassis
Trace coilovers; Impulse springs and carbon-fiber strut tower bar
Endless 4-pot front calipers
Wheels & Tires
Rays Volk Racing TE37V 15x8''
Red paint with rainbow glitter metallic flake; Impulse carbon-fiber door visors, hood, side skirts and hatch
Bride Cuga (driver) seat, Vorga (passenger) seat, rails, and Bride reupholstered rear seats and side panels; Defi Super Sports cluster; Impulse floor mats and carbon-fiber speaker delete panels; TRD shift knob; Nardi Classic steering wheel
Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 (White RHD N2 Race Car)
Power 213 ps @ 9,000 RPM
Engine 216-valve 4AG engine; custom direct fire ignition and coil packs; Toda Racing individual throttle-bodies; Impulse custom oil catch tank; TRD camshafts; aluminum radiator; ATL fuel cell
Toda Racing clutch and flywheel
DTA S60 Pro Series ECU
Footwork & Chassis
Trace coilovers; Hyperco 14.3K front springs and Impulse 5.8K rear springs
Wheels & Tires
15'' Rays Volk Racing TE37V; Dunlop slicks 225/585-15
TRD N2 front lip, fender flares and rear wing
Juran GTR500 seat; Willans safety harness; AIM MXL-Pista cluster; Tilton pedal assembly; Nardi Classic steering wheel