As with most AE86s, this amber attraction had a humble beginning. Unless you bought a hachi roku from a car fan who already built it up, you usually pick up your Corolla in some state of disrepair. It's sort of a badge of honor. Consider it the swan of the car world. The uglier and more beat-up it started, the more impressive the transformation is to "wow."
Lawrence Ojas of Seattle, Wash., picked up this 1986 Toyota Corolla for $700 out the door at a VW dealership in 2003. The car looked so bad, it wasn't even parked on the lot. Ojas had to trek down a side street near the dealership to see his future purchase. He knew immediately the vehicle had potential.
Now, Ojas is a linear thinker; he builds cars methodically. He wanted his AE86 to be special, so he set goals and went from there. First, he wanted a car that could be drifted hard and compete with the pro drifters. The vehicle had to be show worthy, but not necessarily win at car shows. Third, the Corolla had to be streetable and have a full interior.
This toboggan started out as an SR5, hence the nice price tag. The first step was to tear down the car to the shell. Bumps and kinks were smoothed and the keyholes were shaved. Lawrence ditched the hood altogether, knowing he'd replace it with a TC Spoilers carbon-fiber piece. The chassis was reinforced to GTS-spec and stitch-welded at every seam. About 3,000 more weld points were added to the frame. To prevent the welds from rusting in the Seattle rains, the undercarriage was painted as well. Lawrence then selected the new Nissan 350Z Orange to paint the car, which was applied by JR Guse.
The biggest step was selecting the powerplant. Lawrence chose the AE101 20-valve engine from Japan. The 20-valve with factory individual throttle bodies is simply a figment of most hachi-roku owners' imagination, but Lawrence made it his reality.
Since the 20-valve comes from a front-wheel-drive car in Japan, installing it in a rear-wheel drive could be problematic. Garage Annex in Yokohama, Japan had a great swap kit, fortunately. The kit includes the velocity stacks, coolant relocation kit and distributor relocation kit. Managing the engine is a factory AE111 ECU with an A'PEXi S-AFC II for added tuning ability.
An AE101 20 valve swap is impressive enough, but Lawrence didn't stop there. Toda stepped up to the plate with 264-degree cams and valve springs, a head gasket and a lightened flywheel. Ignition is managed by MDI, while a Sard fuel pressure regulator feeds the beast.
Another interesting swap was adding a FD (RX-7) fuel pump. This car is special because of the attention to detail and the splurges on products that matter. Something you don't see on most Corollas is the JIC noise suppressor system that Lawrence opted for. Keeping the engine cool under pressure is a Koyo aluminum radiator tag-teamed with a FAL electric fan.
After throwing down that much cash, Lawrence just went all out, hence the triple-chrome-plated valve cover, spark plug cover, timing cover and chromed everything else-any part that could was done in chrome, including the undercarriage and rear axle.
With a car this old, most of the parts under the hood show their age. So Lawrence, who wanted the car to stand out, had Performance Coatings help out with the sandblasting and plating.
Quite impressive on this orange crush are the Silkroad products. Silkroad, a Japanese manufacturer new to the States, provided all the suspension pieces (panhard rod and rear lateral rod, four-link rear, front triangle strut bar, front lower control arms, and roll center adjusters) and its coil-over kit with upper pillow-ball mounts. This kit is unique in that it changes the rear from a spring and strut to a full coil-over in the back. Other Silkroad add-ons include an engine torque damper, radiator hood cover, heat deflector, and racing clutch.
Since Lawrence was shooting for pro drifting specs, suspension meant everything to him. Additional footwork includes the JIC pillow tension rods, Revolver 4.8 ring-and-pinon gear, INTEC four-point rear C-pillar bar and Tanabe anti-roll bars. In case anything goes bad, a Cusco six-point roll cage keeps Lawrence safe.
Lawrence scored all these rare Japanese parts for his Corolla with help from his Japanese wife. She helped him navigate Yahoo! Auctions Japan, where he was able to purchase the Redline taillights, JDM smoked corner signals, Trueno rain guards and mud flaps, Nardi steering wheel, and the much-sought-after SSR 15x7-inch Dori Dori wheels. Our favorite Japanese parts on the car are the Kouki front and rear bumpers.
Next, Lawrence enlisted the help of Bob Bridge Toyota in tracking down some new mouldings, among other sundries. To repay them for their efforts, Lawrence bought heavily from the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) line. Not afraid to mix metaphors with different brands, Lawrence selected the TRD badge for the exhaust manifold with a 20-valve flange, short shifter, LSD, and for the exterior, the TRD front lip and copy side skirts.
Then Lawrence attacked the car's interior. He went with a custom black and grey interior scheme set off by a pair of Bride Brix II seats and Katz rear leather seats. He's held snug by a Takata harness. Keeping an eye on the numbers are an Auto Meter fuel gauge, Dfi heads-up display for rpm and speed, and Dfi gauges and custom bezel with warning lights for other relevant engine information.
Lawrence was compelled to have a full stereo system and a TV/DVD in the car, so he had installed a full Alpine system and custom mounted a 5-inch screen in the dash to watch "Initial D." The speaker pods with Focal speakers and subfloor system with Alpine 12-inch Type-S subwoofer were also custom installed.
Sound-proofing the Corolla is a Dynamat, while a PlayStation 2 keeps passengers entertained. It's all protected by an Alpine alarm system. This entertainment system has to be a first for a hachi roku, let alone a drifting AE86.
This Corolla is driven daily and also competed at this year's D1 Grand Prix in Irwindale, Calif. It caught the attention of the D1 GP guys, who wanted to have Japanese Trust pro-driver, Matsato Kawabata, race the vehicle in another event.
After driving the vehicle, Kawabata-san said he was happy with the suspension, but wanted smaller wheels and more power. That's next on Lawrence's to-do list.
Lawrence met the lofty goals he set for the vehicle in one year. This 1986 SR5 is a pro-driver-worthy drifter, a competitive show car and a fun street car to drive. Be sure to check it out at the next D1 Grand Prix!