Car feature: AE86 - [Special] FKOF JPN #3

Car feature: AE86

[Special] FKOF JPN #3

This is it. FatKidOnFire is 200 posts old. We’re also a year old in a month and a day. We’re seemingly always celebrating reaching a milestone but what the heck, you only live once!

To celebrate being 200, we’ve got something a bit different from our FKOF JPN contributor fameONE. We’ve already heard about Brandon‘s interest in racing in Okinawa and we know he’s got a bit of a thing for a certain classic motor, so we thought we’d get him down to talk us through the love – and see some shots of his brand new classic moto. This is the first FKOF auto feature, the 1984 AE86

The fifth generation Toyota Corolla (AE86) made its debut in 1983. The four cylinder 4A-GE engine that many consider underpowered and totally irrelevant in the racing world has achieved legendary status in the past 28 years. There are a multitude of reasons why the car has achieved such success and left a legacy but more importantly, the cult following of the vehicle allows enthusiasts to join a worldwide brotherhood in which they are bonded by love for a motor vehicle.

The AE86 body styles vary from a three-door liftback and a coupe. Both styles have Trueno (pop-up headlights) and Levin (fixed headlights) models. Visually, the car may not do much for the common person. In a sense, it can be considered ugly; the product of 1980’s Japanese production where engineers were trying to make a fuel-efficient carbureted four cylinder prior to the technological innovation of electronic fuel injection. It’s a relic of a decade long gone.

Even so, the AE86, commonly referred to as the “Hachi Roku,” which literally translates in Japanese as “8-6,’ in reference to its chassis code can credit the faithful following of enthusiasts for keeping such a remembrance of the 1980’s alive. Keiichi Tsuchiya; the Michael Jordan, Tony Hawk, Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth, Diego Maradonna, etc of the Japanese racing scene has chosen the car as his personal daily driver. He’s even released DVD collection where he and his team of distinguished racers drive and tune Hachi Rokus for fun.

The popularity of the car continued to grow with it being featured in Shuichi Shigeno’s popular manga/anime ‘Initial D,’ in which the protagonist drives the Hachi Roku with enthusiasm. Appropriate with the vehicle’s legacy, the protagonist, Takumi Fujiwara, delivers tofu for his father’s business on a fictional mountain for years before receiving his license. Street racers on the mountain pass would challenge him assuming he was on the course for anything but tofu delivery, and with his underdog car; he continued to win.

This is exactly the kind of David & Goliath story the Hachi Roku has faced throughout the duration of its existence. One could even argue that Hachi Roku drivers share the relentless underdog spirit that Keiichi Tsuchiya and fictional character Takumi have when driving the car in any arena. If you find this information as romanticized car banter, I challenge anyone to do a quick Google search of ‘AE86,’ and read some of the information. Even in the videogame world, the legendary relic receives its just due.

As your Japanese correspondent for FKOF, I can honestly say that I am a proud owner. I was once a non-believer, but I was talked into driving one years ago. Alas, despite owning everything from Hyundais to Jaguars, the only vehicle that I can truly see myself driving and feeling comfortable in is the one we’re discussing right now. Never underestimate the relationship between man and machine, especially when it’s a Hachi Roku.


Brandon’s AE86, Suki, has been his for just three days. We’ll be following the restoration project from now, as she is in the pictures, through to when she’s finished. We’ll be getting the next update once she’s out the paintshop. Follow the project’s progress first hand on the fameONE flickr and, as always, follow Brandon on Twitter.

If you have any thoughts on fameONE’s awesome new AE86, or thoughts on anything else you’ve read let us know. What’s your favourite classic car? Ours is the VW Golf Mark I. Let us know though the comments section below or through one of the other forms of contact (emailTwitter and Facebook)!

Peace, love and respect.