Gorrisonp profile picture Gorrisonp 5 years ago
Blog

The thunderous; Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86

Toyota - The thunderous; Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 - Blog

Just as Iketani said when Itsuki mistakenly bought an AE85: “The Eight-Six has a double overhead cam engine and the Eight-Five only one! DOHC and SOHC are completely different! You bought a car without knowing that!?”

The Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 (also called Hachi-Roku, which literally means ‘86’ in Japanese), is one iconic 80’s Japanese car. It’s very well known since its feature in the popular anime; Initial D, being driven by the main character of the show and winning races against higher-end cars. But we’re not here to talk about the anime (although it’s really worth a watch), but rather the car itself.

Toyota - The thunderous; Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 - Blog

Starting off with the name;“Trueno”, which means “Thunder” in Spanish, a well-earned name I would say. Something interesting is that the AE85’s name is “Levin”, which in Japanese means “Lightning”, but in this case, the Trueno comes before Levin. A very confusing name game, in my opinion.

The AE86 made its debut in the Japanese market around 1983, having everything you could be looking for in an 80s Japanese car; rear-wheel drive, a very responsive 4A-GE, pop-up headlights and a classic boxy design. Toyota gave birth to the Trueno fitting a Fuel-Injected 4-cyl DOHC 1.6L 4A-GE engine, making around 130 Bhp @ 7,500rpm and 150Nm of torque @ 4,800rpm. The hachi-roku is equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox (Toyota later used automatic transmissions in some newer cars) and a 6.7’’ T282 open differential. Just like the MR2 SW10, the Trueno has the Variable Intake System (T-VIS), which allowed improving for the low-end performance of multi-valve engines.

Toyota - The thunderous; Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 - Blog

Suspension wise, it sported ventilated disc brakes, MacPhersons struts, independent suspension in the front, stabilizer bars all around and a four-link live axle with coil springs in the rear… yeah. The GTS variant, on the other hand, had 4 wheel disc brakes and an optional Limited-slip differential with a 4.30:1 ratio, only available in the United-States. There was also another variant called SR5, using a 4A-C SOHC engine, drum brakes, softer suspension, and small styling and interior changes such as seats, gauge cluster, door panels, un-painted front and rear bumpers.

Motorsports and not-so legal motorsports.

Toyota - The thunderous; Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 - Blog

The Hachi-roku, having a rear wheel drive configuration, an overall light weight chassis (around 970 kg, 205 territory), and a balanced, simple to tune; 4A-GE, made it popular among street racers. Of course we can’t have an article about the AE86 without talking about touge, so here it goes.

The 86 was widely used by Japanese street racers, mostly racing in touge, where the corners perfectly suit the AE86 thanks to it’s FR configuration. The downhill was where the Trueno shined the brightest, since it could not climb as fast as other cars. Stop for a minute and just imagine the godamn sound of various 4A-GEs on a mountain pass… thunderous I would say.

Toyota - The thunderous; Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 - Blog

But it was not only used for mountain-pass extravanganza, it was also used for regulated racing. The Sprinter Trueno was used in Group A world rally (1.6L class), the 4A-GZE engine was popular. The main rivals of the Hachi-roku were the Honda Civics and the later AE92s and AE101s, but the racing was very competitive. Nowadays there’s a whole lot of rally teams and individuals looking for AE86s to race, in some years we won’t have any more around. The car is also very popular in the drift scene, both in Japan and Worldwide. Keiichi Tsuchiya (the drift-king) is one of the many drivers who have used this platform and has since given the 86 such a respectable popularity.

“When I was racing, everyone knew that I would win, so to stop people being bored and fed up with the same old thing, I started drifting the car through the corners, much more than the other drivers”

The Trueno has earned an inmese amount of attention and respect in the community, and almost no cars in the Toyota line have been able to live up to the expectations. Although the GT86 (and all the other branded variants) is inspired on the AE86.

Toyota - The thunderous; Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86 - Blog

Want one? An “untouched” Hachi-roku will cost you around £11,500, coming close to vintage classics. Want to tune it? Go ahead, with a bit of practice you’ll end up being able to maintain it on your own, not needing to rely on mechanics. Want to race it? Be ready to drop in some more money and time and off you go!

It is that simplicity that makes the Trueno (and other Japanese cars) so desired. A true sports car should not lessen the enjoyment and control the driver has over the vehicle, nor should it be weighed down or robbed of power with luxuries such as heated seats, cruise control, or power locks and windows. People have been successfully brainwashed by auto manufacturers into believing a sports car is all about looks, hype, and horsepower when nothing could be further than the truth, much like the AE86 proves to this day. What they don’t want the buyers of today to realize is that with each technical enhancement, each computer operated function added, the driving aspect in the definition of “driver” becomes increasingly vague.

The Hachi-roku had no anti-lock brakes, no over-bearing safeguards, no impressive sound system, little horsepower, and a simple if not archaic suspension setup, but what it did have was the makings of a real sports car.