Friday, October 23, 2009

Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno

The Toyota AE86 is a small, lightweight coupe introduced by Toyota in 1983 as part of the fifth generation Corolla line-up. Unlike the front wheel drive AE82 models, the AE86 (along with the lower spec AE85 versions) was rear wheel drive, and is said to be the last rear-drive car of its type, at a time when most passenger cars were being switched to front-drive. The AE86 was replaced in 1987 by the front wheel drive AE92 Corolla/Sprinter range. The car was also known as the Hachi-Roku (the numbers 'eight'(hachi) and 'six'(roku) in Japanese).

The AE86 was available with a fuel-injected 4-cylinder twin-cam 1587cc 4A-GEU engine in Japan and Europe, which was also used in the first-generation Toyota MR2 (AW11), which had a maximum power output of 127 PS and 103 ft·lbf of torque in standard form. The AE86 came with a 5-speed manual gearbox, and later came with the option of an automatic. The 4A-GE engines used in the AE86 and AW11 were equipped with T-VIS (Toyota Variable Induction System). The AE86 had an optional Limited Slip Differential (LSD).

In North America, a modified 4A-GEC engine was used to comply with California emissions regulations. Power was rated at 112BHP, and 100 ft·lbf of torque.

The AE86 used ventilated disc brakes at the front, and solid discs at the rear. The car was equipped with independent coil spring suspension at the front, and beam-axle coil springs for the rear.

The AE85 models came with a less-powerful 1452cc SOHC carburettor 3A-U engine without the LSD and was equipped with rear drum brakes. Lower-spec American AE86 SR5 models used the 1587cc 4A-C SOHC unit, did not have an optional LSD, and had rear drum brakes.

Models equipped with the 4A-GE engine recieved a 6.7" rear differential, while 3A-U, 4A-U, and 4A-C models recieved a smaller, weaker, 6.38" rear differential.

In North America the AE86 SR5 (4A-C equipped) had an optional automatic transmission, though the GT-S model (with the 4A-GE DOHC engine) only came with a standard 5-speed manual gearbox.

Both the Levin and Trueno variants were offered with either a 2-door coupe or 3-door liftback (sometimes called hatchback) body style. Both the Levin and Trueno were generally identical, apart from fixed, rectangular headlights on the Levin and pop-up headlights on the Trueno. Minor bodywork changes were made in 1986 which resulted in different tail lights for both Levin and Trueno models, along with the coupe and hatchback styles. The models sold between 1983-1985 are commonly referred to as "Zenki" and the models sold from 1986-1987 are referred to as "Kouki."

In Japan, the DOHC 4A-GEU AE86 was offered in GT-APEX or GTV trims as the Corolla Levin or Sprinter Trueno, with SOHC 3A-U AE85 version sold in a veriety of tims including SR, GT, etc. In America, the top-spec DOHC 4A-GEC AE86 was sold as the Corolla GT-S with the SOHC 4A-C AE86 bearing the Corolla SR5 tag, both versions sold with pop-up headlights only. Euro spec models were sold as the Corolla GT with DOHC engines and fixed Levin-style headlghts. The middle east recieved the same basic model as the North American market, with popup headlights and the regulated 5MPH bumpers.

Due to a light weight of around 940kg, and over 120BHP power, the car could reach a top speed of 120MPH, and could accelerate from 0-60MPH in 8.5 seconds in standard specification.

The AE86 in motorsport
The rear drive configuration, combined with the AE86's light weight (~2300lb curb weight), balance and relatively powerful (and easy to tune) 4A-GEU 4A-GEC engine made it popular among the Japanese hashiriya street racers, many of whom raced in mountain passes (these mountain races were often called "Touge" races) where the corners suited the Trueno best, especially on the downhill. Among those who utilized this car was Japanese racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya, also known as the Dori-King (drift king). Tsuchiya helped popularize the sport of drifting, which involves taking a car on a set of controlled slides through corners. The AE86's RWD configuration made it well suited to this kind of cornering and up to this day the car is a mainstay of drift shows and competitions.

The AE86 in Popular Culture and Media
The Hachi-Roku has now been immortalized by manga artist Shuichi Shigeno (しげの秀一) in the hit manga/anime series Initial D, and this, in turn, has led to a resurgence of interest in the car. This rise in the popularity of the AE86 has led to a growth in its demand and a subsequent rise in its resale value; what was once a car that was overlooked by many in the US and abroad (during a time when power and 1/4 mile times were focused on, more than cornering ability and balance) is now a hot commodity among auto-enthusiasts. Nowadays the AE86 even gained attention from Western video game publishers, as the car was included in Electronic Arts's racing computer and video game Need for Speed: Underground 2 (although under the American name Corolla GTS), and Microsoft's Forza Motorsport. And the makers of Gran Turismo have given tribute to Initial D by adding the Shuichi Shigeno edition of the Trueno to Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec and Gran Turismo 4. The Shuichi Shigeno version differs in that it's max RPM is 12,000 RPM, it has a light weight reduction (carbon hood) and somewhat akin to the re-engined AE86 in Initial D Stage 2.

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