The Japanese car industry has emerged as one of the most dominant automotive industries in the world. Many exciting models have been produced, with the Toyota AE86 being one of the most impressive. Such was its design that it gained international fame, especially in the motorsport discipline of drifting. The AE86 was also at the heart of the popular anime series Initial D, with it being utilised as the main character’s drift and delivery car. We’re looking into the history of the AE86 to see how it was made.
In the 1980s the Japanese car industry was populated with front-wheel-drive vehicles, as rear-wheel-drive was out of fashion. However, Toyota decided to introduce a new version of the Corolla that came with a 1597 cc 4A-GE Inline-four engine DOHC engine, offering more power compared to previous models.
The AE6 was a product of its environment, coming with a compact body and excellent handling. This made it an popular choice for racing, with it being used in Group A and Group N events. The AE86’s appeal stemmed from the rear-drive configuration, which wasn’t available in other lightweight coupes.
Notable showings included the 1984 and 1988 European Touring Car Championship. An AE6 also won the 1986 Manufacturers Championship, beating out the likes of the BMW M6, Rover Vitesse, Holden Commodore, Alfa Romeo 75 and Mercedes 190E 2.3-16.
The AE6’s design made it ideal for drifting as well. Originating in Japan, the technique involved a driver oversteering while maintaining control of the car to skid around a corner. It required a lot of concentration, but the AE6 was perfect for such a task.
The AE6 achieved cult status when it appeared in the anime Initial D. Protagonist Takumi Fujiwara used his dad’s AE6 Trueno Apex Hatchback. The anime contributed towards the car’s high resale price, often referred to as the ‘Takumi tax.’
The AE6 remains one of Japan’s most popular classic cars, appearing in video games, TV shows and movies.