It’s election night here in TLCB’s home nation, and here is a Toyota Corolla Trueno AE86 pictured in a full ‘Initial D’ drift. Is it swinging from right to left, heading perilously close to the cliff-edge, crashing-out, or gaining a conservative majority? OK, that last analogy didn’t work, but we’re quite proud of the first three! Previous bloggee Simon Przepiorka, now known as SP_LINEUP, is the builder behind this most excellent scene and you can cast your ballot, er… we mean see more of his brilliant drifting Initial D AE86 on Flickr via the link above.
Just like people, some cars are born into greatness. They might have limited talent and have achieved little, but a family name goes a long way (we’re looking at you Bentley Bentayga and Rolls Royce Cullinan). Others have become great, either through their own endeavour or through blind luck and a random affiliation. This is the story of the latter.
The Toyota Corolla AE86 Sprinter Trueno was a good car in the same way that most Japanese cars of the 1980s were; well priced, fuel efficient, and far more reliable than its American or European counterparts.
And that is where the story should have ended, with the AE86 just another Japanese compact quietly getting on with not breaking down or falling apart. But in 1995 the AE86 got a shot at fame. At ten years old it became the star of a Japanese comic called ‘Initial D’, in which 18-year old Takumi Fujiwara slid sideways up mountain passes delivering food behind the wheel of his father’s AE86 Sprinter Trueno.
By 1999 ‘Initial D’ had become an anime production, viewed not just in Japan but around the world, and Toyota’s humble hatchback – now long out of production – had become a megastar. The popularity of drifting has continued unabated, leading to the AE86 becoming one of the most sought-after and iconic Japanese cars in history.
This superb recreation of the Toyota Corolla AE86 as it appeared in ‘Initial D’ comes from Peter Blackert (aka lego911) of Flickr, who has captured the world-famous car brilliantly in Lego. His design appears in the new book ‘How to Build Brick TV and Movie Cars’, which includes building instructions for the Sprinter Trueno pictured here (along with many other iconic cars) so that you can create your own version at home for drifting around your desk.
Peter’s Toyota Corolla AE86 Sprinter Trueno model is available to view at his photostream via the link above, and you can find the book in which the instructions for this model features by clicking here.
Once every so often a car comes along that, for reasons mysterious and illogical, becomes more than just another metal box, a car that captures the imagination, and that becomes more than the sum of its parts. This is one such car, the legendary 1980s Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 / Sprinter Trueno.
If you’re a Japanese drift fan though, you might want to skip this next bit…
The Toyota AE86 was not a special car.
It was in fact a humdrum hatchback designed to take people from point A to point B reliably and at a reasonable cost. Just like every other humdrum hatchback at the time.
But it’s a manual with rear wheel drive we here you cry! It was indeed, but so was pretty much everything else on sale in Europe and Japan back then. So far so ordinary.
But then something strange happened. Moderately successful motorcycle racer / moderately unsuccessful car racer Kunimitsu Takahashi had started to throw cars sideways on track in Japan a few years earlier. Rookie racer Keiichi Tsuchiya liked what he saw, and applied the technique to the illegal street races that he was participating in, becoming a legend in the process.
Keiichi went on to forge a successful professional racing career following his antics on the street, and the car from his illegal racing days, his humble Corolla Levin AE86, became a legend as big as the man that drove it.
Japan’s illegal drift scene exploded, and the arrival of the Initial D manga cartoon in the mid ’90s, featuring a hero driver at the wheel of a Toyota AE86, did nothing to lessen the legend of both the man and the car credited with creating it.
The result is that the little Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 has become one of the most iconic and sought after cars of the ’80s, and as such prices have gone stratospheric. Pretty good for a humble hatchback designed to go to the shops.
If, like us, you don’t quite have the loose change to get your hands on a real AE86, Technic builder RM8 might have just the answer. This is his beautifully engineered AE86 model, and it captures the details of the real ’80s Corolla Levin brilliantly in Technic form. It’s also as fun to drive as drifting a real AE86 up a Japanese mountain pass (probably), with a Power Functions L Motor driving the rear wheels, a Servo Motor powering the steering, and a third-party SBrick bluetooth receiver controlling the signals to both.
There’s lots more to see of RM8’s Toyota Corolla Levin AE86 / Sprinter Trueno at MOCpages and the Eurobricks discussion forum, but much like the real car RM8’s model is something more than the sum of its parts. Take a look at RM8’s enthralling video below to see why…
The world’s best selling car, the Toyota Corolla, sometimes gets a bit of stick from car enthusiasts. You don’t sell something in the tens of millions unless it’s kinda inoffensive and a bit… boring. But that doesn’t mean Toyota’s most popular model can’t be special. Senator Chinchilla shows that even a humble Japanese box can look very very cool with the addition of a few choice modifications. See more of his superb modified Corolla KE70 on Flickr at the link above.