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Toyota Corolla Ae86

Toyota Corolla Levin / Sprinter Trueno (AE86) Review

Ae86 specs
4A-GE 1.6lt I4 Twincam 16 Valve
3A-U 1.5 I4 Singlecam 8 Valve
5 Speed manual
5sp / Auto
Naturally Aspirated
Naturally Aspirated
3-door / 2-door
3-door / 2-door

The Toyota Sprinter Trueno / Toyota Corolla Levin is a compact sports car produced in Japan from 1983 – 1987. They are commonly referred to as the AE86, or by the Japanese pronunciation hatchi-roku (86). Many people consider this car to be a large influence in developing a market for sport compact cars in America and Canada. The car was powered by a state of the art twincam engine developed by Yamaha and Toyota. This vehicle has since become an icon of the JDM community, and is famous for drifting thanks to Keiichi Tsuchiya (Drift King). Tsuchiya and his AE86 invented the organized drift competitions in both Japan and America. Credit for the immense interest in the AE86 also goes to the drifting manga / anime Initial D by Shuichi Shigeno, a story of a boy who drifts his AE86 in the mountains of Japan.
The AE86 is an old car by today’s standards, yet it performs well. The free revving 115hp engine makes wonderful sound all the way up to 7200 rpm. The 4a-ge engine in the car is not going to win any speed records, but this is not the reason you buy an 86. The shear fun of driving the car is what makes people stay. The engine and gearbox work very well with the small light car. Steering feel and response provide great feedback and the car can be easily driven at the limit. The car shows slight understeer at the limit before gradually letting the rear slide out slightly. The downsides are that the engine gets its power after about 4500 rpm, and the old suspension geometry and solid rear axel leave something to be desired. Despite the shortcomings I still really enjoy driving the car and it is one of only a few cars that put a smile on my face every time I drive it.

For a car to be 950kg it has to be small. Just think a Toyota Yaris (Vitz) weights 960kg. This car is small and as such has back seats mostly for decoration. The front seats can fit big guys but just barely. The small size and boxy dimensions of the Hatchi-roku are great for knowing where your car is in relation to the world around you. The export size is 9.1 M3.
The engine in the Trueno and Levin is the famous 4a-ge. It is famous because of its willingness to rev, and it’s refinement for the time. Twincam engines were still in their infancy when this car was produced and it was instrumental in convincing people of this new technology. The engine went on to power the MR2 in NA and supercharges forms, then in Japan it was refined with ITB and variable valve timing to produce up to 165hp. The engine is a popular base for many kit cars because of its low weight and ease of tuning.
As a Toyota this car is extremely reliable. Examples are commonly driven up to 350,000 km with regular servicing. The internal design of the engine is very simple and there are few parts that can become out of tolerance. The rest of the body is common Toyota quality. Age of the vehicle is something to consider since many examples are over 20 years old. Examples of the car might have many parts replaced.
This car is a tuning car. People will rarely purchase this vehicle with the intentions of keeping it stock. Upgrades like intake, exhaust, and body modifications are common. Non-modified vehicles demand a higher price and are rarer. Naturally aspirated engines can make around 190hp, and Turbo or Supercharged engines may make up to 300. One thing to note is that the rear suspension needs to be modified to accept aftermarket coil over suspensions. If you are looking to raise the already high potential of this car there are many aftermarket parts to choose from.
Many people will compare this car to the S13 Silvia because both are famous for drifting, and are about the same price. Where the S13 is faster, the AE86 has more history as a famous car.

For purchasing an AE86 you will find that prices range a lot. Examples can be found for as low as 60,000 yen for a barely running ex-drift car and as high as 3,000,000 yen for an original restoration. Common prices for an exported AE86 are 400,000 – 800,000 yen. These vehicles are common and can be found easily despite their age.


Originating in Europe the AE86 was available with a fuel-injected 4-cylinder twin-cam 1587 cc 4A-GE engine in Japan and Europe which was also used in the first-generation Toyota MR2 (AW11). This engine had a maximum gross power output of 130 PS (96 kW) and 110 lb·ft (150 N·m) of torque in standard form, though it was later down-rated to 120 PS (88 kW) and 105 lb·ft (142 N·m) in net output. 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 Intake 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 112 bhp (84 kW), and 96 ft·lbf (136 Nm) of torque.
The AE86 used ventilated disc brakes. The car was equipped with a MacPherson strut style independent suspension at the front and a four-link live axle with coil springs for the rear. Stabilizer bars were present at both ends.
Lower-spec American AE86 SR5 models used the 1587 cc 4A-C SOHC unit, did not have an optional LSD, and had rear drum brakes. Also, the SR5 model had a softer suspension, and small styling and interior changes.
Models equipped with the 4A-GE engine received a 6.7" rear differential, while 3A-U, 4A-U, and 4A-C models received a smaller, weaker, 6.38" rear differential.
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.
One of the staff who was behind the car's engineering work was Nobuaki Katayama, who would later head the company's motorsport department and who would become chief engineer of the Altezza project a decade later. An article in Car Magazine in April 1999, stated he has a photo of an AE86 hung in his office.

Body styles

A Toyota Corolla GT-S, modified to resemble an AE86 Trueno.

Variety of AE86s at 2004 Annual AE86 Meet-Up in Melbourne, Australia.

Variety of AE86s at 2004 Annual AE86 Meet-Up in Melbourne, Australia.
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" in the US, and the models sold from 1986–1987 are referred to as "Kouki". The coupe version is considered to be the more rigid and lighter version of the two.


In Japan, the DOHC 4A-GEU AE86 was offered in GT, GT-APEX and GTV trims as the Corolla Levin or Sprinter Trueno, with SOHC 3A-U AE85 version sold in a variety of trims including SR, GT, et cetera. In America, the top-spec DOHC 4A-GEC was sold as the Corolla GT-S AE86 (for VIN numbers starting with AE88 the 4th number in the VIN indicates 4agec motor in federal emissions handbook) , with the SOHC 4A-C AE86 bket, with pop-up headlights and the regulated 5 mph (8 km/h) bumpers.
The lightest AE86 is the Japanese 2 door GT model which weighs 910 kg (2,006 lb). It has the same exterior as the GTV trim, but with the interior of the AE85 with the exception of the gauges, and is equipped with rear drum brakes.

North American AE86 specifications and year changes

There are three types of Corolla Sport RWD for the US market: DX, SR5, and GT-S, though it seems the DX was more of an internal Toyota designation, as brochures, and the like do not include the DX designation;[1] it was more of an interior trim level, as most everything else is the same as the SR5. It is grouped in with the SR5 in this list, as that is the commonly used name for all North American Corolla Sport models that are not GT-S equipped.
  • Model Years of production: 1983 to 1987
  • Versions: SR5 and GT-S (85+ Only)
  • Drag Coefficient: 0.39
  • Odometer Calibration: 637 revs = 1 km (Canada Only) / 1026 revs = 1 mile (USA Only)

SR5 specifications

  • Chassis Code: AE86
  • Horsepower: 87 hp (64 kW) @ 4800 rpm* Torque: 85 ft·lbf (115 N·m) @ 2800 rpm*
  • Weight: approximately 2200 lb (998 kg) to 2400 lb (1089 kg)
  • Engine: 4AC, 1587 cc
  • Engine Type: SOHC 8-valve Inline-4 Carburated
  • M/T Transmission: T50, 6-bolt flywheel
  • A/T Transmission: A42DL, 4-speed overdrive w/lockup torque converter, mechanically controlled, with electronically engaged overdrive
  • Compression: 9.0:1
  • Differential: 6.38" Open with 4.10:1 Ratio, 2-pinion (Automatic) (S292) or 3.91:1 Ratio, 4-pinion (5-speed) (S314)
  • Wheels/Tires: 13x5" +33 mm Offset Rims with 185/70-13 Tires
  • First 7 Digits of VIN: JT2AE86

GT-S specifications

  • Chassis Code: AE86
  • Horsepower: 112 hp (84 kW) @ 6600 rpm* Torque: 97 ft·lbf (132 N·m) @ 4800 rpm*
  • Weight: approximately 2200 lb (998 kg) to 2400 lb (1089 kg)
  • Engine: 4AGE, 1587 cc
  • Engine Type: DOHC 16-valve Inline-4 AFM Multiport Fuel Injection w/T-VIS
  • Transmission: T50, 8-bolt flywheel
  • Injector Size: approx. 180 cc, low impedance
  • Compression: 9.4:1
  • Differential: 6.7" Open (T282) or optional LSD (USA Only) (T283) with 4.30:1 Ratio, 2-pinion
  • Wheels/Tires: 14x5.5" +27 mm Offset Rims with 185/60-14 82H Tires (195/60-14 85H for 86+ models)
  • First 7 Digits of VIN: JT2AE88

The AE86 in motorsports

During its production life, the AE86 was a popular choice for showroom stock, Group A, and Group N racing, especially in rallying and circuit races. Even after production of the car was discontinued, many privateer teams still raced the AE86, and it is still a popular choice for rallying and club races today. Part of the continued appeal of the AE86 for motorsports is its rear-drive configuration, a feature not available in most newer lightweight coupes. In Group A world rally cars (1600 cc class) the 4AGZE engine was popular. In Group A touring car races, the car either dominated the lower category where eligible or fought it out with Honda Civics or the later AE92s and AE101s whilst maintaining its competitiveness. In Ireland, where rallying is considered one of the most popular forms of motorsport, as organizing regulations are more relaxed compared to that of other countries, the AE86 was popular when new, and is still so popular that teams will purchase cars from the UK due to local shortages. The AE86 is also popular for rally use in Finland, where the cars can be competitive in the F-Cup competition for naturally aspirated 2WD cars.

Drifting AE86 (Corolla-Levin)
The semi-factory supported Kraft team entered a spaceframe Trueno at the JGTC with a 3S-GTE engine that came from a SW20 MR-2 Turbo producing about 300 hp (224 kW) as for the GT300 regulation in 1998. Despite being popular with the racefans, the car had minor success and was abandoned from use halfway through the 2001 season in favor of a newly delivered Toyota MR-S.
The rear wheel drive configuration, combined with the AE86's light weight (approximately 2300 lb (950–970 kg) curb weight), balance and relatively powerful (and easy to tune) 4A-GEU/4A-GEC engine made it popular among the Japanese hashiriya (street racers in Japanese), many of whom raced in mountain passes (touge in Japanese) where the corners suited the AE86 best, especially on the downhill. Among those who utilized this car was Japanese racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya, also known as the Dori-Kin ("Drift King" in Japanese). Tsuchiya helped popularize the sport of drifting, which involves taking a car on a set of controlled slides through corners. The AE86's FR configuration made it well suited to this kind of cornering, and currently the car is a mainstay of drift shows and competitions. The main character of the anime and manga Initial D, Takumi Fujiwara, uses his father's AE86 for racing and making his tofu deliveries.