What is it about the humble Hachiroku that has so many people holding it in such high regard?
On paper, the AE86 isn’t anything special. For the most part, it all came down to its light weight and well-balanced rear-wheel drive chassis, and a high-winding naturally aspirated engine backed up by a 5-speed manual gearbox. Surely, more is needed for a car to achieve legendary status?
Could Keiichi ‘Drift King’ Tsuchiya showing what potential the car had waiting to be unlocked with his very own AE86 as the example have something to do with it?
Or was it due to the popular manga series Initial D, where the main character Takumi Fujiwara (who is based off of Tsuchiya-san) delivers tofu for his family’s shop while slaying cars much more capable than his in the process?
Perhaps it’s just because the AE86 is everything you need in a driver’s car and nothing more?
That is, no frills to distract you – just a raw, high-revving, and highly affordable driving experience.
Whether it’s one, a combination of things, or all of the above, there were no shortage of owners and fans at Fuji Speedway last weekend for the Fuji 86 Style with BRZ event – a perfect Speedhunting opportunity for our 2017 ’86 Day’ (8/6) coverage.
If you’re an 86 fan, this is an event you absolutely need to get to. Strolling through the parking lot, I felt like a kid in a candy shop.
The variety of cars and builds present was truly amazing, and it reminded me greatly of the diversity that Dino experienced last month at 7’s Day celebrations in Japan.
There were cars like this Corolla Levin, which besides period-correct 14- inch SSR Formula Mesh wheels and slight lowering in the suspension, looked virtually stock.
And this Sprinter Trueno looked like it had just come off the showroom floor, via a tuning shop for a few select upgrades.
Other cars, however, had seen substantial modification in order to satisfy their owner’s needs and desires.
All manner of AE86 builds filled the parking lot. I’ve already shown you one of my favorites.
Another car that stood out in the sea of Hachirokus was this gravel-spec Levin, complete with 13-inch Advan Rally wheels, knobbly tires and rally meter. I wonder what kind of stories its owner could tell…
There was a little bit of something for everyone, and truth be told, having the ability to share your love and passion for a car with your friends and fellow enthusiasts is what makes events like Fuji 86 Style so special.
But what about the AE86’s modern day reinterpretation? What about the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ?
Kicking It New School
Before the release of the 86/FR-S/BRZ, if you were in the market for a relatively affordable rear-wheel drive car with manual transmission, there wasn’t a whole lot to pick from.
Knowing that there was a void in the market and that it hadn’t done such a fantastic job of keeping its sports car heritage alive, Toyota decided to recapture the spirit of the AE86.
Working in partnership with Subaru, a true enthusiast car was born.
In both 86 and BRZ form, the model has been a good seller in Japan – you only need to look at the aftermarket support to realize that.
In fact, more than 60 companies filled the paddock area at Fuji 86 Style to show off their 86 and BRZ demo cars, performance and styling parts, and accessories for owners to snag up for their very own projects.
Not only was the sheer number of shops surprising, but so too was the vast variety of styles and approaches the tuning shops went with their demo cars.
Fresh from my bosozoku encounter at the Fuji Kawaguchiko Auto-Jamboree, it was ironic to find Aireal AutoWorks’ Zero Fighter Scion FR-S.
The attention to detail in the paint work is something that you just have to see in person – it’s truly remarkable.
It’s quite apparent that many Japanese tuners are creating 86 kits with a little bit of Lexus design DNA in them. Call me strange, but I love the way the large grill from the newer Lexus looks on the the smaller frame of the 86 and BRZ.
Hurtling, a new brand that Varis launched earlier this year, was at the event with its Solid Joker 86 and more aggressive Kamikaze wide-body 86.
Around this time, I heard a familiar sound coming from the direction of the stage and went to go check it out. It was time to play the traditional event game of janken and I was ready to try my hand at winning some cool swag. Sadly though, I was defeated only after the first round. I decided to take that as my cue to leave it up to the professionals and look at some more traditional ways of buying things.
Given its increased popularity with every event, I wasn’t surprised to see some of the bigger names in Japanese tuning – like Bride – at 86 Style, but there were plenty of small vendors too. Diecast cars are hugely popular in Japan, and there were plenty on offer.
With limited space in Japan’s major cities, having the room to even work on your own car is pretty rare. This compact Zerolift air jack provides a viable solution to the problem though.
If I had to hand out an award for the most unique 86 at the event, this one would have surely been in the running, and for obvious reasons!
The Perfect Enthusiast Car?
Similar to the parking lot filled to the brim with AE86s next to the paddock, the parking lot below the paddock was also packed out with private owner cars.
Although many looked alike, it was quite eye-opening to see the many different ways 86 and BRZ customization can be approached.
You would think that after a certain point you would have seen it all, but just as soon as I had a similar thought, I’d come something completely different.
One could argue that they are only slightly different variations of a singular style, and that they really aren’t that unique, however, I find that hard to believe after attending Fuji 86 Style.
Of course, some styles are more popular than others, but to get hung up on that would be missing the point. Toyota (and Subaru by default) set out to recapture the spark in enthusiast’s hearts that they had with the original, value for money AE86.
After seeing the sheer number of cars at Fuji 86 Style and the backing tuning shops are giving the model, I would say that Toyota has accomplished that mission, or is at least on the right track.
As always though, I’m curious if you agree with my conclusion. Does the new 86 (and BRZ) recapture the special spark that the older AE86 had? Is it the new everyday enthusiast’s car? Let me know in the comments section below.
Cutting Room Floor