The Toyota AE86 is a cultural icon.

To people who only drive a car for the heck of it, however, it could be nothing more than an old vehicle model. But the Hachiroku (eight-six), as the Toyota model is also called, is legendary to those who know their cars.

What makes it so?

Rivals the cost of some classic sports cars

Released almost three decades ago, this 1980 Japanese car is very hard to find. In the UK, there is only one original and roadworthy Hachiroku that is on the market. The Corolla GT Coupe comes with a whopping asking price of £11,500 or $15,397. A similar vintage Ferrari will have the same cost.

Rich driving history

“Drift King” and professional racing driver Keiichi Tsuchiya did not only drive an AE86, he used it to showcase his skills in a video produced and financed by popular car magazines and tuning companies that he managed to convince to be on board with his idea.

But the car’s legendary status was cemented when it appeared on a hugely successful comic book series in Japan called Initial D. It was based on Tsuchiya, with the lead character Takumi Fujiwara racing on the streets using an AE86 Sprinter Trueno.

The AE86 also showed amazing success in rallying and circuit racing which, in addition to the comic book success, made it a legend.

Awesome driving capabilities

Based on modern-day vehicle standards, the Toyota AE86 is slow, with its 23bhp from its 1.6-litre four-pot. But because it weighs less than a ton, it is much sprightlier.

The engine can spin to its maximum 7600rpm, resulting in the pleasurable use of an adequately precise gearbox. Steering doesn’t require power assistance and feedback is excellent despite being weighty.

It has a very long brake pedal and a throttle that is excellent to use.
It may roll awkwardly in some corners and the spinning rear wheel can cause a glitch, but the AE86 is smoother to drive and operate overall.

Attractive to drifters

The Toyota AE86 is a good drift car for several good reasons.

It has a rear wheel drive with Limited Slip Differential. Combined with its size, 50/50 weight distribution, suspension, and an FR layout, you can use it to drift like nobody’s business. The JDM version also comes with a more powerful engine, so you can just imagine how well it will perform on the road.

Part of its appeal has also something to do with the previously mentioned comic book and the Drift King showcasing the car’s drifting capabilities. Who doesn’t want to mimic what the King can do using the same vehicle?

Driven by a legend and built with the right features, there is no question as to why the Toyota AE86 is legendary. It may be slow and old, but its underdog status also helped propel it to remain a legend. It will be a long time before it will come down from the car spotlight.

This vehicle showed that form and function matters and, when they coexist, can spell the difference between a great car and a legendary vehicle.