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Living with an 80’s Japanese Street car

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Cars are more than just a daily commuter to get you from A to B, more than just something to pick up some groceries in or just for us get away from the mundane public transport. They are machines that we get a great amount of happiness out of. Whether that be the aesthetics or the way the car feels on the open road, the smell of fresh oil or the tyre smoke trails we leave behind after slipping the rear end coming out of a junction.

There are many different classes of modified vehicle we love and hate, Stance/Drag/Grip/Drift or even the Tuner/Muscle/Exotic car scene. Whoever you are and whatever you drive, there will be hate. But more importantly there will be love, and that’s what we can’t get enough of. That feeling when you pull into a gas station and your car gets compliments, when an elderly couple walk passed it on the street and snap a few photos. That’s what we, as car enthusiasts love.

Sam knows this feeling well, whilst driving his Toyota Corolla AE86 Levin daily. Complete with the classic Toyota livery & caged out, setup for maximum fun. This is a car you will always notice on the roads.

Firstly a little background on the AE86: The Toyota Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno are models within the fifth generation of Corolla. Lending themselves to racing, the cars were light, affordable, easily modifiable and combined a five-speed manual transmission, high revving (7800 rpm) twin-cam engine with oil cooler, a near 50/50 front/rear weight balance, and importantly a front-engine/rear-drive layout — at a time when this configuration was desirable industry-wide.

We caught up with Sam to ask what its like owning an epic 80's streetcar;

"Corolla ownership is funny... You love the car but also often want to set it on fire. It’s slow but fun you really need to work every bit of power out of the 4AGE to make it do anything at any sort of speed. But to be fair to it, I have daily driven the car for nearly 4 years and she has hardly ever let me down. That is including the road trip all the way to Gatebil in Norway, the Nurburgring circuit and a few drift days - driving to the track, drifting all day then loading up and driving the car home with no problems."

We decided to ask him a set of questions that we will be asking in every car feature we do in the future, so here goes;

First mod? First thing I changed about the car when I bought it was the wheels.

Engine Setup?

4AGE 20v Black top with velocity stacks.

How much power does it make?

Factory 20v so 140ish when new?

Reason behind the choice of wheels?

I like the style of them and they are a cost effective wheel, so I don’t need to worry about damaging them when drifting.

Reason behind the livery?

Remember when you was a kid playing NFS? Well the coolest cars always had a crazy livery... I suppose I am yet to grow up haha

What changes would you make to your car?

In the future I would like to get into competitive drifting with the end goal of getting into The British Drift Championship Pro class. Unfortunately I’ll need more power to be competitive so I would like to put a turbo charged Honda K24a3 into the AE86. I'm going to miss the ITB's but the power should bring a different kind of joy... or fear.

Air or Static?

My ideal is always static but air cups would be handy. I don't think i’ll ever own a bagged car.

Grip or Drift?

DRIFT ALL DAY EVERY DAY! But drifting with grip, none of this ice skating "skids”.

Built or Bought?

Built - It’s about creating a story and having fun along the way for me.

Ultimate dream car?

Mazda RX7 FD with a single turbo 20b.

Only one car for the rest of your life, what would you drive?

Does it come with a free fuel card? Mazda RX7 FD with a single turbo 20b.

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