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High expectations — Dorikin’s 86

11 January 2015

The humble little Toyota AE86 is now three decades old, and, in today’s terms, it’s somewhat of a senior citizen compared with its younger counterparts. But it’s the preferred performance car of the one and only ‘Drift King’, Keiichi Tsuchiya, the man responsible for creating drifting as we know it, starting D1GP and boasting a list of credentials way too long to include here. 

This particular 86 is one of the most iconic Hachis you will find anywhere. With a clean and sensible approach to styling dusted with only subtle enhancements, most notably the Zenki lip and TRD boot spoiler, the car has one super-clean look. Underneath the pristine white paint and green carbon bonnet is a super-rigid chassis that has had 3500 spot welds, with 22 additional points of chassis reinforcement to help the car stand up to Tsuchiya’s driving style. It has been built with one purpose in mind — to punish driving errors, yet reward skilful execution; ‘forgiving’ isn’t a word that you will find anywhere in Tsuchiya’s dictionary or driving philosophy.

The beating heart of this car is a 1.8-litre 7A-GE 20V fitted with a Toda Racing 272in/288ex camshaft, Toda valves, Toda springs, 295cc OEM injectors, and TRD custom exhaust, which make it good for 149kW (200hp) at the flywheel.

In today’s drifting circles, this may not sound like much, but, as Kamata-san of Tec-Arts explains, “You don’t need big horsepower to drift an AE86; it is all about set-up”. Without a doubt, this is paramount, as Tsuchiya is especially at home sliding up and down the intestinal tangle of mountain touge roads where this Hachi really comes into its own. It’s not uncommon for the Drift King to leave hordes of other cars in his dust on the touge — this car and driver are really in their element here.

Tsuchiya has trusted Tec-Arts — widely considered the best 86 tuner in Japan — to look after all maintenance-related aspects of the car, and its guys were quick to explain that there has been absolutely no expense spared on it. If you would like the engine to be set up in your own 86 like this you’ll be NZ$35K poorer for it, although it would be simply out of this world to drive, I bet! 

With tough love comes the requirement for tough gear, so the drivetrain and rear end host a heap of TRD-related goodness. The gearbox uses close-ratio gears for first to third and a short-shift lever kit, while the diff is a two-way TRD limited slip with a 4.778 final drive.

To finish off this immaculate 86, Tsuchiya went with a set of 15-inch Work Meister CR-01s for a real authentic old-school look; the DG5 coilovers have been removed by Tec-Arts in favour of an in-house set-up to tighten up the suspension once again. 

Standing back and looking at the finished project, it doesn’t jump out at you as a giant-killer; it just appears like a clean Hachi that you might take a second glance at in the parking lot. I know this first-hand, as I did just this at an event at Tsukuba. “Ah, it’s just a clean white Hachi,” I remember thinking to myself. Now I would think, “Ah, it’s just one of the world’s most iconic clean white Hachis, and it’s pedalled by possibly Japan’s most iconic tyre slayer.”