Car Life>>a Daily Dose Of 86

For my 86 Day features this year, I have something a little bit different to share with you guys. Something personal. That would be my own newly acquired AE86.

So, how did I go from driving a burly Mustang GT to a 1980s Toyota Corolla? Let's find out.

As I documented in my last Car Life post, I parted ways with the Mustang GT after taking on a '72 Datsun 240Z project. While most of my efforts will be spent on building the Z, I figured I'd hunt around for an inexpensive replacement for the Mustang as a fun weekend cruiser and perhaps something that might see a little track use in the future.

With the words "fun" and "affordable" being the key, my search naturally brought me back to the Mazda Miata. Mazda's open-top sports car is hard to beat for the dollar/fun ratio, but I also decided to take a look into AE86s to see what was available.

That's when I found this 1985 Corolla GT-S Coupe for sale in the LA area. It was in good cosmetic condition, had a few tasteful upgrades and was priced reasonably. Just what I was looking for.

After a few days of talking with the seller, I took a road trip to SoCal and brought her home.This isn't my first venture into 86 ownership though. I had another GT-S coupe when I was in college although that car was much more of a beater than this one.

If you are familiar with 86s, then you can probably spot some of the changes that have bee done to the car. First of all, JDM Zenki Trueno bumpers have replaced the large USDM bumpers. The stock taillights were also replaced with Zenki Trueno Coupe tails.

Elsewhere, the suspension has been upgraded to a full coilover setup, along with an adjustable lateral rod, front tower bar, and roll center adjusters. The limited slip differential is also in good working condition. Wink.

Under the hood is a normal 16-valve 4AGE – stock with the exception of an intake and an HKS exhaust system. Yes it's quite a step down power-wise from the Mustang and its V8, but the go kart-like handling helps even up the fun factor.

At one point the stock gauge cluster was swapped out for digital JDM unit. While I'm still getting used to the MPH/KMPH conversion, I do feel like Michael Knight behind the wheel. Unfortunately the 86 has yet to talk to me…

As a bonus the car even came equipped with a legit set of wheels. 15×7 and 15×7.5 Longchamp XR-4s. PersonallyI'm partial to the look of 14s on an 86, but these will certainly do for the moment. The fact the AE86 and the S30 share similar wheel specs means lots of potential for wheel swapping antics.

Since I picked up the car, I've been reacquainting myself with the AE86. A recent drive through the local foothills was like meeting up with an old friend.

There's a lot that's been said about the driving characteristics of the 86, but until you've spent some time behind the wheel – those are just words on a page or screen.

The sound, the feel, the personality – there's just something special about this car.

Everything in the 86 is laid out perfectly for driving – from the simple control layout to the easy reach of the shifter.

The AE86 doesn't impress with big horsepower, through outrageous amounts of grip, or with high tech chassis and suspension design. 

To me it's an overall playfulness that truly sets the AE86 apart from other cars.

A few miles down a twisty piece of road and you'll know why this car is loved by so many around the world.

But the charm doesn't wear off in the city either. Even at over a quarter century old, the 86 still serves as economical, practical transportation.

Here I am doing the most American of things, cruising into the Sonic Drive-In for a couple hot dogs.

One of the other customers who was picking up food even gave me some compliments. "Hey, nice Hachi Roku!".

There's my younger brother having a go behind the wheel.

I always recommend tossing your keys to a buddy and letting them take a spin in your car. It gives you the chance to check to see if it looks cool going down the road. What do you think?

S30 plus 86. I can't help but grin when I see these two cars together.

Safe and sound in its new garage spot. As you can see I still have some cleaning and painting to do out here…

Now If you'll excuse me, I'm feeling the urge to hop in and go for a drive.

If I can just remember where I put those Super Eurobeat CDs…

-Mike Garrett



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I love it Mike! Really beautiful looking 86 you've bought yourself. I cant help but be a little jealous that you also own a Z.


Both your cars are awesome, I am most envious.


very, very nice 86 you got there mike. I can see you sold the mustang without the enkei wheels? ^^




Lovely 86!! Great writeup as well.


you lucky boy :)


Bahhhh I only wish my GTS was even half as good looking as that... Stupid snow and salt ruins my car!

Digital dashes with red LED's look incredible, nice buy!


*insert CD*


...every night you light me with your gasoline

every time I feel delight when you recall my name

so you can be my shining star tonite

I'm not alone with all your love

fly across the sky, you will be mine

like a real dream with you, babe

gonna get you like a space boy

I'm ready babe

gonna catch you I'm your space boy

dive into your heart baby

gonna get you like a space boy

I hear you babe

gonna catch you I'm your space boy

take a chance with me baby!...

Did a cross the country drive from los angeles to Houston both ways and in the early morning hours this keeps you awake, that and massive amounts of five hour energy drinks.

Congrats on another great purchase. have fun and enjoy them as much as you can.


you sir, have taste that's too good to be driving a mustang


sO awesome Mike! I have pics of that car on my comp already from before it sold. done perfectly. Hope to see you at AE86Nights in Alhambra tomorrow with this


Really jealous :(, would give up my s14 for both of those cars in a heartbeat


Clean & simple

love the little digi. treat in the dash... the small things make this a great looking car. i wouldn't change a thing... o wait I would make it a hatch! :) :p


this is surely very nice


epic car in global


This Mike Garrett character is winning in the game of rice.


Congrat´s!! Nice...i wish you all the luck with the new ride.


Nice rig man.


Congrats...two of the greatest Nostalgics for the Auto Otaku!!


That's funny my brother wanted to buy this thing it was spotted for sale on Club4AG. Very clean car.


Sweet! Nice write up and great collection.


Wow. The two greatest Japanese cars ever made. Congratulations. Now throw a Levin nose on that Hachi.


I'm 5'9" and using a 75mm steering hub extender so I can stretch out my legs. I thought I looked tall driving my AE86. I took video of myself driving and I looked like Taniguchi behind the wheel, but I'm more an Ueo fan :) Great find and please keep posting updates on your AE86 coupe.


I can't stop smiling. Awesome find!! I think the TRD steering wheel is a perfect piece to the overall look. Cheers!




Nice pair, I wanna squeeze 'em!


I love love love your AE86! Super Eurobeat Masters Vol 8. turn on track 1, Stop to Give Up by Eurofunk and you'll start creating memories I swear!


Enjoy responsibly :D Is it that hard to get used to the Km/h conversion?




Thanks guys! Of course I can't take much credit since I essentially bought it as is. But I'm enjoying being an 86 owner again.


What a sick combo man! An old skool Z and an 86. Fock that is awesome!


sweet! love how youve made it look japan oem, but left hand drive looks so different, but yet the same..... huge respect car, the people that know them love them..... Im on my third trueno hatch!


Wow. Didn't take long to drop the stang.. so..... what is the wife driving ? Lol. I thought you two were looking at a fit ? I guess with the sale of the stang you got some extra cash (upgrades maybe)

In a buying mood seems like.


how cool is that gauge cluster


very nice write up mike. awesome hachi, very touching words.

i wanna toss an 86 while playing eurobeat too, classic childhood shit


Dave Rodgers all the way!!!!


Like I said in yoiur "other new car post"...jealous.


hey i remember this car.. i think there's a build log of it on club4ag. is this the one with the re-upolster interior? (blk/blk)


That is clean!! Beautiful!!


Nice! Congrats Mike! Can't wait to see it at Cars and Coffee in the future!


Now you have my favorite all time project cars that

I would dream to pour money into: the AE86 and the S30z!


that JDM cluster look dam sick!!!!

you have two of the best JDM cars EVER...lucky.... > >


I'm guessing the guy you bought that car from was named Ian. I sold it to him and am the one that originally restored it. I had that cluster inastalled. You can find the build thread on club4ag


Oh by the way it won third place at the2009 JCCS in the ae86 category. Nice to see someone else is enjoying the car. Take care of her.


2 of the best classic cars.. good luck with em both


get rid of the trueno badge, it is not a Trueno...


Ces chaussures ont un autre avantage tn requin pas cher. Elles ont une semelle extérieur antidérapant. Ces chaussures ont des fonctions particuliers que les autres chaussures n’ont pas; elles possèdent l’élasticité, procurent de l’énergie et contrôlent les mouvements des tn pas cher. Du côte de la santé des sportifs, elles sont très hygiènique et sont en parfaite harmonie avec la physiologie huamanie tout en améliorant les rendements sprotifs. nike requi est pourquoi elles sont très appréciées par les personne qui aiment qui font du sport .

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2. Essayez de ne pas nettoyer l’interieur, s’il y a mauvaise odeur, vous pouvez retirer la semelle qui placer dans la v


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That is one cool 86! Which makes for a very mean entry, as we don't heve AE86s in Brazil and I would love to have one! But congrats on a very nice car!


When Wangan Midnight and Initial D collide...


I saw this car slowly being restored. Glad to see it is in the hands of someone who will enjoy it fully. Dave did a great job in keeping it clean. Great pick up Mike.


240z project and 86 daily very handsome garage. the old skool 80ies gauges are just sweet! rock on



It's not everyday you spot an immaculate-looking 86 for sale nowadays. This post makes me want to venture into the 86 area and purchase one.


shmowzow! the digital gauge looks flippin' awesome.


love it!!, theres just something about late 80s to early 90s jap sports cars, that you just dont get in todays cars anymore



Please explain how is it not a Trueno!!!!!!


the car looks beautiful and has to be a lot of fun driving!! I would like every pic a desktop but I really love the one in the garage, the penultimate pic... pleaseeeee????? haha


It's like wangan midnight and initial d.. hahaah


That's one fresh AE86 you got there buddy!


Initial D and Wangan Midnight :))

Desktop of the last pic please..?


Mike, Whered you get the trunk wing?? SoCal area? I'd kill for that piece! haha!


Love it!

Wheels / ride height / exhaust / car look clean as!




thats one gorgeous 86 mike. and i agree with tossing the keys to a buddy to check if it does look cool rolling down the road. :P


hwy 95 - do it


That digital cluster is what you call JDM BALLER STATUS right there. As for the lending your keys part...heck no. Not unless that person is just as into cars as you are and can drive extremely well, if not better than you. The last thing I want is my friend scraping my band new aero on a speedbump.


i am very jelous of your XR-4 centre caps! so hard to fins these days!


bro,can i know the code colour for this ae86?