It’s almost hard to believe now, but around four years ago this AE86 was found sitting forgotten outside an old lady’s house. Seven years prior to then the power steering had failed and was never fixed, so the Toyota had just sat there in a semi-abandoned state. It’s a terrible thing seeing a car with a ton of potential rotting away, something I witness quite often in Japan, but we’re actually in Hawaii where the story of Justin Whaley’s Hachiroku starts.
Having sat idle for so long the car had problems, but that was of little concern to Justin and his dad who knew exactly what it could become. They picked the Corolla SR5 up and – over a three-year time frame – brought it back to life in a spectacular way. For me, this was the car that stole the Offset Kings Hawaii show in Honolulu last month, and the one I decided to award the #FeatureThis prize to.
It didn’t take much to figure out that a lot of hard work had been put into getting it to look and function as good as it does now; every area of the car given due attention. If that doesn’t warrant a Speedhunters feature, I don’t know what does!
So that’s why the night after the show I met up with Justin just outside the city. The idea was to grab some pictures of his Trueno (we’ll call it that from here on in) that would not only show all of you guys the car in detail, but also emphasise the fact that we were indeed in the Aloha state. Now, seeing that Justin was busy at work until late that evening, we wouldn’t have the benefit of tropical sunshine to cast light on some picturesque location around the island.
Oahu gets pretty dark at night which is why, after a little think, we decided to head into Waikiki – the most illuminated place on the island. Like some other locations I shot at during my few days spent over in Hawaii, it’s one I’m going to remember for a pretty long time!
But enough of that – let’s take a little step back and see how Justin’s car actually came to be. Back when he first picked up the Trueno the first thing that he and his dad did was get rid of the 4A-C motor and replace it with a 3T-C. That initial engine swap yielded more power, and with a five-speed gearbox in the mix too – more gear ratios to play with. Justin’s dad was instrumental in getting the car working and teaching him how to work on it, but the rest was up to him. For the next few years Justin worked hard during the summers to save up as much as he could, and then spend it all on parts and upgrades. He got into drifting along the way and began meeting like-minded people who all helped to fuel the passion even more. Of course, the time eventually came when he was use to the power and needed more. Around one year ago it was time to step things up…
A big decision was made, the motor was ripped out, and the AE86 was stripped down to a bare chassis. Lots of stitch-welding followed – each bead helping stiffen up the old shell before Justin sent it off to get painted: metallic silver for the exterior and a purple hue for the engine bay.Nissan Heart
The need to find more power was easily achieved by going the turbo route – but in this case not with a Toyota engine. Instead, Justin decided to run with a tried and tested Nissan SR20SET sourced from an S13. Along with the engine, a corresponding Nissan five-speed transmission was also slotted in place, immediately providing the Trueno with a lot more potential.
With a quest to do things the right way from the get-go, Justin took his time on the details. AP Garage, for example, was tasked with tucking away the engine wires to keep the bay as uncluttered as possible. On the mechanical side of things the SR20 was equipped with an S15 ball bearing T28 turbocharger fitted onto a JSP manifold, and joined by a Megan Racing elbow and custom down pipe.
A custom Alpha Project Garage built intercooler sits snugly in the Trueno’s grille area and is plumbed in place with one-off aluminium piping. Right behind it sits a nice and chunky radiator to make sure that the coolant is kept at an optimal temperature – even when Justin’s giving the Toyota a bit of sideways stick.
Here’s a closer look at the pipe that feeds the stock intake plenum and the placement of the GReddy blow-off valve. To get the most out of the S15 turbo Justin also fitted some mild Tomei camshafts, rocker arm stoppers, and BC valve springs, before fixing the head in place with an A’PEXi metal head gasket and a set of ARP studs. Nismo 550cc/min injectors keep the SR’s thirst quenched at all times, while the A’PEXi Power FC engine management system makes sure everything runs smoothly. An Exedy clutch has been added to beef up the driveline as well as a MK1 Celica Supra rear end which Justin tracked down and had shipped over from California. That houses the welded diff which allows the AE86 to get sideways with little provocation.
A lot of effort was put into the Trueno’s suspension and overall handling set up. Among other upgrades there’s a set of Parts Shop MAX coilovers as well as the addition of T3 links and tie rods, plus Megan Racing tension rods and Tanabe sway bars.
The end result is a car that can be driven hard, with enough power to keep Justin entertained both on and off the streets of Oahu.
But he wasn’t done quite yet. Justin also wanted the Trueno to have the sort of presence that would stop people in their tracks and ensure that it stood out at shows. Something that would set it aside from the usual AE86 look you come across. That was pretty easily achieved with a Run Free aero package spiced up with a few additional touches.
Included are custom flared front fenders – widened to contain 15-inch Work Equip 01s that measure 9.0 inches across and sport a pretty aggressive -18 offset.
The East Bear mirrors are far more aerodynamically profiled than the angular stock items and also add a nice modern touch to the AE86’s ’80s lines.
What really gives the car a unique presence though are the rear Origin over-fenders. They’re fixed onto the body with exposed rivets and give the Trueno’s hips a pretty substantial boost in girth. That allows the 9.5-inch rear Equips to sit very aggressively, with the usual square alignment that characterises Hachirokus.
The car proudly wears the Thrillseekers Club logo – the drift team that Justin is a member of.
JDM ‘Redline’ taillights from a kouki AE86 Trueno and a J-Blood FRP hatch follow; helping smooth out the rear end and complete the look that Justin was going for. As he tells us, the car gets plenty of abuse, but it was recently cleaned up and refreshed especially for the Offset Kings event.Waikiki Sets The Mood
Sitting against the Waikiki Beach backdrop, the AE86 certainly looked the part. This a car that perfectly represents Hawaiian car culture: a love for cars but the even bigger love for customising them in the right sort of way.
Work continued in the cabin which was put back together once the chassis had be stitch-welded. Things have been kept relatively simple with only the important things getting an upgrade. That included swapping the factory seats out for Bride Zeta II fixed buckets sitting low on Buddy Club rails, and fitting a Nardi steering wheel.
Justin made up a custom extended shift lever which makes it a lot easier to grab gears through the Nismo short shifter. The second lever actuates the ASD hydraulic handbrake that locks up the rear wheels at the slightest of pulls – a must-have addition for any serious drift build.
An A’PEXi AVC-R Black Edition boost controller has been encased in the center console for a nice contrast to the period-correct tape deck.
And the A’PEXi Power FC Commander allows quick an easy access to multitude of data coming from the ECU, as well as the ability to fine tune the ignition and timing maps on the fly.
Getting the car to where it’s at now was no easy feat, but determination and lots of hard work got Justin right where he wanted to be with his Hachiroku. One of the highlights of the night was seeing the car cruising through the streets of Honolulu; the SR20 burbling away as Justin tried to keep the revs as low as possible as not to attract the unwanted attention of the Hawaii 5-0.
Call it a perfect fusion of form and function – a car that gets the job done in the performance department, but also turns heads at car shows like Offset Kings. I guess that’s why it ended up being my top pick from the event.
Dino Dalle Carbonare