An AE86 Built To Last
The Next Step Is Here

You may recall that I was more than a little impressed at the quality of some of the cars on show at Offset Kings Japan last month. The Unavoidable Progression post that I did as part of my coverage, also reflected something close to my heart. While I may not own an AE86, I can really relate to the Hachiroku owners that I talked about in the story.

Feeling comfortable with your choice of car is massively liberating. You don’t question yourself over and over again, and you feel pride, even if the car’s been sitting on your driveway for years upon years. It’s a canvas to unleash your own idea of automotive perfection. You improve it along the way and dedicate the sort of time and effort that no sane human could ever comprehend being spent on a hunk of metal on wheels.

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But then again, like myself, Ikeda-san who owns this 1987 AE86 Levin GT-V – our pick for Offset Kings Japan’s #FeatureThis award – knows that he’s going to be holding onto his ride for many moons to come. Only then does investing more time and money into modifying a car makes sense.

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And what Ikeda-san has done with his AE86 is what led us to select it out of all the other cars that were present at the show. His dedication is what impressed us initially, as he had driven all the way up to Fuji Speedway from the lower part of Wakayama-ken.

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That’s a serious drive – a good six to sevens hours – but Ikeda-san had to do it. He owed it to himself, and also to his friends that have helped him along the way.

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Once the show was over and Ikeda-san had humbly accepted the #FeatureThis award, we quickly got in our cars and headed to the deserted Fuji Short Course. Rather than meeting at a later date I wanted to shoot his car then and there, but at the same time I felt really guilty as I knew he had such a long drive ahead of him to get back home. But Ikeda-san just smiled, telling me that he was a huge Speedhunters fan, and that if needed he would stay till it was completely dark!

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His kindness aside, I had already gathered that Ikeda-san was a fan of the site by the massive #MaximumAttack livery on the side of his car, which looked great in silver against the black paint.

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Aesthetically speaking, there are a few details that really make this Hachiroku standout from the masses of modified examples in Japan. For starters, there’s the custom-painted RAYS Volk Racing TE37Vs; their candy red centers contrasting beautifully with the polished lips.

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But it’s probably the Impulse wide-body kit, comprising of these beautifully-shaped over-fenders, that do the most for the car’s overall presence. As I found out though, Ikeda-san’s Levin is far more complex and meticulously built than you’d ever imagine by just looking at it. Take the fenders for example. In an attempt to shed as much weight as possible, Ikeda-san ended up getting rid of a lot of the car’s original metal. This was required at the front so the J-Blood FRP fenders could match up to the Goodline bumper. For extra impact, he then fitted the Impulse fenders, which Ikeda-san describes as modern-day interpretations of the original TRD over-fenders used on N2-spec AE86 race cars in the ’80s. Underneath it all, Ikeda-san even did a little stiffening to the chassis, fitting Nagisa Auto Gacchiri support bars to the front, boxing off sections to tighten up weaker points of the chassis and doing a ton of spot-welding.

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This not only adds quantifiable rigidity to a car of this vintage, but gives a more reassuring and precise feel through the steering. The aero mods continue with a set of Runfree side skirts flowing into the rear parts of the Impulse widening kit, which again are fitted with exposed screws for a rawer feel.

Picking The Right Car
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Checking out the AE86 from the rear, it’s obvious that Ikeda-san hasn’t overlooked this area in any way either.

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A Runfree rear bumper helps give the impression of an even lower body line, adding some seriously tough presence to it all.

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The stance? Well, it’s nothing short of perfect. A lot of consideration went into selecting the wheels, and in the end Ikeda-san chose a 15×10-inch -25 fitment for the RAYS Volk Racing TE37Vs. The AE86’s solid rear axle makes sure that the back wheels sit nice and square with the fender line, while Inazuma Worx adjustable coilovers take care of things up front. But it doesn’t end there, because this is a car that was built to tackle all the wonderful and empty touges that Wakayama-ken peninsula has to offer. So along with the custom dampers, there’s Inazuma Worx lower arms, pillow-ball jointed Cusco tension rods, and a Cusco pillow-ball lateral rod in the rear. With TRD bushes all around, the stiffened chassis and weight drop has resulted in an AE86 that’s more akin to a go-kart than a street car!

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One big chunk of weight was removed from the rear thanks to the FRP gate fitted with an TRD N2 spoiler for extra effect.

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A quick glance through the rear glass reveals the painted trunk area where Ikeda carries a spare TE37V – just in case.

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#MaximumAttack indeed!

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There is nothing quite so Japanese as an overly-long set of pipes sticking out from the back of your car, and Ikeda-san has this detail nailed. They’re so long that I’m pretty sure they qualify as a bona fide bosozoku addition. We like!

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With so many interpretations of AE86s these days, a well-engineered street car like this one suddenly seems like the perfect execution of this modern day classic.

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But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – we haven’t even taken a look at the engine yet!

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The disappointment that follows after opening the bonnet of a nice car and finding a dirty and poorly-maintained motor is the akin to the biggest anti-climax you could ever experience in the car world. It happens to me a lot in Japan, but it was certainly not the case with Ikeda-san’s engine bay.

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The kouki AE92 ‘small-port’ 4A-G engine that Ikeda-san has put together for his pride and joy left me pretty much speechless. From the bottom end up, which is fully balanced and fitted with top shelf forged pistons, this little screamer boasts a rather long list of upgrades.

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It’s no secret that you have to rev these little 1.6-liter four-pot motors to within an inch of their lives to get the most out of them, but to make sure that reliability isn’t an issue, Ikeda-san had the head ported and polished, and fitted with an upgraded valvetrain. There’s also a pair of HKS camshafts in the mix – 304-degrees on the intake and 288-degrees on the exhaust, both with 8.35mm lift. An AE101 quad throttle body setup feeds air through a set of OER velocity stacks, and fuel is supplied via a set of EP91 Starlet GT Turbo 4E-FTE injectors. The whole ensemble is managed by a Freedom ECU, which is hands-down the most popular computer used on fuel injected Hachirokus in Japan.

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All of this mechanical perfection is set against a smooth, wire-tucked and shaved engine bay executed by Inazuma Worx, which also sprayed the same dark silver metallic paint throughout the cabin.

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It all combines to give the car a very distinct aura; one of attention to the smallest detail. It’s the perfect example of meticulous execution – something I seldom come across in Japanese-built cars. Thankfully, things are changing though!

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Take a wider look at the engine compartment and you spot more little touches, like the Nagisa Auto strut tower supports and the thick GReddy radiator cooled by a large electric fan.

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And of course the equal-length header fabricated by Okudera.

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I also like how Ikeda-san retained the kouki Levin’s front grille – an item that often gets binned by AE86 owners, but one that I think helps add a touch of completeness to this car.

While we were on Fuji Short Course’s deserted pit lane, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a quick walk-around video with my GoPro. Check it out above!

Japan Continues To Evolve
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Another addition which Ikeda did differently was fitting a set of Ganador aero mirrors from an FC3S Mazda RX-7. They’re still very ’80s-looking and therefore integrate well, but are far more flowing than the angular stock mirrors.

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Swinging open the J-Blood FRP driver’s door revealed just how light it is. I expected it to be stripped on the inside, or at least running a custom carbon door card, but it’s actually fitted with the stock trim panel. Extra points right there.

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I was feeling even more love in the cabin with these must-have Speedhunters accessories. I actually forgot how nice the air freshener smells!

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Ikeda-san has kept the stock instrumentation, as losing it would have taken away from the overall completeness of the car. Instead, he’s add a few modern accessories on top, like a Defi tachometer with integrated shift light, which does a far better job of accurately relaying RPM. When you have precious cash invested in an engine build, looking after it makes total sense.

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There are more Defi gauges laid out around the custom switch panel in the center console, as well as an additional trio of meters neatly housed in the 1-DIN panel above the headunit.

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The cabin is stripped down to bare metal and is further stiffened up with a lightweight 5-point aluminium bolt-in cage. Only the front section of the interior has been re-fitted with the stock carpets to offer a bit of comfort during those longer journeys. When Ikeda-san hits the track the Bride seats get fitted with multi-point harnesses, but he prefers to remove them for road use.

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An additional bar has been added across the rear of the trunk area to add more stiffness and rigidity where it’s needed the most.

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Great cars are so much more than the sum of their parts. It’s when you think outside the box and take time to address the smallest of details that a car will truly begin to shine.

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Ikeda-san’s AE86 is the perfect example of how tuning is progressing in Japan. Some ill-informed or opinionated people would just dismiss a car like this as nothing more than a show-piece or a stanced ride built for the sole purpose of looking good and getting a reaction. But the deeper I scratch, and the more I talk to the people behind these works of art on wheels, all I find is some of the most dedicated enthusiasts and drivers out there. Japan is evolving, and I’m so happy to be able to see it happen in front of my eyes.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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70 comments

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1
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

this thing is screaming RICER

2
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

this thing is screaming RICER

3
deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

this thing is screaming RICER

4

are all bigports 4age very peevish, or it's only me, who can't made him work properly?

5

are all bigports 4age very peevish, or it's only me, who can't made him work properly?

6

are all bigports 4age very peevish, or it's only me, who can't made him work properly?

7

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 pfft

8

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87

9

What's that tube thing beside the driver's seat? A torch light?

10

Toyota - Here's an idea: Build these exact cars (as new) in a place like Malawi or Zimbabwe, then talk about the export market... Would that work? Or any country that does not have all those safety concerns as first world countries.

11

When I see an example this good I always get misty in the feels, waiting for mine to be going again!

12

Very nice hachiroku. Love the noise of the engine.

13

RacingPast Win win win, I like you :)

14
Speedhunters_Bryn

Crikey, that's almost perfection right there. Big fan of your choice Dino!

15

Tell me I'm not the only one that is obsessed with the custom center console!

16

what is the red and black tube bolted to the base of the drivers seat?

17
contestedground

RyanDunscombe Could be a road flare of some sort. There's one fixed underneath the glove compartment in my import Eunos Mk1. Should probably dispose of it, I think it's well out of date!

18

i have fallen in love with this beast.

19
contestedground

RyanDunscombe Actually, I could be well wrong about it being a flare. Having checked, it looks nothing like like the standard road flares.

20
contestedground

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 Aha! I see we have a philosopher in our midst! I eagerly await your considered views on the the latest book by Slavoj Zizek.

21
speedhunters_dino

contestedground RyanDunscombe no the flare required to pass shaken is positioned in the passenger footwell. That's just an LED torch

22
speedhunters_dino

@MyLifeAsLouis I was impressed myself

23
speedhunters_dino

Speedhunters_Bryn Thank you Speedhunters_Bryn !

24
speedhunters_dino

RacingPast Haha, dude, that's such an awesome idea! They would be all sold out before they are done with them!

25
speedhunters_dino

jay8393 Yes

26
speedhunters_dino

Nikita_Falaleev Sorry not sure I quite understand your question...

27
speedhunters_dino

contestedground deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 I eat rice almost every day, does that make me a ricer?

28

Such a beautiful 86 and obviously a lot of time and money has gone into it to make it look this beautiful. It's a shame that a good number of these are now rusted and beaten to hell.

29
contestedground

speedhunters_dino contestedground RyanDunscombe Hah! How simple. Thanks for clearing that up, Dino.

30
contestedground

speedhunters_dino contestedground deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 Likewise. Being from the UK, I've never quite got the derogatory 'ricer' thing at all.

Beside, rice is great.

31

contestedground speedhunters_dino deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87  How is it rice? its a super clean build.

32

is that orange thing the key?!?!

33

D1RGE Yes-popular trend in japan to take a stubby screwdriver handle and put it on the key.

34

This is a nice car! Done well.

35

deleted_82067014_Abezzegh87 I think youre on the wrong site bubba. pimpyourtrailerpark.com is that way --->

36
speedhunters_dino

AwesomnesPrime D1RGE Well they are sold like that, you just get the key machined/copied

37

Ikeda-san has to be one of the nicest people I've met in Japan and he is SO passionate about his car! Such a well deserved feature! :D

38

speedhunters_dino AwesomnesPrime D1RGE  Its a actual Snap-On. Like Dino said you grind off the ends of the key and you secure it down with a hex bolt. I am not sure if they sell it anymore might be discontinued.

39

Aluminum bolt in cage U0001f602U0001f602U0001f602 why bother

40

speedhunters_dino Nikita_Falaleev i was just saying that i got bigport 4age, and it's running very unstable

41

That is a seriously nice car! He has done a great job with it.

42

what a beautiful car!

43
speedhunters_dino

@John knight Elaborate please....

44
speedhunters_dino

ravesilly I blame those pesky drifters lol

45

Beautiful job but two comments, why would you not finish the spare to match the other rims, and what's up with no air cleaners on these trumpets. Nothing like spending an arm and a leg to build a killer motor and then have it sand it self to pieces from the inside out.

46

VERY nice car, the console panel is sweet. But it would be nice to see some suspension shots. Can understand the time limits since the guy had a long drive ahead but there's got to be a way to get the camera underneath somehow, you'd think a pro would figure this out somehow. Maybe it's just the customer demand though, people want to see wheels and air fresheners up close but not suspension.

47

@Karl for the pictures.

48

@Karl for the pictures.

49

Lots of nice touches.
Got to see the snap on man this week!!!!!!!!!!

50

Lots of nice touches.
Got to see the snap on man this week!!!!!!!!!!

51

damn it dino!! ep82s are GT-turbos not ep91s! those are Glanzas! GAAWWWD! haha just kidding great article. this 86 is definatly deserving of the feature this trophie. the very essence of a 'complete' build.

52
speedhunters_dino

Chri5 Duncan Would have loved to but you have no idea how fast I shot this car!

53
speedhunters_dino

@Karl JDM as F yo!

54

@john knight
Aluminum has properties you can only imagine. Its no tin foil cage.

55

I'm a machinist, I know there properties better than most, it's a 5mm plate bolted to the thin sheet of the wheel well, not a boxed in footing. So it would punch straight through the wheel well and unless it's very thick wall ally tube it's going to bend the moment the car rolls, that cage won't pass any Australian track regs. So why bother, though the Japanese have always had pretty poor cages.

56

The center console is porn!!!!!!!!
Btw I like the nice touch of the rear lights, those are from a sprinter trueno kouki, they are a lot better than the originals...

57

ryukyustriker I NEED THIS!!!

58

ryukyustriker I NEED THIS!!!

60

Stunning!

61

Another great feature and write up. I think this is one of the best looking levin's I've ever seen. Congrats Ikeda-san!

62

Another great feature and write up. I think this is one of the best looking levin's I've ever seen. Congrats Ikeda-san!

63

'cause I'm the type of 'rolla that's built to last
f*** with me, gonna give it some gas
knowing nothin' in life but to be legit
don't race me boy 'cause I race for slips

64

Never seen a Levin or Sprinter Trueno in my country , but we have a 4 door sedan corolla at that time. Does it have similar 4A-G engine ?

65

Great feature by the way ,Dino .. Love that shaved engine look ,, what about some turbo on it

66
turbo BEAMS ae86

great one, ikeda

67

Awsome article dino. Thanks for sharing!

68

@milano  Bare in mind ally cages have been illegal in any FIA or MSA or a fair portion of US events since the early 90's at the latest. It is insufficient and the mountings... well, if it did hold, it'd go through the floor. Not a dig at you or the car at all, but it isn't okay.

69

As a massive ae86 fan and glad to say I own my favourate car and constantly looking at ae86s from all over the world this car is the best ae86 I've seen to date its just perfect the exterior mods are just mind blowing but the engine bay is something else I could only ever dream to have that set up in mine
There's just no words for how good this car looks I can only look on in envy

70

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