The Irish Love Affair With The AE86

It has been two years since I last ventured into Mondello Park for 86 Fest Ireland.

I figured enough time had passed since I publicly declared that I would never buy one, to re-visit and see what was happening within the Irish ocht sé community. My fascination and respect for the cars has never waned, and I can’t think of any other single model of car that has as much support here as the AE86. I certainly can’t think of one that could comfortably take over the entirety of Mondello Park for a day, and especially not on a week day, either.

Curiously, Ireland chose to celebrate the ’86 on August 31st 2018 which takes some serious mathematical gymnastics to equate to ’86’, although it’s just about possible (hint: use 3, 1, 8, 20, 18). It’s a stretch, mind.

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The gathering continues to attract a mix of the various Irish AE86 sub-cultures, which can be most easily categorised as either ‘JDM’ or ‘Irish / UK’ specification. The former can be further sub-divided into Levin, Trueno, hatch & coupe before going another level deeper to street, grip or drift. While I’ve always preferred the JDM route, I’ve found more and more respect for the Irish / UK spec approach in recent times. Passion is passion, after all.

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There’s been a significant increase in the number of cars which are either loosely or intrinsically linked with the AE86 attending this event as well; KE70s, KP60/61s, A60s, Daihatsu Charmants etc. Some of this is down to a genuine love for the respective chassis, while others are figuring out how to get AE86 levels of enjoyment on a smaller budget.

The event was split between alternating drift and grip sessions on track, with a static display in the paddock. The highlight of the day was without doubt the parade lap which took place at lunchtime. Behind the pink SR20 powered AE86 of a recently departed friend, an estimated 165 AE86s toured the entire Mondello Park International layout. It was said to me that this might have been the largest gathering of the car outside of Japan, which honestly wouldn’t surprise me.

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There’s not a whole heap of detail I can add to this, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. There are a lot of photographs, so rather than overload our own servers, we’re going to host a surplus gallery on the Speedhunters Facebook page, which you don’t need to be a member of to view. You can view that gallery here.

This wasn’t the only significant event hosted in Ireland last weekend, either…

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



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I remember growing up in a rally household in Ireland and only being interested in MK1 and MK2 escorts. When I was in school I used to work the weekends (late 90s) in a local petrol station. At least once every half hour there'd be some lad doing donuts at the junction a few meters away from the forecourt.

I always thought they were pure ejits and had no interest in the car. But strangely as I've gotten older I've wanted one more and more. I've had plenty of Escort and even bought a new GT86. But I keen hankering after and AE86. Until I look at the prices and then I loose interest again.


Yeah, most of my memories as a school kid involve AE86s and EP82 GT Turbo Starlets terrorising the local roads. Good times :)


Just to clarify it was lads doing donuts in 86s, not in escorts.


I could take one of the Leven Coupe 86's haha


I think I'm more of a Trueno man myself.


I love the Trueno too!! but I'll take one as a hatch plus I meant "Levin" christ.. I had a little too much to drink that day lol


Can you even go running in the 90s without pop-ups?


Love the shot of the guy working on the beat up ke70 wagon.. bet it was fast, kind of sums up the whole enthusiast thing. Andy photography wise the darker low key shots are nice to mix in but some a bit more high key ones would be nice to show as well.


Thanks, Johan. Some did look a tad dark on my phone this morning, will keep on eye on my histograms in future. In saying that, it was a typically dark and dull Irish day for the most part.




hint: use 3, 1, 8, 20, 18....

Sorry. I had to give up. Where is the 86? lol