Ode To The King & Finding Respite In An AE86

It was 2012 when Emanuel was diagnosed with cancer, and admitted into hospital for his chemotherapy treatments.

During this long and arduous time, he sought refuge in distraction, and found respite in his passion embodied: Initial D.

Many car fanatics are familiar with the story of Takumi in his ‘Hachiroku’ or ’86’. Some will remember the arcade storyline, the battles or the tofu. All will know of the unsuspecting nature of Takumi, who ended up taking on the biggest challengers- the RX-7s and GT-Rs of the world.

2019 AE86 by Vinh Mangalino Speedhunters-03
2019 AE86 by Vinh Mangalino Speedhunters-26

A familiar theme that resonates within car culture is this story of the underdog’s struggle, which has birthed fascination in sleeper vehicles and the mantra that it’s all about the driver. Nothing drew more similarities to Emanuel during his time.

A hoist in his garage awaiting his dream build, but with damaged nerves that meant he often could not feel his legs, let alone walk or drive. Lying in his hospital bed, with his mother by his side, he told her that one day he would own his very own AE86.

2019 AE86 by Vinh Mangalino Speedhunters-23

That marked the birth of Emanuel’s life-fulfilling project. If asked, he would humbly dismiss it as just another ‘average build’. But behind the scenes was the glimmer of hope that shone through his hospital days, to a bright future now being cleared of cancer.

2019 AE86 Tall by Vinh Mangalino Speedhunters-01

Upon spotting a white 1986 GTV kouki online for sale, he instantly fell in love. The next day, sight unseen, he put down a deposit, sitting hopeful by his bedroom window, eager for the arrival of his very own AE86.

Although us car enthusiasts can appreciate an old ‘rust bucket’ from the ’80s, the tow truck driver paid no mind, ripping off the Zenki lip as he unloaded Emanuel’s new car. Whilst it annoyed him, Eman was not fazed, it was as magical as he had seen in the anime and even better in real life.

Nothing could ruin his AE86; not the tedious Australian Compliance Procedure, not the rust which took 215 hours to restore and paint. If life had taught Eman anything, it was to be patient and hopeful.

2019 AE86 by Vinh Mangalino Speedhunters-27

Today his AE86 glows in a bright white mirroring Keiichi Tsuchiya’s, and his ITBs won’t allow you to mistake it for anything else but a pure bred JDM legend. Eman says there’s much more to his AE86’s evolution. Whilst we appreciate this sight to behold, that has the power and modifications to match, let us not forget the origins of this build.

2019 AE86 by Vinh Mangalino Speedhunters-04

The story of an underdog’s struggle, where challenges that seem larger than life cast shadows on the future, rendering it bleak. That an unlucky draw of cards doesn’t always mean we should fold, just as the young, unsuspecting Takumi overcame the mightiest of challenges in his sleeper ‘Hachiroku’.

2019 AE86 by Vinh Mangalino Speedhunters-41

We see this in our car culture from the biggest rust-bucket lemons turned into track warriors, we see this in our lives when we face adversity and choose to stand strong in defiance. For Eman, he sees this in his AE86.

Emanuel now lives in Japan, thriving in health, and excited for the adventures that his AE86 has in store for him.

Vinh Mangalino
Instagram: vinhmanphoto

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Good gracious. I absolutely love 86s. Another clean example, not a drift missle. Stunning and very humbling backstory. Would love to see the parts list for the car.


The one article on speedhunters where I read every word from start to finish... a lot more than once. Pics deliver as usual


i thought it was tsuchiya's ae86 at first. Really inspiring though.




OMG, this it too perfect!
This give me more inspiration to hunt for my dream 86.
Hats off to the driver/builder, well done sir!


That is a great example of an 86
Love the way how it tributes Keiichi Tsuchiya-san's personal AE86


Wonderful back story and excellent build. This is a great motivator!


I was lucky enough to bump into this AE86 (amongst others) whilst on a GTR breakfast run. It is a glorious example! Was pretty cool to see a bunch of GTR's and AE86's parked together at an abandoned Petrol Station

Devon Bartholomew

this is unbridled hachi roku passion


Always sucks to hear of people dying young, when there's so much still to experience. Good to hear he pulled through. Car looks like a blast as well, of course.


The only thing tougher than the car is Emanuel himself. Good work! And a very inspirational story!!


Man that is awesome! A great build, and an even greater back story!


...and here is little selfish me, thinking how big of a struggle it has been to accomplish my own build... I don't know shit... Long live Eman!


i love this car, would like to see speedhunters do a feature on Keiichi Tsuchiya's own car too


Truly inspirational story! good to read he es thriving in health and living the dream with that awesome car.


I have no idea what AE86 means, but that car is perfect!


Congratulations to Emanuel, not only for having a/his dream car, but for kicking cancer to the curb to where it belongs.


Wonderfully written article.


I am just waiting for the day to buy my own.
A perfect example of an 86 done right.


Gem of a guy (the owner) and an amazing build...a wonderful story that captures and embodies the spirit of achievement as well as testament of Toyota quality.


This was beautifully written.