An AE86 Built On Antipodean Inspiration

When I first started shooting and featuring modified cars from Japan, little effort was going into making engine bays look pretty, or at the very least, presentable.

At a time when both tuning companies and enthusiasts around the world were applying show car thinking to every aspect of their builds, Japan was still very much taking a function-first approach. And that made a lot of sense at the time, as performance still ruled over everything else here.

I did my best to make sure that engine bays were as tidy as possible for photos, always carrying cleaning supplies in my car so I could do a quick clean up. Yes, even simple cleaning was often forgotten about.


Fast forward to 2020 and we can safely say that, for the most part, Japan has caught up with the rest of the world in this respect. From wire tucking to metal smoothing and polishing, Japanese builders that want to go the extra mile really have got engine bay detailing down to a fine art.

Which brings us to this USDM Toyota Corolla GT-S I found at Nostalgic 2 Days back in late February.


The 20-valve 4A-G conversion sits within a beautifully appointed engine bay. There’s not a hint of clutter, so your eyes are immediately drawn to details like the complex headers and the long velocity stacks.

However, the ‘Engineered To Slide’ stickers on the hydro-dipped cam covers was something that confused me…


Luckily, the AE86’s owner, who as it turns out built the entire car himself, was around to answer my questions.

He’s a huge fan of Nigel Petrie of ETS fame, specifically in the way the Australian fabricates and builds his cars and bikes. In creating this car, the Corolla owner wanted to pay homage to Nigel’s build ethos by leaving no stone unturned.


The GT-S sits on air suspension and runs BBS mesh rims with faux Porsche center-lock caps. On show at Nostalgic 2 Days, one side of the car featured turbofan-style covers for a very different look.

Don’t ask me which side I prefer, as both are so well suited to the Corolla’s overall theme.


As a photographer, journalist and appreciator of anything cool in the automotive realm, it fills me with joy seeing an AE86 being treated to this level of detail.


That said, it’s pretty much finished for the owner, who has since put it up for sale and is already thinking about his next build. If this one’s anything to go by, it too should be something special.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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I like the little details that mix the USDM zenki and kouki versions. The side decals are zenki but the rest of the car, from what I can tell is kouki. Even went as far as painting the front bumper fascias as if it was zenki. Where under the side markers on the front of the bumper fascia is normally painted, its now black along with the grill. All of the wheel arches don't have any plastic trim so this is either a SR5 or the owner spent a lot of time remaking the arches after taking off the plastic trim. Awesome car all around! Really inspiring.


super clean


A very different build
I like it


Beautiful build. My first car in high school was an 86 Corrolla lowered w/Celica wheels. That way back in 95, my senior year. I'm a big fan of your site so keep it coming. Everyone get your rides up to par while we are all in isolation. Car nuts don't get died. See ya'll on the highway!


are you sure that's a 4A-G conversion and not a GE? that looks like fuel rail to me with velocity stacks and not a carb in sight. Just sayin.


@m8 gets it. be like @m8.


looks like a 20 valve to me... Still techniacally a 4A-GE right???


All 4A "--G--'' were factory injected, narrow valve-angle heads. All 20 valve engines were quad throttled from factory. 4-AC was carburetted - hence the 'C'....... "4AG" is just an abbreviated way of typing 4A-GE, and is a loose term to pretty much describe any of the A series engines, which seriously EVERYONE KNOWS...... (JUST SAYIN)


Thats really beautiful top work by the owner , ae86s never really did much for me but looking at this i dont think iv ever wanted one so bad , very very nice car , how much is it up for ??


That engine bay in unreal!




One day, I want to build something with ITB's, I can only imagine that the sound would be absolutely glorious to listen to on the drive to work. It's articles like these that keep the ideas flowing in my mind for what I should research next.


Ultra clean!!! I noticed a bit of negative camber in the rear.... Nissan IRS setup maybe??? The OEM twin cam decals add just the right amount of original personality also!!!


Yeah I was hoping for more info on that too. It's very possible they used an old school trick of bending the axle tube just within the tolerances of the axle shafts for rear camber though. Old racecar trick before IRS was common on road cars.


what is hanging from the hood underside?

Daniel P Huneault

I believe its a utility light - Props to the owner on a dope engine bay!


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Antipodean: Nice one Dino.