There I stood in front of yet another AE86, but this one was different.
Unlike the cars on either side of, its parking lot companions were 20-plus years newer with far larger wheels and more rounded bodywork. This disparity in appearance, style and size made an already attention-grabbing 86 even more of a standout.
Having been under David’s ownership for a decade, the Corolla GT-S couldn’t be further removed from its primer paint job, cheap-wheel-sporting past. Owning a car for that amount of time allows one to put in a serious amount of work, but it wasn’t until 2016 that David began building his Toyota toward its current state.
Even with the well established aftermarket this 30-year-old RWD platform enjoys, a custom touch is sometimes necessary.
David’s inspiration for the build was the Japanese N2 race series that JDM AE86 Levins and Truenos competed in back when they were new. But instead of sourcing the bulging TRD flares that the series is known for, David worked with a shop to develop his own.
Like the TRD N2 kit, the flares on David’s car are wide enough to swallow up 235-section Toyo Proxes R888R semi-slicks wrapped around 15×10-inch RAYS Volk Racing TE37Vs.
Continuing the theme inside, you’ll find a full welded roll cage, Bride seats with Takata Racing harness, and T3 lightweight door panels with pull strap handles. Anything deemed unnecessary was removed altogether.
The dashboard was replaced with a custom-made fiberglass equivalent that retains the look of the stock piece. The cluster pod remains, but some of the less important details for a track-oriented car – such as the A/C vents and dash clocks – have been deleted altogether. Mounted on the steering column is the touchscreen display for the FuelTech FT400 engine management system, a nice alternative to slapping gauges all over the dash, just ever so slightly augmenting that stock appearance.
Some of the aspects I enjoy so much about David’s AE86 are the custom pieces, OEM look, and functionality that are woven together, creating a familiar look that’s still eye-catching it its own way.
Up front there’s no Formula Atlantic N2-spec naturally aspirated 4A-GE, but a 4A-GZE that immediately draws your eye with its purple HKS adjustable cam gears and high-mount Garrett turbo. Not one to miss an inch, David supplemented his turbo setup with a 4A-GE ‘smallport’ head, Tomei 264-degree cams, Brian Crower rods and CP forged pistons.
A lightweight chassis and a properly sorted turbo 4A-G makes for a rather quick GT-S that’s more than capable of putting down power.
In the pursuit of building a capable car for the track, David hasn’t forgone the visuals. Anyone who has any sort of experience with tracking a car should understand that making your track car look ‘nice’ is a self-defeating mindset, but defying that is what makes this so refreshing.
The special care David has put into developing his own parts, retaining factory glass, and finishing the entire car in Lexus Starfire white paint is the antithesis to the rock-chipped, purely functional look of the usual track car.
In time, as David delves further into his GT-S chasing that N2 nostalgia, I’m sure it will look even more the part of a well-used track car.
For now, as he works out the final kinks before treading onto the tarmac, I can appreciate the street-fighting N2 tribute, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the next corner for David’s AE86.
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