I love Ryan Stewart. Granted, we don’t agree on everything, mainly because he’s organised and my life is a disaster zone. But one thing we do align on is adventure, and kill me dead, it’s been too long since we have properly road-tripped together.
That brings me quickly onto the title of this story: AE86 owners are a different type of human.
Ryan bought his AE86 on the 3rd of April this year. I remember the day well, because the deal was done in about 15 minutes whilst I sat outside the seller’s house. Then we swiftly loaded a spare 4A-GE engine into the back of my old Mercedes S124 and drove home.
Things move quickly when you’re a Toyota AE86 owner, it would seem.
That’s weird, because with around 100-not-very-much-horsepower from the Toyota factory, nothing about these cars screams fast. But then I’ve never seen one being driven slowly. Except for once, when Ryan handed me the keys to his just after a Brands Hatch track day, and I drove it for a few miles to the petrol station.
‘How the hell do people drive these things so bloody quickly?’ I wondered…
Either 1.) They are crazy. 2.) The owners are just way, way, braver than me. Or 3.) They’re plain stupid.
I think it’s a combination of 1 and 2, because AE86 owners aren’t stupid. They’ve life-hacked their way into a tribe of car owners who seem to maximise fun at every opportunity. And one thing I have learnt from all the YouTube and Instagram vids I’ve been sent by Ryan is that AE86 drivers are stylish, too.
Basically, I want to be an AE86 owner, but I have no idea how the hell to drive one so quickly, nor do I have the mechanical ability to maximise the enjoyment of these wonderful old things. The good news is, as I write this I’m sitting with 1x Ryan and 1x AE86 just outside the county town of Naas in Ireland, headed to an event called 86Fest.
At this point, Ry has had two hours sleep because he was rewiring the tail lights to his recently-acquired Ford Transit Beavertail recovery truck deep into the early hours of last night. What was I saying about AE86 owners being a different type of human? Tenacious until the end, these people.
At the end of the day tomorrow, I might be able to understand a little more about how AE86 drivers eek every last drop of performance out of their cars. I’ll let you know about that.
Nothing, however, will enlighten me with mechanical ability. I mean, I couldn’t even work out how to use the ratchet straps that Ryan brought to strap the Toyota to the back of his Transit.
I’m not sure if I have enjoyed one too many pints of Guinness at our hotel, but at this moment in time, after an 18-month respite, I am feeling a little drunk on how good road trips are. I’m surprised at the pure joy a recovery truck – as a personal transporter – can bring.
And to top it off, I cannot get enough of Ireland. So much so, we’ve made special Speedhunters stickers celebrating the tricolour flag of the Republic of Ireland. Grab one for free from Paddy, Ryan or myself at 86Fest.
I’ll have more updates from the event over the next few days when we meet with Mr. McGrath and a bunch of people from Ireland’s AE86 community.
Photos by Ryan Stewart