86 Fest Ireland: The Curious Case Of The Corollas

Outside of Japan, I don’t think there’s anywhere else on earth that has as much love for the venerable AE86 than Ireland.

There’s such an outpouring of love here for the ’80s icon, that AE86 culture in Ireland can be subdivided multiple times. These subcultures can often be so different, that you wouldn’t think that they all share a love for the same chassis.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-3

As an example, your typical fan of Japanese drift-style Hachirokus would have little to zero interest in cars which are ‘UK-spec.’

These same drift-orientated owners might then be classified as either Toyota engines only or open to the ideas of engine swaps from other manufacturers into the AE86 chassis.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-6

Even if they’re Toyota-engine-only sorts of people, they might be wholly committed to the 4A-GE, and dismiss the concept of the likes of a 1UZ-FE or 2JZ. Even then, if they’re 4A-GE purists, they might consider themselves as 16 or 20-valve sorts of people.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-33

It’s a wild automotive subculture which I absolutely adore.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-11

I’m not typically a fan of one-make events or shows, but 86 Fest – which provided the backdrop for this story – is the one I make an exception for. This is purely because there’s so much variety on offer, with countless different approaches to the same car.

It does help that in recent years, other Toyotas of similar vintage have been slowly added to the mix as well.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-27

However, what I wrote in 2016 still stands, and is maybe more relevant now than it is then.

It’s not a situation unique to the AE86, but their values have continued to skyrocket in recent years which have completely put them out of the reach for the exact sort of people they were originally intended for.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-45

I’m showing my age when I say that I remember these being sub-$2,000 cars (which to be fair, was completely undervaluing them even at the time), but you can now easily add a zero to that number for a relatively good example.

Pristine UK-specification GT coupe models can go for closer to $50,000.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-31

It just doesn’t seem right, does it? I’m not taking anything away from the cars or their owners, but when they start reaching such values, then they need to be compared to other cars in the same price bracket and I’m not sure they fare all that well.

An AE86 or an E46 BMW M3? I’ll let you answer that one yourselves…

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-41

In the AE86’s defence, these values only reflect the fact that there’s nothing available on the showroom floor that offer what these cars do.

Ever-evolving regulations around safety and emissions pretty much guarantee that we’ll never see the likes of these cars being offered again. What’s out there now, is likely all that will ever be.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-30
2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-38

With that, it brings me great joy to see so many people still driving the cars like they’re completely disposable.

I’m unsure how long this trend will continue, but long may it last, because all thoughts about values etc. go completely out the window when you see a Hachiroku being driven as intended.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-42

These are cars which I will forever be curious about, as it’s often how they’re used that’s more impressive than what they actually are.

I think they’re a perfect microcosm of overall car culture in that regard.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-9

For the record – and not that anyone asked – but I still fall on the Japanese street style of the AE86 equation. Adrian Walsh’s all-black Levin is very much the sort of thing that excites me.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-10

A built 20-valve with Toda cams and a custom Hemi Race exhaust manifold making the better part of 200hp would almost certainly convert even the most die-hard of 16-valve fans.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-12

Those of you that recognise this car, and know the story behind it, will be relieved to know that a feature has finally been shot and will be coming at some stage over the next few weeks.

Well, either relieved or terrified that I’ll make a complete meal of it. It could go either way with me, to be honest.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-43

It’s not the only Corolla feature in the pipeline either, although again, they might as well be two different cars considering the different approaches and stories behind each of them.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-18

The non-AE86s at 86 Fest were varied, without being so prevalent to take away from the day’s theme.

My recently found lust for X81s has not abated in the slightest since LZ Fest either, again for those of you who didn’t ask.

2022 86FEST Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-20

All in all, 86 Fest 2022 was another good day out with good people in suspiciously sunny conditions. People out enjoying cars, regardless of how they enjoy them, is always going to be a good thing.

I will forever be down with the O.P.C. (Other People’s Corollas).

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Man the AE86 is such a nice little project car
Wish it was still cheap

Embracing Irrelevance

No doubt.

Somewhat related...while I appreciate blogs about interesting cars, every one that highlights "This is the coolest car no one knows about!" instantly makes what ever that is financially unattainable for regular workin' class schmucks like me.


Amazing to see how far the ex-Ryota Yuasa D1 car has come after being broken apart for so many years! Ireland hands down has the best 86 scene outside of Japan... nobody builds them to caliber you lads do anymore <3


wooden valve cover



It would be nice to do a comparison between the ae86 and the gr86


"An AE86 or an E46 BMW M3? I’ll let you answer that one yourselves…"
I've gone from an AE86, to Z3M Coupe, to AE86, to E46 M3, back to an AE86.
When I bought the M3, they were cheaper than AE86s, yet I felt like I had to be way more careful working on it than the Corolla. Very very different driving experiences and if I could have both at once, I'd love to.