Here’s to the little Hachi Roku that could.
August 6 might be another day on the calendar for many people out there today, but to the larger automotive community today is 86 day, or HachiRoku day. Today (Aug. 6, 2015) marks the 32nd anniversary of the introduction of the AE86. 86 day is so big, many car communities hold events today (or at least on the nearest weekend) like 86 Fest in Southern California or Slide Your Ride in Northern California.
Introduced in 1983, the Toyota AE86 was a small, lightweight coupe (or hatchback) made by Toyota as its fifth generation Toyota Corolla. The first AE86 for was dubbed the AE86 (as hachi is eight and roku is six in Japanese.) The name actually has a bit of history in it already. ‘A’ represents the engine that originally came with this car, the ‘4A’ series. ‘E’ stands for Corolla,t he number ‘eight’ stands for the fifth generation and the number ‘six’ stands for the variation in that particular engine. You may know the ultimate spiritual successor to this car as the Scion FR-S or in Japan, the GT86.
The most popular engine for this little hatch that could was Toyota’s 4A-GE engine. In stock form, the little 1.6 liter four cylinder put out just 130 HP and 110-lb-ft of torque, but that was more than enough for back in the 80’s. Special blacktop editions of the motor made 165 HP at the crank while just a few modifications to the engine could easily raise the power to a naturally aspirated 200 HP. Pair that engine to a car weighing less than 2,400 lbs and route that power through the rear wheels, and you have a recipe for fun.
The small sports car was used in multiple race series around the world, most notably in Japan in Group N factory racing. The AE86 was further popularized by Keiichi Tsuchiya who was a proponent of the tiny Toyota sports car in Group N racing. Additionally, Tsuchiya in the late 90’s and early 2000’s along with many pioneers of the sport of drifting, popularized taking imports on controlled slides from informal touge events to full-blown Formula Drift events.
Today, we enjoy this car as both the original AE86 and the GT86 (or Scion FR-S in the United States.) The Scion FR-S has roughly used the same formula as the original. Lightweight, RWD and relatively inexpensive. Except for the fire-breathing, high revving, Toyota Motor, a partnership with Subaru has sourced a boxer engine instead of an inline four cylinder that roughly makes 200 HP and 151 lb-ft of torque.
So if you hear one of your friends on social media or around the office say, “Happy 86 day!”, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about. Below are some videos of both the AE86 and the GT86 doing their thing, enough to get you in the mood for a great 86 day!