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The respawn of a legend

If you’re a self proclaimed JDM fanboy, then the legendary Toyota Corolla AE86 has to be the deity you put your hand together to every morning and night as the day starts and comes to a close. Sure, you might idolize the newer and more technologically advanced machine such as the Toyota Supra, Mazda RX-7 or the Nissan Skyline GT-R, but even though you might not realize this yourself, you could never really overlook the AE86. There’s no reason for it, it’s simply just because.

The car was famed for its perfect 50-50 weight balance in a lightweight shell that enabled it to keep up with some of the larger machines stuck on a strict horsepower diet. This was one of the cars that proved to the world that power wasn’t everything.

Following that, Toyota had a string of entertaining yet affordable sports cars such as the Supra and Celica before a small part of the company died, its spirit for making fun cars. It was then a steady flow of some of the world’s most beige cars that appealed to the mass market but like radiation, was killing the cheap sports car sector slowly but surely although the blame doesn’t lay squarely on them.

A few years back, Toyota’s latest had honcho made the decision that the company badly required an injection of fun back into its product line-up. If there was one good thing though about Toyota being Toyota, it was their uncanny ability to nail down precisely what the market was looking for and produce it. That black art was perfected during the years of churning out cars that made celery sticks look like a worthy challenger to Hugh Hefner but once applied to creating the cheap sports car that the enthusiasts were looking for, it become a formidable tool.

It might have taken years and enough teasing to make Dita von Teese look like a good Catholic schoolgirl but finally, the world was given the Toyota GT86, and what a gift it would prove to be. Those that echoed in unison, calling it the ‘Nissan Silvia’ of the future, wouldn’t have been far off the truth. The return of the simple sports car was complete.

Just like its predecessor, the GT86 had the engine in the front driving the rear wheels and a near perfect weight distribution. Toyota went all out to get a truly balanced setup, resulting in a car that was a genuine pleasure to drive. It didn’t come with much power from the 2-liter boxer four but it was more than sufficient to have fun with the car, and that was all Toyota were looking to achieve.

It was a foregone conclusion that the aftermarket tuners were just itching to get their hands on the car and squeeze out more power from it for a multitude of applications, the primary one of course being to light up the rears and get sideways although track duty and even a rally version have made the rounds already.

The GT86 is already beginning to flood our local roads and M7 Japan are one of the first to get their hands on the ZN6, as the new chassis was officially designated by Toyota. Most of the M7 cars are set out to be a rolling demonstration platform for the tuner and showcase almost the entire range of their offerings that lean towards consistency rather than outright power gains.

Starting off with the all new FJ20 powerplant that makes a generous 197hp from the factory, M7 Japan fitted in their M7 Air Filter replacement element for more air into the intake. Spent gases are now channeled out via an M7 Titan cat-back sports muffler system that gives the car a real menacing growl apart from the intimidating look of the two pipes pointing out from each side below the bumper.

The internals are now better protected during operations by the M7 Pro Racing Oil 1000hp in a viscosity of 15W-50. An M7 GT performance oil filter was also fitted and with its magnetic element, helps to attract all the miniscule metal pieces floating around in the oil that would otherwise damage the engine over time. Keeping nasty oil vapours at bay is an M7 Super Cooling oil catch tank.

Completing the engine bay bits would be a healthy helping of the M7 Super Cooling radiator coolant that now runs in the water jackets while an M7 Super Cooling radiator cap increase the pressure in the system, hence improving cooling abilities by that much more.

On the electronics side, the M7 Touch R.A.C.E is fitted. This is the next generation in OBD communication and the TFT liquid crystal display with touch screen ability is capable of displaying many of the vehicle’s operating parameters. The device even has a reflash function for added purposes.

The M7 Touch R.A.C.E has an advanced 3D graphic design display similar to a racing car instrumentation and can display up to 50 types of parameters according to the driver’s preference. An SD card slot or USB port makes it easier to access the OBD data recorded with the data logging function.

As the engine uses an electronic throttle, the M7 Japan Throttle Controller was also installed for the driver to gain more adjustability from the throttle response and set it up to his or hers exact liking.

Sending the power to the rear wheels is the stock six-speed automatic transmission. It wasn’t left completely in factory specifications though as the M7 boys filled up the gearbox with their M7 Super Street ATF. Not only is this fluid more suited for hard driving, it will prove to be a worthy investment as it protects the transmission better.

One thing the car cannot be faulted for is the handling. There hasn’t been a soul that has had a negative thing to say about the ZN6’ ride and handling. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, but just as some added insurance, M7 Japan fitted in their renowned M7 Super Street performance dampers at the four corners. The coilovers offer one of the best deals between handling and a decent ride comfort for the streets.

Granted, the engine add-ons wouldn’t have added significantly to the horsepower count but the GT86 is all about balance and driving pleasure. Hence, the braking department was upgraded and is probably the only hardcore mod done to the car.

M7 pulled out all the stops and went with their M7 High Technology Brake System six-piston calipers for the front, complete with the M7 Super Competition brake pad that has a 700℃ rating. The pads are used at the rear as well on the stock setup. Running through the brake lines are the M7 Super B5 brake fluid that has a higher boiling point.

The brakes hide behind some handsome and lightweight Enkei RSM9 wheels in a matte chrome finish and measure 18-inches across. Wrapping those wheels are some super sticky Toyo Proxes T1R rubbers that signal the car’s hard-driving intentions.

Step into the car and you will be greeted by a near stock interior. The only new additions are the Bride bucket seats that were made especially for M7 Japan and the unmistakable Takata racing harness to hold the driver in place.

Exterior wise, the car was left untouched save for the factory kit it came with and the exception of that monstrous M7 GT wing on the rear lid. It doesn’t really need much to look good as the car itself will grow on you with sufficient time.

Even in such a short span of time, the number of modified GT86s on the road are massive and range from simple tune-ups to downright blasphemous engine swaps that double the cylinder count and configuration.

Compared to those, the M7 GT86 doesn’t really stand out but that is precisely the reason for this build, to showcase the simple yet effective components that M7 Japan builds for the FJ20 mill. They didn’t set out to reinvent it, they were merely looking to innovate it.

Car: M7 Japan Toyota GT86
Engine Mods: M7 Pro Racing Oil 1000hp 15W-50, M7 Titan cat-back sports muffler, M7 Super Cooling oil catch tank, M7 Super Cooling radiator cap, M7 Super Cooling radiator coolant, M7 GT Performance oil filter (magnet type), M7 Air Filter replacement, M7 GT oil filler cap
Electronics: M7 Touch R.A.C.E, M7 Japan Throttle Controller
Transmission: M7 Super Street ATF oil
Chassis & Handling: M7 Super Street performance damper
Brakes: M7 High Technology Brake System six-piston, M7 Super Competition brake pad 700℃ (front & rear), M7 Super B5 brake fluid
Wheels & Tyres: Enkei RSM9 18-inch wheels, Toyo Proxes T1R tyres
Interior: Bride full-bucket seats, Takata racing harness
Exterior: M7 carbon fiber GT wing
Tuner: M7 Japan

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