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Mighty Blast from the Old School Past

There is always a buzz when a mighty ride of the past; a true legend on its very own right, appears seemingly out of nowhere, as though a rip in the fabric of time and space occurred that baffled the top minds at NASA. Whoops! Sorry guys got a little hung up on the perpetually unanswerable ‘does alien exist’ issue. We might have had a steady stream of sightings – some hilariously fake while there’s a small of percentage of the ‘absolute mystery’ case files; but as ever, there’s no definitive answer for this intriguing question. And there’s no chance in hell that you’d get the answer on these here flippant bit of paraphrasing.

But, going along with the earlier buzz, we are indeed talking about a true legend here and a pretty freakin rare one at that. Such rarity is akin to that ‘alien sightings issue’ mentioned above with one crucial difference – that the sightings down here in Malaysia of this four-wheeled legend are even rarer. This four-wheeled legend is none other than the AE86. And no other alphanumeric initials are more renowned and more glorified than this Toyota ‘boy-racer’.


Surely the name Keiichi Tsuchiya would inevitably be mentioned along with this old school Toyota – he of the ‘royalty among drifters’ fame. To speak of Keiichi-san would just about ensure that this here piece drags on and on. And don’t even get me started on the Initial-D culture and all. The thing is no other rides have spawned such a following, such excitement, and achieved such a cult status as the ‘little’ Toyota; a lightweight, no-nonsense two-door sports car with an eager twin-cam engine and chassis poise that can run rings around some modern highly-fancied self-proclaimed performance cars. We feel privileged to have this pretty baby gracing our hallowed pages.

This particular AE86 is the Sprinter Trueno version done up pretty deep, down, up, inside out by the nice guys at Phantus Racing. You might want to remember them folks, or as is the custom in these day and age, you might wanna go and ‘like’ them when you go about your daily business into that internet ‘thingy’ – something to do with books and faces. Well whatever your facebook fetish, Phantus Racing (pronounced ‘fantas’ as in speedy in Malay) is one to watch.

They have applied their expertise in abundance onto this little project – a drift car worthy of the sharp end of the grid (if there is such a thing as grid slots in drifting). Perusing the performance substance from the outside in let us first dwell on the exterior and whichever way you look at it, apart from the mandatory wheels, the essential blacked-out bonnet and some rear spoilers, there ain’t much to be done to make the evergreen AE86 silhouette stand out. Of course the fact that it is indeed a dime in a dozen makes it distinctive, but in essence, the signature 80s looks is all you need.


Complimenting the purposeful exterior is an equally purposeful interior. An interior pretty much full of purposeful looking extras (yes, the pun is not really necessary, I know). It’s pared down to the bare essentials; undoubtedly you wouldn’t be cuddling up inside its less-than-cozy cockpit. No, the setting is all about ‘taking care of business’ really, and the business is all about speed and going sideways and going utterly ballistic. There’s only a few aftermarket parts – 6-point roll cage (FIA-approved), bucket seat (yes, that’s not a typo, it is singular not plural), and a grip-plus-feel-enhanced Momo steering.

To have all that funky extras and not have the go to match the show would be a mortal sin in this domain, know what I’m sayin? And so there’s quite a horde of handling and power upgrades that covers just about everything. A couple of TRD suspension components – TRD’s own AE86 adjustable suspension (with short dampers) are mated with Cusco links, Panards connecting rods, and 20mm thick roll bars. For even more enhanced balance and stability the track is widen by 25mm while an RCA kit drops the ride down by 30mm. There’s also a modified Cusco top mounts (for wider camber), Uras inner arms and spacer, and finally a Quaife 2.5 turn manual quick rack steering. For the brakes Bendix pads are used. The transmission’s pretty much stock save for TRD’s 2-Way differentials.

Now onto the power bits and in this department again Phantus has taken care of business with sheer coolness. The 4AEG block is ported, polished and balanced, and the stock cams are replaced with Toda Racing 264/7.9mm plus the requisite valve springs. There’s the usual K&N air filter kit, some custom extractor, ignition cables and also a Wallbro 275lph fuel pump. There’s no internal tinkering here, no excessive turbocharging, just good old-fashion parts exchange. Such is the 4AGE performance prowess that just a couple of pretty basic mods had produced one heckuva result.


So whadya reckon all these add up to? A pretty impressive 170 ponies. We all know all too well that even in standard 120 hp trim the AE86 is quite a perky performer. Imagine how much perkier it’ll be with some 50 extra horsepower, take into account the extensively modified chassis bits, and ultimately the sum of it all, then you’d be spot on in thinking pretty big things are indeed happening in this funky Toyota – the kind of big thing that puts a permanent grin onto a petrol head’s sour face.

And for a petrol head that’s all that matters.


Engine Mods: Blacktop 4AEG TVIS (port, polished & balanced), Toda Racing 264/7.9mm Racing camshafts, Toda Racing valve springs, Custom extractor 4-2-1 with 5Zigen muffler, Ultra performance ignition cable, K&N air filter kit, Wallbro 275lph fuel pump

Transmission: TRD 2-Way differentials

Brakes: Bendix metal king brake pads

Chassis: TRD AE86 adjustable suspension (with pillow ball), Cusco links, Panards rod, white roll bar 20mm, TRD short dampers, 30mm rca+25mm extra track, Quaife 2.5 turn manual quick rack with Uras inner arms & spacer, Modified Cusco top mounts, Poly Bushes

Wheels & Tyres: Atara Black Racing 9jj 15inch wheels, Federal FZ01 semi-slicks tyres

Interior: FIA 6-point Roll Cage, Sparco seat, Momo steering

Exterior: Original Sprinter Trueno body, AE86 race spoiler, black & white Initial-D finish

Electronics: Stock

Text: Faz Furiouz
Photos: Kenny Yeoh