A few months or so ago I headed to Ireland to catch up with Killian O’Brien and Kevin Reilly from Team Tekno. The two guys who pretty much live and breathe everything and anything to do with the Toyota Corolla AE86 and happen to own probably the coolest examples of the famous hatchback this side of Japan.
Sadly Killian’s Levin wasn’t around as it’s been undergoing a major overhaul, and Kevin’s Trueno was waiting for some front shocks to arrive, but not to worry! The duo both own the Levin track car you see in the photo above which has been built for attacking circuits when the other Corollas are out of use – living the dream eh?
This particular car also happens to have a link to Driftworks as it originally belonged to Phil Morrison. The guys drove all the way from Ireland to pick it up and drive it back!
It’s changed and been through a lot since those days, especially when it comes to the way it looks. Killian and Kevin are borderline obsessed with drifting culture and it’s styles in the early days, even more than myself, and this is reflected in every aspect of this Corolla. The car used to be the famous white and black two tone Panda colours, but the guys wanted something a little more 90s style, so they chose this green and silver colour scheme from a Isuzu Trooper 4×4!
In the pursuit of period correctness, the choice of vinyl is down to a tee as well with a huge collection of old stickers. A lot of these are hard to get a hold of due to some of the parts the car runs are discontinued or the companies have closed down, but fortunately Killian also runs his own graphics design shop called Max Force Ready and made some up. MFR specialises in vinyl designs based around those early drift styles, from parts, team stickers, to full on liveries.
It’s hard to go wrong with Corolla styling as long as you keep it simple. The guys wanted to continue the classic styling by running an OEM Kouki front bumper with an OEM Zenki lip, Vitaloni Baby Turbo mirrors, no side-skirts (and a cut out section of the front fender), and a rare Goodline FRP hood.
In the pursuit of lightness Polycarbonate windows have been fitted, as well as a lightweight removable East Bear boot-lid. On top of that sits a TRD rear wing, which in my opinion is the best wing ever designed for the AE86 – it just looks right.
Up front in the wheel department, the Corolla is rocking a pair of classic 14 x 9J SSR MKII wrapped in in ADVAN AO48 195/60/14 tyres.
And at the rear sits a pair of 14 x 8.5J SSR MKIII wearing Austone 195/60/14 tyres – notice how smooth the top of the sidewall is from all the arch rubbing?
As you can tell this car isn’t exactly what you’d call concours, but it’s not suppose to be. That’s not to say this car is a “missile” car where it’s soul purpose in life is to be smashed off things with no style or finesse; it’s been built to be a challenge, and to be driven hard, and I find each battle scar it’s gained over the years just adds to it’s character.
The cars had most of it’s mechanical attention towards the handling. Suspension wise the car has OEM converted coilover struts with Jubiride top mounts, Swift 8kg springs up front, and 6kg TRD springs at the rear, TOKICO dampers all round, URAS outer tie-rods, and P/S knuckles.
The interior of the 86 is sparse to say the least; the only original bits left are probably the gear gaiter, pedals, and top half of the dashboard! The car also has a 6 Point Safety Devices cage fitted, which gives Killian and Kevin peace of mind when they go on a rampaging warpath on the circuit trying to imitate Katushiro Ueo (Youtube) or Hiroshi Takahashi from Running Free’s (YouTube) driving styles.
The MOMO reversed steering wheel is an unusual but cool touch.
Even the seats in this Corolla are period correct with a BRIDE Artis for the driver and an old school Bride Basis for the passenger.
Under the rare bonnet sits the legendary 16v 4A-GE.
The engine has only been lightly modified with a Trust exhaust manifold, 5Zigen exhaust, K&N M’s filter – the rest of the power comes from your right foot and will power.
And that’s where the challenge and hilarious amounts of fun from 86 driving comes from, with so little power you have to drive as fast as you can and throw it in with as much brute force possible to get the best out of the car, which can either go very well or quite badly – I thought this to myself as me and Killian slid across the grass into a wall of tyres.
We had a go-kart track pretty much to ourselves all day, so the car really took a hammering, but no matter how abuse and crashing occurred it soldiered on like a trooper. Killian and Kevin very kindly let me take the car out for a few laps to see what driving one is like and to have a go at drifting for the first time, suffice to say I was absolutely diabolical. Everything is raw with this car, the response, the way you can feel every little steering input through the wheel, the screaming 4A-GE, those little bits rattling around in the car that you can never really figure out where they came from. It’s tough to drive and it’ll make you pay for it if you slip up, but damn it puts a smile on your face.
In a world of crazy competition builds and people going for MORE power, MORE lock, MORE everything, it’s refreshing to see that there’s still people keeping things simple, and most importantly – fun.
Here’s a little bonus video I put together really badly, enjoy!
– Daniel Bridle