1986 Toyota Corolla
photographer: Steve Demmitt
Much like the revered Statue of Liberty, the stunning pyramids of Egypt, and the glamorous Hollywood sign, the Toyota Corolla AE86 is a long lasting icon that has managed to transcend generations of tuners, and continues to lead the pack as one of the most regarded vehicles in the tuning community. Born in the mid ’80s when performance and style were waning features in building cars, the AE86 represented the last line of Corollas that actually characterized values important to tuners.
The Corollas that soon followed, however, have become mere cutouts of this legendary car, focusing more on roominess, safety, resale value, and fuel economy. The Corollas of today are downright sissies in comparison.
Nonetheless, we’re happy that, at the very least, the AE86’s legend continues to thrive in tuning centers across the country in a variety of forms: show car, drift, time attack, street, and even drag. But our favorite is the feral form, marked by the rusted AE86 chassis, mismatched wheels, torn dashboard, and the unexpected look of happiness on the owner’s face. Happy that regardless of what onlookers may say, or whatever his friends are whispering behind his back, he has a Toyota Corolla AE86, and that’s all that really matters. Such is the allure of this legendary vehicle.
Likewise, such is the case of Sean Igawa of Honolulu, Hawaii. His AE86 surpasses all forms and creates its own breed. From the exterior alone, a sense of greatness is emanated leveling off with a degree of knowing that the body alone is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. And indeed, it is.
As the shop owner of Munky Wurks, Sean was introduced to the tuning game over 10 years ago when he purchased an ’86 Toyota 4Runner turbo. A friend, like all good friends who are into cars, felt Sean was wasting the potential of his SUV. He advised Sean to read up on automotive modifications and create engine performance-Sean was automatically consumed by the madness. Later, in 2001, with a cesspool of information mostly on modifying Toyotas, Sean decided to buy a Corolla. He frequented Club4AG.com, detailed his plans for the car, and asked his friends to help him out. What became a mere side project ballooned into an all-encompassing world of AE86.
This Corolla actually started its life as a POS automatic SR5, which in AE86 terms means the crap that looked the part, but didn’t have the balls to play the part, better known as your grandmother’s daily driver. A friend donated a nearly dying GTS, which was scrapped; parts were then transplanted into the SR5. Afterwards came the overhaul of the chassis.
Running the style department of Sean’s AE86 is a Run Free body kit, modeled Type II Trueno. This JDM kit features the necessary hardware, but Sean included the front and rear fenders to extend width, and a svelte full FRP hatch with wing. He then painted the bumpers a custom brown metallic to create a two-tone feel. He also added a Car Boutique hood and carbon-fiber J-Blood doors.
It’s underneath the Car Boutique hood that makes this AE86 special. Loaded with an AE92 high-compression engine, a 4AGZE motor if you will, the Corolla blasts through the streets of Honolulu with impressive numbers. It’s because, as the 4AG nerds know, the Z in that engine code stands for supercharged-which also translates to very fast. Modified with an HKS 10 psi pulley, the supercharger is helped by a Rein Hard 60mm exhaust, HKS high-flow catalytic converter, Toda cam gears, and a Koyo radiator. But what really gets it going is a custom V-mount setup that maximizes the air in the engine-all of which helped Sean win countless awards including Best JDM, Best of Show, and Best Performance at a variety of events.
Of course, the other components lining the car also helped-the Silk Road coilovers ride beneath the chassis controlling the balance of the car, while a set of beautiful 15-inch RS Watanabe eight-spoke wheels carry the AE86 in and out of the highways. The chassis bottom also features Silk Road front-control arms, Revolver negative roll blocks, Cusco tension rods, Do-Luck rear tension bar, and Nagisa Auto Shakitto plates.
Inside the cabin is more JDM goodness by way of Bride Brix front seats, Bee Racing carbon-fiber door panels, and a Nardi steering wheel. The interior is also where the in-car electronics prominently hang, like the Defi gauges and tachometer, JDM double-DIN JVC head unit, and Kenwood amplifiers. All of which makes this Corolla fast on the intake, stiff on the turns, and an aural pleasure to boot.
So much has been done to the Toyota Corolla AE86 that it’s hard to find one that can still capture the eyes of AE86 aficionados and average tuners alike, but Sean has managed to reach that goal with a Corolla that is so clean that we wished he lived mainland so the rest of the country can see it in person.
Behind The Build
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Engine 4AGZE 1.6L engine; HKS camshafts, SAFC II ECU high-flow catalytic converter, and 10psi supercharger pulley; Rein Hard dual carbon 60mm piping exhaust, Run Free 4-1 headers, oil catch, coolant reservoir tank; Toda cam gears, timing belt; Koyo radiator; Billion and Samco radiator hoses; Flex-a-lite fans; Fluidyne oil coolers; custom V-mount cooling setup; NGK Iridium spark plugs; SARD fuel pump, Tec-Art intake funnel; Techno Pro Spirits breather tank
Drivetrain OS Giken LSD, flywheel, clutch; Techno Toy Tuning shift kit; Carbing shift lever
Suspension Silk Road coilovers, traction blocks, front control arms, rear C-pillar bar; Largus front and rear stabilizer bars; Carbing front strut brace; Okuyama 11-point rollcage; Techno Pro Spirits rear strut brace; Revolver negative roll blocks; Cusco tension rod set with brackets; Formula Link JR four-link, lateral rod, front tie bar; KTS sway bar links; Ueo Style inner and outer tie-rod set, fender brace; Do-luck rear tension bar; Run-Free floor support bars; KTS rear four-point brace; Nagisa Auto Shakitto plates
Wheels/Tires Watanabe wheels 15×9 front, 15×10 rear RS; Falken Ziex 512 tires (195/50-15, 205/50-15)
Brakes Goodridge brake lines; Techno Pro Spirits slotted rotors; Project Mu B-Force pads
Exterior Run Free Type II Trueno body kit; FRP hatch with wing; flared front and rear fenders; Car Boutique hood; Raybrig headlights; J-Blood carbon doors; Cashiew sports side mirrors; Lunar Mist Metallic paint, and custom brown metallic for two-tone bumpers
Interior Bride Brix seats; Bee Racing carbon door panels; Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel; Carbing shifter knob; Celica GTS pedals; Bride upholstery (rear panels and trunk)
Electronics Defi gauges, tachometer; JDM double-DIN JVC head unit; Kenwood amplifiers; Boston Acoustics speakers; 15-inch Crossfire subwoofers