Rookie's Guide- Corolla GTS AE86
Suspension- Front Strut /Solid Rear Axle
Engine- 1600cc 4AGE DOHC
Chassis- Front Engine Rear Wheel Drive
US Production- 1985-1987
The AE86 was introduced with the uncommon mass production twin cam engine, which was previously only available in high priced exotics. This gave the AE86 a leap in technology over previous corolla models. The AE86 was the only body style to retain a front engine and rear wheel drive configuration, making it last rear wheel drive Corolla. The car was produced with a coupe and hatchback version. The fixed headlight "Levin" was not offered in North American. While it has already been out of production for 15 years, it still enjoys a dedicated following and can still be seen along many mountain sides around the world.
Although the appearance of the AE86 may seem like that a regular economy car, it's Hood
hides a technological achievement for it's time. With 16 Valves, Dual Over Head Cams, and Toyota Variable Induction System (TVIS), it was not the regular economical engine that many expected. The heads were designed by Yamaha with this partnership still surviving today. The engine produced just 97lbs of torque and 112 horsepower. Although not very powerful, the strength of the engine lies in it's responsiveness and willingness to rev well pass 7000 rpm.
The suspension system consists of struts in the front and a solid rear axle in the rear supported by separated springs and shocks. The solid rear axle is very strong, but it's weakness is that the rear wheels cannot move independently of each other. This means that stability over ruff is compromised compared to independent suspension systems.
Driving the AE86, the first thing that is noticed is the weight of the car, or lack there of. The car is very responsive to steering and throttle inputs. It is very controllable when braking into corners and at times, the steering can be done with the throttle. Because of it's small size it is easy to place it where you want it on the road. The cornering limit is not very high, showing under steer at the limit. The engine is works well in high revs, but the gearing can feel too wide at times.
The AE86 is one of the most rewarding cars to drive, new or used. A light weight, rear wheel driven coupe, that can seat 4, and carry a couple of spare tires, it is hard to ask for more than that. It is not the fastest car in a quarter mile, but the engine sure sounds good getting there. It doesn't have the most advanced suspension system, but it sure works well supporting the light weight body.
Most of the AE86s you will find today will need a lot of work. Restoration may cost the more than the vehicle itself. The AE86 is a great platform for learning and is truly deserving of it's popularity.