With my initial disappointment from the latest news and
pictures on the Toyota/Subaru front-engine RWD coupe,
I feel that an “appreciation” blog post is due for the car that I [pretend to]
know a lot about: the 1985-87 Toyota Corolla GT-S (a.k.a. AE86).
Sure, maybe I’ll change my mind when the production
Toybaru/Subayota hits the streets. After all, the early hype on this new coupe did
have some hints toward the “resurgence of the AE86.” But in the meantime, I
won’t hold my breath.
To appreciate the Corolla GT-S’s original form, let’s take a
trip back to 1985. Years before
drifting hit mainstream, before there were Japanese cartoons about driving a
“hachiroku” to deliver tofu, heck - when the only place to find a
4-valve-per-cylinder engine was in a Ferrari or Lotus. So what if the
Corolla was only a 4-banger with 112 horsepower? It was lightweight,
aerodynamic (yay! popup headlights!), had 4-wheel disc brakes, and best all - rear wheel drive. 0-60 in 8.9 seconds wasn’t exactly
mind-numbing, but you sure thought you were going fast with a 7500 RPM redline!
After all, the 4A-GE engine wasn’t designed to be high horsepower motor, but
rather, a high-efficiency power plant to utilize a sub-2400 lb vehicle. With killer throttle response and
“practical performance” (about 30 MPG on average), it’s no wonder that a variation
of the 4A-GE motor was the engine of choice for the Formula Atlantic Series for
a number of years.
For you Toyota enthusiasts out there, I am fully aware that the
AE86 chassis doesn’t just cover the GT-S trim line. But let’s save the Corolla
SR5’s SOHC carbed weaksauceness of 87hp for Chris’ Car Disgust blogs.
Until the next affordable, lightweight Toyota front-engine RWD coupe or
hatchback car gets produced, let’s keep appreciating this piece of Japanese
history and benchmark. Many enthusiasts
say it’s too late to find one at a good price due to the JDM-appeal, anime exposure,
or drifting hype, but if you can find one in good condition at a bargain – it may
not be a bad idea to get your cheapo hands on a quasi-collector car.
Photo is from Flickr user Bokchoys.