The Toyota AE86 – one of the founding fathers of drifting?

We all know that the second you drive a car off the lot it starts to lose value, unless of course you bought a Toyota AE86 between 1984 and 1987. This unassuming little car, also known as the Toyota Corolla Sprinter, has become a cult icon among street racers, drifting enthusiasts and anime fans alike. When sold they can fetch the same as a vintage Ferrari! Why you ask? Lets take a look at what made the Toyota AE86 such a legend.

With it’s nimble handling, responsive steering and peppy engine, the AE86 fast became a star in Japan’s popular mountain pass races. That is, until Keiichi Tsuchiya, better known as the Drift King, decided to spice things up and drift the AE86 through corners. When that turned out to be a crowd pleaser, drifting took off as a motorsport in it’s own right and the Toyota AE86 became an icon of the drifting scene.

In 1986 and 1987 the AE86, with a little help from driver Chris Hodgetts, won the British Touring Car Championship, before going on to win the European Touring Car Championship. The AE86 beat out cars like the BMW M6, Volvo 240 Turbo and Mazda 929, thanks to its 150hp output and lightweight build, to win the Manufacturers Championship.

Appearing in popular media can really boost a car’s reputation, and this is exactly what happened to the Toyota AE86 when it won a starring role in the “Initial D” franchise. Initial D was a widely successful manga about a young street racer and his AE86. The manga was so popular that it was followed by numerous animated series, movies and even a live-action adaptation. The Toyota AE86 was at the heart of them all, zipping through the mountains and drifting around tight corners.

Initial D’s popularity boosted the price of the Toyota AE86. This price hike is jokingly called the Takumi Tax, named after the main character of Initial D.

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