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Kentucky AE86: A Levin Story

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  • Kentucky AE86: A Levin Story

    Here in the next few days I will receive an email notifying me of this cars arrival into the United States and I will make the trip to pick her up. Words can not even begin to explain how excited I am. Not only is this a car that I have been dreaming of owning ever since I was in elementary school, but I've literally spent the past 3 years working towards this purchase which makes this car mean even more to me.

    but before I go any further let me back up a little bit and give you a little background on myself and why its taken me 3 years to get to this point. If you don't like reading and just here for the pictures, then keep on scrolling. If you're like me and its slow at work, and/or you're browsing the forums while taking a poop, then keep on reading I'll try to keep the words somewhat to a minimum since I dont even enjoy reading too much myself. I'm 22 years old, currently a full-time electrical engineering major at the University of Kentucky, Army National Guard member, and I work part-time in the parts department at a Toyota dealership.

    This all started with a black EM1 civic.

    My dad is a big car guy so of course he passed that gene onto me, only instead of hot rods and muscle cars its all little "rice burners" for me. Anyways, early on in middle school my parents made it very clear to me that if I did well in school and stayed out of trouble they would help me out when it came time for me to get a car. That car ended up being a black 2000 Civic SI, my favorite car (besides the ae86). Came with eibach lowering springs and a jdm b18c, later installed koni-yellow/GC coilovers. Thing was sweet.

    This is what it looked like towards graduation

    Even though I did well in school, obviously I did all the dumb stuff car kids do when they get their license. (get in trouble for street racing Lol). Eventually, I ended up wrecking it one night on my back home from a little gig in Ohio (i was in a hardcore band in highschool). Old country road, wet and rainy, 1am, blind corner, and under-steered straight into a ditch. I only had liability on it so insurance wouldn't cover the damage. Had to pretty much replace the entire front end of the vehicle. I was a senior about to graduate by this time. Of course I didn't have the money so it just sat in my garage while I finished out the school year. Unfortunately I don't have very many pictures of the car from back then.

    I had planned on going to UK the fall of 2013, but didn't receive any scholarships I applied for. So I found myself with 3 options : take out student loans and start at UK, skip college and go straight to work, or join the military. When weighing my options I found that joining the military would be the best option since that would pay for my tuition, specifically in the National Guard, but that was still a big commitment.

    ... And then I realized something ... I would be gone for 24 weeks for basic training and AIT ... free food and free housing ... NO EXPENSES ... this all means $10,000 cash money to play with ... which also means I can blow a crap ton on my civic and get it running again!! Sounds pretty tasty for an 18 year old.

    I enlisted in May, and then went to basic training in September.
    That summer was spent working at save-a-lot and spending all my money on parts for the civic that needed replaced.

    While I'm gone I'm saving all my money, every couple weeks I would send payments to the guy who was fixing the civic. I made it very clear to him I wanted every single scratch, ding, blemish, and any other flaw with the paint fixed. I wanted it perfect, and it was.

    I came home in March and the car was almost finished. Dude had a hard time painting over the winter due to his shop not having a big enough heater. The body work/paint ended up costing me roughly 5k, and I had spent about 1.8k in parts before leaving for basic training. I ended up getting the car back the beginning of April and my baby was fixed.

    I started working full-time at the dealership in April too, so I would drive the civic to/from work since that was my only car.

    Sure enough, only 3 weeks after I get it back I get rear ended on my way home from work. To make matters even worse, the chick who hit me didnt even have insurance ... I was absolutely devastated.

    Insurance ended up totaling it, and I was so upset and pissed I just got rid of it. Sold it to some kid for cheap.

    I ended up buying an IS300. I always loved the look of those. I snagged one off craigslist for 4k. 200k miles, automatic, ran like a champ. This was about May or June of 2014. At this point I knew whatever car I bought next, had to be better than my civic. And I learned my lesson of treating your baby/project car as your daily driver. So I decided I wanted a RHD AE86. Sure, I could find a GTS or an SR5 for cheap, but I'm stubborn.

    Wheels and coilovers were a must

    I had that for a year, but eventually it just got too expensive. Things started breaking, parts weren't cheap, and my insurance payment was crazy expensive due to the accident. I was paying $330 a month just for insurance.

    I ended up selling it and leasing a 2015 scion tC, which is what is currently sitting outside in the parking lot right now. My lease payment is cheaper than the insurance payment for the IS300, and its a brand new vehicle. Much better deal.

    Usual mods

    So ... I sell the Lexus, Im driving the tC, balls deep in calculus/engineering classes and working part-time in the evenings. I have like 4k in my savings account. I think to myself, this isn't nearly enough to import an AE86. I can't simply work more and put money back, I don't have any money I can put back to begin with! So how do I make more money?

    ... I decided to start buying/selling cars on craigslist. I first bought this 98 honda accord EX. 5-speed, high miles, but the paint was in good shape. Snagged it for 2300 bucks, cleaned it up and sold it for 3400. Not too bad? Who knows how long it would have been to put back 1100 just working part time. I still put back money when I could, and after a few more flips I had about 7k in my savings account.

    This is where it gets interesting. I noticed more and more RHD cars for sale on the internet. Everyone was going nuts about it, and I thought to myself, "if they can do it then why can't I?" Instead of browsing craigslist, I was busy researching on all the laws about importing cars. I ended up finding one of those Auction websites and decided to take the risk and import a car! Keep in mind, I was only 20 at the time, I had zero connections in Japan or anyone outside of the US, and the only money I had was the few dollars in my checking account and my savings.

    I placed a few bids on various cars and ended up getting a Silvia Qs S13. So here I am, sending pretty much my entire savings account to people overseas I don't know, for a car I haven't seen in person. Literally one of the dumbest ideas anyone can ever make, but it worked.

    I knew when I first placed the bid I wouldn't get very much money out of it. I was mainly doing it for the learning factor and just so I can own a RHD vehicle. I figured I could drive it, enjoy it, and at least break even. A little while later a guy from Atlanta GA bought it, and back to the auctions I went. This time I got an FC RX7.

    Super sweet ride. Only had 50,000 miles on it, real Infini bucket seats, autostrada modena wheels, etc. Anyways, this one ended up going to a guy in California, and the wheels went to Montana ...

    ... and then using the cash from that I finally felt like I had enough money and began the hunt for a RHD AE86!!!! I looked everywhere for the right candidate, and came across this one.

    And here I am today, playing the waiting game for this beauty to arrive.

    I've already started buying parts for it too.

    Here is a vintage recaro seat I got from a buddy of mine, and a vintage nardi steering wheel from another local. Both of which will be installed immediately.

    I also placed an order for Fortune Auto coilovers a few weeks ago, and ordered some RS-Watanabe wheels in February 8-)

    I'll be posting more in this thread after it arrives!!!

    So ...

    .... Yeah, I'm pretty pumped. Sorry for the super long post
    [Another Day, Another Beer]

  • #2
    I'm in Louisville with a Te27. Where'd you order the Watanabes from?


    • #3
      Originally posted by 72te27 View Post
      I'm in Louisville with a Te27. Where'd you order the Watanabes from?

      Techno Toy Tuning. A shop / vendor in California. You can order brand new through them
      [Another Day, Another Beer]


      • #4
        17 April 2017

        Officially the day I picked up the car I've been dreaming of owning ever since I was a little kid.

        1984 Toyota Corolla Levin, GT Apex.
        143,xxx Kms (roughly 89k miles)
        Volk Racing Mesh wheels/
        Vintage Fujitsubo OEM style exhaust
        Unknown header
        Unknown Suspension

        Sunday we drove 8 hours to the port in Baltimore MD, picked it up first thing Monday morning and drove 8 hours home. The weather was awful up in the mountains, and at one point through West Virginia traffic was so backed up GPS calculated a 3 hour delay. We ended up taking some back-roads which turned into tiny 1 lanes up and down the mountains. Not very ideal for a big Toyota Tundra with a trailer, especially when you got cars coming in the opposite direction.

        Here's a few pics I took along the way.

        Started up first try and drove it straight out of the terminal. Was super surprised because with the other cars they had to be jump started.


        Finally got home, and some friends stopped by to check out the car. Took it around the neighborhood and to the gas station to fill her up. This was honestly the first time I've ever driven an AE86, and man this thing is a lot smaller than what I expected!

        I'm super pumped though, everything works as it should!. All the lights, dash stuff, etc.

        Some things I did notice:

        Engine is ready for a tune-up. The valves tick just a little bit and sounds like a sewing machine Lol. Oil level was okay, but its definitely due for an oil change. I couldn't find any leaks which is good though!

        Transmission shifts awesome, no grinding or anything. Could use some new shifter bushings, but thats no biggie.

        It totally has the typical Corolla gear whine. and also felt a little vibration when accelerating/turning at low speeds. Hopefully a fluid change in the rear diff will help some of that, or at least help until I do some more research on how to fix it.

        There's a few small spots of rust on the car, the biggest spots being around the hatch. The strut towers, the trunk, and from what I saw on the ground underneath the car, those were all clean so thats a good sign! the hatch rust is on the lower end towards the tail lights, a ducktail spoiler would do a good job hiding it

        I don't really know if its the original paint or not. The black stripes are in the correct position, unlike the many who get those wrong, and it has its fair share of scratches and dings along with the paint on the bumpers fading. But I also see signs of some overspray around some various trim pieces. Maybe it was touched up in certain spots? or Re-sprayed early in its life? I do know its the correct 2T7 paint code so thats a plus.

        I was told that its considered a Grade "R" due to some minor rear end damage and had the hatch was replaced. This makes sense because the key doesn't work with the lock Lol. The corolla was too low for me to open the doors while on the trailer to get out, so I thought I could crawl out the hatch, and thats when we realized the key didn't work. We had to drive home with the left window cracked enough for me to stick my arm in there to roll the window down and crawl in/out that way Lol. That would have sucked if I crawled out the hatch and closed it, otherwise I would have been totally locked out! haha

        All in all, I am so freaking stoked and in love with the car. Its not perfect, but thats okay because I'm keeping this thing forever so I have all the time in the world to fix it. Plus I can actually enjoy the car and drive the crap out of her, unlike some of my buddies and their "garage ornaments". It seems to be in really solid working condition for an un-restored 33 year old Toyota

        And finally, some pictures of its new home. Hopefully I can clean it and take some better pictures this week.

        [Another Day, Another Beer]


        • #5
          Thanks for the response. I wondered if it was T3.
          Congrats on your new car. Looks really nice!


          • #6
            Originally posted by 72te27 View Post
            Thanks for the response. I wondered if it was T3.
            Congrats on your new car. Looks really nice!


            Yeah the dude Gabe is an awesome guy to do business with. Only thing that sucks is it takes FOREVER. I placed my order late February and was told he won't hear anything until probably June. Then again, these wheels are legit and will be brand new so there's a trade-off.
            [Another Day, Another Beer]


            • #7
              I got bored last night and swapped out steering wheels. I think this looks a lot better. Still need to find time to go to the DMV and get the car titled, get insurance, etc.

              I'm going to stop by the Toyota dealer tomorrow evening and pick up all new fluids. Hopefully change it all out this weekend if the weather permits, and investigate the rear diff some more. The car is right at about 90,000 miles so it will be easy to keep track of the all the fluid lives from here on out.

              I also found out that black Recaro seat is from of an evo9. Thought that was kind of cool, but its going up for sale once I put the other Recaro seat in there.
              [Another Day, Another Beer]


              • #8
                Glad you got your dream car. I am very proud of you......son!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fuel10922 View Post
                  Glad you got your dream car. I am very proud of you......son!

                  Aren't you supposed to be working?
                  [Another Day, Another Beer]


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jayrdee View Post

                    Aren't you supposed to be working?
                    I could ask you the same thing......your company better get my door panels right for the next trial. HA!HA!


                    • #11
                      That smile says it all. I've never had an import start off the docks, must have been a relatively new battery and some good luck.
                      Personally, I'd much rather an original 33 year old un restored example like yours over a fully restored garage ornament like you said. Looks great, can't wait for updates.
                      P510 Bluebird SSS Coupe



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KiKiIchiBan View Post
                        That smile says it all. I've never had an import start off the docks, must have been a relatively new battery and some good luck.
                        Personally, I'd much rather an original 33 year old un restored example like yours over a fully restored garage ornament like you said. Looks great, can't wait for updates.

                        And yes it does Lol. It still hasn't hit me that its actually mine yet!
                        [Another Day, Another Beer]


                        • #13
                          So ... the dealership didn't have the right fluids (I should have known they wouldn't have them since I work there), and my Guard duty took up all my time over the weekend so I didn't get time to work on the car really.

                          Although I did manage to sell the old steering wheel this past weekend, and the evo9 seat last night, so I put in my vintage seat! Had to make several trips to the hardware store to get different size bolts and some spacers, but everything bolted right up smoothly! I believe the rails and brackets are the Bride Type-MO setup.

                          Crazy how much of a difference minor details can make! Hoping a deep cleaning will brighten up the color on the passenger and rear seat.

                          [Another Day, Another Beer]


                          • #14
                            Changed the oil and trans fluid this past weekend. Started storming pretty bad once I got the shifter back installed so I had to wait on the diff. I ended up taking it to my work last night to get it on a lift and changed the diff fluid. All the fluids were clean, and so was underneath the car!! There's a few small rust spots in the trunk around the spare tire, but its so minor im not too worried about it. All the important places were clean as a whistle, which is a big relief for me.

                            (it was raining on my way to the dealership so the discoloration is the water)

                            So funny seeing all the lube tech guys get all confused on what kind of Toyota it is and why its so special, etc.

                            I also got a good look at the exhaust setup its got on it. I have no idea what kind of header it is, but it looks like the exhaust is made by Fujitsubo, or at least the muffler is. It has FGK stamped on the tip.

                            (this picture came from Japan)

                            Unfortunately the fluid change didn't help with the gear whine (occurs whenever I press the accelerator) or rear end vibrations (only occurs when accelerating from a stop while turning), but at least I know everything has fresh fluid in it. It shifts fine, clutch doesn't slip or anything so I'm just going to roll with it for now ... or maybe I'm just too accustomed to my scion and how quiet a new car is. This is my first 86, and first car thats over 30 years old.

                            Regardless, I'm in love with this thing. I love how its solid enough to where I can just turn the key and go, yet its not perfect so I'm not afraid to take it out.

                            I got word that my Fortune Auto coilovers are finished being built and will ship either today or beginning of next week, so thats next
                            [Another Day, Another Beer]


                            • #15
                              Put almost 400 miles on her this weekend. Even drove up to Cincinnati for a little Toyota meet with a few buddies.

                              My ass-cheeks were clenched the entire time, anticipating something to go wrong, but nothing happened! Couldn't have been any smoother. You just can't beat the reliability of a Toyota.
                              [Another Day, Another Beer]