EVENTS: AE86 Nights 8th Anniversary

25_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch

What started as an small gathering of Corolla drivers in a SoCal Kohl’s parking lot has grown into an annual event attracting hundreds of 86ers. AE86 Nights marked its 8th anniversary over the weekend, and suddenly a car that is almost extinct in the wild appeared by the lot-full in honor of the world’s most famous tofu delivery vehicle.

05_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch20_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch

From touge runners to stance kids, sparkling show cars to drift rats with dented and mismatched body panels, AE86s of all stripes were represented. All of them had convoyed from all corners of SoCal and converged on the after-hours parking lot of Longo Toyota in El Monte, California.

32_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch

On a recent episode of After/Drive, I made the claim that there were fewer stock AE86s left than Ferrari Enzos, of which 399 were made. Here’s one of them, an unmodified 1985 hatchback complete with original “pizza cutter” 4-spoke wheels, mudflaps and factory spoiler.

34_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch

The owner, a young man named Dustin, bought it from the original owner. Thieves actually stole it from Dustin’s house but luckily it was recovered, abandoned down the street, 26 hours later with a handful of parts missing. It would have been a travesty to strip this beauty. Dustin says he has a JDM front and rear bumper arriving soon, but we implore him not to go that route. Hell, even Levin conversions present at the event outnumbered the sole modified GT-S.

27_Toyota Corolla AE86 SR5 hatch

Another gem comes in the unlikely form of a 1985 SR5 hatch, so cherry that it still carries the window sticker. Though the SR5 lacks the GT-S’s rear disc brakes, fuel-injected engine and a host of other minor differences, the originality of this particular example sent our hearts aflutter.

According to the sticker, the MSRP 30 years ago was $8,238. Air con ($670), alloy wheels ($320), power steering ($205), AM/FM cassette ($160), sunroof ($445), cruise control ($160), rear windshield wiper ($100) and floor mats ($45) put the total to $10,553 after freight and destination charges.

07_Toyota Corolla AE86 coupe

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against a modded AE86, especially when it’s done cleanly. This Levin-nosed coupe on Work Equip 01s.

03_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch

In fact, I loved this sleek hatch, classic in its sleek, spoiler-less profile and black RS-Watanabes. Judging from the trim, it probably started life as an SR5 but has had a 4AG swap performed along with its impeccable cosmetic freshening. If I wanted to rock a solid modified AE86 driver, this is exactly the route I’d go.

31_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch

Silver Gray and Black was offered only on the GT-S for its debut year, 1985. The rare combo was also the only two-tone that Toyota offered in the US that year, which is kind of funny when you step back and think about it, considering the “panda” paint scheme is so closely associated with the car.

10_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch11_Toyota Corolla TE27

As great as seeing all these 86es might be, AE86 Nights attracts more than just AE86s. All cars from the extended Toyota family are welcome, from Coronas to TE27s, Cressidas to pre-turbo Supras.

29_Toyota Corolla TE7208_Toyota Starlet KP61

There’s no hard and fast rule about what gets the pass, but if it’s RWD and bears the emblem of the Toyoda clan, it’s welcome. A slammed TE72 on SSR meshies? Okay! A KP61 Starlet on SSR MkIIs? Double yes! It’s like what Justice Potter Stewart said about porn: “I know it when I see it.”

01_AE86 Nights

Further out back, even the extended extended family comes to pay its respects.

22_Toyota Corolla AE86 Levin

The sheer amount of vehicular diversity is pretty astounding, considering it’s all in the name of a single generation of a single model that barely sold in the US for three (four, if you count the SR5) years over a quarter century ago.

For more AE86 Nights, see our coverage from the 6th and 5th anniversary events, as well as the bonus gallery below.

13_Toyota Corolla TE2730_Toyota Corolla AE86 coupe 23_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch14_Toyota Corolla TE7216_Toyota Starlet KP61 24_Toyota Corolla AE86 hatch 17_Toyota Corolla AE86 15_Toyota Corolla AE8619_Acura Integra Type R Nissan S13


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16 Responses to EVENTS: AE86 Nights 8th Anniversary

  1. MGamez says:

    Just got out of work and quickly got on JNC……I dropped nuggets when I seen this article!!

  2. John M says:

    When I was in Okinawa circa 1993, these cars were so common it seemed like people were getting them out of vending machines. I even considered getting one, but 86’d the idea in favor of an R30. However, I just don’t see them on the road in my area of SoCal anymore. Enjoyed seeing the pics – Impressive turnout!

  3. lovely! thanks for sharing – made my day!

  4. Yuri says:

    I brought my girlfriend out to the event, and she said it was surreal. The reason being that my panda 86 coupe was the only 86 she had ever seen in person, and at 86 nights, every time she turned her head, it looked like I was parked in a new spot or driving by. She didn’t know that many 86’s still existed, and finally realized that there really is a following for them.

    Great coverage Ben!

  5. Kane says:

    Wow, what an even! Looks amazing, i would love to go to somthing like that one day.

  6. Mike McCarthy says:

    just plain beautiful cars <3

  7. J.A.C.K says:

    crap! i wish i coulda went this year. thanks for the awesome coverage, JNC! keep up the great work.

  8. Jun says:

    The white truck with 4Runner front clip brings back some fond mini-truckin’ memories. Nice rides.

  9. pstar says:

    For the love of god man, its 2015, everybody has 1080p at a minimum, please give us hi res pictures instead of this 640×430 pixel stuff. It’s not like I’m asking you to capture every car as a GT6 premium model or anything, though that would be nice too.

  10. pstar says:

    Also, from this selection of pix it would appear that the 86 has reached a milestone. Every old once “common” car follows a certain trajectory. Once the car is depreciated, it gets rarer, while at the same time, most of them are beaterish and still declining. Often, enthusiasts that have them during this phase will say a large part of their interest is the cheapness and “disposability” that attracts them. Then, at some point, quite a few of the survivors starts getting coddled. After that, restorations become common for the model. After that, prices are permanently lifted for examples of the model, and more and more restoration parts become available. 240Zs went through this, 510s went through this, most European sportscars of the 60s and 70s went through this, all the classic 60s pony cars went through this. Now it appears our beloved 86 is deep into the “getting coddled” stage, and the “restorations common” phase could be right around the corner. I mean, quite a few of those cars look to be at a caliber that would be most uncommon around 2005. “Drift slut” no more, “classic car”, here we come.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      I’ve noticed that too. While I do think the AE86 will become a classic someday (hopefully before they’re all beyond repair) there were a lot of mismatched panels that I didn’t include in the gallery. Most of them were parked in the back, where it was too dark to get a good shot.

  11. Wayne Thomas says:

    Okay! A KP61 Starlet on SSR MkIIs? Double yes!


    That is a custom Gunma plate there. Mine is still on my car until I move to Kyoto. Where does one get a fake JMDM plate in the US?

  12. C1Rob says:

    wow just under 9K new for a car 30 years ago…

    My 1986 polo gt was about 29000 guilder back then (former dutch currency) which is about 12300 dollars! And according to my original receipt the first owners payed this + traded in a mini and some other car to get that price!

  13. Thanks for the Coverage Ben and JNC!

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