QotW: What’s your fondest hachiroku memory?

AE86 memory

Tomorrow, August 6, is 86 Day and cities on both sides of the Pacific are gearing up for a celebration of the last FR Corolla. It’s perhaps a special one this year, as the Initial D story has come to a close. Maybe you’re not a fanboy, but there’s no denying the cultural ripples the O.G. drift machine has created.

What’s your fondest hachiroku memory?

There are many among the JNC staff. John remembers it as being the coolest car you could have in high school. Kev tracked one in Oz, long before Project Hako and even the US drifting boom. I crossed the country twice to get the AE86 of my dreams.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a toy. Click through to see the winner of the last QotW, “Which JNC should be revived for modern times?


Despite many great responses, the winner this week is Dave who argued for a left-field candidate so compellingly that we had no choice but to agree:

My gosh there’s so much to fantasize about here… My first reaction is to say Savanna/RX-3, but Mazda already sort of did that with the RX-8. And Toyota already has a neo-hachiroku as well as a retro FJ, both of which deliver the goods. The Z-car is still around and not that dissimilar in concept to the original. 510? I just don’t see Nissan pulling that off. Integra? With Honda doing AWAY with the VTEC in the next Euro Civic Type R, I’d rather Integra not be messed with. Alcyone? Nobody would care.

I guess I don’t mind seeing Mazda Cosmo coming back. I don’t mean the original Cosmo Sport, but the later, bigger luxury GT. The ’80s HB Cosmo with the turbo rotary was the fastest production car in Japan in its time, and the last Cosmo, which can be had with the sequential twin turbo 3-rotor engine, was a tour de force. Sales might be a problem, but a luxurious, fast, and high-tech 2-door Japanese GT is pretty appealing (think the original Lexus SC). If overcoming the emissions and fuel economy issue of the rotary is a problem, they can just make it a hybrid. I’ve always thought a sports-tuned hybrid is perfect for the rotary, solving all three of its weaknesses: fuel economy, emissions, and low torque. And Mazda certainly would know how to make it beautiful, not to mention handle and ride well.

Omedetou, Your comment has earned you a rare Hot Wheels Super Speeders mystery pack Mazda RX-7!


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21 Responses to QotW: What’s your fondest hachiroku memory?

  1. yoda says:

    Dang, all my E80 memories are of FWD sedans, mostly Chevy Nova-badged.
    I did own a rusted out TE72 in the early ’90s that I put in a snowbank once and ended up driving to the junkyard when it would require several times its’ worth in welding to pass inspection. The engine’s probably running a milking machine somewhere in Vermont to this day…

  2. DerrickS says:

    There was that day I passed one in my RX-7 5 letter on the mountain road near my house. That was a good day…

    • DerrickS says:

      OK Sorry… I really do like the AE86’s. I wish they weren’t so over-priced and hard to find. I’m also in the process of re-watching Initial D. It just makes you love that flip-up headlight front end.

      • pstar says:

        Overpriced, no. Hard to find, certainly. People who say they are overpriced need to look long and hard at what the car delivers compared to its price. Even REALLY nice ones rarely break $10k.

        Yeah, its not 2001, when you could pick up a clean unmodified example of one of the best cars ever made for $1000. But thats because back then, they were crazy undervalued. But give it 10 or 15 years, and people will be looking back at now as a time when they were cheap and affordable. $7k for a nice GTS is going to look like a steal when SR5s are trading in the low-teens.

        Don’t believe me? Just look at the trajectory of any number of 1960s cars, who in the 1990s were available for 4 figures in good conditions, now many are in the $20s and $30s, and some have exploded to the $70s and $80s. And to be honest, in terms of popularity and rarity, the AE86 has more in common with the latter breeds of cars.

        But, we’ll see. Its not like I WANT the prices to soar, since I will never sell, but I am likely to buy. Its just the reasonable analysis of what will happen.

  3. J.A.C.K says:

    my fondest memory was taking my ae86 to my first auto-x. i had just picked her up a few months before and set out picking up as much suspension bits as i could to button up her tired old self. this was my first time even doing anything with a project car and i seriously knew nothing (much like john snow). we got to the course late (entirely not my fault!) so i even missed the course walk through. i was a total clown out there but never once did i stop grinning (hmmmm, sounds sort of like the Joker? why so serious indeed). ha! i just noticed i’m grinning now as i write this.

  4. cesariojpn says:

    Much like I guess 94% of 86 owners in the last……15 years, I was first exposed to the AE86 via Initial D. Namely the Arcade Stage game (2 at the time, where the Integra was ridiculously overpowered). I used the worst car in the game at the time, the Levin AE85. I figured i’d use the shittiest car to “hone” my skills. Well….that lasted long, as I switched over to an AE86. And then tried out other cars. I settled eventually into a Sileighty, I still kept the AE86 as a “backup.”

    Well, times change, and Wangan Midnight appeared, and I went to that. The AE86 got forgotten. Initial D was now “regulated” to the horribly butchered TOKYOPOOP manga and anime versions, courtesy of Stu Levy/DJ Milky. Curse that guy for setting back American Manga several years.

    Anyway, sometime after I had abandoned arcade games for real life, I obtained a AE86. A SR5 coupe. Owned by an older lady, saved from the clutches of being cut-up to give parts to an older TE. She was in good condition, general wear and tear. I got her and now, she’s a nice daily driver. Temperamental at times, but I couldn’t be more happier. I thought about modifying her, but then I looked at how her sisters are being horribly abused at drifting events and being modified with high value parts. Not for me. She maybe a base model car, but she is an AE86. And she deserves better. Plus who in their right mind pays several grand for CF replacement parts?

  5. Nigel says:

    Driving one in almost every (good) driving game I have…
    Auto Modelista, Granturismo 4&5, Tokyo Extreme Racer Drift 2, And
    Need for Speed Shift.

    Closest I got to driving a real one was my 81′ Corolla.

  6. dickie says:

    I experience my Corolla appreciation vicariously through my good friend Aaron. We met back in 2001 when I brought my Integra to the Honda-specific shop he worked at. He was into that scene, had built some interesting cars including an EF Civic Si Hatchback and we exchanged stories. When I sold my Acura a year later, I lost contact with him and life sort of intervened. I didn’t think much about it.

    Fast forward to some random night during the winter or early spring of 2005. I was driving to my girlfriend’s house and had just exited when I saw a car parked on the side of the access road about a quarter mile back. Normally that kind of thing wouldn’t elicit a second glance in the rearview, but I was pretty sure I’d made out a familiar silhouette and color pattern in the fading glow of my brake lights. I threw my truck into reverse and made my way back up the access road until I was parked alongside the derelict. My curiosity had been rewarded: I found myself face-to-face with a fair approximation of the Fujiwara Tofu Shop’s famous delivery vehicle. I had been introduced initial D not too long before that and was instantly hooked by the story of the scrappy little Hachi Roku. Whoever the owner of this Corolla was, they’d obviously felt the same way.

    The panda scheme was an obvious homage, as were the gunmetal wannabe-Watanabes (Konig Rewinds in this case – long before every original JDM design had a dozen Chinese companies producing their own variations). Closer inspection revealed a JDM Trueno front bumper and grille with badging, although I can’t remember whether it was zenki or kouki anymore. I’d seen enough to make any fanboy’s heartbeat thump in time to Running in the 90’s, but I was somewhat saddened that such a rare car could be left on the side of the road like any other Cavalier or Neon. I developed a mental picture in my head of the owner, a kid who bought into the nascent Hachi-Hype and probably blew a huge wad of his parents’ money to drift like Takumi on the non-existent North Texas touge. In my imagination, the kid made it about halfway home before blowing something that the seller had rigged to “just good enough to sell” condition, and was forced to abandon his project in my neck of the woods. Out of money and lacking the skill to provide the necessary repairs. I decided it was my obligation to save the car, so i quickly scrawled a note and my number on an old receipt from floorboard and stuck it to the windshield before driving off. The 86 was gone the next day, and I reluctantly forced myself to put it out of my head…

    …Until later that week when I received a phone call from a familiar voice. It took me til the end of the call to identify Aaron as the owner of the Corolla, and as it turned out the car was anything but neglected. As a matter of fact, it really couldn’t have ended up with anyone better equipped to breath life back into the tired chassis. The story went something along the lines of him buying it from an old lady’s front yard, originally an SR5 car. He performed the GTS swap and had a minor hiccup on his way home forcing him to park it on the access road – something you really can’t do with one of these cars anymore, even where I live. He had big plans for the little 86 and invited me to stop by and check it out anytime.

    Over the better part of the last decade, I’ve witnessed firsthand Aaron’s love for his Corolla. Sometimes from the vantage point of an e-stalker creeping in his build thread on club4ag, sometimes getting my hands dirty next to him, always blown away with every new direction he takes it. Aaron is the type of guy who doesn’t see a closed door as anything other than an opportunity to find an open window. When his first 4A-GE blew, he rebuilt it. Then rebuilt it again. When he got tired of that mill, he found a GZE motor in complete enough condition to finish the swap and make it run. And it did! … for a while until a problem with the ECU pushed him to sell it off. He called me up frustrated with the string of bad luck he’d been having with used motors and rebuilds, wanting to do something totally different.

    When Aaron tells you he has an idea, you can bet that sooner or later it will become a reality. So when he casually mentioned that he’d found a zero-mile BEAMS motor sitting on a pallet in some warehouse in California, I knew with absolute certainty that it would end up in the engine bay that we were currently occupied filling with another 4A block donated by a junkyard Geo.

    As of this writing, the very same BEAMS motor resides very cleanly behind the trappings of a Levin front end, accompanied by a laundry list of other goodies both painstakingly obtained and/or custom-fabricated by the man himself. Having been a witness to the whole procedure, I can say that if I was forced to pick a single fondest memory, it would be hanging out with Aaron in his garage talking shit and drinking Shiner while his Corolla say in the driveway, having just been parked following a spirited run up and down the access road. Here’s a picture that perfectly captures the moment in question:


    If you’d like to check out his build thread in abridged form, head over to club4ag:


    I didn’t write this expecting to win, but if I did I would hand the prize over to Aaron’s kid. I’ve been contributing to his Hot Wheels collection for a while, but his favorite will probably always be the AE86 Corolla that looks a lot like his dad’s car.

  7. VegetableOil says:

    My fondest memory is from back when I got my very first hachi. I picked it up for $350 from a friend of a friend. The chassis was good but the head gasket was blown and it didn’t run. I was young and poor so I had to keep the car in a barn at my uncle’s farm. As my buddy and I were in the process of of removing the head and taking our first steps into the world of do-it-yourself project cars, my uncle (who is an old pro at fixing cars) comes out and hands us each a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. All he said was: “These are for taking things apart, but not for putting them back together.” Probably the best beer of my life.

  8. Dave says:

    When I was a kid, one of my parents’ friends had a red SR5 2-door coupe. It was an automatic (which I guess is funny, ‘cuz wasn’t SR5 originally for 5-speed manual?) with a metal sunroof. It was a well-used econocar; the owners weren’t even remotely car people. I’d ride in it quasi-regularly, and sometimes my mom would borrow it to take me to school when our car was in shop or something. This was in the early ’90s, and I was already a huge car geek. I knew it was branded Corolla here but sold in Japan as Sprinter Trueno, but that was about it. It was red with black bumpers. I remember loving the pop-up headlights and the sunroof, but everything else about it felt old and rickety. The doors seemed huge at the time and had to be slammed hard to close, the car felt super slow, and it still had the old yellow-on-blue California plates. Even tho it wasn’t ours, I kinda miss that car now. It’s one of those instances when someone in your family/friends circle had a cool car in the past but were complete unawares, and you wish they had saved it. For instance, my wife’s great aunt had an RX-3 back in the day, as did a high school friends’ mom. My mom had some kind of old Datsun before I was born, followed by a 1st-gen Civic. My wife’s family also had an original CR-X and a Civic Wagon. Another friend’s family had an S12 Silvia. Sometimes I think half the reason I love these old cars is solely the childhood and family memories.

  9. Nakazoto says:

    Driving from the northern tip of Hokkaido all the way south to Aichi taking nothing but backroads, ocean drives and touges. Spent 5 days just enjoying the wonderful roads of Japan. I even drove along the majority of the east cost, most of which is no longer there. It’s kind of like remembering NY when it still had the twin towers. I can remember how beautiful the coast was before tragedy struck. More importantly, I know that time heals all wounds and the coast will be beautiful again!

    (Video is long and kind of boring, but it does a good job of covering the majority of the trip)

  10. Brandon says:

    I think my story might be similar to many others but here goes. I went to Japan to visit a friend back in ’99. At the time, I didn’t have a strong interest in cars other than whatever was popular at the time. That particular year, there was the Tokyo Motor Show. I decided to go after seeing it advertised on a McDonald’s place mat and had nothing to do on one of the show days. Needless to say, it changed me. I was now noticing the early days of Japanese car styling from time attach to drift. Nothing was too crazy yet but I was bitten by the bug.

    One particular night, 2 nights before leaving Japan, I was crossing a street in Kawasaki City when I heard a rumble. I started to cross and that rumble got louder and before I knew it, it was a car and it wasn’t stopping. I jumped out of the way and what passed me was a blue AE86 (though I didn’t know it at the time). The sound….nothing I’d heard before.

    When I got back to the US, I started to research sporty Japanese cars that were also available in the US. It pretty much came down to the 180sx (240sx) and the Sprinter Trueno (Corolla GT-S/SR5). Since the 240sx was typically a bit more expensive ($2000-3000), I went for a cheaper AE86 ($50-1500). This is how I met with Moto Mifune (MotoP of Club4AG) and the start of a continental and international experience. It took 2 years to find the Corolla I wanted, and it was in California (I was in Seattle).

    I found the car on recycler.com listed as a “Corolla Sport”. I calledthe seller up and asked if it was a GT-S, “yea”; Was it a notchback or sedan? “notch”; Can you hold it for a few days? “Sure, where you coming from?”; Washington State. A speed run in a beat up Kia (rental) and I was there. The guy had people offer him more just over the phone sight unseen but he stayed true to his word. My friend did a compression test and it wasn’t too great. I took it for a spin anyway, hopes dashed a bit at this time. I took it up the street, trued to turn around at a dead end and the car, without me trying, did a 180 and a smile crept over my face. I had to have it.

    The deal was made, the car was mine, and thus began my learning experience working on cars and a spark that would introduce me to many new friends, compassion, and a move half way around the world to now be working on new model marketing for Toyota in Tokyo, back where it all began.

    Maybe this story breaks the rules in that there are really many fond memories but to me, it is one continuous memory that keeps writing itself.

  11. angelo says:

    actually, this was back in 2008. i was still in elementary school(6th grade to be exact). well, here in the philippines, we weren’t lucky to have the ae86… so people imported them. now, there was this one time when we went to the mall, and before we ate lunch, i saw this mini-car show. it was pretty awesome! i saw this restored lancer, a e90 corolla, but when i moved on to the next car, i knew this was my dream car. colored silver, wearing gold panasport rims, she was parked in front of me. well, i suppose you guys understand the feeling when you see something you love in person for the first time right? as a kid, i thought, “is this real?”. i kept pinching myself, it was real.

    i may have lost the photo my mom took, but that memory will last forever. happy 86 day guys!

  12. Neto says:

    The one most memorable moment involving an AE86 happened a few years ago. My brother, a car and driving enthusiast had been purchased a beautiful blue SR-5 (auto). Being a young gun, he quickly took to the mountain for the thrill of the speed, maneuvering those tight and tricky corners. He would come home, and boast to me of the passes he had gone through that day. I would listen attentively to his epics of dazzling speeds and intricate turns high up in the mountains of San Jose. I always told him to take me up one day, but he always brushed me off, saying it wouldn’t be a good idea.

    A few months later, he had decided. I was coming along with him and his friends for the first time. I finally would have my first taste of the ‘touge’. I hopped in the passenger, and sat there, an eagerly patient kid waiting to see his big bro do what he does. We left the gas station, and headed up the long straight road leading to the mouth of the pass.

    We proceeded upwards, my heart racing, I glanced at my brother. I saw pure concentration, even though we where going the speed limit. 1/4 of the way up, we where gifted with a beautiful skyline of San Jose. My brother noticed me staring at the city, then remembered. His little brother is afraid of heights. I snapped out of my trance to the sound of my brother asking, “Dude, aren’t you afraid of heights?” I had to tell him the truth, as the beauty of the view, the awesome feeling of the car bumping along the mountain road, had done something I thought impossible.

    “Not anymore.”, I answered. For on that day, I lost my fear of heights.

  13. Kev says:

    This didn’t happen to me…err, it happened to a ….friend.

    About 20yrs ago, he was driving along on a rainy evening, enjoying the bark of the 4AGE, set against a background whine from the TRD LSD. Doing what comes naturally to ppl who drive AE86s. With LSDs. In the rain.

    Anyway, a big, wide intersection looms and he can’t resist. The hachi broadsides with a flourish across the intersection, whereupon the headlights illuminated…a police car. The 86 straightens up and the right foot goes hard down. The mirrors tell a tale of red and blue flashing lights as the cop car does a hasty U-turn to give chase.

    About a mile down the road, he comes to his senses, pulls over to the side of the road, and patiently awaits his medicine.

    A few heartbeats later the atmosphere goes red and blue as a police cruiser cautiously rolls past. The officer rolls down the window, eyeballs the humble little four banger with its sheepishly grinning occupant…….and drives on into the night in search of their drift felon.

    This is quite possibly the very last time an AE86 was let off the hook in such circumstances 😀

  14. Ben says:

    This isn’t my fondest memory, but the most hilarious. I’m at a car show with a girl who shall remain unnamed and we spy a JDM-converted Corolla with a “Levin” badge. “So,” she asks with complete seriousness, “is this car Jewish?”

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