Model Details

Toyota Corolla AE86

  • Brand: Toyota
  • Body Type: Coupe
The AE86 series of the Toyota Corolla Levin and Toyota Sprinter Trueno are small, front-engine/rear-wheel-drive models within the front-engine/front-wheel-drive fifth generation Corolla E80 range—marketed by Toyota from 1983 to 1987 in coupé and liftback configurations.

This Corolla was loaned to us from the Toyota GB heritage fleet on the understanding that we wouldn’t drift it. We assured them we wouldn’t be hanging out on the lock-stops with smoke wreathing off the rear tyres, and a couple of weeks later the light metallic blue AE86 was sitting on my driveway, looking fantastic. Such is its reputation, I was surprised that when I looked again an hour later it wasn’t sideways, nose in the privet and its arse hanging over into next door’s.

No drifting. Seriously? Maybe when the student Bill Clinton was handed a spliff at college he really didn’t inhale. Maybe when I hand the Corolla back I won’t have cornered it, at length, looking through the side windows. The chances of either of those things being true seems quite slim.

Even though I’m old enough to appear in the fossil records of motoring journalists, up to this point I had never driven an AE86. I just missed out on driving one when it was new, joining Motor magazine in 1987. At that time the affordable rear-drive coupe breed had made it onto the list of endangered species; production of the pretty Alfa GTV was coming to an end, Ford was shifting the last Capris with special run-out models such as the Brooklands, and the Isuzu Piazza, newest of them all, felt clunky even after a fettling by Lotus and wasn’t long for the new car price lists. And before the end of ’87 the AE86 would be another rear-drive coupe with a great future behind it.