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The new 86 is the latest in a long line of exciting sports cars from Toyota. A machine designed to raise the hairs on the back of any driver's neck, with the kind of raw driving performance and handling few sports cars deliver today.
86 builds on Toyota's heritage of rear-wheel drive, front-engine sports cars that began in 1965 with the Sports 800 and was followed by the 2000GT, and the ever popular AE86.
The Sports 800 was Toyota's first production sports car. The aim of the design was to offer 'a sports car for everybody'. The Sports 800 was an inexpensive easy-to-drive sports car; affectionately called 'Yota-Hachi'. It featured a 790cc horizontally-opposed boxer engine with dual carburetors, weighed only 580kg (Curb weight) and it was one of the first sports cars with a lift off roof panel or targa top. The combination of the horizontally-opposed engine with a low centre of gravity and the front engine rear-wheel drive layout meant the Sport 800 handled with precision.
The 2000GT is generally accepted as the first Japanese 'supercar'. It was powered by a 2.0L straight-6 with a double overhead camshaft that generated 112kW and could reach 220 km/h. Maybe that's why it was the first Japanese car fitted with all-round power assisted disc brakes.
The 2000GT came third in the 1966 Japanese grand Prix, won the Fuji 24 hour race in 1967 and set several world records for speed and endurance. Its elegant, flowing form was distinctively prominent among car designs and it created a sensation overseas; so much so that the 2000GT appeared in the James Bond movie 'You Only Live Twice'.
AE86 was introduced in 1983. It was powered by a fuel-injected, 4 cylinder twin-cam 1587cc 4A-GE engine, which delivered 96kW originally but was later down-rated to 88kW. The AE86 came with a 5 speed manual gearbox (automatic transmission was later added as an option) and was fitted with ventilated disc brakes. During production AE86 was popular in Group A and Group N racing and was particularly sought after for rallying and circuit racing. It still appears in rallies and club races to this day.
Its low weight (923 - 1100kg Curb weight) and rear-wheel drive configuration meant it was exceptionally well balanced for drifting while cornering. Japanese racing legend, Keiichi Tsuchiya, otherwise known as the 'Dori-kin' (the 'drift king'), drove an AE86.