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Thai Fighter :: Carbon Clad 86

Carbon 86

In our modern ‘connected’ world, we are spoiled with a constant flow of information and entertainment at our fingertips. and the ability to interact with friends both near and far. What was once a great distance, is now just a stone throw away.
Here at Gripshiftslide the team is over the moon to share with you our very first international feature car!! Thanks to the power of the internet, we have crossed nearly 6,000 kilometers and landed in Thailand, This is where we meet a young man named Som and one of the most aggressively styled and street driven Toyota 86’s getting around.

These Toyota’s have been selling like hot cakes since 2011. Many have been left untouched, while others have had complete transformations. We don’t know of any other car that has had so many examples that have gone ‘under the knife’ hot off the dealership floor.

So what has changed for Toyota and what has the 86 done to inject that little bit of excitement back into driving a car?

So let’s be honest here right from the get-go, Toyota has been a renowned brand worldwide for years now, but years gone by with more focus on affordability, bang for your buck and environmental awareness. One would have to say that these particular traits within a car firm would not always stir the perpetual ethanol infused blood of a driver wanting that bit extra for his dollar.

What we want is to feel something. We want that bit of controlled exhilaration behind the wheel of a car that makes our eyebrows jump, our stomachs turn just a little, and of course, the satisfaction
of a well-executed handbrake turn (thank you Mr. Clarkson).

Not taking anything away from such a flourished brand, but ideally speaking, things went rather quiet for Toyota after the Supra was removed from production circa 2002. This was until around 2010 when a concept was put into light which would ultimately turn out to be the car you see above. Personally I see the Toyota 86 at least 3 times on my way to work, and again a similar number on my way home, which speaks to their obvious popularity. But what makes them so popular to modify? I guess to accurately compare it, we’d have to briefly examine its predecessor, the AE86.

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The above mentioned predecessor is now more than 20 years old and in 2007 I was actually given one as a loan car strangely enough in Brisbane while my Honda CRX was in for suspension
maintenance. At the time I wasn’t entirely aware of the cultural status this car had, but what I do remember was nice heavy steering, a very throaty roar from the 120hp motor
and surprisingly how well balanced that car was. You could take it round a corner, lightly lift off the throttle and feel that ‘kick’ of the rear end while still retaining balance. Given its position as
a preferred choice in the drifting scene I would have originally expected something a bit more aggressive in the handling than it was, but I thoroughly enjoyed the 970kg little rocket for 2 days and
how easy it was to drive.

So does the GT86 still retain the AE86 DNA? Let’s take a look at the GT we have here…

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Aggressive, although a clichéd word in automotive terms, is what stares at me. The swooping arches of the front guards leading to the bulging rear quarters are beautifully complimented by a set of
TE37 RT 18’s wrapped in Hankook rs3 245-40-18 up front and 265-35-18 on the rear, supported by a set of Tein Monoflex and stopping power supplied by Endless Brakes. Oh and if you can’t tell yet, the
front guards are of the carbon fiber specialty provided by Seibon.

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The rear is no different. In a car that was designed as a compact RWD coupe and with a body shape that rides low to the ground to improve handling ability, it has not escaped the proverbial rear
diffuser/wing additions we see so commonly on track inspired vehicles. Seibon once again makes an appearance with the incorporation of a CSL style carbon fibre boot lid and wing coinciding with an
under-rear cover supplied by, you guessed it, Seibon. Surprisingly however, the diffuser itself along with the side skirts are all custom made items.

The rear section of the GT is one of my favorite areas, especially when complimented by this set of TE37’s. One design characteristic I really enjoy is the shape of the rear pointed window, which
appears to flow or lead very fluently into the downward motion of the roof line to meet the rear guard where the two seem to appropriately ‘echo’ each other.

The front end of the GT86 which speaks to the cars overall ground-hugging design maintains its low center of gravity and a slippery slick presence with hauntingly beautiful sweeping style, reminding
us of the heritage of Toyota sports cars of days gone, such as the renowned Toyota 2000GT.

One may debate the need to change such an already impressive design, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Som has added a very aggressive carbon fiber bonnet courtesy once again
from Seibon, along with front Carnard additions such as the lip to augment an already sporting appearance.

I’ve only been a passenger in the new GT, but I could deduce that the command center had a strong focus on driver orientation to hammer home the sports car theme, and the interior of this
GT has only received some basic additions from well-established brands such as Bride, Takata and a Miracle X Bar half cage. And if you’re wondering why we haven’t delved into the world of ‘what lies
beneath’, it’s primarily because this 2.0 litre boxer motor is still standard. Som has focused his efforts just as the Toyota executives have… Handling and styling!

Although we’re told jokes have been had among Som’s circle of friends that he may do something rather drastic… Swapping out the original boxer engine for something with twice as many pistons and a whole lot more power.
Som’s 86 is already in the middle of another rebuild and we cannot wait to see version 2.0!!

At the end of the day when you have a genuinely lightweight machine, a machine that allows you to feel something, provides that bit of controlled exhilaration behind the wheel of a car that lets
it be the extension of you, the GT 86 I find has evoked the emotions and surprise that I had back in 2007 of the last AE86. Combine this with a large aftermarket support base, answers my question
posed in the beginning, why do I see so many 86’s? Well, it’s clear you have a car that will grow with its owner, and vice versa.

– David Steer.

A special thank you for the photos from Ohmpimp Crows | Connection