If you cast your minds back to 2021, you might remember my visit to Daddy Motor Works in Aichi, where Kunihiro Oto first showed us his latest project car.
That visit filled me – and many of you – with a lot of excitement. The GR Yaris was pretty much brand new, and here was a guy already swapping its three-cylinder turbo G16E-GTS engine into Toyota’s iconic ’80s AE86 chassis.
In the time since, we’ve seen the car a few times at events including the Tokyo Auto Salon and Nostalgic 2Days in its semi-completed state. Now that it’s essentially finished, I thought I’d head back over to Oto-san‘s shop and spend a few hours checking the Levin out in detail.
Considering this build has very much been a side project for Oto-san, it’s pretty crazy how fast it has all come together. He has only worked on it when he’s not been working on (paying) customer cars at Daddy Motor Works, and there are always plenty of those.
The amazing response the project has received both in person at events in Japan and worldwide over the internet during the course of the build has really helped. Oto-san says it has given him the boosts of energy needed to keep at it, and all the car needs now is some fine-tuning before being shaken down on track.
Despite the lengths gone to and the attention to detail with the build, you might be surprised to learn that this is actually a drift practice car for Oto-san. Right from the outset he had no intention of going crazy with it, and the budget has been kept in check right throughout the process.
Essentially, Oto-san wants to be able to replicate the build in its core form in a cost-effective way for any of his clients.
The exterior wears a generic AE86 front and rear overfender kit, which had to be modified and adapted to the stock body as the fiberglass was a bit wonky in places. The matte silver paint and the subtle graphics give the car a fresh look, while the polished lips on the Midori 2-piece wheels provide some pop.
It’s probably the engine bay details you’re itching to see though, so let’s head right there…
As you’d expect, the Gazoo Racing G16E-GTS engine has been rotated 90-degrees counterclockwise from its stock position in the GR Yaris to sit longitudinally in the AE86 – just like the Hachiroku‘s original 4A-G. Being a three-cylinder not a four though, there was ample room to fit it, and you can see just how far back it sits in the bay.
This ended up creating just the right amount of room needed for a horizontally-mounted intercooler right behind the radiator support. Once the air-to-air intercooler was mounted, all Oto-san had to do was to figure out a path for the piping.
He really levelled up this aspect of build by stepping away from conventional aluminum piping and hand-fabricating the intake and outlet intercooler piping in titanium with pie cuts for a lobster tail effect.
The front bumper is attached via quick-release mounts, so Oto-san was able to pop it off in five seconds flat to give us a look at the rest of the cooling setup. The intercooler, radiator and centrally-mounted oil cooler all receive cool airflow from custom aluminum guides.
Rotating the engine meant the stock and quite complex intake manifold was not going to work in the AE86. From a visual standpoint this was a good thing, because the custom aluminum item Oto-san fabricated for the job looks much better than a whole lot of plastic. Dosing the air into the intake plenum is a Bosch electric throttle body controlled via the Link ECU.
I really likes the carbon fiber chassis plaque that mimics the factory Toyota one, but with updated details for the G16E-GTS engine, TL70 (Toyota 86) 6-speed transmission and F282 (Toyota Previa) axle.
The only other modifications needed to fit the engine were a few cutouts on the underside of the fiberglass hood for clearance, and of course a circular opening for the vertical exhaust outlet.
No exhaust at the back means that the rear is especially clean.
The factory-look ‘Toyota Corolla Levin’ decals give a stock feel, even though the car is far from it. The replica GR badge and ‘Apex Twin Cam 12′ insignia is a little hint at what’s happening up front, but there’s no mention of the turbo. I guess Oto-san will let other drivers find that fact out for themselves.
Peeking through the hatch you can see that the stock fuel tank has been swapped for a racing fuel cell. In being able to select the capacity and overall placement, this upgrade has allowed Oto-san to dial in the car’s weight balance just right.
You can also see the additional reinforcements added to the roll cage, helping further firm up the 40-year-old chassis. Up front that means simple gussets to connect the cage to the A- and B-pillars.
Seeing as the car will not be road registered, in place of a licence plate Oto-san bent up a sheet of aluminum and added his company logo for an extra touch.
As you would have noticed from the view through the hatch, the interior is stripped to bare metal but painted and plated off to hide wiring and other ancillaries.
The stock instrumentation has been ditched in favor of a mid-sized tablet that connects directly to the Link ECU and displays all parameters in a multitude of customisable views. All the switch gear has been neatly laid out on each side of the binnacle so it’s within easy reach.
Taking center stage in the cabin is Recaro’s wild-looking Pro Racer RMS. This seat might have minimal padding, but I can tell you that it doesn’t come at the expense of any comfort.
Oto-san was especially proud of the awesome job his apprentice did in creating an easily accessible compartment for the electrics. Flip up the cover and you have full visibility of the cleanly laid out fuses and relays.
So there you have it, an AE86 built for drift but executed in a unique way. I think the substantial 370Nm of torque the G16E-GTS engine develops is going to make this Levin a blast to drive and probably ridiculously easy to slide around.
I’ll definitely try to hit up a track day when Oto-san finally takes his GR Yaris-powered Hachiroku out. Nobuteru ‘Nob’ Taniguchi has been a big fan of the project, so hopefully he gets a chance to test it out properly. Until then, a massive thanks to Oto-san and his apprentice for opening up the shop and this very cool build to Speedhunters.
Dino Dalle Carbonare