Back in June 2012 Any Given Reason managed to be one of the first motoring outlets to publish a drive story on the just released Toyota 86, a hotly anticipated little sports car that was set to take the world by storm. After a few weeks of badgering via email, and more as a result of the generosity of an old friend who happened to be a Toyota dealer rather than AGR being viewed as a preeminent and worthy publication, I ended up with one of the very first 86’s in Adelaide to drive for a few hours.
That drive was exciting but it came with added stressors – the car was Adelaide Hills Toyota’s only demo, there was a figurative queue of customers with actual money in their pockets waiting for a legitimate test drive and there was at least a seven month wait before the dealership would see another one. I really didn’t want to be the first guy in Adelaide to crash an 86 and I was being so careful that I didn’t learn a whole lot about how it truly carved up the corners. What I needed was a racetrack.
As a general rule stock street cars aren’t usually very good on the track, however I had high hopes for the 86 because it was designed from scratch as a sports car for purists. In a world where cars are increasing in complexity, mass and cost, it was a gutsy move for Toyota to buck the trend and give one man complete autonomy over the project to build something light, cheap and fun that would shape the future direction of one of the worlds biggest auto makers. There were no committees or focus groups on the 86 project; just one engineer dictating the creation of the sports car the world needed. The car had to be engaging on the road, but the 86 had to be competent on the track as well. During its development the engineering team consulted grassroots racers; they made sure it could be easily drifted; they ensured the boot was big enough to carry a full set of spare wheels and they designed the headrests so that they could be flipped around to accommodate a helmet. Continue reading