HE AESTHETIC and aural conservatism of the stock-standard 86 serves a pair of purposes. By keeping the visual package plain and giving the 86 a pretty ordinary exhaust system – in terms of its design and the note it produces – Toyota keeps the cost of the car down, and that’s doubtless a big part of the $30K coupe’s appeal.
It also helps give the car broad appeal. The average hairdresser is probably quite pleased with how their 86 looks and sounds, while enthusiasts like you and me see a blank canvas for modification.
Now, as much as we each have our tastes and styles, we’re not all car designers or aesthetes, so MOTOR is here to help you navigate the aftermarket – and TRD Genuine – exterior styling options.
Speaking of the TRD bodykit pieces, have you seen T them? Erm ... let’s just say that in many cases there are more tasteful alternatives.
Japanese brand GReddy’s Rocket Bunny aero kits are extreme in a good way – they completely change the look of the car using new lights, front and rear bars, side skirts, flared wheel-arch extensions, a diffuser, wings and spoilers, which represents the spectrum of exterior add-on possibility.
That’s fine if you’ve got 300 or so kilowatts to back the boast, but what if you’re taking a more well-rounded approach to your 86 road car?
Glad you asked. We’d start an 86 style-up by ditching the Altezza-style tail-lights. The tail-light trend has come full circle, race fans – we’re not buying clear lenses from Supercheap and fitting them to our VT Commodores anymore, we’re turfing them into the bin.
Japanese brands such as TOM’S offer classier-looking tail-light units with red lenses – they bolt up and plug in; it’s easy. Or, take a more cost-effective approach and have your factory tail-lights sprayed in candy (translucent) red.
With that done, it’s time to address the biggest visual letdown – the standard wheels. Sure, the slippery-tyreshod standard 16s serve their purpose if low-speed drifting is your thing, but they look too small. The factory 17s aren’t bad looking, but upgrading an inch in both diameter and width is a good move (more on the perfect wheel size in just a few pages).
Brands such as RAYS and Buddy Club manufacture high-quality – though expensive – wheels with offsets that let you get the flush look. The only thing left to get the stance just right is a slight lowering using aftermarket springs from a reputable brand such as Eibach. Just don’t go too low or you’ll ruin the handling.
Of course, this is just one approach to rolling stock – it’s possible to go in a number of different directions, such as bolting up old-school style wheels from brands such as SSR or Work. You could fit fat or stretched tyres, or go for mega-dished 19.0-inch-plus wheels wearing rubber bands. But be aware that some of these place
kerb cred ahead of corner carving ability.
Sticking with our 18s, we’d then be seeking some subtle body add-ons to finish the look. The 86’s rearend looks unfinished without some sort of spoiler. The TRD boot-lip item is one of the few factory pieces we’d consider, and there are aftermarket alternatives, too.
A corresponding front lower lip, such as that offered by Seibon Carbon, completes the picture, though the drawback comes as reduced clearance over speed bumps, especially if you’ve lowered it.
Exhaust tips are the last little detail. However, the system’s tips could be, well, the tip of the modifying iceberg, and this stage of the restyle could quickly turn into a classic one-thing-led-to-another scenario.
How about those exhaust tips? No matter what the vehicle, paying attention to the appearance of the exhaust is an important final little detail. Japanese brands such as Fujitsubo and local operations like X-Force produce high-quality twin or single tip (per side) options. A good exhaust shop could certainly produce something similar, though where the off-theshelf stuff excels is in getting the note and volume just right, with a polished look in every sense.
If you’re seeking a few extra kilowatts, as well as a nicer note from your exhaust upgrade, you should start at the other end of the system. Headers will make the biggest difference, and the Boxer Sound System from HKS also gives the FA20 engine the offbeat burble that’s sadly absent in the standard 86.
Pair them with a full system that introduces a higher flowing catalytic converter and centre section, and a matching higher flowing intake and reprogrammed engine ECU, and you’ll get a modest power increase to go with the new note.
Lastly, make sure you’ve got the right type of mufflers – diagonally mounted rear cannons are out – and the right number of them, because having got the visuals looking slick ’n’ subtle, the last thing you want is to give your 86 a bark that’s no match for its bite.