AE86 Good Drivers Car?

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hcaulfield57
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AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby hcaulfield57 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 3:14 pm

Hi All,

New to the forum obviously. I wanted to get some input from some AE86 owners on their car. I'm looking for a new "fun" car, my current fun car: a modified 91' 300ZX Twin-Turbo is too unreliable and I've found I want something small and responsive, since on the street the majority of power is wasted anyways. Looking for something below 2500 lbs, RWD and fun. Cars I'm thinking about are: AE86 (obviously), Mazda Miata NA, Mazda RX-7 FB, Nissan 240Z, BMW E30 M3, Alfa Romeo GTV, Lotus Elise, Caterham Seven and a few others. Was leaning towards an Elise, but I've been a huge Initial D fan since I was in high school, and for me that may make it the more "special" car. I really had two questions:

1) Is the AE86 a good drivers car (I know people love it), but is it responsive, nimble, communicative, raw and most importantly fun to drive? I'm looking for a car that challenges it's driver, is rewarding to drive and teaches something about driving, etc. I honestly prefer 70s-90s cars, because I feel that modern cars are lacking in something, they just don't have that special feeling I like. I'd like it for spirited drives in the mountains and driving to work when it's nice out. I'm a conservative driver, but I like long drives in the mountains where I can focus on driving and unwind after work.

2) How realistic is it to find one of these, as far as I can tell there aren't many around (I've only seen few in real life, all in terrible condition), and is it possible to find one that's decent. I don't mind putting money into a car (no intention keeping it stock), but I'd like to get one unmolested and that isn't a total disaster.

Thanks, hope this is in the right section and isn't like a taboo post, but just trying to think out what car I want next.

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Clouds
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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby Clouds » Sun Oct 11, 2015 11:59 pm

Hey, welcome to the forums!

First off, I don't own an 86, so I can't speak on its driving qualities. I can, however, speak on how realistic it is to find one. Your best chance is California. The further you are east, the harder it will probably to find one. I live in Georgia and have seen maybe 10 over the course of 2 years or so of searching consistently every night or every other night.

For price, expect $5k for a really good SR-5 (the economy model) and anywhere up to $8k or so for a GT-S (the model you ACTUALLY want).
Hope I helped!


Further input would be appreciated (Maybe from actual owners :) )
There shouldn't be a day that goes by where you don't learn something new.

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ApexTaq
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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby ApexTaq » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:38 pm

It sounds like an 86 is what you're looking for, but if your budget and expectations include a Caterham and Lotus, you may not be instantly satisfied if you get one. They can take a lot of work and money to bring back to form. It's possible to get a nice one straight off for $6-10k, but immaculately stock 86s are few and far between and generally cost too much (I've seen $12-15k) for what you get unless you use it as a show car, in my opinion.

I mostly drove American land yachts, CUVs and FWD economy cars before getting my stockish 85 GTS, so the difference was night and day. From my limited perspective, the car is extremely communicative, especially at high RPM. The throttle response is instant and the steering is razor sharp. Raw? Yeah, it's loud, it's hot, very mechanical sounding and the interior is sparse. It can challenge you if you want it to, but it's forgiving (and slow) enough to generally not kill you.

I love it. It's the best driving experience I've had, but, then again, I've never driven an Elise.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby zem » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:00 pm

you pretty much just described an ae86 in what you want. however they are slow especially stepping down from something like a 300zx tt "we're talking around 17 seconds in the quarter mile slow stock". and contrary to popular weeaboo belief they aren't magical cars that will teach you to touge like takumi "well maybe a little" but if you aren't the type of person that wants to change everything to get to the performance you want then maybe the ae86 isn't for you, especially when your comparing it to a elise or caterham. the ae86 is more of a culture car than it is a performance car.

and if you've already seen a few in real life you probably shouldn't have a hard time finding one instantly on craigslist, where i live it took me over a year for one to pop up and i bought it right away. almost every single one is modified and most very poorly, with rust and dents galore. and if a nice stock gts does come along it'll be overpriced and i highly wouldn't recommend it for what you want anyways. so try looking for a built sr5 or gts, and don't let common belief fool you sr5s are the same chassis so they are perfect to build on, so overall you should be able to find a very well done modified ae86 for around 7k+

gl happy hunting
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hcaulfield57
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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby hcaulfield57 » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:20 pm

Thanks for the responses guys! Glad I could get some input, since it's hard to know if you'll like something only going off of internet reviews and guesswork.

Yea, I know they're going to be slow, my Z has roughly 380-400 whp (which is honestly too fast in my opinion). So I know it would be quite different in that respect. But since I'm generally a safe/conservative driver most of that power is wasted for me. No, I don't have any Takumi/touge fantasy (well maybe a little), but I honestly just like cars that are responsive and actually require some input from the driver. I know it's somewhat foolish to compare an AE86 to an Elise/Seven, but in many ways both cars are trying to accomplish the same thing. I wouldn't want to keep the AE86 stock, but would mostly want to redo suspension and delete power-steering.
the ae86 is more of a culture car than it is a performance car.

That's an interesting comment, because I've been somewhat wondering if more of the appeal stems from there than elsewhere. So yea, I suppose there are definitely better cars (even in the criteria I mentioned), but for me definitely a lot of the appeal stems from it being an iconic car. I could have cared less about cars until someone introduced me to Initial D in high school many moons ago, so much of my interest stems from there. I've also wanted a FD3S for the longest time, but have steered away as a result of unreliability concerns. The number one reason I'm selling my Z is because I never drive it (since it always breaks), so I'm wondering if much of the same will occur with an even older car.

When I mentioned I had seen some, I meant I've seen a few parked, both just in horrible condition.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby ApexTaq » Tue Oct 13, 2015 11:43 pm

hcaulfield57 wrote:Yea, I know they're going to be slow, my Z has roughly 380-400 whp (which is honestly too fast in my opinion). So I know it would be quite different in that respect. But since I'm generally a safe/conservative driver most of that power is wasted for me.


You get the sensation of speed. Stupid amounts of fun below the speed limit.

That's an interesting comment, because I've been somewhat wondering if more of the appeal stems from there than elsewhere. So yea, I suppose there are definitely better cars (even in the criteria I mentioned), but for me definitely a lot of the appeal stems from it being an iconic car. I could have cared less about cars until someone introduced me to Initial D in high school many moons ago, so much of my interest stems from there. I've also wanted a FD3S for the longest time, but have steered away as a result of unreliability concerns.


If I didn't have a thing for 80s cars and hadn't been watching Hot Version and the first season of ID when I found my GTS on CL, I'm not sure I would have got it over a Miata. Miatas are comparable in most ways. More reliable probably. Less room though. Gotta say, the hatch has a ton of space. You can fit a full set of tires in there no problem.

The number one reason I'm selling my Z is because I never drive it (since it always breaks), so I'm wondering if much of the same will occur with an even older car.


I'm not perfect about maintenance and don't have a lack of small issues, but mine starts up every time. Driven it 400 miles in rough condition and taken it to work on 100 mile round trips for a week straight with few complaints. Not bad for a nearly stock 30 year old car. Was $6700 and I've put about $1200 into it in the year since, mostly on an LSD, to give you an idea.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby Deuce Cam » Sun Oct 18, 2015 12:50 pm

It ticks the boxes you mentioned. I got into these cars for the same reasons basically. My only other requirement was that I needed to fit comfortably since I'm 6'3" (which I do).

Miatas are a great option if you're a little fella, and don't mind convertibles. But, I've heard they're less challenging to drive at the limit compared to a corolla.

Side note: I used to have an STI as a fun car. It's an amazing vehicle, but it had more power than I needed, it's expensive to operate, and replacement mechanical parts are $$$$. Bottom line, I don't really miss it.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby corolla_lover » Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:24 pm

I actually have a 1999 Miata and it is much faster and handles better (obviously) but if i had to choose between my 86s or the Miata the 86 wins every time. The 86 just has a more raw feeling and is much more challenging not to mention much more cooler car with a lot more personality. The Miata is still a very fun lightweight car that will challenge you to drive but they are pretty common and not really a unicorn.

As far as prices go it depends on where you live, i searched craigslist every day for 1 year to find my GTS hatch for $2,200 and every day for another year to find my SR5 coupe shell for $600. If you are going to modify it then it makes more sense to go the SR5 route. The whole reason i bought the SR5 coupe is because the GTS hatch was completely stock and i really hated to modify it since there are very few unmodified ones left. Hatches command a premium over the coupes although that is because of the initial d craze and the fact that you can put more in the hatches.

AW11s may be another car you want to look into since they are almost like 86s without the drift tax. Either way good luck with finding your next car whatever you decide on

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby oldeskewltoy » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:41 am

Not sure it is a good driver's car... after all it has a solid axle (not IRS), it has a somewhat "flexy" chassis, and many have had owners that bailed mid-project because they bought the image and not the car. The AE86 has a reputation that is highly exaggerated, between cartoons, and looking @ $50k+ examples, guys buy into the fantasy. What it is... it can be a fun car when mostly stock, but once modified, it can be a real blast. The soild axle can be a challenge to drive it quickly. The "track width to wheelbase ratio" makes it extremely nimble.

concerning good chassis.... here is a recent 2000 mile road trip to buy a good chassis - http://hachiroku.net/forums/showthread.php?t=37861

Cars I'm thinking about are: AE86 (obviously), Mazda Miata NA, Mazda RX-7 FB, Nissan 240Z, BMW E30 M3, Alfa Romeo GTV, Lotus Elise, Caterham Seven and a few others

The Miata... known as "the answer", pffft not in my book, the engine sucks("A", and "B"), and there isn't nearly the challenge. The chassis is superb, and the handling goes from very fun to WOW... but the engine is a P.O.S. (yes you can swap something else in)

The RX7.... its a rotary... if you like them, they are quite a nice little car, I prefer the 1st gen (kinda like a rotary powered Corolla).... but I like reciprocating engines

240Z - nice car... old, but great foundation, rust easily.... NOT the Nissan 240SX

240SX/Silvia... bit bigger than a Corolla, IRS so it handles differently, in stock form a bit more of a cruiser then a Corolla

E30 - cheaper than an AE86 right now... a lot can be done to them, they are fun, and a good chassis - it was a nice handling small coupe - like an AE86

GTV (which vintage?) early ones (60s to 73) are VERY expensive (over $20k buy in usually) I had an early one a LONG time ago... it was a nice handling small coupe - like an AE86

Caterham/Locost/Locust - can't be beat for "low power" fun, originals are $$$$$$, but you can build one pretty inexpensively...

Elise/Exige - Really?? Can you fit in one? Can you afford one?
OST Cyl head porting, - viewtopic.php?f=22&t=300

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby Deuce Cam » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:46 am

As mentioned, the aw11 is a great option, although midships are a bitch to work on. I also like the idea of an E30 or 240sx if a good can be found (probably easier with an E30) - ae86's suffer from this problem too.

I also think a lot of people sell their ae86 quickly because the 'fanboy' allure wears off. There's no getting around the fact that the car is very slow, and it won't make someone a 'drift pro' by default. Plus, like 240's and civics, many are bodged to hell. It can be a huge pain sorting out issues on those poor examples. OBD are primitive on them so it takes a more old school approach to fix problems, which is becoming harder to come by these days. Basically, the cars can become money pits. Like with anything else, the most important thing is finding a really good example to start with.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby jinx » Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:17 pm

The Miata... known as "the answer", pffft not in my book, the engine sucks("A", and "B"), and there isn't nearly the challenge. The chassis is superb, and the handling goes from very fun to WOW... but the engine is a P.O.S.

I've owned both a scort GT 1.8(same as miata BP) and a GTS simultaneously for a few years. Both bulletproof
Normally aspirated it outguns a 4AGE eeeaasily. Boosted, there is ZERO comparison..... sheets ALL over the 4ag, mod 4 mod
What makes the BP a P.O.S "in your book" ? :cry:

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby MtLemmon86 » Sun Oct 25, 2015 12:09 pm

My .02, having had an NA Miata at the time of purchasing my 86. Miata was a 95 so the 1.8 which I had rebuilt with a little bump in compression, and did the same thing to the 86, a rebuild with a little bump in compression. Obviously not the same compression ratio in both cars I will say that the 86 blows the doors off the Miata, IN A STRAIGHT LINE, handling goes to the Miata hands down. The Corolla which is a coupe without sunroof does actually weigh less and can hold more than the Miata. And yes I took them both to a recycling center to weigh them on the same scale I'm not basing this off of google weights.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby jinx » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:22 am

rebuild with a little bump in compression.... the 86 blows the doors off the Miata, IN A STRAIGHT LINE

On scort forums, you can still find a handful of stock escort GTs gone 15.7 to 15.5 (for the few that bothered to explore).
Every now and then, threads would pop up on the old club4ag forum about stock GTS quarter mile experiences. None even close!
A "little bump in compression", wont suddenly make the slow GTS "blow the doors off" anything. You should put yours in the Smithsonian - lol :lol:

Supercharged;
After the 'experts' were done explaining how a M90 was way too big for a 1.8, one stubborn gringo still custom installed his.
With the wrong diff gear (4.1), muffled to silence, huffing thru a restrictive stock starion intercooler and on street tires! ....that miata still managed an amazing 12.7.
Bolt the same parts to a stock blue/redtop in a full wt ae86.... that miata will destroy it

Turbocharged;
Remember the famous Sport Compact 400hp street car shootout? The players...
Fully built allllmighty(and hyped up) honda B18, a built sr20 and a cammed 4G63, all turbocharged.
Then comes a lowly miata; t3/t4 + header + fmic + standalone, on a bone stock "pos" BP 1.8L
When the dust settled, the miata was the only car posting a 10sec ET! B18, SR20, 4G63 not even close
BP has PROVEN it can outgun the best of them! Bolt the same parts to a stock blue/redtop ae86 and it won't come anywhere close

IF a BP was a P.O.S.... then one must be fully retarded for modifying the slower, weaker, wimpier, money pit 4ag
Neither is the case.... so get a dose of reality

Truth is, you can make a 4age produce the "the right amount of power" you crave, to match the handling you want.
Few, won't be satisfied with a super-or-turbocharged stock 4age. Totally transforms the slow little turd

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby MtLemmon86 » Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:09 am

I guess its video time because the Miata gets pulled by the 86 everytime, no matter who's driving what. Having never driven an escort i won't speak to how those perform. I love my miatas you really don't need to sell me on the capability of the bp motor, again it was just my .02 will my nb with the voodoo II destroy the Corolla? Absolutely but that's comparing apples to turbo oranges. And I honestly don't know why the escort is being brought up, apart from sharing the motor I'm pretty sure no one suggested it as an alternative like the Miata had been.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby LewyG » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:01 pm

Ahhhh the age old argument about wich is better the Miata (MX5) or the AE86. Its unfair to compare them to eachother i think as one is a 90's 2 seat convertible with a tendency to be drove by hairdressers and the other is a 80's 4 seat family hatch / coupe with a tendency to be over priced and full of rust.

If you want a cheap car wich is reliable , fun to drive and very forgiving on the limit go for the Miata.

If you want something thats a challange to drive but rewarding when you get it right , full of character and just a over all rawer experience go for the AE86 .

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby Clouds » Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:08 am

LewyG wrote:If you want something thats a challange to drive but rewarding when you get it right , full of character and just a over all rawer experience go for the AE86 .

Don't forget the restoration you'll probably have to go through.
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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby jinx » Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:37 pm

I guess its video time because the Miata gets pulled by the 86 everytime, no matter who's driving what. Having never driven an escort i won't speak to how those perform. I love my miatas you really don't need to sell me on the capability of the bp motor, again it was just my .02 will my nb with the voodoo II destroy the Corolla? Absolutely but that's comparing apples to turbo oranges. And I honestly don't know why the escort is being brought up, apart from sharing the motor I'm pretty sure no one suggested it as an alternative like the Miata had been.

I hear ya and I believe you, but yours is the exception, definitely not the norm
100 videos won't change the fact that, mod for mod a BP will kick a 4AGEs arse convincingly, 8 days a week
Not trying to "sell" u or anyone on the BP..... only responding to the stupid comment on BP being a pos, especially coming from an enthusiast of the clearly inferior 4AGE. That's opinion. What I stated is fact (with some simple examples)

And yes, escort only mentioned because of the BP. Same weight. Even FWD handicapped, still outguns a GTS.... was the point
More room, more comfy(even lowered ~2.25"), easier to work on, independent rear suspension, better fit wheels (than the typical sheety lookin hack jobs u see around here), etc.... It ain't a bad comparison actually. I did end up with both. Figure it out :lol:

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby MtLemmon86 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:24 pm

In the 1/4 mile since that's probably the only scenario I could see an escort outgunning an 86, the fwd would probably be beneficial since it would make it lighter and suffer from less parasitic drive train loss, also why a bp in a miata would put down less power than the same motor in an escort. I don't want to derail this thread any further, again I was just offering my .02 since I've owned an NA miata the whole time I've had my 86.

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Re: AE86 Good Drivers Car?

Postby aichifleet » Mon Nov 30, 2015 7:15 pm

Yeah these guys are right about the Miata vs AE86 thing. The Miata SHOULD be as good as a Corolla, or maybe better based on what it is. The first time I drove an 86, I fell in love with it, and I bought it. And it actually goes a lot deeper than that. I could go on for a long while but it would be really personal and stuff so I'll spare us all. The first time I drove a Miata, some 10 years later (!) all I could think about was that while it was "okay", it was just totally lacking something important that the 86s have. Just too bland and easy maybe.

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