by Michael Kitchens
Apparently, Al “Buns” Ramiscal has a penchant for hachis. I’m starting to notice a pattern with hachi-owners, they collect them like they’re Pokemon. Al has owned five Toyota Corollas in the 10 years he’s been into cars. He was, admittedly, late to the party but made up for it fast. “I honestly thought I was going to ride my bike forever but I took a liking to cars thanks to my uncle who had 1970′s era Toyotas”. Al actually rescued this 1986 Toyota Corolla GT-S Coupe from being a sound-off car. “My friend, Jon, was like ‘Buy that car! It doesn’t deserve that!’” he says.
From an outsider’s perspective many people may ask “What’s so special about the hachiroku (Japanese for 86 which refers to the classic Toyota code for AE86).” At first glance, the average person might wonder about a 26 year old car that put out only 112HP when it was new. What most people don’t realize is that getting in the driver’s seat of the AE86 is one of the most tactile driving experiences you can have on a budget. Even with its successors, the FT-86 and BRZ, on the horizon, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better, more affordable, Japanese RWD coupe to have fun with.
Al knows that, and that’s why he’s a fan. With a curb weight of just over 2200 pounds, regardless of horsepower, the car is infinitely toss-able. “They (Toyota) concentrated more on the suspension and the balance of the car. Even with my cams, I’m only making around 92 horsepower.” Most owners actually go a step further and remove what many of us would consider necessities…like power steering and the air conditioner. With the AE86, it’s easier to remove weight than it is to make power, so items like the rear seats are the first to go.
Inspired by Team Mouse, a Japanese drift team, the exterior is absolutely breathtaking with a two-tone paint job infused with glossy glitter. Painted by Ben at Hot Bods, the build consists of a full Origin kit with a D-MAX hood and TRD Wangan tail. Suspension-wise, the entire car is seriously setup for the track with a long list of modifications and rolls on Volk TE37v’s fitted with 195/50/15 Dunlop Direzzas. As always, check the spec sheet for the build.
As beautiful as this car is, Al pounds it when his right foot feels heavy. Gravitating towards drifting is a natural theme for Al…it’s where the AE86 gained it’s fame, but with no track on the island, he intends to go back to the next best thing: SCCA Solo (sccahawaii.org). With the severe amount of modifications, he’s forced to run in the modified classes but with the light-weight response he feels he has a good chance of competing. “I like driving the hachi because you can pound it into a corner, and never let off. With the Corolla it’s just full blown. You just hold on.”
“A lot of my friends have helped me with this car.” Al says. Along with his friends from Section D, most of the modifications have been done by himself. At the end of our interview, I asked him how he felt about driving his Corolla. His response was “If you’re trying to go for power, the Corolla is not the way to go. The Corolla is a car for driver feedback. There’s no other feeling like it.” If you don’t believe him, go take a ride in one on a winding course. You’ll find out what it means to be full throttle.