Toyota Creates Manga-Inspired 86 Initial D Concept

Created by Toyota’s UK special projects department, the 86 Initial D concept is a faithful re-imagining of the fictional AE86. The coupe not only copies the manga car’s distinctive panda-style monochrome livery, but uses new versions of the same Japanese market components that were featured so successfully on the original.

If you’re familiar with terms such as “AE86” and “hachi-roku” when discussing the 1980s Toyota Corolla rear-wheel drives, then you are probably aware of the manga Initial D. But if you’re not fully up on your Japanese drifting or manga culture then the synopsis below should give you an idea why this concept is such a big deal.

First published in 1995, the Initial D comic strip series tells the story of a young fuel station attendant who delivers tofu for his father’s business every night in an old Toyota Sprinter Trueno on the twisting roads of the local Mount Akina.

With years of practice before he is even of driving age, the protagonist – Takumi Fujiwara – is the fastest driver on the mountain. As the series develops, several drivers from across the country descend on Akina to challenge young Takumi.

The series was so popular that it was later adapted into an television series in 1998 and thanks to the increasing popularity of drifting that the series had since become a worldwide phenomenon. It also made the Toyota Sprinter Trueno – known as a Corolla Levin in Japan and Corolla GT in the UK – a cult hero.

On its launch in 2012, the current generation Toyota 86 was instantly recognised as a spiritual successor to the rear-wheel drive Corolla GT Coupe of the mid-1980s. That connection has now been re-emphasised with the creation of a one-off 86 Initial D concept, liveried and kitted to match its comic book Corolla predecessor.

To emphasise the new concept’s roots in pop culture, Toyota commissioned UK-based manga artist Sonia Leong to design a series of panoramic backdrops that effectively put the real 86 into comic strip action scenes.

The concept

Created by Toyota’s UK special projects department, the 86 Initial D concept is a faithful re-imagining of the fictional AE86. The coupe not only copies the manga car’s distinctive panda-style monochrome livery but uses new versions of the same Japanese market components that were featured so successfully on the original.

These include custom-made RS Watanabe alloy wheels, TRD suspension, a Fujitsubo exhaust system, Cusco strut brace, and a carbon fibre bonnet. Less obvious cues are the yellow-tinted fog lights, which hint at the Cibié spotlights fitted to improve Takumi’s night-vision, and the silver-painted engine cover that is a nod to the high-revving 20-valve ‘Silver Top’ 4A-GE engine installed during the series.

The thorough makeover is also evidenced by the inclusion of carbon fibre door handle protectors and mirror covers that give an effect similar to the black plastic material used on the AE86. In addition, mud flaps have been installed because they were on the original Initial D car, the boot lid spoiler has been removed, and the rear lenses have been tinted.

Joe Clifford from the special projects team commented: “Right from the start, the Toyota 86 was developed as a car that would appeal to enthusiasts, whether in standard trim or as an exploitable base for further modifications. With this Initial D concept we not only acknowledge how important the AE86 was in influencing Toyota’s modern approach to sports cars but also demonstrate how the 86 can be aesthetically and dynamically improved with relatively simple aftermarket accessories. But perhaps most of all, we just thought it was an achingly cool idea.”

The Toyota 86 Initial D concept will be attending motoring events around Britain throughout the summer.