Last Saturday was ‘AE86 Day’, a day when fans from around the world celebrated the legendary Toyota Corolla AE86 – Hachi-Roku (Japanese for “eight-six”) – which in the past 28 years has become an icon of the Japanese drift scene. So Toyota Australia thought they’d mark the occasion by releasing a billboard promoting its successor – the FT-86.
The campaign put together by Oddfellows Sydney is designed to build excitement for Toyota’s return to their motorsport roots and sales of the FT-86 production model in early 2012.
The front engine, rear-wheel drive FT-86 has a lot to live up to, but then Toyota have ambitious plans for their new flagship performance model.
The FT-86 combines a free-revving boxer petrol engine (developed in conjunction with Subaru) and 6-speed manual transmission with light weight and a low centre of gravity for the optimum power-to-weight ratio. Both powertrain and driving position have been set as low and as far back as possible providing for exploitable dynamics and maximising driving pleasure.
The FT-86’s design has been dubbed ‘Functional Beauty’, with its long, low bonnet, high wings and rear-set cabin paying homage to Toyota’s illustrious sports car history, while the aerodynamic, muscular bodywork has been made as compact as possible.
The new campaign has not been well received in some circles, with some calling it a ‘marketing gimmick’, pillaging Toyota’s history and using a headline that would look more appropriate on a wonderbra advert..
Harsh words, but then if Toyota are able to deliver on the FT-86’s promise maybe we’ll be celebrating ‘Happy FT-86 Day’ in 20 years time.
We couldn’t leave this topic without posting our favourite Hachi-Roku video of all time. If you’ve not already seen it, then consider yourself now schooled on the threshold that the FT-86 will need to reach. This is Katsuhiro Ueo’s D1 86 in a video that has been immortalised as part of drift’s rich heritage.