There’s no way around talking about the enduring Toyota AE86 without mentioning Initial D.
Who in the mid-80’s would have guessed that an import econo-box would become such a legendary tuning platform for the sport compact segment?
First released in 1995, Initial D became a phenomenon in Japan helping the manga and anime cross the Pacific riding on a wave of interest in JDM car culture.
For fans of drifting and Japanese car culture, few cars can match the legendary status of the Toyota AE86.
The latest 86 was built as a tribute to the original.
And as much as we followed the melodrama of the characters featured in the Initial D storyline, the cars were the stars we came to watch.
The Toyota Sprinter Trueno is the hero car of the series. It’s very similar to the Corolla GT-S in America.
The popularity of the series led to a huge jump in the value of these once-neglected cars.
What’s made this such an enduring car is that while fun to drive, the AE86 is highly modifiable.
Here’s a list of our favorite cars that look like the AE86.
1. Toyota A60 Celica Supra
If we didn’t want or couldn’t get an AE86, the A60 Toyota Celica Supra would be our top choice.
This was serious contender for me as my first car.
The A60 was initially offered as an extended version of the Celica to provide enough room for the inline six motor.
Which is one reason why the AE86 and A60 share a very similar shape.
2. Toyota A70 Supra
A 1988-year model of this Supra also almost became my first car. But the deal didn’t work out.
The A70 is an iconic car.
This was after all the Supra generation that finally dropped the Celica name to become the car we love today.
Redesigned from the ground up, the A70 wasn’t just iconic, it was a groundbreaking car when it was first introduced.
It even comes with a removable Targa roof.
3. Nissan 200SX
A driftable car like the AE86 that’s not a Toyota? What about the 200SX?
It’s a rear-wheel-drive car powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. The 200SX was Nissan’s answer to the runaway success of the Celica.
Equipped with a wide stance and low center of gravity, handling is exceptional making it an excellent entry-level sports car.
4. Honda Accord Hatchback
In California, there’s a Honda Accord hatchback cosplaying as a Toyota AE86 Trueno from Initial D, which gives you some visual insight into the aesthetic similarities of these two cars.
Along with the famous panda paint job, they share the same lines along with pop up headlights. But while the Toyota is rear wheel drive, the Honda is front wheel drive.
Produced between 1986 and 1989, the CA Accord is supported by plenty of aftermarket goodies.
It had a drag coefficient on par with Toyota Supras of the day.
5. Acura Integra
The Integra was one of the original launch models for Honda’s new luxury brand back in 1986.
As Acura’s entry-level luxury car, it was the upscale alternative to the Civic.
It incorporates refined components of the CRX Si’s suspension along with disc brakes on all four wheels.
As such, the Integra was highly regarded for its handling and performance. The first generation also featured pop headlights like the AE86.
6. Porsche 944
I almost bought this car instead of my Eagle Talon. But at the time I didn’t know enough about Porsches to pull the trigger.
And from what I’ve read about keeping a 944 roadworthy, it was the right move for me.
But if you’re more mechanically savvy than I was. Like the AE86, you’re getting a great sports car with balanced handling.
But I can only recommend this car if you can find a really clean example.
Have deep pockets. Or you really know your way around cars. Either way, it’s going to cost you.
7. Foxbody Mustang
If you’re looking for an American nameplate that offers a bit more grunt than the AE86.
Might I suggest the third gen Mustang, also known as the Foxbody Mustang. Ford produced the Foxbody Stang from 1979 to 1993.
So, there’s plenty of them out there, which means you can pick one up for dirt cheap. The chassis was still being used for the SN95 Mustangs.
The aftermarket support is insane.
8. Honda CRX
If you don’t want or need four seats, the CRX is a fantastic option. These cars were popular when I was in high school, even my brother had one.
You talk about an insane aftermarket scene, the potential for this car is only limited by your imagination.
There are a number of great engines that’ll fit in this car, and the handling is out of this world.