In 2013, I purchased my Toyota 86 GT sight unseen and based purely on the glowing recommendations from the world’s motoring journalists. What followed was an epic seven-hour drive down the Alpine National Highway from the dealership at Cooma to Melbourne.
My initial impressions of the car were that the seats and overall driving position were excellent. The small bonnet and protruding front guards allow you to position the car on the road with ease. The short wheelbase and minimal overhangs make the car a dream for parking in tight spaces or frantic inner-city parallel parking manoeuvres.
The car has a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox with quite a short final drive ratio. Frequent gear shifts are required to keep the engine within the power band. The gearbox can be difficult to engage second gear when cold, however after 10 minutes of driving, shifts become very smooth and precise. The car cruises at around 2800rpm at 100km/h.
The factory analogue gauge display can be difficult to read for anyone that is unfamiliar with the car. The Bluetooth-equipped stereo system is quite basic and the same as you would find in other low to mid-range Toyota vehicles. The external paint is quite thin and scuffs easily. The aluminium bonnet is very soft and prone to damage from stray gum nuts and hail. The factory wheel studs are defective and prone to becoming cross-threaded. I have replaced 10 studs in the past five years. A recall for my vehicle was initiated in 2016 for a potential fault with the electrically assisted steering system. This work was carried out by Toyota at no cost to the owner.
I started performing my own servicing on the car once it was outside of the three-year Toyota capped-price servicing scheme. Changing out the oil and air filter is a breeze and can be performed by anyone with basic mechanical skills. Potential buyers should be aware that there is a scheduled major service at 90,000km, which involves replacing the iridium spark plugs. Toyota quoted around $1700 to carry out this task. There are a number of specialist Subaru workshops that have the knowledge and capability to perform this service.
Five years later, the car has racked up 120,000km. I have installed an upgraded Motec M150 ECU with Motec C125 Digital Display. I have replaced the factory-specified Yokohamas for a set of Bridgestone RE003 tyres. The end result is a car that is great fun to drive in any conditions, and one that can make the mundane morning commute to work just a bit more exciting.