This Toyota AE86 Practically Lives At A Race Track
Photography by: Tim Loosen and Dennis Noten
My name is Tim Loosen, and I live a two minute drive from the famous Zolder racetrack in a town called Zonhoven in Belgium. My car is a 1986 Toyota Corolla GT or as most people know it, the AE86.
My dad has always been a huge Porsche fan and I grew up seeing him always working on cars or racing them. Until a few years ago I was mainly into riding and racing motorcycles, but after moving I had the chance to spend a lot more time visiting track days and events at Zolder. Coupled with an automotive eduction which lead to my day job at the Ford Lommel Proving Grounds, the passion for cars exploded from a hobby dream to a 24/7 job.
I bought a Toyota KP60 Starlet with my girlfriend from back then (the blue one on the pictures) and did some rallys with it. She competed successfully in the 24 Hours of Zolder, racing Mazda MX-5s and Lotus models, and was more into racing her own MX-5 later on. The Starlet is a very fun car but after a while I really wanted something with a bit more power myself.
As with many others, I was a fan of the Nissan Skyline generations but a KGC10 was something I couldn’t afford. After looking out for a GT-R R32 for two years I couldn’t find what I was looking for. GT-R’s are very fun cars to drive but as time passed, I realized it wasn’t a high horsepower, heavy car that would give me the driving pleasure I was looking for. During that period, I found myself checking out AE86s more often. They are insanely hard to find in good condition here.
I knew that finding a gem in Belgium was next to impossible so I started looking abroad, and I found a lot of Japanese imports, RHD, beat up and tired from drifting. After a while, I stopped hoping. But I was reminded that the previous owner of the Starlet we bought started looking for cars in Portugal so I decided to do the same. And then I found her…
After sending a few e-mails to the seller, my girlfriend and I hopped on a plane and went to see the car in Portugal. I fell in love and all the pieces came together. It wasn’t like buying ‘a’ car, it was more like an sense of logic. Like seeing the wife for the first time and knowing, “That’s the one for me”.
So anyways, we drove the car home without stopping. A 1,550 mile (2,500 km) non-stop (well, except for petrol) roadtrip, which was very interesting… Although the car was in good condition, the heater did not work, and at night it was freezing cold!
During that trip I really got to know the car. From highways in Spain to touge-like roads in France, and the heavy traffic in Paris. Never having driven an AE86 in my life and doing so many miles in one on a single day was pretty cool. I had been awake for 36 hours when we arrived home, but I will never forget the feeling of looking outside of the window with a cup of coffee in my hands, gazing at the red piece of automotive cult history we found. My years of searching were over.
The pictures attached are taken at the Zolder racetrack and we are entering a Youngtimer Rally that races to Francorchamps next month—and the same day in the afternoon we will be driving on the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack during the Spa Classic event. My AE86 is mainly a streetcar though. I’m not pushing her to the limit, that’s not my intent! Since I’ve bought it I have fixed many things, and she just keeps getting better.
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