So, what does hachi mean anyway?

The car

The chassis code for the 1984-1987 RWD Toyota Corollas is AE86. In Japanese, "hachi" means eight and "roku" means six, so in Japan (and in the minds of intelligent people everywhere) these cars are affectionately known as "hachirokus". The cars have become cult classics in the import scene originally because of their driving fun factor. With nearly perfect weight distribution and a ground-breaking engine (for the time) from the factory, they were well accepted by the automotive community. More recently, an anime series called Initial D has brought the car back to glory in a new generation. The rising popularity of drifting has also brought quite a bit of recognition to the car. It is not uncommon for these cars to sell for over $3,000 if they are in good shape and well modified specimens have been known to fetch over $10,000. Not bad for a 20 year old car!
The AE86 came in two models: the GT-S and the SR5, and two body styles: the coupe and the hatchback. The GT-S was the performance oriented model. It had a more powerful engine, aggressive gearing, above average brakes, and responsive suspension and steering. The SR5 was primarily built for the economy minded, having an anemic engine and eco-friendly gearing. Both cars have curb weights below 2100 lbs (although the hatchback weighs about 30 lbs more), so it doesn't take much to make these cars fast.

The engine

The SR5 came with the 4A-C, a carbureted SOHC 1.6L making about 75hp. Since it really isn't worth talking about, I won't. The GT-S came with the 4A-GE - a fuel-injected DOHC 1.6L making about 115hp. Notice both engines have the same first two letters. That is because they are both 4th generation A-series engines, sharing the same block, but the similarity ends there. The 4A-GE was a ground-breaking engine. It was among the first DOHC engines offered to the public outside of exclusive marks like Lotus.

The Toyota 4A-GE. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Company

It had the Toyota Variable Intake System (TVIS), which consisted of an eight-runner intake manifold, a set of four butterfly valves, and an actuation solenoid. At low rpms, the four butterfly valves were closed, blocking four of the intake runners and increasing charge velocity in the other four. This gave the 4A-GE more low end torque. At higher rpms, the valves were opened, increasing the amount of air that could flow into the engine and releasing more power.

The Toyota Variable Intake System. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Company

The 4A-GE was meant to rev. In stock form it had a subtle whine just begging you to rev it to its 7500 rpm redline. Yamaha collaborated with Toyota to design the head. It had 16 oversized valves and a pent-roof combustion chamber, which placed the spark plug in the optimized position for burning fuel.

The 4A-GE is such a capable engine that it is the spec engine for the Toyota Formula Atlanic Series. In more recent years (read mid-90s), Toyota developed a newer 20 valve version of the 4A-GE. If you're on the ball, you already figured out that a 20 valve four cylinder has five valves per cylinder - three intake and two exhaust. Why you ask? Because a five valve per cylinder arrangement allows for the best use of surface area, providing the most possible flow from a given cylinder head area. The new 20V version was also used in the Toyota "Group A" racing series.

The Toyota Atlantic 4A-GE. Photo courtesy of Toyota Racing Development

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