The Toyota GR86 is the best and worst thing to happen to sports cars in a decade. It’s great because it proves that, really, there’s little better to drive than a small, light, front-engined, rear-drive, naturally aspirated coupe - especially when it's done almost perfectly. And, of course, it’s bad news because demand has so comprehensively outstripped supply. Even if a few more do come to the UK, it’s never going to be enough; validates Toyota’s decision perhaps to make the car, if frustrating for those of us who’d love one and don’t want to pay thousands over RRP.
But perhaps the most galling consequence of the GR’s brilliance is that it has shown up the old GT86 somewhat. The new car has highlighted how close the original was to being absolutely fantastic. GR is way more than a facelift of GT, but there are commonalities. What a pity it will always be that the nearly car was the one on sale for almost eight years and never quite met expectations, while the model that fully realised the potential of the platform was sold out in less time than it would take to watch Tokyo Drift. It's hard not to think of what might have been had the GR86 arrived a few years earlier, with a proper allocation and not the sort of production run that immediately made it a £30k collectors’ item.
Don’t mope too long, however, as there’s a solution - tuned GT86s. A vibrant aftermarket scene emerged for the model almost immediately after launch, and if the main issues the GR resolves are power, looks and handling predictability, then there are most certainly modifications that can help with that. You’re not going to make a GR from a GT, but there is unquestionably the potential to make a very good sports car into a fantastic one. This 86 looks like it might be the car.
More than £10,000 has been spent over the past three years converting this car, notably a facelift GT that you don’t see many modified examples of. Needless to say, buying a car that someone else has tweaked means it’s unlikely to be exactly to your taste; on the other hand, the opportunity is there to save thousands on getting something really good. The cash has been spent on some really high-quality hardware here, including Tein coilovers, an Exedy clutch and AP Racing brakes. Every modification has been fitted by the same specialist, too, which is encouraging. The big news is a turbo, said to increase power from 200hp to 320hp, but there’s far more to this Toyota than power - it’s even got a shorter final drive to really boost acceleration, plus a baffled sump, new exhaust, Powerflex bushes, SPA control arms… This GT86 ought to be way more exciting to drive than standard.
Moreover, even if it’s sitting a bit low for you and the wheels aren’t quite perfect, it’s hardly like this one has been decked out with a mad bodykit or lurid paint job or silly sound system. Things could be changed pretty simply. All the mods point to an owner keen to make the most of the ’86 driving experience, and it isn’t hard to see why that might appeal to someone new who either couldn’t get a GR or can’t splash out this much on upgrading a GT. The service history is said to be perfect.
The asking price is £22,450 - yes, even GT86s have enjoyed a fillip in values recently. Bear in mind that a comparable, standard car can still command £20k, however, and it feels like the next owner is getting a whole lot extra for another £2k. It looks even more enticing when there’s not a single GR around at less than £35k, either. We may not have got the GT86 at its best the first time around, sure, but upgraded cars like this embody the silver lining.
SPECIFICATION | TOYOTA GT86
Engine: 1,998cc, flat-four (now turbo)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 200@7,000rpm (standard)
Torque (lb ft): 151@6,400-6,600rpm (standard)
MPG: 36.2 (NEDC combined, standard)
CO2: 181g/km (standard)
First registered: 2017
Recorded mileage: 43,000
Price new: £27,219 (2018)
Yours for: £22,450
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