Prime Cut: How To Build The Ultimate Trueno Leave a comment

If you want to build the ultimate mid-’80s rear-wheel drive Toyota, it turns out you don’t need to start with an AE86.

As it sits today, this 1987 Toyota Sprinter Trueno SR is about as far removed from the base-model AE85 econobox it rolled off Toyota’s production line as, as you could get, and owner Eiji Daito of Hiroshima-based tuning shop Total Create E.Prime wouldn’t have it any other way.


This wide-fendered Trueno is painted in Solar Orange, an exclusive colour used on limited edition Toyota 86s. It’s a fitting hue really, considering the it’s unique to a car that is itself a rebirth of an ’80s legend. Daito-san too, has given new life to a very basic three-door hatchback.


Considering the amount of chopping up, cutting out, grinding and spot seam-welding that has gone on with this Trueno, the fact that the build started with a (relatively) inexpensive base model AE85 makes total sense. Because if you didn’t know, as with all other popular Japanese performance cars from the ’80s and ’90s, genuine AE86s are worth a pretty penny these days.


Like the AE86, the AE85 hit the streets of Japan back in 1983. It shared the same chassis and basic body work of its sports-grade sibling, but instead of a 4A-GE under the hood the AE85 was fitted with a vanilla 1.5L 3A-U SOHC engine that returned great fuel economy – perfect for retirees and cash-conscious students at the time.


Despite its humble underpinnings, does the chassis number make Daito-san’s creation any less of a race-ready, show-stopper? Absolutely not. Forget about the numbers and prefixes; what Daito-san has built is his version of ultimate rear-wheel drive AE-chassis Toyota.


And like most of Daito-san’s AE-chassis builds, this one is set up for grip. Inside and out, it’s beautifully simple.


While chatting to Daito-san about his love for the Toyota platform, he told me firmly that he hates factory-standard cars. Understandably then, he’s used an ultra-wide Pandem front bumper, over-fenders, side skirts, rear under spoiler and duck tail, along with J Blood carbon door panels, rear hatch, bonnet and rear bumper spoilers to beef up the Trueno’s factory lines.

There’s also a Work Shop Takumi dry carbon roof and wiper cowl, plus HPI side and rear acrylic window, and Craft Square carbon door mirrors.


To fill those super-wide FRP arches, Daito-san is running a set of RAYS Volk Racing TE37V SL 2021 Limited wheels in a 15×10-inch (-25 offset) fitment, which coupled with 225/50R15 Yokohama Advan A050 semi-slicks translates to grip for days.


A lightweight and perfectly balanced rear-wheel drive chassis made the AE86 a favourite among amateur drifters and pro racing teams back in ’80s, and 40-odd years later it’s still appreciated, only now as a classic. The other thing that people have always loved about the Hachiroku is the high-revving, 1.6L twin cam 16-valve 4A-GE power plant up front. So let’s pop that hood and see what Daito-san has installed in his dream machine…


Obviously it’s not a 4A-GE, but Daito-san has stayed true to the Toyota lineage by fitting a 3S-GE BEAMS Dual VVT-i engine from an SXE10 Altezza RS200. Just like the 4A-GE, this engine had its cylinder head developed by Yamaha.

Fitting the 2.0L motor in the Trueno’s now wire-tucked and detailed bay was made a whole lot easier thanks to JSP Fab billet engine mounts and an SQ Engineering slimline rear housing for extra firewall clearance.


In stock form the Altezza engine made 200hp, but thanks to a few select modifications, Daito-san’s is surely making a few more ponies now. On the intake side, the engine features a Weldspeed billet intake manifold with Bosch Motorsport electronic throttle body, and a JSP Fab billet fuel rail.


On the exhaust side you’ll find a one-off, and very beautiful, E.Prime 4-2-1 stainless steel header. The un-silenced stainless exhaust system exits under the passenger side door with a neat flat-bottom outlet.


Other upgrades include a Ross Performance harmonic damper, flat-mounted GReddy aluminium radiator and a Link G4+ plug ‘n’ play Altezza engine management system.

What goes nicely with a 3S-GE BEAMS engine? The corresponding J160 6-speed manual gearbox of course. As with the engine, JSP Fab’s billet transmission mount – along with their 3S-GE-to-AE86 shifter relocation kit – made fitting the gearbox a straightforward affair. An ATS carbon clutch transfers the power.

Ultimately, Daito-san would like to fit an Altezza RS200 rear end in his Trueno, but for now a kouki T-series solid axle suffices with a TRD limited slip differential.


As well as building cars like this, E.Prime also has a line of Levin/Trueno tuning parts. The coilover set fitted to Daito-san’s Trueno is a good example of a lifetime’s worth of R&R distilled into parts that bolt right in. As for the brakes, the front end now benefits from a pair of Endless 4-pot monoblock callipers and 270mm Mazda FC3S RX-7 rotors, and the rear a 258mm setup.


There’s no mistaking the Trueno’s purpose when you open a door. Creature comforts have given way to a full race interior featuring a welded and gusseted E.Prime 14-point chromoly roll cage, custom carbon fibre dashboard, a Buddyclub bucket seat, Nardi steering wheel, TRD shift knob and a Link MXS 1.2 Strata Race Edition digital display. A Nissan accelerator pedal for the electronic throttle body is also used.

Coincidently, the cabin is painted in the same Subaru Legacy blue as the exterior of Daito-san’s turbocharged AE86 Levin 2-door coupe that we featured on 86 Day earlier in the month.


It’s amazing what you can do with a basic Toyota ’80s shell and 20 years of industry know-how. The fit and finish is superb, the paintwork flawless, the fabrication world class, and the sound this thing makes is rowdy. Have a listen for yourself.


In order to keep his business booming, unfortunately Daito-san doesn’t just exclusively build Levins and Truenos (his blue S13 Silvia pictured above is a standout), but given the choice, I think that’s exactly what he would do. Daito-san’s certainly got enough of them peppered across his property, so I’m sure this won’t be the last AE demo car creation we see from E.Prime.

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