By | November 23, 2022
Batteries and hydrogen power these cute Toyota AE86 factory diners

A pair of Toyota AE86s
Magnify / Left, AE86 BEV Concept; on the right, the AE86 H2 Concept.


I don’t know about you, but I love a good resto mod. Restomodding is the practice of taking a classic car and restoring it – while modernizing it. In the past, that might have meant putting modern AMG powertrains into classic Mercedes-Benz Gullwing bodies, but these days, my attention drawn more electrical conversions.

Unfortunately, the cost is still prohibitive for most of usbut that’s less true if you’re a car company that Ford, General Motorsor Jaguar. Or in today’s case, Toyota, which surprised and delighted this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon with a pair of facelifted AE86 coupes, a car best known for its starring role in Initial D.

The idea behind the project was to increase the prospect of carbon neutrality “to protect beloved cars,” according to Toyota. The company says it worked with aftermarket suppliers to rejuvenate old stock and use recycled materials where possible.

AE86 BEV concept

One of the pair will probably make more sense to you than the other. The exposed-headlight car, which uses a Toyota Corolla Levin body, swaps the donor car’s engine for the electric motor found in the new hybrid Toyota Tundra pickup – presumably with a slight increase in power over that engine’s 48 hp (36 kW) rating, although the company is quite tight with details.

The battery pack has been donated by a Prius plug-in hybrid. The paltry 8.8kWh battery would limit the car’s practical range, but you’d probably have fun driving it down. Toyota has retained the AE86’s transmission — a practice common with less powerful EV restaurateurs — and the company says that combined with the “robust propulsion characteristics of an electric battery” you get “a vehicle that offers even greater driving pleasure than the original.”

AE86 H2 concept

Even more exciting is the second rest mode. Based on the pop-up headlight Sprinter Trueno body, this AE86 is called the H2 concept, and it runs on hydrogen. And like a recent one-off race car driven by Toyota president Akio ToyodaThe AE86 H2 Concept uses the fuel in an internal combustion engine, not a fuel cell.

Under the hood, it retains its original 1.6 L, four-cylinder 4A-GE engine and transmission, but if you were to lift the tailgate, you’d find a pair of hydrogen tanks from Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell EV. A close look in the engine compartment would reveal some new fuel injectors and spark plugs for the fuel change.

Burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine is not very efficient, and it does not generate much power compared to using gasoline, so the AE86 H2 Concept may offer degraded performance compared to the original. Toyota said the aim of the concept is to develop “a vehicle that can be driven while enjoying the draw points of the internal combustion engine with sound and vibration.”

It’s highly unlikely that any of these concepts will see production plans, and I doubt we’d get a third-party resto mod involving a hydrogen combustion engine. But it would be cool to see a growing number of EV restaurants from the import tuner scene in the coming years.

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