For the love of eighty six | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 26, 2020

For the love of eighty six

Ah yes, the mighty eighty six. Almost every video on the internet will tell you how it's a blank canvas for you to make your own and trust me, I've seen almost every video about the 86 on the internet. Today we have the ultimate representation of the phrase "blank canvas", for an artist with a blank canvas at his disposal does not leave any corner unpainted. It would be easier for me to list the things that have not been changed than to list here everything that has been. In a country where most of us go to the mechanic because the labor is so cheap, this owner chose the route many people abroad choose. People abroad work on their own cars because the majority of the cost of a gasket replacement that takes 3 hours' worth of work will almost always be the labor. Alif, however, did so out of a passion for his car.

I have been a fan of this car for a while, because of the sheer attention to detail and "nothing is too expensive" approach that has been taken for this car. Although I am an advocate of the save-the-manuals movement, this automatic GT86 is better maintained and modified than a majority of the manuals I have seen. Over a phone conversation with the owner that started about his current undertaking of a widebody conversion turned into a conversation about the timeline of the transformation of the car. This is to show people who think they have dumped too much money into their projects that, if you are passionate about something, any amount of expense is justifiable. Just like Hector, who ran three Honda civics with spoon engines, and on top of that, he went into Harry's and bought three t66 turbos with nos, and a motec exhaust system. Be like Hector, err, be like Alif. I digress, let's get into the modifications done to the car.

Alif remembers the day he purchased the GT-86, March 2nd, 2015, by heart. Delivered at the time of 5:54 PM, he added. I asked what made you decide to pull the trigger on the 86, and he explained that it was a culmination of his fascination with rear-wheel-drive cars and his love of Initial-D, that us car people know all too well. At the end of Initial D - Final Stage, Takumi, while driving his father's Subaru STi through the Akina canyons, drove past a hitherto unreleased GT86, which in my opinion is the single best ending to any anime. Then again, Initial D is the only anime I ever watched.

Alif Started small, as all owners do. A few bolt-ons here and there, a few things to improve the things you like about the car but feel like they are not quite enough. The exhaust was the first thing to go in favor of a full aftermarket system. Then the stock taillights went where they deserve to go, the trash bin, and were replaced by a set of Valenti taillights. He loved how nimble the car felt, but wanted it to be lighter at its feet. It was agile, but he wanted the finesse of a ballerina. Thus dictated his next choice of mods, Toda racing front pulleys replaced the stock ones, and so did an aftermarket throttle body along with a different final drive and additional work to the differential. More go requires more stop, which was achieved with Project MU brake pads. He concluded the 2015 spree with a massive Varis wing.

"What do you think about people calling the car slow?" I inquired. "They're right," said Alif. To negate the dreaded torque dip that makes the 86 feel sluggish, an Open Flash Tablet was acquired and a custom tune from abroad was mapped to the car to accommodate the less than ideal quality of fuel available in Dhaka. The replacement of all the pulleys and rotating parts meant the amount of unsprung mass the car had to carry was reduced, and the feeling that made the car "slow" was now eliminated. It will not kill an Evolution, but I sure did enjoy zipping around at 120km/h between traffic. Don't tell my mom.

The end of 2016 rolls around, and that is when the mod bug truly bit him. To match his massive Varis wing, Alif ordered the full Varis treatment for the stock body of the car, which includes the front bumper, rear bumper, and side skirts. In the years that followed, an amazing amount of effort and bank balance was dedicated to refreshing the entire suspension, replacing almost every bushing and moving parts that were either upgraded or replaced. Original Work Emotion CR Kai 2 piece wheels wrapped in Potenza RE-71R went on the car to go along with the very tasteful body kit.

As stated above, it would be easier to list the things that had not been changed, but somewhere along the lines, the car also received a full Cusco chassis bracing treatment including but not limited to a front and rear strut bar, front cross- member brace, front lower control arm brace and much more. Which brings us to last year, when he finally bit the bullet and bought himself a set of Airllen Air suspension. A few small mods in the form of a heat wrapped exhaust manifold and replacement of some consumables took place in this period. A mod that he had been looking forward to was the Valenti headlights with the solid DRL, which, in person is one of the best headlight options for the GT86. Since the exterior had received such special treatment, it would be unfair to leave the engine bay unattended. A carbon-fiber trim was installed in the engine bay along the front bumper, and all the pulleys have been changed to be the same color including a set of dress up bolts. Perhaps the most drastic change is the color change from a pretty mundane black to this extremely striking silver wrap, which the owner did himself in his garage. There are a few inaccuracies because of the intricacy of the Varis bumper, but for his first time, he did a fantastic job.

"Are you done with the car?" asked a naive Haseeb, to which the only response was laughter. "No project car is ever done," he said. The car is going under the knife yet again, for a full RallyBacker Version 2 body kit along with a new set of wheels that are wider to fill out the bigger gaps left by the over-fenders.

Alif got this car when he was much younger, and throughout the years in the pursuit of growing up and making himself a better person, the car grew up with him. The GT86 had been through his marriage and saw his firstborn. It stuck with him when times were rough and he needed to go for a drive to clear his head, and it was there when it was time for celebration. It is tough to find someone who is willing to put so much time and dedication towards their build, for the money spent on this car could have purchased something much more expensive, but that is not the point of building cars. It gives Alif a sense of freedom. A sense of individuality that is unparalleled to anything else. As we reached the end of our conversation, I asked a question I already knew the answer to. "Do you ever see yourself selling the car?", and I am sure you know what his answer was.


Photos: Ahbar Milky  


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