Batteries and hydrogen power these adorable Toyota AE86 factory restomods

A pair of Toyota AE86
Enlarge / On the left, the AE86 BEV Concept; on the right, the AE86 H2 Concept.


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

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

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

Concept AE86 BEV

One of the two will probably make more sense to you than the other. The car with exposed headlights, which uses a Toyota Corolla Levin body, replaces the engine of the donor car with the electric motor of the new Toyota Tundra hybrid pickup, probably with a slight increase in power compared to the rated output of 48 hp (36 kW) of this engine. , although the company is rather narrow with the details.

The battery was offered by a Prius plug-in hybrid. The paltry 8.8kWh battery would limit the car’s practical range, but you’d probably have fun discharging it. Toyota has retained the drivetrain from the AE86 – a common practice with less powerful EV restomods – and the company says that combined with the “robust motive power characteristics of a battery electric vehicle”, you get “a vehicle that offers a even greater driving pleasure than the original.”

Concept AE86 H2

Even more intriguing is the second restomod. Based on the body of the Sprinter Trueno pop-up headlight, this is called the AE86 H2 concept and runs on hydrogen. And like a recent one-off race car debuted by Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda, the AE86 H2 concept uses fuel from an internal combustion engine, not a fuel cell.

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

Burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine isn’t particularly efficient and doesn’t generate much power compared to gasoline, so the AE86 H2 concept could offer degraded performance compared to the original . Toyota said the goal of the concept is to develop “a vehicle that can be driven while taking advantage of the internal combustion engine’s call points in sound and vibration.”

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

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