FEATURE: Ben’s Southern Style Levin Coupe

Thursday, 24th November, 2011

The UK and Irish boys dont mess around when it comes to AE86s. Their cars are tough looking, raw and driven hard all the time. Ben’s kouki Levin from Garage Southern Style is just the case.

If you follow the world of AE86s closely then you certainly noticed how very specific the British and Irish scene

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is. Partially thanks to the right hand drive that makes importing cars from Japan so much easier, partially thanks to their automotive and motorsport history, the northern islands have probably the second most raw Corolla scene there is after Japan (being on par only with the Aussies). For us Europeans this is as close to Japan we can get without traveling to the other side of our planet.

While we continental Europeans tend to make our Levins look pretty much stock (on the wheel and height side) and most of the US Truenos have the burden of USDM bumpers, the Brits and Irishman can freely enjoy all the good stuff from Japan first hand and its pretty apparent. Ben’s Corolla is a perfect representative of that as he takes the best Japan can offer and adds a little bit of typical British straightforwardness thats usually reserved for Caterhams and Mark I Escorts.

There are no unnecessary mods over here, just the most basic stuff that every 86 needs when you plan to drive it hard on the roads – refreshed and more firm suspension, a Nardi steering wheel for better grip and a 1.5way LSD for extra throttle response in the corners. No silly engine setup that revs to 12.000 RPM, no super wide wheels – a street spec 86 doesnt need any of that. Check out The Corolla Brotherhood feature for more detailed specs and photos.

We’ll let Ben introduce his Levin a bit more and explain why he loves it so much using his own words. And we cant forget to give credits to Daniel Bridle for these amazing photos! Bens thanks goes to Damien O’Neill as well for supplying the car and parts.

Why did you pick the 86?
I picked the AE86 due to videos of them on the touge. The Best Motoring video of Keiichi Tsuchiya outrunning an R34 on the mountain roads first made me take note of the 86, I never got into Initial D so this was my first exposure to one. It showed me that with enough balls and skill you can drive them right on the edge. I still watch the video now and again to inspire me to either fix the car or take it out.

Why this model and not a Trueno or a 3 door?
I’ve always promised myself that I’d own a Trueno at one point. I LOVE the Run Free Truenos, they are my favourite eight sixs in the world with the exception of Team Mouse cars. After owning and selling a 3 door Levin, I wanted something different so when the 2 door Levin was offered to me I did all I could to own it so much so that I convinced the ex owner to let me have it and pay him off monthly!! I still aim to own a Trueno one day.

What do you like about your 86?
I love that the 2 door is much rarer than the hatchback. Eight six’s are a common sight at UK drift events now but very rarely is there a 2 door. The 2 door shell is far more responsive in corners and when drifted than my hatchback was but that may be down to suspension setup. I love that you HAVE to drive the car, you cannot rely on power to compensate for mistakes in corners, so satisfying to catch much more powerful cars on tight and twisty tracks/roads.

What do you hate about your 86?
Rust, bane of any hachi. It also has the little problems that make all eight sixs unique.

How many times did it piss you off so much that you wanted to sell it?
My hatch pissed me off so much that I swapped it for an RX7 which was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. I hated the rotary engine, which is a shame because they are stunning looking cars. I’d own another RX7 if it had a proper piston engine like James Deanes Prodrift SRX7. With the 2 door, i’ve learnt to except its little flaws and appreciate that nothing i’ve driven before or since has put a smile on my face like wringing the neck of the little 4AGE all the way to 8000rpm!

How many times did you crash your 86?
I’ve never “crashed” any car I’ve owned, I’ve had the odd drift related bump but never crashed properly. I wouldn’t want too either! the metal is so thin on them I probably wouldn’t survive. eeesh!!

Got a blog or a website where we can follow you?
No blog or website, I just drive my car daily and drive it hard. The way I think all Corollas should be driven, flat out.

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