An Unmolested Toyota AE85 Survivor Hidden in Downtown Tokyo

If you lived in Japan for a while, chances are high that you have been infected by the foodie obsession: you are constantly looking for new tasty restaurants to try, and topic no. 1 among your friend network becomes food and restaurant recommendations.

I am no exception to that. As such, I regularly target different districts of Tokyo in my quest of finding the best places to dine. One day, I was searching for a place a colleague recently recommended to me, and was walking to the destination, when, for a split of a second, my well-trained eyes spotted a familiar shape hidden behind a fenced-off parking lot I was just passing by. By the time my brain processed what I had just seen, I had already walked past the gate, and had to take a few steps back.

The educated viewer will immediately recognize this facelift-model AE85: the non-painted door moldings, normal suspension travel and the factory steel rims indicate this is an unmolested, 100% factory original AE85 Trueno model.

I decided to try to see if there is a possibility to take a closer look, and indeed, as the backside of the parking area was open, I could take a closer look.

The thick layer of dust indicates that this car has been parked for a while. Hiding underneath the dust is the fully original paint in good condition, without much sun damage. It seems this AE85 has spent most of its life in a garage.

Yes, the facelift AE85/AE86 Trueno models came with the redline tail lights from the factory. While the left and right tail light are still easily available, the center garnish is Unobtainium. Recently, some re-manufacturing parts were made, which seem to be already out of stock.

Also interesting is the slight color difference of the red color in the bumper, fuel lid and chassis. This is most likely an indication of this being the factory paint: my silver USDM AE86 has the same slight color differences on the bumper and chassis, and has certainly not been resprayed.

Note the antenna, the steel rims, the unpainted moldings, the factory paint protection sticker on the rear wheel arches, and the slightly faded plastic of the bumpers. This car is 100% in the same condition as when it left the factory almost 40 years ago.

The screws on this fender and bumper have never been opened. Also note the factory ride height. In 2024, this kind of car feels like a time capsule. Sure, in 2008 we could find plenty of those, but these days are long gone.

The rear wheel arches and lower rocker panel are completely rust free. Some slight bubbles show up on the left near the fuel filler cap – a common rust spot. My recommendation would be to not weld this, but keep the factory paint and instead use a rust inhibitor oil to prevent it from growing. I usually use Fluid film for such spots, and had very positive experience with it.

The bumpers don’t have any scratches. The owner took good care of this AE85. Dirty, yes, slightly faded, yes, but nothing a professional detailing wouldn’t be able to fix.

The vehicle inspection is valid until March 2024. Behind the dirty glass, the original AE85 interior is visible. No, I didn’t dare to wipe off some dust for interior pictures, and I won’t ever do that.

The passengers’ door featured a very faded sticker and with some magic photo editing tools, one can reveal the letters “TOYOTA” written on it. Was this sticker applied from the factory? I know that Nissan in the 80ies/90ies put some “Nissan OK” stickers on the windows when the car left the factory. Did Toyota do the same?

What a beauty hidden gem. After taking this pictures, I had to leave quickly, as my wife grew impatient and desperately wanted to try the delicious restaurant we were on the way to. It made me very happy to see such a rare unmodified survivor, and I sincerely hope that the owner will keep taking good care of his jewel to preserve it for the future.

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