Toyota AE86 Sprinter: lamb in wolf’s clothing

10 November 2017

Even in July 1983 when it made its Australian debut, the Toyota AE86 Sprinter was already something of an oddity, a small rear-wheel drive 1.6-litre coupe in what was rapidly becoming a front-wheel drive market.

Sure we had the rear-drive Mitsubishi Sigma, Datsun Bluebird and the like, but by 1983 most new medium sedans (Holden Camira, Mazda 626/Ford Telstar) and virtually all small ones were front-drivers.

Front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive? Heading into the 1980s, and despite the fact that many of its rivals had already switched from the formerly orthodox rear-wheel drive to the system used on all Citroens since 1934 and on many others from the launch of the Issigonis Morris Mini-Minor/Austin Seven twins since 1959, the Toyota executives could not make a simple, clear-cut decision.