THE ART OF EIGHTY-SIX
K-SWAPPED AE86 STYLE MASTER
You know that whole ‘dogs who look like their owners’ thing? Yeah, that bizarre phenomenon that occasionally pops up in your newsfeed when your mum discovers an old BBC piece from five years ago. It’s a thing, for sure. Psychologists even agree — something about narcissism apparently. But what about cars, especially those crafted by the vision and hand of their creators? Does the theory apply? Watching Ben Walker ease his bonkers-looking Toyota AE86 from driveway to road surface with the assistance of a couple of timber planks, the notion is worth pondering. From the whip-crack rasp of its distinctly non-Toyota power plant breathing into life, through to its dangerously low aero, Ben’s ’86 surely seems to be owned by an individual who simply wants to watch the world burn — in a gleeful, ostentatious fashion, no less.
This is a build that’s simultaneously everything the purist wants and everything the purist loathes. The expectation is of an owner with the character of Speedy Cerviche (yes, the Samurai Pizza Cats’ fearless yet catastrophically high-strung leader) to step over the cage and greet you with a twitch in the eye and a rapid handshake. And, while he admittedly had his share
From the intricate chassis work to the billet manifold, the sweeping headers, and even the bespoke strut brace, everything is by Ben’s own hands, with skills gained from his time in the automotive fabrication trade with Hypertune. It’s a homage to a can-do attitude, a willingness to take on any task, and learning on the go
of misdemeanours at the helm of a Hachi, the man himself presents a calm, considered persona. Perhaps it’s an attribute crucial to, and moulded by, Ben’s day job.
The nine-to-five grind typically sees him behind a welding mask, gluing together many of the wondrous creations that come out of Hypertune’s workshop in Sydney: stainless steel, aluminium — the works. Ben welds with robot precision. His skills’ genesis was in his high-school engineering class, and he then transitioned to work experience, then a paid apprenticeship in a local sheet-metal company. Stay in school, kids, and eventually you too could be fabricating some badass automotive weapons.
As well as fabrication talent, AE86s are also in his blood — an infatuation he can’t quite pinpoint the original of. “They’ve just always been my favourite car for as long as I can remember,” he quips. “I had this blue Aussie-spec Sprinter as my first ever car, before I even knew how to drive a manual.” Sadly, it wasn’t to be everlasting. “That car
“But what about the gearbox?”, you’re crying. Being a transverse front-wheel drive engine, the K24A never had any options to drive the rear wheels. The gearbox remains Toyota — in this case a 6-speed J160 — but a custom bellhousing mates the ‘box to the back of the Honda lump, while housing a K20A flywheel with Exedy clutch