2013 Toyota 86: The Mods. All Of Them.

Our list of mods grows…and so does the bill
By Imthishan Giado

Toyota 86 Wheels

When we last left my 86, I had added some rather lovely Advan RS lightweight rims in place of the horrible stockies. A good start, but now it’s time to finally finish that long list of mods that’s been lying unchecked for months. Time to break out the cheque book, I mean….

Toyota 86 Mods

Subaru trunk lid liner
May seem minor, but this is something that’s been bugging me since the very beginning. American FR-S versions of the car get a nicely finished trunk but over here in the interests of saving that last buck I guess, the local dealer elected to leave it out. Easily rectified though- a trip to local Subaru dealer Al Khoory Automobiles gets me the correct part and the clips needed to fit it.

Toyota 86 Mods 2

As installs go, it’s a snap, and very easy to do at home. Position the trunk lid over the holes in the trunk, then press the clips firmly into place until they lock shut.

Toyota 86 Mods

Voila. Looks much better, doesn’t it? May be my imagination, but the extra insulation also seems to reduce the road noise slightly.

JPM Coachworks Alcantara hood/Cusco antenna

JPM Coachworks is a small Georgia-based shop that wraps interior trim pieces in high-grade Alcantara for a number of marques including Honda, Mazda and Subaru. For the 86, they provide red stitching that perfectly matches the car’s existing red pieces through the cabin. I just had to have it – and after waiting nearly two months (hand made means slow!) the AED350 part finally arrived from the US.

Toyota 86 Mods
That’s no knockoff – the gauge cluster hood is an original Subaru part. Craftsmanship is superb and once again, the install is easy. One bolt undoes the stock hood, a minor tug to release it from its clips and the new one slots into place perfectly.

Toyota 86 Mods 1
Also ordered from the US: a Cusco carbonfibre-look short antenna for AED115. The ridiculously-long stock one makes the 86 look like an RC car!

Toyota 86 Mods
Short and stumpy, just the way I like it. And before you ask – the radio reception is completely unaffected. Interesting footnote: the stock antenna eventually wound up being donated to a friend’s Honda S2000 where it fits perfectly. Honda and Toyota use identical antenna mounting holes; who knew, eh?

The Brakes

Toyota 86 Mods
There’s nothing especially wrong with the stock brakes. They hold up reasonably well to spirited driving and should last very well. What I’m looking for is a firmer feel, in the vein of European sports cars like my old BMW M3. Rather than splurge a ton of cash on all-new brakes and rotors (don’t worry, that’ll come later) I decide to travel down the ghetto-cheap road to better brake feel: new pads.

A few web clicks later, a set of AED515 Ferodo DS2500 front pads are winging their way to me from halfway across the world, accompanied by a set of AED210 Stoptech stainless steel front lines. Then it’s off to my trusty garage LAP 57 to complete the fitment. Why only front pads? Because the majority of your braking happens at the front discs (it’s why they’re bigger than the rears) and the tail doesn’t need a huge amount of stopping power. That and well, at the time I wrote this Ferodo hadn’t made a set of rear pads that would fit our undersized rear rotors. They do now, but like all things Italian, they don’t come cheap.

Toyota 86 Mods
Resembling a garden hose, these grey lines are the main connection between the calliper and the rest of the hydraulic braking system. Rubber is a reasonably good material but stainless steel has less flex during brake actuation and resists expansion due to pressure. Swap these out and voila! Stiffer brake pedal feel.

Toyota 86 Mods
The mighty Ferodo DS2500s! The aftermarket offers tons of brake pad choices, from Toyota’s own TRD-branded unit to companies like Endless and Hawk. Which one you get really decides on what kind of driving you plan to be doing; full-on race pads offers the longest life under tough conditions but squeak horribly when cold (which is all the time on the road) and dust like mad, ruining your shiny new wheels. The Ferodo is an ‘OEM’-style pad, clamping hard but kind to the rotors and hopefully, not spraying down my Advans with dust like a firehouse. Fixing them is again, a trivial process for any half decent mechanic.

Toyota 86 Mods
Any time you open the brake lines, you’re going to lose some brake fluid in the process. Rather than simply up with the OEM fill, I elected to bleed the system and replace it with high-performance Motul 660 fluid; pretty much the best stuff money can buy and has the benefit of being nearly impossible to boil over no matter how hard you drive. At AED240, you don’t need a lot of money either. The only trouble is, Motul is hygroscopic, ie it absorbs water rather gregariously from the surrounding atmosphere. Every time you open the cap to check the level, you’re letting in more water, so the fluid needs to changed religiously  every two years. Then again, if you’re not changing the fluid every two years, you’re doing it wrong.

Toyota 86 Mods

After about two hours of pinching, squeezing, bleeding and some occasional swearing, this is what you’re left with. The yellow tipped braided line is the tasty new Stoptech line, the new pads are of course invisible from this angle. Unlike a street pad, the DS2500 need to be ‘bedded in’ to deposit a thin layer of brake pad material evenly distributed over the surface of the rotor. Techniques vary and they’re all pretty much valid; what I did was a series of hard stops, about five in all from 100kph. After attempt #5, the pads were smoking – this is normal! Thirty minutes of gentle driving at speed later and your new Italian pads are good to go.

HKS Super Exhaust System

The big one. Never been especially interested in big power, but I do like big noise and the stock exhaust is way too quiet and refined. If you’re got an angry teenager style racer car it had better sound like The Fast and Furious as well, fart can coming down the street and all. The choice of HKS parts was easy: the Japanese firm has one of the best reps in the industry (they make off-the-shelf 1000bhp kits for GT-Rs!), they had early access to the car so they’ve had the longest amount of R&D compared to so many of these tiny American firms offering parts now, the quality is peerless and the installation a complete doddle.

The 86 exhaust system consists of four parts: a catback, a catted midpipe, an overpipe and an catted header. The HKS system replaces the catback with a Spec-L system roughly half the weight of the stock muffler good for 350bhp, keeps the catted midpipe but adds  a hi-flo cat that’s less restrictive, and eliminates the header cat entirely while being both lighter and higher flow than the stanadard item. More flow means less exhaust backpressure, means more power…in theory anyway. It should also sound properly rorty!

First, let’s get rid of the catback. Another of many trips to LAP 57!

Toyota 86 Mods

Up on the ramp goes the old girl and we get a proper look at the existing exhaust. Straightaway you can see the potential for improvement – there’s several unnecessary bends which limit the straight flow of exhaust gas and a whacking-great backbox that’s probably holding up a few horses all on its own. Out this must go!

Toyota 86 Mods

Don’t be fooled by the considerable size of the package – this is a really light exhaust! Shipped in all the way from Japan direct from HKS via LAP, the cost was AED4500. Not cheap, but not too bad for something with this level of quality.

Toyota 86 Mods

A couple of twirls of the spanner (by trained professionals thankfully, not me) and the old one’s lying on the shop floor.

Toyota 86 Mods

Isn’t it all lovely and shiny? You’ll notice that this one boasts  a wider diameter. It still have to swerve a bit to clear the rear diff/LSD housing but there’s no nasty backbox, just two clean exit pipes in wonderful classic Japanese artillery-cannon style. This is version 2.0 of the Spec-L; the first version had some er, welding issues but this latest revision takes care of them At the back, you’ll also note the double-resonators ensuring it doesn’t get too intrusive.

Onto the main event – the headers!

Toyota 86 Mods

Handcrafted by the Japanese artisans at HKS, these replacement headers are wonderful to behold. And er, hold…

Toyota 86 Mods
Another close-up, so you get an idea of just how well made these things are.

Toyota 86 Mods

This chunky tube is the replacement high-flo cat pipe, the new cat being the canister at the top. Not visible in the pic is a small hole after the cat; into this socket plugs an extension lead to the second of the car’s O2 sensors, preventing one of those nasty “Check Engine” lights from going on, and fooling the ECU into thinking that the same amount of exhaust flow exists.

The price of all this wonder? AED8500. Gulp. Well, it better be good!

Toyota 86 Mods
Removing the header is slightly more involved than the catback, thanks to the 86’s underbody aerodynamic cladding. You have to undo approximately a thousand clips before the rear tray falls out and you get access to the factory headers.

Toyota 86 Mods
More wrenching later, the stock headers are out. You may be thinking, “gosh that’s ugly…and very different to the HKS ones!” The stock headers are encased in a chunky headshield accounting for the difference in mass. Also visible are the two O2 sensor wires – they both need to be plugged into the new header and the second cat pipe. And yes engine nerds, the HKS kit comes with new gaskets ensuring a perfect seal and no pesky exhaust leaks.

Toyota 86 Mods

Another shot of the bare, header-less bottom of the engine. Not a sight you see every day…especially when it’s your car!

Toyota 86 Mods
Bolting the headers is an easy job though it pays to be careful. Here, you can see a transmission jack being used to support the weight while it’s bolted in and torqued to the supplied specs.

Toyota 86 Mods

The cat pipe proves to be a tricky fit. The overpipe (still stock, costs a surprising amount of money to replace!) doesn’t want to surrender its hold and takes an irritating amount of wiggling before we’re finally able to fit the new HKS cat pipe, plug in the sensors and call it a day.

Toyota 86 Mods

Well, nearly. HKS supplied us with a sheet of double-sided heat insulation. After scratching our head for ages – there’s no obvious place to fit it – the techs at LAP 57 decided to wrap the sump in the stuff. Since there’s no heatsink anymore, a little protection for the precious oil might not be a bad thing. That’s it by the way: bolt up the covers, clip everything into place and drive away!

Driving impressions
Phew, quite a shopping cart of stuff? I bet you’re wondering what effect it all had in the end.

First the easy stuff. The alcantara hood reflects far less in the sunlight, while the Cusco antenna despite being considerably shorter performs just as well as the stock one. The brake job is a mixed bag: I like the improved and stiffer pedal feel imparted by the Stoptech lines, making the 86 even more like a baby Cayman. Not so good are the Ferodo pads. Stopping distances are noticeably shorter and the initial bite more aggressive, but they put out way too much brake dust, ruining my lovely new wheels constantly. If I had the choice of doing it again…I’d put brake lines on the entire car and keep the stock pads. Unless you’re tracking constantly they’re simply not necessary and I’ve never experienced pad fade on the street.

On the other hand, the headers get a wow from me – a big wow! What a great noise – meaty, grumbly and lumpy on the startup, then receding into a very Honda S2000-like scream at the top end. Totally transforms the character of the car and turns it from a sporty coupe into an angry Italian-feeling hot rod! The genius of the HKS unit is that when you don’t want all that, you lay off the throttle and the exhaust goes completely silent – brilliant.

I didn’t get the exhaust tuned – yes, yes I know it’s something you should really do but I’m still not confident in the experience level of our local shops working with a non-turbo, old-school car like this one. Nevertheless even out of the box it feels much, much punchier than stock with a meaty midrange replacing the infamous ‘torque dip’ of the stock headers and genuine surge at the top end. Driving around town is a more relaxing affair as you can lay into the throttle without having to change down so much.

It’s expensive, but the headers and full exhaust are something I’d recommend every 86 owner to do. If they’re comfortable with losing their engine warranty that is, as that’s what changing the headers means. Naturally I kept the stock headers around for when it comes time to sell…

Costs to date
Previous costs: Dh15969
JPM Coachwork alcantara hood: AED 350
Cusco short antenna: AED 115
Ferodo D2500 brake pads: AED 515
Stoptech stainless steel brake lines (front) : AED 210
Motul 660 brake fluid: AED 240
HKS Spec-L Exhaust: AED 4500
HKS Super Exhaust Manifold w/Cat Pipe: AED8500

Total running costs: Dh30399 (Ouch!)

Read more here!

Part 1: The Deal

Part 2: The Checklist

Part 3: The Workshop

Part 4: The Delivery

Part 5: First Service

Part 6: Clever Vs Dumb

Part 7: Service and a Scrape

Part 8: The Wheels

Part 9: The Mods

10 responses to “2013 Toyota 86: The Mods. All Of Them.”

  1. Mohammed Salman says:

    Think it would be possible to upload a video how your car sounds now??

  2. Arnavrs says:

    Did the exhaust & headers require any permissions from the RTA?

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] @Salman: Sorry I can’t upload a video, for the reason that I never shot one! And I can’t shoot one now, for reasons that will become clear shortly…
      @Arnavrs: Didn’t check but it shouldn’t cause any issues at all with the RTA – the sound is not raised to unreasonable levels and the power increase is not large enough to make the car undriveable. They’re more worried about things like aftermarket turbos…and yes, I drove this exhaust through Sharjah without problems 😉

  3. Yolo Lobo says:

    Hi, How much does the Subaru trunk lid liner cost???/

  4. I’ve been following you since u purchased the Car and loved what you did with it 🙂 I’m coming to Dubai Tomorrow and would like to go and buy some mods for my 86 can u advise ?

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] Awww thanks for the kind words Alaa!

      With mods I’d honestly recommend having a vision for the car before you start modding it, it’ll save you a lot of money and heartache down the line! Just be aware that because this car is so new, aftermarket parts are not readily available in the Dubai market; hence why I imported everything at such great cost. If you do find anything locally…well, it’s unlikely to be much cheaper.

  5. Al Ain 86 says:

    I’m very interested in the mods. I own an 86 but i’m worried that something like a cat-back system might void my warranty. I talked to my dealer in Al Ain they say that it will void warranty. Did you ask the dealer or did you get any permission from the dealer before modding your car.

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] Al Ain 86, installing any aftermarket part generally voids the warranty of the part it’s connected to – so for example, installing a cat back will void the warranty of the exhaust, installing wheels will void the warranty on the hubs, and so on.

      If the mods are very extensive, the dealer may choose the void the entire warranty on the car, and you don’t really have a lot of options to argue with them about it in this region, short of returning it to stock. As always, buyer beware.

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