Toyota Builds GT86 “Initial D” Concept – Manga Artist Sonia Leong Weaves Her Magic

By Steve & Tamami Laser

Shifting from the showroom to comic book fiction, Toyota UK’s latest GT86 concept, inspired by the Initial D Japanese manga comic series, reimagines the classic Corolla AE86 that earned cult status as the featured wheels in the adventure series for a new generation.

GT86D1Initial D was a Japanese manga comic series in which a young hero, Takumi Fujiwara, drove a modified AE86, honing his driving skills on mountain roads while moonlighting as delivery driver for his dad’s tofu shop. The car became a star, influencing the drifting scene and inspiring a live action movie and arcade games.

GT86D2To emphasise the new GT86 concept’s roots in pop culture, Toyota commissioned UK-based manga artist Sonia Leong to design a series of panoramic backdrops that effectively put the real GT86 into comic strip action scenes. Sonia previously applied her graphic skills to create a manga film featuring the Toyota Aygo.

TGB11Sonia (above) is a professional comic artist and illustrator, specializing in Anime and Manga. Based in Cambridge, she has produced numerous books, including an award-winning interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, and contributed designs, illustrations and character creations to films, TV shows and story compilations.

GT86D6Created by Toyota’s UK special projects department, the GT86 Initial D concept is billed as an offspring of the fictional AE86. The coupe not only copies the manga car’s distinctive panda-style monochrome livery but uses new versions of the same Japanese market components that were featured on the original.

GT86D5Toyota UK says these include custom-made RS Watanabe alloy wheels, TRD suspension, a Fujitsubo exhaust system, Cusco strut brace, and a carbon-fiber hood. Other cues, like the yellow-tinted fog lights, hint at the Cibié spots fitted to improve Takumi’s night-vision, and silver-painted engine cover in a nod to the “Silver Top” 4A-GE engine from the series.

GT86D4The makeover even features carbon fiber door handle protectors and mirror covers that give an effect similar to the black plastic ones on the AE86. Mud flaps evoke the original Initial D car, while the rear spoiler has been removed, and rear combination lenses are tinted.

“Right from the start, the Toyota GT86 was developed as a car that would appeal to enthusiasts, whether in standard trim or as an exploitable base for further modifications,” said Joe Clifford from the Toyota UK special projects team. “With this Initial D concept we not only acknowledge how important the AE86 was in influencing Toyota’s modern approach to sports cars but also demonstrate how the GT86 can be aesthetically and dynamically improved with relatively simple aftermarket accessories. But perhaps most of all, we just thought it was an achingly cool idea.”

Toyota UK says the new GT86 Initial D concept will be attending motoring events around Britain throughout the summer.

Flashback to Aygo Manga – The Movie

In a previous Toyota UK venture, the design team behind the Toyota Aygo included Manga fan, chief designer David Terai. This video was created to pay homage to his team’s inspiration. “There’s a monster tearing up the metropolis and the authorities are desperate for someone to save the day. Enter “The Heroine” and her mighty Aygo, the central characters in the Manga cartoon by Sonia Leong.” (Video: Toyota UK)

Toyota’s Aygo proved more than a match for a rampaging reptile. Created by Sonia Leong, the tale put Toyota’s city car at the heart of the action, while making subtle references to some of the classic Toyota models of the past. The movie (from 2014) featuring Sonia’s original artwork, was created by animation team U-R-ILL™ and edited by Mark Gravil.

News source, photos and video courtesy Toyota UK

Story (commentary) © 2016