From the archive. It may look like a surreal counter-culture vision from a videogame, but JVC UK’s modified Toyota GT86 audio car is very real. And just wait until you hear it.
For as long as humans have been lilting words into lyrics to accompany the noises made by twanging strings and clashing percussion, songs have been inspiring us. Advice and observations become all the more poignant when they’re sung to music, and pumped through your car speakers. The tunes we enjoy act as a sort of expression of ourselves. Music is something we absorb on a personal level. It’s also something we’re always keen to share.
Modify Your Car The Way You Want To
‘People that despise you will analyze then criticize you, they’ll scandalize and tell lies until they realize you are somebody they should have apologized to. Don’t let these people compromise you. Be wise, too. You can do anything you want to do…’ So sang the inimitable Thin Lizzy back in 1979, a rallying cry for empowerment on a personal scale. However, It makes the very valid point that you only live once. There’s no point holding back just to appease other people.
Make yourself happy, do what you want to. This neatly bookended a decade in which Jimmy Cliff assured us that ‘You can get it if you really want’. The sentiment rings true today. Have an idea in mind of what’ll make you happy? Alright, what’s stopping you?
So, with absolutely no apology for the dated nature of our musical references, allow us to present something that sits at the very zeitgeist of modern tunesmithery. A modified Toyota GT86 demo car built by JVC UK to showcase their quality wares. It is built very much in line with the way of thinking that if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it properly.
All of the audio equipment in this car has been cherry-picked from the JVC catalogue to represent affordability. Therefore, it proves the point that top-tier audio needn’t have top-tier prices. However, for maximum impact, it’s all packaged up in a car that’s so in-your-face you find yourself reaching for an ice pack. A full-on visual assault. When the guys at JVC first leaked images of their fresh project online, everyone assumed it was an outlandish set of renderings rather than a real actual car.
Livery by The Kyza
The mystique and subterfuge was aided by the fact that the livery you see here was designed by none other than Khyzyl Saleem, otherwise known as The Kyza. His online renderings fuse forward-thinking modifying ideas with just a smidge of the supernatural. Cars so unbelievably cool, they almost certainly couldn’t exist in real life. Except that sometimes, just sometimes, they do. And JVC’s modified Toyota GT86 is one such car which has elbowed its way into reality.
“We wanted a car that stood out,” says JVC’s Keith Watkins, “which is why we enlisted The Kyza to make us a fantastic render. We’re a Japanese company so a Japanese car made sense for the project; we wanted it to be a current coupe that was relatable, but inspiring. The design of the wrap and livery is taken from and inspired by our very popular JVC XX headphone range.”
There’s no denying that it’s an eye-catching mélange of colors and shapes. But of course there’s far more to this than just a stylish wrap. The very essence of this hachi-roku has been shaken up and reformulated. “The car was totally standard when we bought it,” Keith explains. “We handed it over to Ryan Stewart at Garage Midnight, along with Khyzyl’s renders, and he turned the vision into reality.”
Modified Toyota GT86 with Rocket Bunny Wide Body Kit
The key to success here is the Rocket Bunny V2.5 widebody aero kit. It was air-freighted over from Japan specifically for this project. With its brutal overfenders, razor-sharp canards and super-aggressive nose, the makeover takes the cute styling of the original and transmogrifies it into something manic and malevolent. Fat cars need to park hard. So the team at Air Lift Performance were summoned for a full air-ride setup with 3P digital management. Naturally, those newly broadened and tarmac-adjacent arches needed properly filling. Rotiform was the name in the crosshairs, and the results are magnificent. We’re looking at a staggered set of LHR-M wheels with candy red lips and brushed red centers. These artfully complementing the vivid wrap design and polishing off the vibe with finesse.
So far, so show car. The design is unique, to the degree that people don’t actually believe it’s real. The fit-and-finish is flawless. And the ideas and execution are enough to get the scene chattering with gusto. Exactly what you’d want from a demo car. The next step, then, was to make it a properly JVC build, and stuff it full of JVC gear.
Audio Elements of the Toyota GT86
Huets in Shoreham-by-Sea was the company pinpointed to carry out the work. We’ve been hearing a lot about Huets in recent years, as their expertise goes well beyond simply wiring in speakers and whatnot. This is a company who can integrate quality aftermarket replacements into OEM systems. Or, create old-school boot builds with new-wave technology and materials, and lots more besides. In short, this is a very safe pair of hands if flawless and impeccable audio installation is what you’re after.
“The system is designed to play with the car open, to draw a crowd,” says Keith. “This was quite a challenge, given the compact dimensions and packaging of the car. However, we knew Huets would be up to the task. It really does sound fab, and it’s important to highlight again that this isn’t super high-end kit, it’s all very affordable equipment. It shows that great quality doesn’t have to carry a great big price.
“The CarPlay unit in the dash is JVC’s KW-M565DBT flagship screen, which is available now from all JVC stockists,” he continues. “Naturally a lot of people have heard of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but they don’t always realize what a broad range of apps can be used on-the-go. We love to demonstrate this to people. That’s why we decided to fit a second head unit in the trunklid. As a result, people can gather round for a demo at shows, or for training purposes if it’s being used at a dealer event.
It’s all one system, with the rear head unit feeding the one in the front.” It’s a magnificently resolved system too. The door speakers are 17cm components, run by a dedicated 4-channel amp. The boot space is lined by four 12-inch subwoofers, each one powered by its own mono sub amp. And, of course, in the bootlid itself is the second KW-M565DBT head unit flanked by 17cm co-axial speakers. It’s a setup which offers incredible power, quality and clarity (and all sumptuously installed), but it’s also the sort of arrangement which wouldn’t bankrupt you to recreate yourself.
Workhorse & Show Pony
This modified Toyota GT86 is really the best kind of workhorse; one that does its job faultlessly, but is also thoroughly enjoyable to use. “The car gets used for shows, events, open days, training, and out on the road enthusing and inspiring our customers,” says Keith. “People’s reactions have been great; the livery and red wheels work so well together. It looks like a real-life toy or something from a videogame, so it pulls a crowd. That’s before the engine’s cranked, the Milltek burbles and the sound system bursts into life! It’s definitely an occasion to drive the car. Everyone wants to talk about it.”
A PR success then, just as it should be. But let’s not pretend this is solely a corporate endeavor. This car was built by passionate petrolheads, all sharing the opinion that life’s too short to drive boring cars. As inspiring lyrics and ground-shaking beats pump through the system, the world instantly becomes a better place. A more vibrant, poignant and expressive scenescape; ‘If music be the food of love, play on,’ as Shakespeare said. Or maybe you prefer Shakespear’s Sister – ‘Yes baby, it’s a steal, nothing that you see is real, get yourself a set of wheels…’ Whatever your groove, JVC’s ’86 makes that dream a reality.
Tech Spec: Modified Toyota GT86
Rocket Bunny V2.5 widebody kit with canards and front lip; custom livery designed by Khyzyl Saleem; LED DRLs with integrated turn signals; remodelled front inner arches for clearance.
4U-GSE 2.0-litre flat-four; CSF race dual-pass oil cooler; Pipercross V1 airbox; Milltek cat-back exhaust system .
9.5×18-inch ET-27 (front) and 12×18-inch ET-14 (rear) Rotiform LHR-M wheels – with candy red lips and brushed red centres; 225/40 (f) and 285/35 (r) Pirelli P-Zero Nero tyres; Air Lift Performance threaded-body strut kit with front camber adjustment and individual damping adjustment; Air Lift Performance 3P digital management with Bluetooth app connectivity; Hardrace rear camber arms.
Recaro Pole Position seats; Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel.
JVC KW-M565DBT head units; 2x CS-DR1700C (17cm components) door speakers; KS-DR3004 4-channel amp; 4x CS-G1210 12-inch subwoofers; 4x KS-DR3001D mono sub amps; CS-DR1720 (17cm co-axial) speakers in bootlid; second KW-M565DBT head unit in bootlid.
Photos: Dan Pullen.