Got, got, need, got, need… we all used to trade cards in the playground, levelling up to get the best possible hand. And Max Taylor’s doing it for real with his modified Toyota GT86…
Playground games have been the same for generations. You’ve got a bunch of kids rushing about the yard chasing after a football, another group getting in their way playing kiss-chase, a gang hanging out under the trees playing conkers (we’re showing our age here, conkers have probably been replaced by some sort of conker-based iPhone app, right?), and then in the corner you’ll find the boys and girls who will ultimately grow up to be petrolheads. They’re feverishly scanning through one another’s Top Trumps decks, ‘got, got, need’, to see who’s holding the Countach or Atlantique they’ve been hankering after, obsessively learning bhp figures, kerb weights and 0-60mph times, feeding the passion, making sure that their future direction can only take the one true (slightly oily) path.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and you find Max Taylor playing this game with real cars. See the stanced GT86 here? He traded it for another car. Like you do. Ruthless approach, that – he’s clearly playing for keeps. Rewind to where his real-world automotive adventures began, and you find humble roots: “My first car was a VW Polo 9N3,” he recalls. “I always wanted to own a modified car since I saw other people driving slammed cars on the road when I was much younger. I put the Polo on JOM coilovers, although other than that it stayed fairly stock.” After he sold that, Max bought himself a facelift-8P Audi A3 TDI (no swapsies here, a slightly more traditional approach), and set about turning this into his first properly in-depth project. The A3 was bagged on an Air Lift 3P set-up over Rotiform SPF cast wheels, along with a few RS tweaks and subtle mods… but then his eye was caught, magpie-like, by a shiny thing.
“After around eighteen months with the Audi, I saw this GT86 on Instagram on the Grizzatrading page, where it had been posted for sale or swaps,” he says. “The post was up for a few weeks and nobody had seemed interested in it; I messaged the guy offering to swap my A3 for the GT86 and to my surprise he was up for it! We met up at Early Edition, where we were able to look at both cars together and come to a deal.”You can almost feel Max’s inner child wriggling with excitement at this point. While the Audi was nicely put together with quality bits, a sports car is just in another realm to a diesel hatchback. This would be an outstanding addition to his cerebral Top Trumps wishlist. Besides, there was further motivation at play: “Around that time, I was Instagram-following a lot of GT86/FRS/BRZ owners in America with stanced cars,” he explains. “In particular, @K1llionaire who owned a fuchsia pink Rocket Bunny build with insane camber. I always loved the aggressive style of this car despite the majority of my friends thinking that camber looked stupid! When I first saw this GT86 on Grizzatrading I loved it straight away, and at that point I knew I wanted to build a stanced ’86.”
When Max got the Toyota, it had already received a few mods, chief among them being the air-ride swap. It also had a carbon bonnet, splitter, sideskirts and custom exhaust system, although there’s no way we can level an accusation of rolling someone else’s build here. The rest of the car was bone-stock and, and as our intrepid adventurer would soon discover, the air setup wasn’t all that great and would ultimately require ripping out and redoing. Still, the bones were good and Max was eager to get started.
“I originally purchased a set of Japan Racing wheels, which I fitted with spacers and loved to start with,” he says. “I slowly started adding bits of carbon to the car – fins, bootlid, canards, and the rear seat delete – and it was at this time that the issues with the old air-ride setup really needed sorting; it got to the point where the whole system needed reinstalling. I took it to Plush Automotive, who did an amazing job on the car and had it back to perfect in no time!” Max was also busy replacing and upgrading some of the mods the car had come with, and the next step was a big one: he decided to splash out on his first set of pukka 3-piece wheels.
“I ordered them from SSEuros in the States,” he says. “They arrived two days later! I had ordered them knowing that they wouldn’t fit the car, and when I first test-fitted them I quickly realised I was going to have to add a lot of camber to the rear to get the wheels in.” Thankfully the new-wave hachi-roku platform is well catered for by the aftermarket, and the simple addition of Racer X Fabrication upper control arms and toe arms and Hardrace Extreme lower control arms got the rims pointing where they should across all axes, and the brutal Toyota was sitting pretty.
The next thing on Max’s to-do list was to address the interior. While the stock GT86 innards are perfectly pleasant, they’re not exactly exciting, so it’s all been livened up with the stellar addition of Bride Low Max seats with Sabelt harnesses on an Agency Power harness bar, along with a Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel with an NRG boss kit. Much better. Things have all come together very nicely, haven’t they?
“Aside from the air-ride refit, I’ve done all the work by myself – with a little help from my friends,” Max assures us. “The way the ’86 is now, it certainly turns a lot of heads when I’m out and about! I think this is mainly due to people not having a clue what car it is, or thinking ‘How does that drive?’! Lots of people look at the car and don’t understand, although I do get a lot of compliments about it when I’m sat in traffic or at petrol stations… It would be fair to say it’s hard to go anywhere unnoticed in the ’86.”
This is hardly surprising. It’s not exactly a shrinking wallflower, is it? This angry little coupé has a real Manga vibe, accentuating the slinky stock lines into something brutal, aggressive and uncompromising. Interesting trade-up from an A3, right? So we can only wonder what mighty machine Max will be levelling up to next…
TECH SPEC: TOYOTA GT86
Seibon carbon fibre bonnet, carbon bootlid, front lip, HT Autos sideskirts, Valenti taillights, Rocket Bunny rear diffuser, carbon canards, carbon fins, Spec D bi-xenon headlights.
4U-GSE 2.0-litre flat-four, Perrin Motorsport intake, custom exhaust system with backbox delete, 6-speed manual.
9x18in ET5 (front) and 10x18in ET0 (rear) WatercooledIND JB1 3-piece wheels with brushed faces and polished lips, 215/35 (f) and 225/35 (r) Nankang NS20 tyres, Air Lift Performance struts and bags, AccuAir E-Level management, Racer X Fabrication rear upper control arms and toe arms, Hardrace Extreme rear lower control arms.
Bride Low Max seats, Sabelt harnesses, Agency Power harness bar, Seibon carbon fibre rear seat delete, Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel, NRG boss kit.
Words Dan Bevis Photography Matt Clifford
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