Miniature Madness – Gachan Racing AE86 Sprinter Trueno

September 6, 2007 by  
Filed under 7tune Classics

The final installment of our AE86 Festival series of articles looks at ‘Gachan’, an extremely talented model maker from Hiroshima and his extraordinary Gachan Racing AE86 Sprinter Trueno.

Katsuhiko Yukawa or ‘Gachan’ as he’s known amongst friends isn’t a typical model maker by any stretch of the imagination. He doesn’t just buy model car kits and painstakingly build them with the utmost care and attention to detail… far from it. He painstakingly builds them with the utmost care and attention to detail and modifies them. We’re not talking about cutting the suspension and reattaching it so that the car looks like it’s been lowered and maybe a respray in candy apple red with silver flake, we’re talking complete, lifelike body shop style modifications and custom made… everything! Not only does he build ‘down to the finest detail’ realistic models, he  has also built scale body shop and hairpin turn dioramas to show his cars off with. You will be amazed at the skill involved in building a model car Gachan style, so sit back and let us show you what a typical build up involves.

We contacted Yukawa-san about his Gachan Racing AE86 Trueno model in particular simply because it involved alot of hand made parts and that he actually made an error in judgement while building it (you can see in the photos about halfway through the build) and had to remodify an already finished modified part. This really isn’t anything out of the ordinary for Yukawa-san though, with such dedication a ‘never say die’ attitude is a definite prerequisite. Yukawa-san is 39, self employed and spends around one month on each of his cars, doing everything in his spare time. He’s not paid to do any of this work, nor are his models for sale. In fact he’s never thought about selling them because he thinks no one would be interested! That might be hard to believe, but it gives a good idea as to how modest Yukawa-san is about his work.

So here it is, a step by step look at the Gachan Racing AE86 Trueno.


This is the kit used for the basic car, a stock Series I 1983 Toyota Sprinter Trueno. All modifications can be done to Series II kits as well. The suspension is assembled and attached to the chassis to give an idea of how wide the fenders will have to be.


Yukawa-san was very pleased with the extra width.


Here he has cut the wheelarches so that the tires don’t touch the bodywork. In the last picture, you can see he has sanded the body moulding off with fine sandpaper.


Form above it looks like a lot of work needs to be done to make the fenders!


Here are the finished wheelarches, sanded and ready for the next stage.


Before he starts on the fenders Yukawa-san needs to make an ‘aero bumper’. Alot of plastic needed to be cut out to get the right look.


Here he’s used Tamiya ‘Pla Plate’ plastic board to make the spoiler. This material is qutie brittle and is easy to cut by making a score mark and then snapping the piece in two.


At first putty is applied to get a rough shape, then can be scraped down and sanded until it takes on a realistic look. The grill is also removed at this point with the Trueno emblem being saved for use on another project.


Here two uprights have been added connecting the spoiler to the bumper. It’s now beginning to take on its final shape.


A larger opening for the radiator is cut and you can see there are no obstructions at all when looking through the front bumper now.


Yukawa-san added another piece of plastic board to make a splitter so the whole bumper looks that little bit more realistic now. The bumper is now bonded to the body in preparation for the TRD fenders.


Here you can see the piece cut from the rear bumper so that a diffuser can be added later. The diffuser is one of the last things to be added in this build so this is a good example of Yukawa-san’s forward planning.


Finally the TRD N2 fenders take shape. The putty is moulded by hand over and over until the desired shape is achieved. This is hard work!


It was extremely time consuming and often frustrating, so Yukawa-san had to continually remind himself that not too long ago these fenders didn’t exist!


The front right tire came in contact with the fender at full lock so after alot of cursing some putty was scraped from inside the wheelarch. It’s now possible to ‘drift’ the AE86 in both directions…


Some imperfections are fixed using modelling clay and sanded smooth. Also for that added bit of realism, rivets are pressed into the fenders at 1cm intervals.


Here a custom fuel tank is added by cutting out the standard fuel tank and then using plastic board to make a new smaller opening for the custom tank. With a little bit of putty and some smoothing over the new tank can be installed.


The entire body is now painted in primer and we can get an idea of what the finished car will look like. There’s a long way to go yet though…


To make a duct in the hood an opening is cut out and a piece of plastic board is bent slightly to make the duct. Extra pieces of plastic board are added to either side of the duct to emphasize the opening in the hood.


Here the rear seat is removed and the transmission tunnel modified to make it look more like a stripped interior.


Extra bracing across the floor is added right where the rear seat used to be. The floor of the interior is starting to look like a proper stripped out racing car but it’s a long way from being finished. Inner panels are also cut from plastic board to mimic the bare metal bodywork inside the cabin.


To make the floor look realistic a pattern is added using tiny strips of polystyrene. The floor is now painted in primer ready for more work.


The inner panels are bonded to the floor and Yukawa-san estimates that 6.2mm of extra width can be added to either side. Once the putty has been added the inner panels can then be cut and scraped. Small details like strut towers and additional features are added… at this point Yukawa-san wonders whether he is going overboard.


It may very well be going overboard but the finished floor is an exact scale replica of a real AE86. It’s hard to believe this was once a standard AE86 road car interior.


Now for the TRD rear spoiler. Yukawa-san used the trusty plastic board to make foundation stips on the rear hatch and then epoxy putty to make the basic shape of the spoiler. After it was sanded and smoothed more plastic board was used to make a gurney flap which was then finished off with tiny rivet holes.


To complete the stripped interior some inner door panels are made by grinding away the original door trim detail, then cutting holes in the panel and building up the surface with small amounts of putty to give the door panel a more realistic look. The door handles and rods finish the panel off nicely but they won’t be attached just yet.


A couple of drinking straws made the perfect induction pipe, Yukawa-san cutting both straws and then joining the two bendable sections together to achieve a very ralistic result. The right side pop up light had a hole cut in it and putty used to make a small bellmouth opening for the pipe. After this an engine from another car is trial fitted to work out clearances for the next step. What a great result!


Disaster strikes! The hood won’t close! After a near fatal cranial impact on a nearby wall, Yukawa-san decides to remake the vented hood.


Using the same method as before, Yukawa-san cuts out the old vent and attaches the new one. It’s very hard to tell there’s been any changes made.


Now some engine bay bracing is added with careful attention being paid to the joins so that the brace looks like it’s been welded in.


A forward tilting hood mechanism is added here using 2mm tubing. The tubes attached to the hood can be extended and compressed so that the hood doesn’t foul on the raised pop up light when being tilted.


After one more look at the finished interior panels, Yukawa-san goes about making some tail light assemblies and a tail gate lock support for the rear inner panel. The small holes on the back of the car are also filled in and drilled once more so that Series II tail lights can be used.


The roll cage is made using plastic piping and heating it in areas where bends need to made.


All parts are painted using white primer. Yukawa-san wanted to the wheels to suit the body color, and since he chose bright yellow and green the only color really suitable for the wheels was silver. The wheels were painted and then given some ’shadow’ treatment for ultra realism.


The chassis and inner panels are the first to be painted yellow. The door panels look darker in the photos because of the angle of the light. At this stage the undercarriage is assembled and bonded to the chassis.


The body is next in line for a few coats of yellow paint. The hood is painted green to test the compatibility of the two colors only, it’ll get carbon fiber treatment later on.


This is the same engine which was used before for test fitting only this time it’s been dismantled for some minor restoration work and a new cam cover color. Yukawa-san says it’s good for about 200hp!


The dashboard is a scratch built masterpiece in its own right. All parts were fabricated from plastic board by Yukawa-san right down to the minor switchgear. The needles on the dials are actually tiny strips of red vinyl tape. The Nardi steering wheel was taken from another kit and attached to an elongated steering column.


After masking up the appropriate areas some contrasting green paint is applied in typical Gachan Racing colors.


Here the rear is masked up so the top section of the tail lights can be painted. This is a Series II tail light assembly so it has a full width garnish across the rear.


Now the original Gachan Racing decals can be applied. The body of the car is nearing completion with only a few more steps to go.


Yukawa-san decided that with the hood painted green it was a little too much so he gave it a carbon fiber look instead. The hood is first painted black then a fine net material is placed over it to give it a fiber weave appearance. To finish it off a coat of clear and some decals are applied. To get any more realism it’d have to be made from real carbon fiber… 


Yukawa-san couldn’t paint the induction pipe because it was made from pieces of drinking straw so he covered it in aluminum foil instead.


Even the seat belts and seat cusions were color coded to the body.


Here’s a peek at the finished rear inner panel and stripped interior.


The aero mirrors were also made from plastic board off cuts and sanded into the desired shape.


This is a ‘mystery box’ placed where the passenger seat would be… for added racing car effect? There’s even a chain added to stop theives from stealing it!


The fuel tank is now ready to be installed, so first Yukawa-san cuts a neat hole in the rear quarter window where the fuel filler cap will be. Then the fuel tank is fitted and some bendable metal tube is used to form the pipe from the fuel filler opening to the tank. Once this is done a brilliantly detailed fuel filler cap is made to finish it off. Before everything is bonded in place a fuel pump assembly and mesh fuel lines are added.


Even the pedals get some detail treatment!


The body is masked up once more so that the window rubbers can be painted matte black.


Smoked tail lights are added and they’re one of only a few parts that haven’t been customized beyond recognition.


Yukawa-san wanted to make a slightly different style of rear diffuser but he started to run out of plastic board so had to settle on a simpler design. Luckily he has a whole garage full of miniature tools and equipment so trial fitting of the diffuser is a breeze.


The diffuser fits well so some minor details are added such as the supporting rods and raised edges on either side. It’s then painted black and ready for installation. Luckily Yukawa-san has a proper miniature car hoist too otherwise this part of the build would’ve been quite difficult…


Finally, an exhaust system is made using the same bendable tube as the fuel tank pipe and a titanium-look muffler is added to finish it off. Yukawa-san says the titanium finish can be had by using an oil based felt tip marker on the muffler then once it’s dried it can be rubbed off slightly to give it a realistic scorched metal discoloration.

… and here’s the finished product:


So there it is, an incredibly detailed Gachan Racing AE86 Sprinter Trueno scale model. Yukawa-san has made around 40 other models of similar standard and this particular Gachan Racing AE86 took a whole two months to build. I’d like to thank Yukawa-san for allowing us to use his photos here and for all the extra help in compiling information. If you’d like to see more, visit his ’Car Model’ page at:

We’ll leave you with a message from Yukawa-san: “Does it look like I’m a maniac? (laughs) I built this car feeling like it was a proper full-scale car restoration.”

Text: Justin Karow

Photos: Katsuhiko Yukawa

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