Remembering Japanese cars from the past

AE86 Trivia: Levin and Trueno meaning lightning and thunder?

As being an admin of AEU86 I’ve seen a lot of questions, facts and fun stuff about the Toyota AE86 (hachi roku). I also see a lot of questions returning even though we documented it on the FAQ already.

AE86 Trivia
So I thought: why not share it in a returning item on my personal blog as well? Be prepared to encounter silly trivial facts about the hachi roku you probably never heard before! ;)

This week we’ll start off with the Levin and Trueno naming. Where did it come from?

Toyota started using the Levin and Trueno designations already back in 1971 when they created the high performance TE27 models. The TE27 Corolla was called Levin (and SR5 in the US) while the TE27 Sprinter was called Trueno. This naming scheme for both cars lived on till the AE111: the Sprinter line ended with the AE111. The Corolla line still lives and still carries on the Levin badge for the more sporty models.
Classic TE27 Levin trunk emblem
Classic TE27 Levin trunk emblem

There was a rumor that the Levin means lightning and Trueno means thunder in Japanese.
The Japanese part is not true: look it up in the dictionary, there are no such words listed in Japanese.
Classic TE27 Trueno trunk emblem
Classic TE27 Trueno trunk emblem

Then we started looking into this on AEU86 and first found that Levin meant lightning in Middle English.
Levin/lightning part confirmed! So, if Levin means lightning, does Trueno mean thunder then?
TE27 Levin grille emblem: lightning picture
TE27 Levin grille emblem: clearly lightning!

As you can see at the end of the topic I sent an email to Toyota Japan asking where the naming came from.

Yes it does: before the Initial D hype flushed google with references to the Sprinter Trueno I already found the name Trueno matching a lot by El Capitan Trueno on
El Capitan Trueno deriva al rescate
El Capitan Trueno deriva al rescate

Note the lightning arcs in his name! ;)

So it was not difficult to look up trueno in the Spanish dictionary.
Trueno/thunder part confirmed!
TE27 Trueno grille emblem: is this thunder?
TE27 Trueno grille emblem: is this supposed to be thunder?

Funny story is when I had a dinner with a couple of friends in a restaurant and gave a few of them a ride in my old Trueno (featuring the AEU86 reproduction decals). One of the friends was a Spanish girl and she couldn’t believe the car actually was called Thunder and she was having a ride in the Thunder! :D
AEU86 Reproduction stickers of the Sprinter Trueno AE86 trunk decal
AEU86 Reproduction stickers of the Sprinter Trueno AE86 trunk decal

In the end I never received a reply back from Toyota Japan. So the decision why they took a Spanish and Middle English word still remains unknown!

Next week another AE86 Trivia! :)


  1. Andy

    There’s also a AE92 Sprinter Cielo, which in spanish means “Sky”.

  2. George Collazo

    Although I have read that this car sold in very low numbers in the US, it is somewhat interesting that they were quite common in the island of Puerto Rico back in it’s peak time. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Gómez Hermanos (Gómez Brothers) authorized Toyota dealer/importer was the highest Toyota selling dealer in Puerto Rico, Central and South America with multiple awards won from Toyota Japan.
    The AE86 sold in the island under the Corolla badge and a slightly different front grille. Other than that, it was the iconic AE86 we all come to love. I know the car very well because I wanted one very badly. But at $3.35 hr job, I could not afford the monthly payment. I almost ended up with the 2 door version in black which was a basic model but beautiful nonetheless. I was too young and didn’t have the credit background yet to get my loan qualified.

    The AE86 was the replacement to the 2 and 4 door sedan Corolla 1.8 and the last year of its run in the island (’83) it was presented as a 1.6L instead of the usual 1.8L from previous iterations. This was a downer for Puerto Rican buyers but soon the AE86 won the heart of Puerto Ricans in 1984 when it was introduced for the first time. I inherited a 1.6L, ’83 Corolla 2 doors with less than 15k miles from my father as he was battling cancer. Unfortunately months later the car was stolen and left bare bones from the parking lot at hospital in which my father was in San Juan. About 7 months later I also lost my father to the battle

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