HUMBLE BEGINNINGS AT DTM AUTOHAUS
I met Ryan Pietersz, owner of this 1985 Toyota Corolla GT-S when I first moved from Seattle to L.A. in April of 2006. I was just starting my tenure at eurotuner magazine as a Features Editor and one of my first assignments was to shoot cars from DTM Autohaus (now DTM Autobody). The guys from El Monte made a name for themselves by building a resume of Euro show cars that usually consisted of metal widebodies and candy paint jobs (this was way before the Rocket Bunny and Liberty Walk over-fender craze really took off). Cars built by DTM would score high at shows like Hot Import Nights thanks to the high quality of their work and attention to detail.
Ryan managed the aftermarket parts side of the business, well known for their DTM Karbon carbon fiber hoods. Eventually, Ryan and I became close friends as we'd coordinate photoshoots together or I'd be hanging out at the shop whenever I was free. His AE86 is a funny story because for the longest time I had no idea he owned the car, let alone he was building it up to be this extreme. It wasn't until a year after getting to know him that his longtime personal project car, which he'd been secretly working on since high school, made its public debut as a Toyo Tires feature car at SEMA 2007. After 13 years it feels great to finally give Ryan's Corolla the recognition it deserves, and arguably, it still looks as dope as it did 13 years ago.
CANDY PAINT JOB
In this day and age, it's pretty damn rare to find a show or street car with a candy paint job anymore, especially with wraps of all finishes and colors becoming more affordable. Candy paint is something that was born from the hot rod scene and remains one of the most expensive and tedious paint jobs out there. There are many layers involved to give that extra metallic flake and if you've ever taken a look at an award-winning hotrod or lowrider, you could literally stare at their paint for hours. The hours of work it takes to make the paint glimmer unlike conventional metallic paints is something to appreciate.
Since DTM specialized in accommodating customers who wanted candy paint in the early 2000's, Ryan followed suit but with his own JDM twist. He opted for a BASF burgundy candy paint to replace the white often seen on the "Panda style" two-tone AE86. It's a retro tribute with a lot more swag and pop.
Ryan goes on to explain that the issue with candy paint is that it's also impossible to fix. "I used to take it to the canyons all the time until I did the widebody and paint. After that you have to be so careful driving it. Once you damage candy paint, it's impossible to fix it. You have to spray so many layers on it and it's going to be really hard to match. Basically, have to paint your entire car again." Reasons like these are why you don't see candy paint jobs anymore.
Under those beautiful coats of burgundy and black is a JDM soul that's hard to knock if you're a Hachiroku fan. The aero is all from Japan starting with an authentic J-Blood kit and Blood Line fender flares. Ryan cleaned up the body ever so slightly by shaving small things like the side markers and antenna. He also molded the TRD wing to look more seamless.
BUILT TO TOUGE
Under the hood is 4A-GE 20-valve Black Top engine—one of the most popular JDM swaps for AE86 owners. Ryan had a custom set of individual throttle bodies and downpipe made, and also installed an HKS exhaust and TRD header. It's not fast by any means according to today's standards, but where the car still shines is in the corners. JIC prototyped a one-off coilover kit for Ryan's car; JBT followed suit and outfitted the Corolla with a four piston-front brake kit up front.
MAKING A LIGHTWEIGHT HATCHBACK LIGHTER
Your typical AE86 Corolla weighs anywhere between 2,200 and 2,400 lbs. Ryan lightened the load a bit more by stripping out the interior and substituting things like a carbon-fiber hood, carbon door panels and Recaro buckets. There is a tad bit of weight added back in with the Safety21 'cage and Cusco rear strut bar, but not much. The car remains extremely nimble and fun to corner in.
LIFE AFTER DTM
New opportunities led Ryan to garage the car indefinitely. In 2009, he left DTM to start a new venture at Meister Watches. Shifting from cars to fashion wasn't without its challenges but Meister has grown year after year offering modern, high quality and affordable watches to the masses. They've also made a name for themselves with some very sweet collab pieces with brands like Marvel Entertainment, Star Wars and Call of Duty.
Despite leaving the industry, Ryan has stayed true to his roots and supported the community when he can, sponsoring events like Formula DRIFT and Global Time Attack. More recently, Meister has collaborated with manufacturers like Lexus, Honda and Ford. His most recent collab is with Honda as he's behind the Type R Heritage event which took place December 2018. Meister also partnered with Honda to drop a series of limited edition Type R watches, which have all sold out! Ryan tells me that doing these projects with the car enthusiasts that he grew up with for much of his life has reignited the fire in him to bring his AE86 back to life, back on the road and back to enjoying the car the way he used to 13 years ago.
A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE CARS DTM HAS BUILT
TOP AE86 BUILDS RECENTLY FEATURED