It was 2012 when Emanuel was diagnosed with cancer, and admitted into hospital for his chemotherapy treatments.
During this long and arduous time, he sought refuge in distraction, and found respite in his passion embodied: Initial D.
Many car fanatics are familiar with the story of Takumi in his ‘Hachiroku’ or ’86’. Some will remember the arcade storyline, the battles or the tofu. All will know of the unsuspecting nature of Takumi, who ended up taking on the biggest challengers- the RX-7s and GT-Rs of the world.
A familiar theme that resonates within car culture is this story of the underdog’s struggle, which has birthed fascination in sleeper vehicles and the mantra that it’s all about the driver. Nothing drew more similarities to Emanuel during his time.
A hoist in his garage awaiting his dream build, but with damaged nerves that meant he often could not feel his legs, let alone walk or drive. Lying in his hospital bed, with his mother by his side, he told her that one day he would own his very own AE86.
That marked the birth of Emanuel’s life-fulfilling project. If asked, he would humbly dismiss it as just another ‘average build’. But behind the scenes was the glimmer of hope that shone through his hospital days, to a bright future now being cleared of cancer.
Upon spotting a white 1986 GTV kouki online for sale, he instantly fell in love. The next day, sight unseen, he put down a deposit, sitting hopeful by his bedroom window, eager for the arrival of his very own AE86.
Although us car enthusiasts can appreciate an old ‘rust bucket’ from the ’80s, the tow truck driver paid no mind, ripping off the Zenki lip as he unloaded Emanuel’s new car. Whilst it annoyed him, Eman was not fazed, it was as magical as he had seen in the anime and even better in real life.
Nothing could ruin his AE86; not the tedious Australian Compliance Procedure, not the rust which took 215 hours to restore and paint. If life had taught Eman anything, it was to be patient and hopeful.
Today his AE86 glows in a bright white mirroring Keiichi Tsuchiya’s, and his ITBs won’t allow you to mistake it for anything else but a pure bred JDM legend. Eman says there’s much more to his AE86’s evolution. Whilst we appreciate this sight to behold, that has the power and modifications to match, let us not forget the origins of this build.
The story of an underdog’s struggle, where challenges that seem larger than life cast shadows on the future, rendering it bleak. That an unlucky draw of cards doesn’t always mean we should fold, just as the young, unsuspecting Takumi overcame the mightiest of challenges in his sleeper ‘Hachiroku’.
We see this in our car culture from the biggest rust-bucket lemons turned into track warriors, we see this in our lives when we face adversity and choose to stand strong in defiance. For Eman, he sees this in his AE86.
Emanuel now lives in Japan, thriving in health, and excited for the adventures that his AE86 has in store for him.
More IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER posts
How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program.
Read how to get involved here.