It’s pretty remarkable how context and nostalgia can make almost anything tolerable. I’m sure if you grew up with a parent slapping you with a dead sturgeon every night before you went to sleep, you’d be pretty okay with an occasional fish-slap today. That’s the only way I can explain the appeal of the Japanese-market Toyota AE86's “speed chime” to fans of the famous street-racing anime and manga, Initial D.
Initial D has a huge cult following, and if you’re not familiar with it (I’ll admit, I’m only generally aware of it) it’s basically about Japanese street racing and the protagonist, Takumi Fujiwara, drives an AE86 Toyota Sprinter Trueno—the rear-drive Corolla hatchback of the 1980s and a seminally popular drift car.
That AE86 figures prominently in the series and the subsequent animations and live-action movies, and one of the most notable features shown of the car is the little dinging chime it makes when you drive over 103 kph, or about 64 mph.
Fans of the series seem to pine for the speed chime. You see references to American fans lamenting the U.S. car’s lack of the chime, people coming up with ways to add the chime, and generally an awful lot of people geeking out over this little dinging sound.
Jalopnik reader Banpei and JDM AE86 importer (to the Netherlands) actually has one of these cars, with the speed chime, and made a video showing what it’s like to live with:
Yeah, that’s maddening.
It’d be one thing if the chime came on at, say, 100 mph or so, but this is 64 mph! That’s under the speed limit even here in chronically sluggish America. Any common 6-hour road trip taken here in the U.S. in such an AE86 would be done to a soundtrack that’s essentially just like an alarm clock you want to fling at a wall.
Being a human, Banpei did figure out a way to disable the chime with a kill switch:
I can respect the preservationists’ desire to preserve all of the quirks of a car, and I can respect the Initial D fans positive associations with the chime, but I can’t help but think that anyone who doesn’t find a constant dinging when they’re going a pretty tepid 64 mph is doing a remarkable job of deluding themselves.
As Banpei pointed out to us in an email about his video
Reading through the comments I can safely conclude that people either love it or hate it. The love-camp is clearly Initial D biassed, while the hate-camp is clearly petrolhead.
My guess is that will prove true here, with our heavily petrol/gearhead-leaning site probably coming down against speed chimes. I guess we’ll see if nostalgia beats the desire to fling beeping things at walls.