Consider, if you will, the Ferrari 512BB, Lamborghini Countach, and DeTomaso Pantera, heady names all, and each one of them featuring a longitudinal mid-engine layout. You can add to that list today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Previa, but will its price also put it in an exclusive crowd?
Classical Gas was a hit instrumental for Smothers Brothers comedy writer Mason Williams back in 1968. It's also a term which could have been used to describe yesterday's propane-powered 1969 Mustang. Unfortunately for its seller, 92% of you felt there was nothing classic about its price and it went down in a flatulent Crack Pipe loss.
Do you remember the last time a Toyota was interesting? I'll give you a moment, and no Scions and the Lexus batmobile don't count. Okay, time's up, have you got it? Now, think a little harder, when was the last time a Toyota minivan was interesting? In fact when did the somnambulant brand actually have the MOST interesting minivan on the road? Give up? Okay, let's go back a bit
When Chrysler introduced their K-car based minivans in the eighties, it seemed like every other car maker with a stake in the U.S. market slapped their foreheads and uttered why didn't we think of that? This of course discounts the fact that Ford, Chevy and Dodge each once offered tidy little passenger vans, all conceptually based on European progenitors like the DKW Schnellaster and Lloyd 600. Oh, and I guess the VW Type 2 as well.
Still, when the '80s rolled around and Lee Iacocca plugged a third row into the K-car platform, the response was like Chrysler had invented cats that give a shit, and suddenly it seemed everyone had to get on the minivan bandwagon. Toyota's first attempt at addressing this new American soccer mom fad was the repurposed Space Wart, er Van, a forward control people mover of dubious looks and all the stability of a Justin Bieber admirer.
Of course, with the exception of Corolla redesigns, Toyota doesn't often sit on their hands when it comes to not meeting a market segment and the Space Van's replacement was the larger, and more gloriously weirder Previa.
Egg shaped and featuring a Japanese market model called the Estima Emina (which is a little too close to enema for my comfort), the Previa remains to this day the wildest and most adventurously engineered modern minivan this side of a Pinzgauer. The original Previa featured a mid-engine four, which was tilted over at a jaunty 75° angle and then shoved under the cabin floor. Seeing as mid-engine cars can suffer from maintenance access issues, Toyota also separated all the accessories from the 2.4-litre 2TZ and moved them under the severely sloped front hood, driving them via the cutest little driveshaft you've ever seen.
The Previa was also made available with both a supercharged edition of that 2TZ, and a 5-speed stick, but unfortunately not at the same time. This 1991 Previa lacks the former (boo) but does have the latter (yay), puting it in solid compliance with the first criteria of Jalopnik courtship. Along with the manually transmitted power, this 271,000-miler is said to still run like a sewing machine, and to have working A/C and heat, a plus if you're on the fence about that climate change hoo-haw.
The bodywork looks pretty darn good in the photos, although there is what appears to either be a crease or an extra-long drip of bird shit on the hatch. Either way, ugh. Also back there - Hook 'em Horns! On the inside, the upholstery looks remarkably clean and non-squished, and the Previa's striped seat pattern looks as good today as it did when Clinton was in the White House.
Over the years minivans have gotten a bad rap, and perhaps the nadir of the category's existence was a Mitsubishi ad in which a guy in a gym wouldn't respond to an announcement that a beige van had its lights on in the parking lot. Of course I'll bet that far more of you give two shits about this Previa than about 90% of Mitsubishi's current lineup so screw them.
Speaking of getting screwed, it's now time to decide if this Previa's price is likewise a boning offense. The seller is asking $2,750, which in light of his suggested alternative of a trade for a small pickup seems the better choice. But is it a bargain? What do you think about this 5-speed Previa for $2,750, does that seem a worthwhile deal? Or, is this a mid-engine van with a far out there price?
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