For $995, Rocky Mountain High, But No High-LowS

Denver is called the Mile High City, and winter driving there is made easier with 4WD. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Tercel has that, but does its combination of condition and price make you think the seller is high?

Debuting in 1990, Cop Rock was a strange mash-up of cop drama and musical from Hill Street Blues creator Steven Bochco. Not surprisingly, it lasted only 11 episodes, and garnered the dubious honor of being dubbed by TV Guide as one of the worst TV shows of all time. Somewhat more surprising was the fact that nearly 70% of you want to rock a cop car, and gave yesterday's 1971 Dodge Polara CHP pursuit an arresting Nice Price win.

Back in the day, Dodge proclaimed that nothing could outrun their 440-powered police cruisers, and you can be assured that today's 1985 Toyota Tercel SR5 Wagon wouldn't prove that claim wrong. Speed may not have been the mid-eighties Toyota's forte, but the car had other attributes that made up for that slowcoming.

The Tercel was Toyota's first timid step into front wheel drive, and in an attempt not to freak everybody out, they kept the engine in a longitudinal placement just like the precedent rear drive Starlet. By the time the second generation rolled around that Audi-esque north-south configuration was put to good use in providing all four tires on the ground with motivation in the Wagon – the lazy-ass spare still just being along for the ride, however. Slacker.

For $995, Rocky Mountain High, But No High-LowS

Turducken is three delicious birds all rolled into one, but it's a little freaky once you think about what it must take to get the turkey to swallow the duck after watching what the duck has done to the chicken. At least I hope that's the way they get them inside one another as the back door alternative would be even worse.

Anyway, much like that fowl treat, the Tercel Wagon is like three cars rolled into one — first off it's got all the efficiency and reliability of the Tercel platform, on top of which it gains the coil-sprung rear axle out of the Corolla for added rear wheel drive goodness. All that conspires to make the car Toyota's equivalent to the contemporary Subie wagon.

For $995, Rocky Mountain High, But No High-LowS

This one arrives in metallic teal green with complimentary blue interior. Much like the later Subaru Outbacks and Volvo XC70s, the 4WD SR5 edition of the wagon gets some butching up –- including full-depth rocker cladding (an ‘80s staple) and an oversized and off-set 4WD grille badge and. . .well, that's about it. This one has seen some better days. The right rear corner shows a war wound that might need fixin' and some of the butchness has rubbed off -– literally, as the passenger side molding has gone the way of all things impermanent. Also, both the hatch paint and the rubber on the bumper-car worthy bumpers proves that even at a mile high, the sun and the smog will take a toll. But hey, check out that mountain vista rear window shade, which may be the reason the interior looks to be in such good shape for a car with –- wait for it — 238,000 miles. Perhaps they were all highway miles. The dash is all ‘80s angular goodness and the steering wheel comes with a cover that is ribbed for her enjoyment. A/C and a sunroof lux it up, but the best part of the SR5 dash, a dash-mounted incline-o-meter that lets you know everything but your political leanings, is missing from this one. Also cool are the front seats which come with shoulder-level plastic handles engendering all kinds of grabtastic shenanigans.

For $995, Rocky Mountain High, But No High-LowS

The 1.5-litre OHC four is nothing to write home about unless of course the fact that the 3A has a carb and is a backflow design leaves your readers enrapt. That engine could be mated with a slusher or either a 5 or 6-speed manual, the extra gear on the sixer being an ultra low stump-puller. This one has the five speed, so your stumps are all safe, but the row your own-ability will make the car's 60 horsepower a little more fun to flex. Sloppy weather won't spoil the fun either, as the nominally front wheel drive Tercel can be shifted on the fly into 4WD with the flick of a lever. Torque is split 50/50 front to rear, and no center diff means that should one end start slipping the other won't be able to do much more than shrug and start spinning itself.

For $995, Rocky Mountain High, But No High-LowS

But the Tercel SR5 Wagon was never intended to traverse the Rubicon, its capabilities limited to slushy or otherwise slippery tarmac instead. And you can bring a lot of stuff through the muck as the Tercel Wagon features one of Japan's styling memes of the ‘80s –- that of the tall car. Frequently we come across a kind of cool car from the past that has managed to dodge the age bullet like it had been lubed with Oil of Olay. Those cars typically feature a price that the seller seems is commensurate with its status as a survivor, but which engenders a whole bunch of comments along the lines of rare doesn't equate to desirable.

For $995, Rocky Mountain High, But No High-LowS

So, this Tercel SR5 is pretty interesting, and while it looks like it has been kind of beat on, it's still not that bad and is in much better shape than most of the others I've seen out there. But the question remains, is it worth $995? Sure, there's a ton of old Subarus that you could buy for that kind of cheddar, and that's the more traditional route for a small car that spins all four wheels, but these Tercel Wagons are pleasantly different plus they have a kind of spunky personality. And wouldn't you like to get spunked?

So what do you think, is this Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon worth $995? Or, does that price make buying this car from Colorado rocky?

You decide!


Denver Craigslist or go here if the ad disappears.

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