You know and I know that today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Tercel gives you a stiffy, but does it also come with too stiff a price?
The amazing thing about Carroll Shelby was how easily he seemed to roll with the punches. Heart problems stopped his racing career? No problem, he just went and started building perhaps the most iconic racer/street cars on the planet. His buddy works for a company that no longer makes cheap RWD ponies? Pffft, he just went ahead and made a bunch of their FWD junk go like stink.
We should all take a lesson form ol’ Carroll, and that is to sue the crap out of anybody that copies your stuff. No wait, it’s always have the balls to fill those boots… No? Oh hell, I don’t know, especially after yesterday’s 1986 Shelby GLHS garnered a 66% Crack Pipe loss, maybe the Shelby mystique is limited to cars that didn’t start out as Dodge Omnis.
That little FWD hatchback may have been putting on airs, but today’s 1983 Toyota Tercel 4X4 SR5 is about the most unpretentious, most fun with your clothes on car you might ever find.
There’s an old axiom—I think it was by Lincoln as he first set foot on the Moon—that goes it’s far more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. From my personal experience this 4WD Tercel will likely prove to be just that fun slow car. After all, where are you going to find quite so funky-fresh a 4WD wagon as this?
The Tercel was Toyota’s first FWD car, and as they didn’t want to freak out owners and mechanics alike with this crazy form factor they designed the car with a longitudinal drivetrain, fitting the engine in front of the front axle line, and the transmission behind it, just like Subaru or Audi.
This meant that you couldn’t easily tell it was FWD just by popping the hood. It also meant that it was a pretty simple matter to add a power take off on the backend of the tranny and make the little car 4WD.
Here we have the result of that, which in America came exclusively as a jaunty little wagon. Consider: this thing has a north-south engine, 4WD, wild plaid upholstery, a funky wagon body with movie poster rear windows and a huge TOYOTA hugging the top of the hatch. I don’t remember the last time a Toyota was quite this unselfconsciously hip.
This one’s in great shape too. The car is presently living in Vermont so you can feel the Bern just by looking at it, but it apparently grew up in California so it’s claimed to be rust free and possibly vegan.
There’s 171,000 miles on the clock, but it doesn’t seem to show them on the white exterior or the expanses of the wide-plaid insides. It has a 1.5-litre 63-horsepower four cylinder up front and that’s backed by a five speed manual and a part-time four-wheel drive system. There’s no center diff on these so power gets split evenly between the front and back axles, and there’s an extra low gear for crawling.
The ad says that everything on the car is functional, and it comes with both a power sunroof and A/C so that claim is impressive. The dash includes the cool incline-o-meter center pod, and there’s even the original radio for all you classic rock listeners. The front seats are fun too as they have grab handles on both shoulders which makes this a great car to bump uglies in. Don’t ask me how I know that.
It’s always an iffy proposition when a seller includes the majority of the pics in their ad from before they bought the car, which in this case was when the car lived in California. Plus, the current pics of it covered in Vermont snow don’t really tell you if the car is in the same condition as when it was on the drier side of the country.
Still, we’ll have to work with what we have and what we have here is one of the coolest little cars Toyota ever built—or perhaps ever will. I know I’d snap it up if it were anywhere near me—and about half the price.
Therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare is often misquoted. The price for this SR5 is $9,995, which definitely is a large chunk of change. Yes, it’s probably a car that almost all of us would love to have, but do you think it’s worth that kind of money to actually, you know, have?
H/T to meatsmell for the hookup!
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