Toyota’s Previa was at once the weirdest and most wonderful minivan money could buy. Let’s see if today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe supercharged and all-wheel drive edition is worth buying at its current price.
Do you think Mike Tyson ever regrets getting that face tattoo? No, I’m not going to ask him either. There are certain decisions you make that you later regret. Some you know you will regret, but are driven by other, more compelling factors. One such decision apparently, would be the purchase of yesterday’s 2004 Land Rover Discovery SE7. You know that it’s chances of offering up years of trouble-free miles are slim, but the Discos are just so cool, and at $2,900, that particular one was just so cheap, that 62 percent of you fell under its spell and gave it a Nice Price win.
If that Land Rover’s reputed reliability issues were too much for you, but you still needed a seven-seat AWD, and also wanted to stay on the funky side of fresh, what would you do? What car would fit that seemingly incongruous mix of weird and wonderful?
Well, how about this 1995 Toyota Previa S/C AllTrac? This is after all an AWD seven seater just like yesterday’s Disco, only it comes not from one of the world’s least reliable car makers, but from one of the most.
The Previa is and always will be the funkiest minivan ever sold in the U.S.. Yes, I think it’s even funkier than the DKW Schnellaster with its frog-eyed face and guttural two-stroke engines. The Toyota, of course beats that with an under-floor four that lays down Sally at a 75° angle. In this van’s case, the engine powers each corner through Toyota’s Alltrac system.
The 2.4-litre 2TZ-FZE mill isn’t laying down on the job however. Here it comes with the rare supercharger which boosts output to a racous 161 horsepower and 201 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers flow through the standard four-speed automatic. The five speed manual was never offered on the supercharged Previa, but just between you, me and the cat, it does pretty much bolt right in. The blower operates on an as-needed basis, activated via an electromechanical clutch in similar fashion to an A/C compressor.
The Previa wasn’t just mechanically interesting, it’s looks were like nothing else on the road. In fact, to find an equivalent you’d pretty much have to visit the dairy aisle at your local grocery store and check out the unassembled chickens. The combination of the ovoid body and buried engine required some innovative thinking on Toyota’s part to make the accessories and fluid fills accessible. This was accomplished through a remote system Toyota called the Supplemental Accessory Drive System, or SADS, which truly is the saddest acronym ever.
This white on grey Previa sports an impressive 211,000 miles, but those don’t seem to show. It’s sort of like the Marisa Tomei of minivans. The bodywork is straight and seemingly free of major flaws. There are a few minor dings here and there, and the grey plastic bumpers have swirls and scratches on their upper faces as do almost all Toyotas of this age. The van rolls on steel wheels covered with what look to be full plastic caps picked up at Pep Boys. There’s nothing wrong with that, and they do at least look era-appropriate. The fabulous side cladding and almost all the badging on the van seems intact.
The interior is right up there in its condition. The cloth seats and plastics appear to be in fine shape and the floor has more throw rugs than your Nana’s house. A factory double DIN head unit brings back the sexy in the double scoop dash offering cassette and CD. There are two rows of seats in the back and it should be noted that the Previa existed before off-side sliding doors were a thing on minivans so should you be claustrophobic, you might want to seek professional help before rolling in one.
The ad claims this particular Previa to have been ‘well maintained’ and in ‘excellent shape.’ It’s said to have lived in California most of its life where its AWD system was probably not taxed all that often.
The seller says that a 4-inch lift kit is available for a nominal cost and that will turn the van into a ‘serious off road vehicle.’ He also wrote the entire ad in ALL CAPS and with questionable punctuation so I’d take that recommendation with a grain of NaCl. Hell, I’d actually just ignore it entirely.
What can’t be ignored is this Previa’s $5,000 asking price. Whoa doggies, that’s a lot of cabbage for any old van. However, as we’ve just reviewed, this isn’t any old van. What it is, is a supercharged AWD egg and it comes with a clear title and that old school Toyota quality rep that mitigates to a certain extent its high mileage. The question for you is, could this weirdly wonderful van be worth that $5,000 asking? Or, is that price just a little too weird?
H/T to Buckeye Yooper for the hookup!
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