Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Toyota Van has a layout that was once de rigueur for small vans — with fronts seats over the wheels and the engine in between. Let’s see if this survivor is priced to bring that sexy back.
The ad for yesterday’s 2000 BMW M5 has been up on Craigslist for nearly a month, and our 76 percent No Dice vote on its $22,000 asking price proved a reinforcing indicator of why. Despite a long list of recent work and some artsy bokeh photography (remember that?) in the ad, most of you felt that at such an advanced age, buying a car of even the M5’s pedigree would likely be like opening a tin of nematodes.
Legend has it that while Steve Jobs was on stage introducing the iPhone — showing off its many tricks and capabilities — the leaders of the two then-leading smartphone makers (Blackberry’s RIM and Windows CE’s Microsoft) were watching the show and were flipping out as a result. They demanded reassurances from their own engineers that what Jobs was showing was impossible and that their market share was safe. We all know how that ended up.
It’s unlikely that the same incredulity hit the leadership of competing carmakers in the mid-’80s when rumors started abounding that Chrysler would soon introduce a new lineup of minivan models. Still, when you look at some of the competing products brought to market in competition to those innovative minivans, it’s obvious some companies were caught flat-footed.
This 1986 Toyota Van arrived on the scene around the same time as the Chrysler vans, seeking to compete in the car-buying battleground of American suburbia. The Toyota wasn’t the perfect foil to Chrysler’s FWD vans since it was little more than a federalized version of an existing Japanese-market Hi-Ace, a forward-control van that hid its engine under a hump between the front seats. Still, cheeky looks and Toyota quality made the Van one of the more successful of the imported competitors.
The Van would eventually be replaced in the U.S. by the Previa which stands today as one of the most interesting and innovative models Toyota has ever sold in the States. For various reasons, the original Van has seemingly disappeared from our highways and byways.
This one, in blue with a brown vinyl-upholstered interior looks to be one of the very few still successfully kicking around. It is a window van, however, there are only the two front seats indicating that its previous owners used it more often for transporting stuff instead of people. The ad notes custom wood paneling in the back, under which additional sound-deadening has been added. A ribbed rubber floor back there should make cleaning up a breeze. Up front, there’s the standard dash and, more interestingly, a shifter for the five-speed manual transmission. That makes this Van extra special since even in the 1980s the take rate on manuals had to have been low.
Power comes from a 102 horsepower 2.2 liter inline-four. That sits between the front wheels immediately next to the driver and passenger’s respective inner butt cheeks. The seller claims the Van “Runs and drives great!” and says it recently received a rebuilt power steering pump and a brand-new air filter. Good stuff, that.
The factory wheels have been switched out for some nice-looking aftermarket turbines. The bumpers on each end match the tires in color and finish, which is something you can’t say about most cars. There are 174,000 miles on the clock and the title is clean.
This looks like a rare opportunity to own a piece of Toyota history that might not be everybody’s cup of Sake. For those into vans (you know who you are) we’ll now need to decide if this Van’s $6,500 asking price is a fair deal. What do you say, could this Toyota be worth that much? Or, does that price mean this isn’t Van Time?
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