For $4,977, ‘Member These?

Illustration for article titled For $4,977, ‘Member These?

Over the years Toyota has trotted out a series of small cars from Starlets to Yaris', with even some Echos in between. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Paseo is one you may have missed, but is its price noteworthy?


An old chestnut is that less is sometimes more, and in the case of yesterday's Lincoln, LS was more, as the 5.7-litre Chevy mill shamed the 3.9 the car originally claimed. Untraditional, and potentially sacrilegious, that hot rod Lincoln was a sleeper that would definitely keep you awake. And its price was an eye opener too for the 58% of you who dunned it with a Crack Pipe loss. Xzibit is not Xtatic.

Representing the polar opposite of that large and in charge Lincoln is today's contender, which arrives with half the cylinder count and a top you can drop. Toyota has built a number of convertibles over the years, including Celicas, MR2s, Solaras, and. . . zzzzzzzzzz.

Whoa, sorry- for some reason that always happens when the subject of Toyota Solaras comes up, I just. . . zzzzzzzzzzz. Dammit! Okay, today's Toyota convertible is not a Sol- it's the passable Paseo, which was the unintended acceleration brand's entry-level sporty coupe of the ‘90s. During that decade the Tercel-based two door came in a pair of different styles, and while neither generation is significantly different from the other with the exception of body styling, only the '96-'99 second series was made available with a rag top.

The Paseo convertible arrived in '97 to great fanfare from the Toyota Paseo Owners Club and with the hopes that it would do for the Paseo brand what the introduction of a cute kid - or a very special episode about no meaning no - does for a sitcom. Sadly, just like The Nanny, 1999 was to be the last year for the Paseo, and it didn't even get an hour-long send-off.

Illustration for article titled For $4,977, ‘Member These?

This rocket red over confederate gray '97 looks like it just rolled off the Takaoka assembly line. Powering the Paseo is the 93-bhp 5E-FE, which displaces 1,497 ccs and sports double overhead cams. Transversely mounted and driving the front wheels, the 5E sends its ponies here through a Toyota 5-speed stick, so you can make the most of its 100 lb-ft of torque.

Of course, with less than 2,300 pounds to cart around, that drivetrain should suffice, and the mileage, which reaches into the thirties, should make up for the fact that zero to sixty sprints take. . . hey, did I mention this thing's a convertible? That's right, the top goes down like a drunken prom date, and it looks pretty good no matter what the position. A famous line from the movie The Graduate is the admonition to Dustin Hoffman's character that plastics are the future. That suburban sage would go Dahmer's diapers over this Paseo as the interior is filled with more of the stuff than an IKEA ball room, although probably with less toddler tipple. Being from the last century doesn't mean you have to deny yourself life's luxuries with this Toyota, as it has A/C, power brakes and even power steering for anyone resembling a Jeff Kinney character. The seats are cloth, featuring some sort of pattern on them to keep your ass entertained, and while there's plenty of room up front, the ones in back offer only penguin-accommodating legroom.

Illustration for article titled For $4,977, ‘Member These?

It's surprising that the car looks as good as it does - shiny paint, un-marred interior and even a set of alloy rims that have never been on a first name basis with the curb – as it has 110,000 miles on it. Now, being a Toyota, that doesn't mean too much as they tend to run pretty much forever, even when their accelerators aren't stuck.


Getting stuck with this Paseo will require $4,977 including the stealership markup. That's more than Kelly, the blue book lady would pay for it, but we're not interested in her opinion, we want yours. So what do you think, is that a price that will make this Paseo popular, or prosaic?

You decide!


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I gave it a Nice Price. The Paseo was never impressive but this one has many points in its favor:

It's a Toyota from when that still meant that the cars were very reliable, sensible, and competent.

The Paseo looked weird from the back; the conversion fixes most of that and leaves you with the handsome nose and a toupee.

110K miles on a well-cared for early 90s Toyota is just broken in.

You can have a lot more car for $5000, not to mention probably newer. But you'll drive all day and not see another Paseo 'vert. You get the double whammy of rarity - not something worth paying for, but there it is - and solid construction in a featherweight, economical commuter. If you're trying to be a square peg, this is a relatively low buck way to stand just a little apart from the droves of drones without breaking the bank or driving yourself nuts trying to get used to your weird eclectic car. It the core it's a Paseo. You can get used to it with no trouble.