Yoooooooo bitch, I drove a meth cook's car, and it's the most famous and valuable 1984 Toyota Tercel ever built. And that's because this is Jesse Pinkman's car, and it's fresh off of Breaking Bad. Now it really needs to enter rehab.
(Full Disclosure: I got the offer to drive Jesse Pinkman's 1984 Toyota Tercel via Chieh Huang, the CEO of Boxed.com and a Breaking Bad mega fan. He bought the car for about $4,500, making it the most expensive Tercel in history. Good thing the proceeds helped charity.)
When you see Pinkman's Tercel on Breaking Bad, you imagine a dilapidated driving experience that befits a man who cooks and occasionally uses meth on the daily. You'd be dead on the money with that assessment. This is a legit 215,000 mile 4WD Toyota Tercel. It has issues.
Let's run through them.
The steering wheel feels like it isn't connected to the wheels. The gearbox has so much play in it that you're almost never in a gear. There is a vacuum leak that makes it rev far higher than it should. It feels like it has a suspension made of rubber bands, and not those good rubber bands they put around your mail sometimes. It's dirty. It's dusty. It has 74 overwhelming horsepower.
Yeah. It's pretty awesome. This is the spirit of Jalopnik. Chieh told me that he's a huge fan of the show, and when he saw it come up for sale, he just had to have it. He does need to have a mechanic go over it to put it in daily driver condition, but there is no plan to fully restore it, because that would ruin it.
This particular Tercel has a sunroof welded shut and a fake gas tank on the side. You start it with a screwdriver. The 4WD might not work, so it hasn't been messed with. Chieh has added a replica Jesse Pinkman hoodie, a wad of cash he can throw out the window to strangers, and a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves Of Grass, a favorite collection of that other W.W.
Look, this isn't what anyone would call a "good" car based on how it drives. But it sure is a cool car, the 4WD Tercel's always were. They're just goofy enough to be outside the mainstream, rare enough to make a sighting interesting.
For some of us, cars strike a certain chord just because of where you first encountered them. People have soft spots for cars that have had some sort of meaning in their life. For Chieh, the Tercel made an impression on him when he became obsessed with Breaking Bad.
He had the means to buy it, so why not? And he isn't going to sell it (though he's had offers that were more than double the purchase price). He's going to fix it up a little and use it for his business.
He told me there will be a promotion coming up where customers enter a code (boxingbad) when checking out. Winners, chosen at random, will get their order delivered in Pinkman's Tercel and then might even get a ride in the car. People who don't watch Breaking Bad won't give a shit, but for fans, it's a pretty cool little idea.
On the car casting side, it's great that the producers of Breaking Bad didn't pick up a creampuff 1984 Tercel 4WD (if one exists), and instead went for a car that has obviously led a hard life. It is Jesse Pinkman in car form. You don't meet people or cars this unique that haven't been run down at some point in their life, and you meet few capable of coming back very often. It's a character as important as Walt Jr., it establishes who Jesse is.
So what if it's crap to drive? It's great in its own weird way.