Down On The Mile High Street: Toyota MasterAce
Here in North America, Toyota’s marketing wizards figured out that a vehicle name that sounds like “Master Race” would be something of a liability, so they put in a bunch of grueling all-nighters and produced… the Toyota Van Wagon. Not so fast, said Volkswagen, claiming that the name sounded too much like “Vanagon,” and Toyota lopped off the “Wagon” to create a van name so boring that we still can’t quite believe it ever existed: Toyota Van.
Despite the terrible name (why couldn’t we have had Toyota Space Vans, as Europe did?), the Toyota Van turned out to be an excellent machine. Cockroach-grade indestructible with car-like manners, you’d think the thing would have sold like crazy on these shores.
The mid-engine layout ate up a lot of interior space, however, and Chrysler’s minivan was so much better suited for American tastes that sales of the Toyota Van were mediocre at best. Today, you still see them in use as work trucks, as is the case with this example I found parked on the Denver street. Californians might also see an Audi-powered race version in the near future.
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