Junkyard Find: 1985 Toyota Master Ace Art Car

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and you need something to drive to Burning Man, you’ll find that the glue-a-bunch-of-stuff-all-over-a-random-vehicle art-car approach will let your ride fit in just as effortlessly on the playa as the soccer mom’s Voyager blends in at the mall parking lot. I’m not against art cars (I consider my 1965 Impala Hell Project to be an art car at heart), but I prefer the approach of the artists who built such fine machines as the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir or the street-driven Denver Pirate Ship to the type who feels contempt for the canvas disappearing beneath their hot-glue gun. Anyway, the upshot of the large number of Bay Area art-car types who glue 10,000 plastic army men or Lucky Lager caps all over their cars is that many of them wind up in self-service wrecking yards. Here’s a Toyota Master Ace aka Toyota Space Cruiser aka Toyota Van that I spotted last weekend at an East Bay self-serve yard.

The thing about these cars is that the owners often pick up many parking tickets and/or don’t do any maintenance on the mechanical components. That’s probably how the skull-covered ’69 Mustang and Groovalicious Purple Princess of Peace Taurus wagon ended up getting picked over for parts by befuddled junkyard shoppers.

The dash of this Master Ace is covered with wedding toppers, graduation-cake decorations, and plastic bowlers.

It’s too bad that spell-checkers don’t work on backwards writing.

A Master Ace should be good for many more miles than 209,691. Very slow miles, sure, but more of them.

It looks like a thrift-store toy bin exploded in here.

Here’s a cool find: an ANC pin from the apartheid era.

The Department of Mutant Vehicles probably wasn’t impressed by the Thrift Store Explosion Master Ace (how could you be impressed when you’ve got stuff like the Telephone Car driving around?), but I’ll be it went over big at the Forbidden Island.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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2 of 16 comments
  • Obbop Obbop on Sep 09, 2012

    Friend in Concord, CA had that model Toyota van. He labeled it the "Chariot" in reference to the Lost in Space TV show decades ago. "Danger Will Robinson.. DANGER!!!!"

  • Baconator Baconator on Sep 09, 2012

    The actual Department Of Mutant Vehicles at Burning Man wouldn't accept this thing. Nowadays, your art car can't look like a car at all. The state of that particular art is more along these lines: http://www.becausewecan.org/serpent_twins_BM. If you're enough of a car nut to be a fabrication nut, this should work for you. I was just underneath a Ferrari Testarossa that was up on a lift, and one of my first thoughts was "Wow. I've seen better weld seams on art cars at Burning Man."

  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.