Junkyard Find: 1988 Toyota Tercel EZ

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1988 toyota tercel ez

The Tercel EZ sold about as well as the Plymouth Sundance America, Chevrolet Chevette Scooter, and the other zero-frills cars of the 1985-1995 period, i.e., very poorly. Jack Baruth does a fine job of explaining why this is so, but enough of these cars were moved off showroom floors that you still see the occasional example. Here’s a Tercel EZ that I spotted in my local self-serve wrecking yard.

Yes, that’s 315,300 miles on the clock. Third-gen Tercels were never much fun to drive, but they were incredibly competent transportation appliances.

The interior of this one was just about completely used up by the time it got to The Crusher’s waiting room, and there’s no point in spending any real money to get new carpets and upholstery for a lowly Tercel EZ.

I’ve owned several third-gen Tercels, including an EZ, and their simplicity made the Corolla seem frivolous. Nobody ever really loved one of these cars, though, in contrast to the equally slow but personality-fortified second-gen Tercel.

A lot of LeMons fans couldn’t understand why a Tercel EZ finishing tenth out of 100 entries was such a spectacular accomplishment. Drive an EZ for ten minutes and you’ll get it.

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Apr 17, 2013

    Everything is relative. My state highway department had a couple '80s Tercels, and they were MUCH preferred over the newer Geo Metro models. All were manuals while all the Metros were automatics. You had to kick down the Metro to first to get up a freeway ramp, and you spent more time in the breakdown lane accelerating to merge than the the Tercel. If work was being done in the median, engineers just didn't go there in either the Tercel or the Metro - merging with fast lane traffic was too hazardous.

  • Watch Carefully Watch Carefully on Apr 18, 2013

    They say Tercel Owens was great in San Fran, but when he went to Philly and Dallas he was a cancer in the locker room. People mock 'Touareg' and 'Tiguan'...what the heck is a 'Tercel'?

  • Slavuta Civic EX - very competent car. I hate the fact of CVT and small turbo+DI. But it is a good car. Good rear seat. Fix the steering and keep goingBut WRX is just a different planet.
  • SPPPP This rings oh so very hollow. To me, it sounds like the powers that be at Ford don't know which end is up, and therefore had to invent a new corporate position to serve as "bad guy" for layoffs and eventual scapegoat if (when) the quality problems continue.
  • Art Vandelay Tasos eats $#!t and puffs peters
  • Kwik_Shift Imagine having trying to prove that the temporary loss of steering contributed to your plunging off a cliff or careening through a schoolyard?
  • Inside Looking Out How much costs 25 y.o. Mercedes S class with 200K miles?