Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1984 toyota tercel sr5 4wd wagon

I’ve owned quite a few Tercel wagons of this generation (though most of mine were the common-in-California front-wheel-drive type), and I respect these things for their simplicity, cargo capacity, and reliability. True, they were underpowered and not exactly inspiring to drive, but they could be very lovable. Living in Denver, I see these cars just about every time I hit the junkyard, but mostly they don’t seem special enough to merit photographing. Realizing that this one is 30 years old, however, inspired me to pull out the camera.

Sold in New Mexico, died in Colorado. There’s some rust, but more of the paint-burned-off/snow-buildup variety than the cancerous Midwestern type,

You are awesome!

The notorious “ice maker” next to the license plate. I’ve never been fully clear on what you got with the SR5 package, which was available on just about everything Toyota sold in the 1980s.

The 3A engine was harder to kill than rats and cockroaches combined.

Because the driver had to select front- or four-wheel-drive manually, many owners of these no-center-differential-equipped cars tore up tires and/or wore out drivetrain components by driving 365 days a year on dry pavement in the 4WD setting. Probably most of those Tercel 4WD owners bought Subarus after this happened.

With the air conditioning turned off, you were jamming econo.

I was able to skip chaining up when driving Donner pass in the winter in FWD Tercels, simply by picking up this emblem at the junkyard and adding it to my cars. Easiest 4WD conversion ever!

Join the conversation
2 of 68 comments
  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Sep 26, 2014

    I had the only true competitor to this, a Honda Civic 'tallboy' Realtime allwheeldrive Station Wagon 'Wagovan'. One of the best cars that I have ever had. Did everything required, without any problems. Manual with a 'super low' gear and dealer installed A/C. Only sold it when the family grew (again) and traded it for a new Caravan. Honda eventually had a marketing brainwave regarding their Wagovans, inflated them, jacked them up a bit and renamed them CRV's. If you look at the first generation CRV and the last generation Wagovan you cannot miss the resemblance and the mechanicals were fundamentally the same.

  • Jolgamazatlan Jolgamazatlan on Oct 03, 2014

    I`m late to the party on this one but this brings back warm and fuzzies about my black SR5 Tercel. This one was my first Japanese car and got me hooked on reliability after a succession of car disasters: a new 78 Trans Am, then even worse a new Fiat X 1/9 then a new Fiat Brava (arghhhhhhh). The Tercel ran like a top for countless years. Never had any rust thanks to yearly Rust Checks. One minor quibble, which was really more of a quirk than a problem, was the key. After an evening of carousing in a local hotspot my friend and I came out three sheets to the wind. We were wandering around singing songs and looking for the SR5 in the parking lot. (yes, so young, so stupid) Found it, however the key was very stiff in the door. Surmised it was frozen as this was midwinter. Managed to open the hatch and crawled in. We fired up the motor as usual and I saw two tuques (wool hats if you don`t speak Canadian) on the dash. "Hmmmm" said my brain, "don't worry", said the alcohol, "It`s nothing. Drive on". Suddenly it hit me that my black Ninja Smurf which rode proudly on the dash was no longer there. We both said "Holy shi*!!!!!" and then started to roar with laughter, we laughed until we could hardly breathe. Surreptitiously we slipped the car back into its parking spot. Put the tuques back where we found them and meandered back to my car.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?