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!

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  • 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.

  • ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
  • Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.