Junkyard Find: 1992 Toyota Previa All-Trac

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1992 toyota previa all trac

Living in Colorado, I have become something of a connoisseur of low-sales volume, all/four-wheel-drive versions of otherwise commonplace vehicles. The rarest one so far has got to be this ’87 Ford Tempo AWD, but I also have managed to find some fairly unusual All-Trac-equipped Toyota vehicles.

There’s this ’90 Camry All-Trac, a car that’s a rarity even in this state and just about unheard of anywhere else, and a few examples of the Corolla All-Trac wagon. Now we have this gleaming gold Previa All-Trac.

The Previa featured a bunch of very interesting engineering under its conservative-looking minivan exterior. The engine is a mid-mounted straight-four laid on its side under the front seats, with a weird remote-reservoir oil system (not a dry-sump, despite the urban legends you may have heard, but still different), and the engine accessories are way up front and powered by a long shaft from the engine. Later North American models were supercharged, though this ’92 just has the naturally aspirated 2TZ.

All-Trac Previas are nowhere near as rare, here in Denver, as are All-Trac Camrys; in fact, most Previas you see here have the All-Trac system. They’re uncommon in wrecking yards, though, because it’s worth fixing Toyota minivans when they break.

The mid-engined Toyota MR2 is well-known for overheating problems, but Toyota got it right with the Previa and this big radiator air intake gulping air through the grille and sending it rearwards.

The interior in this van is not too tattered by used-up-minivan standards, so a combination of body damage and some expensive mechanical problem is the probable reason for being parked here instead of the mall.

It’s a suburban-early-1990s time capsule!

In Japan, taking the golden retriever for a balloon ride.

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars, Toyota]

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Wantahertzdonut Wantahertzdonut on Apr 29, 2016

    The guy that runs Lextreme.com has a UZ-FE V8 swapped into one of these. I'm sure he surprises a few people with it! That said I thought these were the ugliest things on the road, but I thought the same of the similar jelly bean shape of the 92-96 Camry. Now that they're drying up I don't find them so offensive.

  • CaseyLE82 CaseyLE82 on Apr 09, 2017

    We have three Previa minivans in our family. I have a 1991 that my mother bought in 1996. It has 225,500 miles on it. I drive it about once per week just because I like it and it's different. The thing is BULLET proof and NOTHING is wrong with it. My mom has a 1994 that she bought in 2001 when she gave me the 1991 Previa. Hers is her daily driver and has been since 2001 and last time I drove it a few months ago it had 330,000 miles on it. She has no problems hopping into it and driving from her home in Northern California to Los Angeles and back. My sister loved the Previa and was jealous of mine so she purchased a 1992 a few years ago. Hers had 220,000 miles when she bought it and now has about 270,000. Her's has had a few issues (fuel pump, air conditioner, window leak) but has otherwise been pretty good to her. She only paid $2,000 for it so I guess it's to be expected. We love our Van's and I'm ALWAYS in the market to pick up another Previa. I'm actually in talks with a guy who has a beautiful 1994 White Previa with 160,000 miles. But he wants $3,850 and that just seems a little high for me.

  • Tassos Unlike Tim, I don't use this space as a wastebasket for ANYTHING BUT a proper used car.If you seriously need a car AND you are as destitute as Tim's finds imply, HERE IS A PROPER ONE FOR YOUR NEEDS:You can probably get it for only $4k, WITH Leather, Factory Navigation, plenty of room and a V6.https://www.cars.com/research/toyota-camry-2005/I even considered getting it myself as an extra reliable car.
  • Jeff Of all the EV trucks I like the Rivian the best but I am still years away if ever from buying an EV.
  • Kwik_Shift I definitely like the looks of the newest 300s over the Chargers.
  • SCE to AUX "Should car companies shack up with tech giants in order to produce legible infotainment systems and the like? Or should they go it alone?"Great question(s).The River Rouge days are gone, where Ford produced whole cars out of raw materials entering the plant at the other end. Nearly everything is outsourced these days - sometimes well, sometimes disastrously.But the problem with infotainment systems is that they are integrated with the car's operation. VW has delayed entire products for issues with infotainment.For me, the question boils down to a contractual arrangement - who owns and maintains the code forever? Since more and more of the car's function is tied to the infotainment system, I'd argue that the car mfr needs to own it - especially the larger ones.Do mfrs really want to share intellectual property with Huawei just to fast-track some code they've managed themselves in the past?
  • Kwi65728132 I always did like the styling of the 300C and it was on my short list for a new (to me) rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 luxury sedan but I found a Hyundai Equus that was better optioned than any 300C I could find and for several grand less.