Rare Rides: This 1990 Toyota Town Ace Simply Kills It

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides this 1990 toyota town ace simply kills it

High atop Mount Forbidden, the “other market’s” imported vehicle stands alone. It awaits that special day, some 25 years in the future, when the clouds will break and a descent into the mortal realm is possible.

And, after that special day comes, the vehicle gets a chance to stand out beyond all normal cars in any given American parking lot. It was never meant to be seen in this country, and yet someone with an entrepreneurial spirit made it possible. Come with me now, as we experience JDM van goodness.

The two-tone brown box you see here is a 1990 Toyota Town Ace, and I’m staring at it just as much as you. As alluded to, this vehicle was never available in the United States. In 1990, the Toyota van available at your local dealer was distinctly more egg-shaped, and it was called a Previa. The Previa replaced the Town Ace, or “Van” as the American market knew it, after the 1989 model year.

This Town Ace is the restyled version, with full-width headlamp covers in the front and matching style lenses at the rear.

Oh, and did I mention this is a turbodiesel model, which is also four-wheel drive?

This one is well equipped, with a Skylite Roof feature. Much of the ceiling is covered with glass panels, each with its own retractable sun shade. It looks as though two of them even prop up (for excellent mid-cabin ventilation).

With all the glass, visibility can only be described as excellent. Life becomes a panoramic photo from behind the wheel of the Town Ace. Also, that wheel is on the right side, because that’s where [s]wheels are supposed to be[/s] it was at home, in Japan.

Seating is reconfigurable, and six people can sit, recline, or lounge in spacious, well-lit veloured comfort. There’s a small fridge between the front seats, which will easily chill your Fiji water.

Cargo space is also considerable, as the seats flip up against the wall when needed.

Currently listed for sale on Craigslist, this spectacular van’s owner is asking $13,999. A small price to pay for a dog camping adventure, don’t you think?

[Images via Craigslist]

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2 of 29 comments
  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Apr 20, 2017

    A close friend had the North American version of this van. It burned down to the frame on the TransCanada just West of Calgary. He absolutely adored it.

  • Rolando Rolando on Apr 22, 2017

    I drove one a Toyota Van as a courier when I was 19! Great stability and maneuvering! Sitting on top of the front wheels, a sharp turn would have you physically moving sideways!

  • Art Vandelay Manhattan, Atlanta and LA are on my list of places I’d live if only if I was rich enough to commute in a helicopter.
  • Bobbysirhan The interior looks to be in nice condition. If the wheels are straight, I'd say this is a $400 parts car.
  • Kosmo From firsthand experience, I can predict that this will mostly result in more "paperwork" for the oil companies, and more civil servant employees for CA.
  • Mike Beranek There are thousands of better Jettas out there. Way better.
  • Cardave5150 This car looks more like Murilee should be writing about it. yeeeesh