Junkyard Find: 1986 Toyota Tercel Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1986 toyota tercel station wagon

The Toyota Sprinter Carib was sold as the Tercel Wagon in North America for the 1983 through 1987 model years, and most examples rolling out of American showrooms came with the more fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive setup. However, the four-wheel-drive Tercel Wagons held their value for decades after the front-wheel-drive ones depreciated into oblivion and were crushed, and thus I don’t see many of the latter type in wrecking yards these days.

Here’s a now-rare FWD ’86 that held on past age 30, spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.

In this series so far, we have seen a few of the four-wheel-drive Tercel Wagons, including this ’83 and this ’87.

I have owned a couple of examples apiece of the front- and four-wheel-drive Tercel wagons, and they were sturdy and amazingly capacious machines. Underpowered and featuring jouncy, tippy handling, sure, but still lovable. The blue ’85 in the photo above went on to become the legendary shark-fin-equipped Rockin’ Supercar, prior to finishing its days in the Oakland Pick-n-Pull.

Power came from a member of the many-branched Toyota A engine family: the 3A-C. Just 78 horsepower, but you had to work hard to kill this engine.

Better than 274k miles on the clock, which gets this Toyota into diesel Mercedes-Benz mileage territory.

This one has the rare air-conditioning option, actuated by one of my all-time favorite junkyard switches.

These Japan-market Sprinter Carib ads pitch the 4WD version, but they’re so good that I’m sharing them here.

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  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Dec 28, 2017

    These are pretty thin on the roads around here these days. We never got the FWD version in Australia, just the 4WD version. We got them between 1983-88. There were DLX and SR5 trims. I haven't seen a DLX trim in a while. These have excellent rear visibility and a very distinctive rear end. It's (spiritual) successor, the Corolla 4WD Wagon, sold in decent numbers but they have gotten a bit rarer in recent years.

  • Wadenelson Wadenelson on Jan 10, 2018

    Rear end looked like a microwave oven.

  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.
  • ToolGuy From the listing: "Oil changes every April & October (full-synth), during which I also swap out A/S (not the stock summer MPS3s) and Blizzak winter tires on steelies, rotating front/back."• While ToolGuy applauds the use of full synthetic motor oil,• ToolGuy absolutely abhors the waste inherent in changing out a perfectly good motor oil every 6 months.The Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage I run in our family fleet has a change interval of 20,000 miles. (Do I go 20,000 miles before changing it? No.) But this 2014 Focus has presumably had something like 16 oil changes in 36K miles, which works out to a 2,250 mile average change interval. Complete waste of time, money and perfectly good natural gas which could have gone to a higher and better use.Mobil 1 also says their oil miraculously expires at 1 year, and ToolGuy has questions. Is that one year in the bottle? One year in the vehicle? (Have I gone longer than a year in some of our vehicles? Yes, I have. Did I also add Lucas Oil 10131 Pure Synthetic Oil Stabilizer during that time, in case you are concerned about the additive package losing efficacy? Yes, I might have -- as far as you know.)TL;DR: I aim for annual oil changes and sometimes miss that 'deadline' by a few months; 12,000 miles between oil changes bothers me not at all, if you are using a quality synthetic which you should be anyway.