Rare Rides: 1985 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon in As-new Condition
Time for the third entry into the sub-class of vehicles from the 1980s that I call Tall Import Wagons. The first was a light blue Nissan Stanza, known as “Multi” up north in Canada. Then, a similarly blue Colt Vista showed us what Dodge could do when it swapped the emblems on a Mitsubishi.
Today, a third competitor takes center stage: the Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon.
Introduced as the Corolla Tercel in the United States back in 1980, Toyota’s cheapest offering on our shores morphed into its second generation for the 1983 model year. Gone was the Corolla name, as the Tercel now stood on its own with a more complete lineup of body styles. It was available as a three-door hatch, standard sedan, or five-door — in hatchback or wagon guise.
Offered in front- or four-wheel drive, all North American Tercels were powered by a 1.5-liter inline-four engine. It produced 63 horsepower, shifted through four-, five-, and even six-speed manual transmissions (on 4WD models only), and also offered a sad three-speed automatic.
We got close to perfection today, but today’s Tercel has a handicap. Though it’s the desirable wagon body style and has four-wheel drive, it also has the three-speed automatic. Dry your tears, B&B.
The Tercel’s four-wheel drive configuration was an assemblage of bits Toyota already had in its bin. The Corolla provided the rear axle and coil springs, and the rest was standard front-drive Tercel. Only the transfer case was new, locking the front and rear differentials in 4WD mode.
Much like an AWD Tempo of the time, the Tercel’s system could only be used on slippery roads. I suspect owners ruined many of these vehicles after flipping the 4WD switch every time it started raining. If only the modern crossover had been available then!
Our example today lacks the optional inclinometer, as well as most power features. It does have air conditioning to cool the spotless interior, though.
This Tercel lived a better life than most of its brethren, covering only 77,000 miles since 1985. The boxy wagon is presently located on the west coast, near the affordable hamlet of San Francisco.
Currently it’s for sale at a Toyota dealer that wants all the money for it. And by that I mean $11,900.
Check yourself, Stevens Creek. At least there are a lot of nice pictures. And would you look at the size of that cargo area?
[Images via dealer]
Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Writing things for TTAC since late 2016 from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find me on Twitter @CoreyLewis86, and I also contribute at Forbes Wheels.
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