Rare Rides: 1985 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon in As-new Condition

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
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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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

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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  • Craiger Craiger on Feb 07, 2018

    Even my infamously all-encompassing love of all things 80s has a limit.

  • SteveRenwick SteveRenwick on Feb 28, 2018

    Just the thing for the Bay Area Coastside. It makes a Volvo 240 wagon look positively Republican.

  • George Hughes What ever happened to the American can-do attitude. I know what, it was coopted by the fossil fuel industry in their effort to protect their racket.
  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.