Junkyard Find: 1984 Toyota Van

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

When Chrysler had such a smash hit with the K-derived minivans of the 1980s, Toyota USA needed some kind of family hauler bigger than the Cressida, Camry, and Tercel wagons. The solution, from the perspective of the suits in Aichi, was obvious: Americanize the TownAce mid-engined van and ship it west ASAP!

Here’s an ’84 Toyota Van I found in a Charlotte, North Carolina, wrecking yard last month.

Toyota wanted to call it the Van Wagon in North America, but Volkswagen’s lawyers started swiveling their cannons in Toyota’s direction when the similarity to the Vanagon name was noted in Wolfsburg.

They love Car-Freshner Little Trees in Charlotte, maybe more than anywhere else. Black Ice is the most popular Little Tree in American junkyard cars, by the way.

I see plenty of these vans in wrecking yards, though I don’t photograph most of them. So far, I have documented this frighteningly rusty ’84, this art-car ’85, this ’86 van conversion, and this ’86 van conversion.

As you might expect, most of these vans have astronomical mileage figures by the time they retire. Their successor, the Previa, was similar in this way.

Looks like it has been around the dealership block a few times.

There’s some body-filler-and-paint (or maybe that’s roofing cement) rust repair, which probably works better in North Carolina than it would in, say, Illinois.

The Japanese-market ads for this van are far superior to the American ones, so that’s what I’m sharing here.

If you like these junkyard posts, you can reach all 1600+ right here at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
3 of 37 comments
  • Ryanwm80 Ryanwm80 on Dec 18, 2018

    It looks like this even had the ice maker - I can't imagine it was effective - did anyone ever try to make ice cubes? And does anyone own of these, or was this the last one to exist?

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Jan 05, 2019

    I remember the commercial with the lady excitedly looking around inside then popping out of the sunroof and saying, “it’s a condominium!”

  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.
  • 28-Cars-Later I thought today's young people weren't even getting licenses to drive, so which is it?