By on September 23, 2019

1985 Toyota Van in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsInspired by the unexpected success of the K-car-based Chrysler minivans in the early 1980s, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota each made North American-market versions of their small mid-engined vans. Sales of the Mitsubishi Van (based on the Delica) and Nissan Van (based on the Vanette) never amounted to much over here, but Toyota had a minor hit with the Americanized TownAce van, known here as the Toyota Van.

The Toyota Van proved very durable and I still see plenty of them in wrecking yards to this day. Today’s Junkyard Treasure packs some extra-special provenance within its battered, 34-year-old flanks: it once served as the sacred icon of a Northern California band, appearing as the centerpiece of many music videos. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2013

11 - 1984 Toyota MasterAce Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinUnless they’re air-cooled Volkswagens, cars in non-mountain California don’t suffer much from the teeth of The Rust Monster. Sure, the rainy winters mean that leaky weatherstripping results in rusty trunk floors (especially in GM cars of the pre-1990s era), but plenty of 50-year-old street-parked California cars have solid sheet metal that leave Michigan residents in awe. However, all this goes out the window if you happen to live within a block or two of the not-so-aptly-named Pacific Ocean in San Francisco. During a trip to California last week, I spotted this victim of Outer Sunset District Rust in an East Bay self-serve yard (with a spectacular Halloween display). (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2013

11 - 1987 Toyota Master Ace Conversion Van Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe last time we saw a Toyota Master Ace Junkyard Find was when I discovered this super-elaborate ’85 Space Van art car in Northrn California last year. I’ve always admired these mid-engined machines, with their unkillable pushrod fours and goofy Mars Base looks. Here’s one I spotted in a Denver wrecking yard a couple weeks back. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2011


Here in North America, Toyota’s marketing wizards figured out that a vehicle name that sounds like “Master Race” would be something of a liability, so they put in a bunch of grueling all-nighters and produced… the Toyota Van Wagon. Not so fast, said Volkswagen, claiming that the name sounded too much like “Vanagon,” and Toyota lopped off the “Wagon” to create a van name so boring that we still can’t quite believe it ever existed: Toyota Van. (Read More…)

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