By on December 13, 2021

1994 Toyota Previa in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin -The Truth About CarsEver since the 1998 model year, Toyota has sold a big, American-style minivan with the engine in the front and cupholders throughout the interior. Prior to that, though, American Toyota shoppers looking for a new van had to take an innovative mid-engined machine designed entirely with the Japanese home market in mind: First the TownAce (known as the Van here) and then the Estima (known as the Previa here). The Previa was too small and too underpowered to compete head-to-head with Detroit minivans, but those who bought them found that they lasted for decade after decade. Here’s one in a Denver-area yard that got pretty close to the magical 400,000-mile mark. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2021

Of all the Good Nineties Minivans, the Toyota Previa (like the Mercury Villager Nautica) stands out. Engine in the middle, driven wheels at the rear, superior build quality, and supercharging all made for a unique minivan offering never seen before or since.

But unique didn’t sell in America (still doesn’t), and the Previa taught Toyota a lesson about its customers.

(Read More…)

By on March 6, 2018

Image: 1994 Toyota PreviaIn the first van edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we inquired which luxurious minivan from 1994 you’d relegate to each category. Using typical One Simple Trick methodology, I lured everyone in with a picture of the Previa (above). Then, when the Previa was not a choice in the transportation trio, you all doused me in Haterade.

Well, here you go. Import vans — including the Toyota Previa. Douse me in clicks!

(Read More…)

By on February 26, 2018

Image: 1994 Toyota PreviaWhen the Picture Time post for the Villager Nautica went up on these pages last year, the idea for this particular edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was already on my mind. In fact, in the big list of trios I keep for this series, this one has always been at the top of the list.

The year is 1994, and you’ve got a luxury minivan to set alight.

(Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

Image: 1998 MSV, image via seller

Look at the large creature before you. A fiberglass cacophony of components from various manufacturer parts bins, known as the MSV. Initially, I thought the short acronym could only mean My Special Van, but those letters actually represent the company behind this beast: Mauck Specialty Vehicles.

Hop in the back, and we’ll embark on a voyage to… recreation.

(Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

1990 Toyota Town Ace

High atop Mount Forbidden, the “other market’s” imported vehicle stands alone. It awaits that special day, some 25 years in the future, when the clouds will break and a descent into the mortal realm is possible.

And, after that special day comes, the vehicle gets a chance to stand out beyond all normal cars in any given American parking lot. It was never meant to be seen in this country, and yet someone with an entrepreneurial spirit made it possible. Come with me now, as we experience JDM van goodness.

(Read More…)

By on April 22, 2016

1992 Toyota Previa in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Living in Colorado, I have become something of a connoisseur of low-sales volume, all/four-wheel-drive versions of otherwise commonplace vehicles. The rarest one so far has got to be this ’87 Ford Tempo AWD, but I also have managed to find some fairly unusual All-Trac-equipped Toyota vehicles.

There’s this ’90 Camry All-Trac, a car that’s a rarity even in this state and just about unheard of anywhere else, and a few examples of the Corolla All-Trac wagon. Now we have this gleaming gold Previa All-Trac. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2013

Back when Pick-N-Pull and Pick Your Part both operated yards in Northern California, Half Price Day sales used to take place at least every couple of months. Everything was half off on those days, which meant you could get transmissions for something like 30 bucks, complete engines for $75, and so on. Then, back in 2009, El Pulpo packed up and left NorCal, which meant that the competition didn’t have as much motivation to put on such sales. Now that I’m in Colorado, it appears that U-Pull-&-Pay also does the occasional Half Price Day… and this time they chose the coldest weekend of this winter. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • conundrum: I agree. The two CLAs (FWD and AWD) I drove weren’t up to anything at all, my LGT slayed ’em...
  • dal20402: As it happens, I know more than a little bit about AFFH, and your description of it bears absolutely no...
  • Bill Wade: Jeez, I wish you wouldn’t have said that. Now every time I see one I’m going to think of a...
  • tomLU86: Due to supply chain issues, like every other company, they cannot meet their production targets. Since they...
  • la834: I guess we should stop putting electrical systems into cars then. Turn a crank to start it. Gravity-fed carb....

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