Keep Your Modern Supercar, I'll Take a Toyota Tercel 4WD
I'll preface this tribute to quirky cars with a story. At the age of about five or six, I remember peering out the window of my mother's Buick Skylark, and catching a glimpse of an automobile of epic proportions. It was oddly shaped, very blue, and there was a distinct stoutness to its design. It was, as you've probably guessed, a Toyota Tercel 4WD. And I was in love. Roll the clock forward two decades and it's still a car I absolutely adore to the nth degree. So when a friend asked me, “What car would you buy if money were no option?” I was unfazed: “A zero mileage, virtually brand new '80s Toyota Tercel 4WD,” if such an unmolested car still exists. The reaction was as expected. RELATED: Toyota gave the Japanese market this awesome Land Cruiser 70
But is that so weird? Given the options of rarer-than-rare Pagani Zondas and umpteen-million-dollar Ferraris, is it so bizarre to blow them off for a plebeian, everyday '80s station wagon? I don't think so. While my love for the Tercel might be otherworldly, you may have a similar unquestionable desire for a car from your childhood – perhaps a first car that you wish you hadn't sold (share them in the comments).
For those with the same seemingly irrational mindset, cars like this aren't so much a purchase as they are an addition to the family. You can live without your hundred dollar smart phone. You can get by just fine without having the basement renovated. But a plucky little Japanese wagon (or whatever your choice may be) is as much a part of your very being as is the dog that sleeps at the foot of your bed.
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Sure, part of the allure of owning a supercar is super speed, lightning acceleration, membership into an elite club, and of course, super curb appeal. But I don't want to be part of that club. I'd put it to you that a pristine and fully fashioned Tercel 4WD wagon could get just as much curbside attention as a brand new Nissan GT-R or Ferrari 458. No disrespect to the exotics – they're fantastically fun – but if they don't give you that zing, then why bother? In the end, it's all subjective anyway.
The Tercel wagon was not a fast car by any standards. The 3A 1.5-liter engine in US versions pumped out around 62 horsepower, but after a short drive in one a few years ago, the experience was as blissful as I had hoped. The Tercel scampered through the woods, over the snowy track, and even though I wouldn't attempt to ford any streams, it did tackle everything that my Tacoma had. In terms of looks, they're hardly the car for everyone... but they were simple, reliable, and adorable. If anything, the tall Japanese wagon beat the current CUV craze by about three decades.
Sure, you might not turn down a million dollar supercar for a zero mile Tercel. You probably think I'm crazy, but what car do you have an unquestionable lust for?
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