As Seen on Craigslist – 1981 Toyota Tercel

I normally stop my Craigslist searches in the mid-70’s, but sometimes I find something interesting from the malaise era that catches my eye.  More than anything, this caught my attention for two reasons: first, the three-door hatchback is nearly extinct these days, and second, one of my favorite toy cars from my childhood was a Tercel just like this.  It was a copper color, and it was pretty nondescript until the day I left it upside down on the outside patio.  My dad walked outside, promptly stepped on the car, and skidded halfway across the porch on it.  As a result, the car looked like it had actually been in a real accident – scraped paint, half-crushed roof, and a cracked windshield.  I’m sure it’s in a box somewhere at my parents’ house; maybe I should dig it out for my kids.

Anyway, this is kind of an odd vehicle for anyone to save for this long.  It has lots of hallmarks of the early 80’s: black rubber bumpers, tape stripes, a blue interior, and a woeful lack of power.  It probably gets great gas mileage (albeit not nearly as great as the EPA sticker would have promised), but Asian cars of this era were not particularly rust proof or all that good in a crash.  I wouldn’t call it a collector car by any stretch, more just a curio of a largely forgotten era in automotive history.  You could make the argument that we’re right to forget it.


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