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Southwest Wagon: 1985 Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD

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This 1985 Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD is in beautiful Lamy, New Mexico, 25 minutes south of equally beautiful Santa Fe. This vehicle fits right in there: it’s funky, hip, hippy-like, and cool all at the same time. The seller has it listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $5,000 or make an offer. The SR5 4WD wagon is towards the top of my master wish list, hopefully I’m not the only one out there who loves these things!

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Mmmm, that’s such a yummy shape. I pretty much love every line of and on this car. I would sign up for a Master’s level course on automotive design if three semesters of it were based on the Tercel SR5 – and they should be. This is a second-generation Tercel and these classics were made from 1982 to 1986. The bodystyle seen here was known as the Toyota Sprinter Carib in Japan. Carib was short for caribou, no doubt in reference to the somewhat outdoorsy, somewhat rugged, somewhat agile, somewhat funky nature of both the SR5 and the majority of their owners. Like I said, this car is perfect for the Santa Fe area.

The rear 3/4 angle is unquestionably my favorite, that side rear window is so great. The only thing that could possibly make it better would be if it were to break free from the lines of the other side windows and wrap up onto the roof just a wee bit. Sort of like a Nissan Stanza 4WD wagon, or Nissan Prairie in other markets. Or, even better, a third-generation Honda Civic 4WD Wagon. Although, the SR5 window does drop below the line of the side windows a bit so that’s a nice compromise.

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This body on this car is in great shape other than that ding in the RF fender. The seller says that they have a “replacement right front fender and a replacement right front marker light lens that goes along in the sale.” Matching the silver paint will be a challenge, to say the least. I would probably see if a paintless dent repair guru could massage that dent out a bit and then I’d change the marker lens and not worry about changing the fender and painting it. There is supposedly “no corrosion” on this car and it does look like it’s as solid as a rust-free 1985 Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD wagon could be.

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This car has, believe it or not, 255,000 miles on it! The exterior sure doesn’t look like it has that many miles on it. It’s the seller’s daily driver now after being their aunt’s daily driver for the last nine years. The interior is another story, it looks like it has 256,000 miles on it.. it needs a little work. There are no rear compartment photos at all but the rear seats look decent; just in need of a thorough cleaning as is every other surface of the interior. The seller says that the “seats are a little dirty, there is a tear in the driver’s seat bottom fabric on the inboard side, and the trim on the doors is a bit sun-beaten.” The seats could be taken out and cleaned which would make it easier to also clean the carpets at the same time. It has the all-important 5-speed manual transmission although a 6-speed was available with an “EL” (extra low) gear ratio that worked when the car was in 4WD. Supposedly, the dash was almost always covered and is in good shape other than having a couple of one-inch splits.

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All SR5 wagons got Toyota’s 1.5L 3A four-cylinder single-overhead-cam engine with, are you sitting down? 63 horsepower! This example looks fairly clean but an engine almost always needs detailing in my world so I would go at this one for a weekend. The seller mentions that the “cylinder head recently received new valve guides and the engine has new belts.” Also, the A/C and heat work, the 4wd works, and she gets upwards of 30 mpg.” Nice. I love these cars and this looks like a nice example that mainly needs to have the interior cleaned and repaired in a couple of areas. Are there any fans of these classic 1980s boxy 4WD wagons out there?


  1. Chris Russell

    What joke! A Terkle? Really? That’s only a find because someone hid it so no one would know that someone actually bought it! Too funny.

    Like 0
    • Rando

      My mom had one – I called it a turd cell. Hers was awful. 2 dr, 3 spd auto and maybe 11 hp it felt like. No redeeming value in hers. Hard to get past that taste.

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    I knew a guy once who had a junk yard and had one like this as his yard car…you know the one that would carry the cutting gear. Had a large rack on top to carry parts. It had almost a half a million miles on it. It had thrown a rod. When he originally got it. Ever resourceful he sealed the block and used the poor thing for many years with only 3 cylinders. It would chug along and always seem to start when nothing else would. It died when a loader accidently ran over the front end.

    Have to appreciate a little wagon with the Toyota badge and 4X4. I have to say I respect them would be proud to have it. Say, didn’t Jessie Pinkman have red one that looked like it was painted with a brush in Breaking Bad?? Yes he did! More awesomeness. What’s not to like here? Don’t be a hater!

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  3. Leon

    With the miles and neglected interior $5000 seems a bit high

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  4. jaygryph

    Friends parents had one of these many years ago. Loved that car, it would go anywhere it seemed, haul anything, and pretty much refused to die regardless of how beat up it got. It is such a strange looking design that it’s taken on a style all it’s own…a weird…angly…80’s style.

    I admit to smiling when I see one of these still roaming around town like a lost earth-bound moon rover from the era of cocaine and outrageously colored shirts.

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  5. Mark S

    No doubt that these were well made durable cars, with all the styling of an ice cube. Waite a second that’s not a very nice thing to say about ice cubes. In all seriousness though they had that typical Toyota quality. The good news is you can’t really tell what it looks like when inside it going down the road, it’s the rest of us that have to look at it.

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  6. Howard A Member

    While, as most know, I’m not an Asian car fan, but I always thought a car like this made the most sense. US always had these big, lumbering 4×4’s, and these combined good gas mileage with go anywhere reliability. Trouble was, like most Asian cars, they melted away in the very environment they were intended for. I remember seeing a few in these in Wisconsin with whole panels gone. Too bad, they were good cars, as evidenced by the miles on this. This one is probably still ok, but with those miles, I wouldn’t go far with it. Maybe a $1,000 car, at best.

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  7. sparkster

    Found one of these in better shape on the Los Angeles craigslist for $1700. With a much nicer interior

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  8. DEC

    Used one of these as a construction site car when they were new. It would drive over the mud and up the hills while the contractors 4X4 trucks got stuck. Bought it from the company after they were done with it. It had dirt in everywhere dirt could go, but it still ran great. I used it for a few years then donated it. Hard to imagine $5000 for even the best one out there.

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  9. charlie Member

    My sister had one in Boston, mostly city driving for over a decade. Not garaged. Rusted badly, long before interior, let alone the mechanicals were shot. Sold it to guy who exported it to Guatemala for his family to use.

    A great city car, you can see all four corners to park it. You can park in a small space. You can carry a lot of stuff in it. And the 4wd takes you places in the snow that the contemporary front wheel drives, let alone rear wheel drives, would not go.

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  10. Brian Cody

    I’d like to have it. Funky and literally will go anywhere. Being as I’m in Virginia, it might as well be on the moon. Long distance for too high a price.

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  11. Gale Knutson

    I owned one. Absolutely love this car. Worked extremely well for our weather in North Dakota. Drove this car until she was totalled in a accident. Served my family if 5 quite well.

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  12. rocky69

    found two of these angels at a yard sale 300 dollars they hum and runn

    Like 0

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