Clean Survivor: 1997 Toyota Tacoma LX 4×4

This isn’t a dusty barn find but it’s a 24-year-old truck now which is fairly ancient if you think about it. It’s not old at all in relative terms as a lot of you regularly drive vehicles that are four or five decades old or older. The seller has it listed here on eBay from a familiar seller in Darlington, Maryland, as quaint a name as there is. The current bid price is $8,000 and there is no reserve.

We all know that this isn’t really an “old” vehicle as in classic or even vintage, and as I eluded to earlier, age is relative and a 24-year-old vehicle is from the stone age for some people. But, let’s leave my wife out of this. It’s impossible to argue with a smaller truck like this Tacoma for the vast majority of our pickup needs as a general society. For actual small truck duties, this truck would be hard to beat. If we need a full-sized truck then we get one and use it but for most of us, this truck would work nicely in everyday life.

The Tacoma was pretty new when this ’97 truck was made as they were available starting in 1995. Who here was alive in 1995? I see, that’s a good percentage but not everyone. Who here was old or even considered ancient in 1995? I second that motion. The Tacoma is still being made today, of course, but the new trucks are even more aggressive – or as aggressive as a Toyota can possibly be – and are a bit bigger and most of them seem to have four doors. A four-door truck was a thing of incredible oddball status when I was a kid and it’s the exact opposite now. Seeing a single-cab pickup today is like seeing a Porsche driver without a black turtleneck on. I kid the Porsche drivers… come on!

The first-gen Taco, as they say, was made until 2004 and the seller has included a mind-blowing number of absolutely fantastic photos which automatically earns them a spot on the Barn Finds Hall of Fame on the cyber wall in the cyber lunchroom. With 86,870 miles, this Tacoma is barely broken in so expect another two decades of service at least out of this one. This LX model has the optional four-speed electronically-controlled automatic rather than the 5-speed manual transmission. There is a space behind the front seats but it may not be the most comfortable seating area, although there are seatbelts back there.

The engine is Toyota’s 5VZ-FE, a 3.4L V6 which had 190 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. This is a four-wheel-drive truck as you already know, and the seller says that everything works and it’s ready to go. If I needed a “newer” small truck I would be looking in this direction. Have any of you owned an early Tacoma? 

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  1. SirRaoulDuke

    Underside is VERY clean given its PA and NY history.

    This truck will not go cheap. It’s almost a shame people love these Tacos so much, it would be nice if they sold for cheap. They really are the small perfect truck.

    Like 6
  2. ace10

    Some poor buyer is gonna get ripped off on this one.
    The heavy wear on the driver’s seat indicates far more than than the reported miles. The seats in my ’95 with 135K miles look nearly brand new. These interiors wear like iron.
    The black rear bumper is a cheap aftermarket replacement. The original one likely rotted right off the truck.
    The frame has been rattle canned with mystery goop. In one picture you can see a rotted out cross member.
    The body paint looks off to me, as well. Perhaps a $99 Earl Scheib special?
    Cannot imagine how bad that bed is under the drop-in liner.


    Like 8
    • Matt R

      Have to agree – my 97 LX is a darker shade of green and has the speckled racing stripe decal running down the side, I would suspect a minimum of a respray and a suspect bed. The use of least one can of armor-all always raises my suspicions. Of course mine’s in the PNW and has over 300K on it – so there’s always potential it might make that long.
      These pictures make the back seat look bigger than it is – judging from my dog’s expression it’s a crime when anyone has to sit back there.

      Like 2
      • oilngas

        Yep. Dark green 2003 4×4. 368,000 miles. Clearcoat starting to come off roof, and hood. Seats look new. Really should put a timing belt in it.

        Like 1
      • ace10

        My ’95 came out of Reno about four years ago. A bit of clear coat failure and the vacuum hoses were rotted, but the dry climate did her well. She still has the original stickers on the frame. I also have a 2003 with sub 10K miles that is too nice to drive. Like new and came out of Wash state.

        My smaller dogs do well in the back of my xtra cab but the big ones don’t enjoy it too much.

        This green Taco is a twenty footer, but will be a nasty surprise for the new owner.

  3. DanaPointJohn

    A not so unusual sight on SoCal freeways. Head West if you want to find one without rust, and most likely has never been driven off road.

    Like 3
  4. DanaPointJohn

    These are a not so uncommon sight on SoCal freeways. Head West if you want one with no rust, and that has probably never been driven off road.

  5. Rod Plapp

    I worked for a dealer that also had a Toyota franchise and test drove an 86 Tacoma Pickup.It surged strangely when using the accelerator pedal and the seat seemed to lack lower back support.Still have my Nissan XE Hardbody I bought instead..

    Like 2
  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    A couple of years ago,I found a 1999 Tacoma
    with 99,000 miles on it,extended cab,in really nice
    shape,on a used car lot,for $6000.It was a 4 cylinder,
    5 speed manual.
    Should have bought it.

    Like 2
  7. William Cockayne Member

    Bought 2 Tacomas from a estate sale last year, a 96 and a 03. $200 each. The 03 looked like this one on the outside but the frame was shot. I drive the 96, looks like Toyota replaced its frame under the recall. Great trucks.

    Like 2
  8. KevinM

    95% positive ebay rating with only a handful of transactions….no thanks….plus the odometer numbers dont line up…classic sign that odometer has been messed with…just sayin..

    Like 2
  9. Steve Clinton

    “95.7% Positive feedback”

    Danger, Will Robinson!

    Like 2
  10. ChingaTrailer

    As of this writing, my 1998 Toyota Tacoma SR5 extended cab 2wd 4cyl. automatic truck has 398,442 miles. Looks like hell, has been a work truck and wrecked twice but is still used for impromptu interstate high speed journeys. Cruise control holds it at a steady 80 mph all day long as the all original never serviced AC will freeze you out under the Arizona sun!

    Like 4
  11. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking truck. I remember when the Toyota Tacoma was first introduced to the market.

  12. rextreme

    $500 “processing fee”!

    Like 2
    • Steve Clinton

      Whatever THAT means!

    • ChingaTrailer

      Like any dealer “pack” – nonnegotiable theft.

      Like 3
  13. 370zpp

    Another one of these vehicles that looked so promising when I started reading…

    Like 4
  14. Bhowe Member

    Definitely been repainted. Right side of box clearly shows rippling from sanding with a DA. Presents ok, but not what you think at first

    Like 1
  15. Dave i

    1980s and’90s Toyotas are not barn finds.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      How about 80s and 90s Chevies or Fords?

      Like 4
  16. Marc

    They were great truck. I have the same truck except it’s a 4 cyl 5 speed. Looks like hell but I still drive 20,000 km yearly in the bush & in Québec salty roads. Frame has been checked by Toyota and I oilspray it each fall.

  17. Pete

    I think the interior even armoralled to hell is original. The top of the steering wheel leather is still in great shape. That area catches most of the wear. Yeah the truck got repainted. My thought is it got rear ended after a few years they found a nice truck bed off a higher milage truck swapped it out and then painted it at Maaco. Definitely suspect.

  18. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this pickup sold for $10,850.

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