One Owner: 1997 Toyota Tercel Redhawk

When compiling a list of classic cars from the 1990s, the 1997 Toyota Tercel Redhawk generally won’t instantly spring to mind. That is easy to understand because Toyota developed the Tercel as affordable daily transport. However, this one is a gem and is worth a closer look. It is a one-owner survivor that presents exceptionally well for its age. Adding to its appeal is an odometer reading of 64,000 genuine miles. It needs a new home, so the seller has listed it here on eBay in White Marsh, Maryland. Spirited bidding has pushed the price to $4,650 in a No Reserve auction.

Toyota offered three versions of the Tercel “Hawk” series. They were marketed as appearance packages, bringing no performance improvements. Called the Blackhawk, Whitehawk, and Redhawk, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that their name was reflected in their paint color. This Redhawk wears a shade called Super Red, which is pretty vibrant. The first thing that caught my eye with this little Toyota was the shine that it wears. The paint is hard to fault, cloaking equally impressive panels. There is no evidence of accident repairs or rust, and the panel gaps are as tight and consistent as we expect from a Toyota product. The plastic has survived exceptionally well, while the glass is flawless. This Tercel retains its original rear spoiler, alloy wheels, and subtle decals as part of the Redhawk package.

Nobody will ever mistake a ’97 Tercel for a muscle car, but it could hold its head high as an affordable commuter option. The engine bay houses a 1,497cc fuel-injected DOHC four-cylinder engine pumping out a peppy 93hp. If anything disappoints me, it is the owner’s decision to order this classic with the optional automatic transmission because that will sap performance. However, it should still gallop through the ¼ mile in around 17.8 seconds. That is pretty respectable for a car of this type and age, allowing it to cope well with the cut and thrust of city or commuter traffic. The seller provides no specific information on how this Redhawk runs or drives but indicates it has a genuine 64,000 miles on the clock. Given Toyota’s reputation for bulletproof drivetrain components, the news on that front should prove positive.

Apart from a wrap on the wheel, this Tercel’s interior remains original and unmolested. Trimmed in pale tan cloth and vinyl, its condition is astounding. Trim of this shade can be prone to deterioration, but that isn’t the case with this little gem. There are no signs of wear or damage on the upholstered surfaces or carpet, while the dash is flawless. The interior needs nothing and contains the essential elements to make life on the road safe and comfortable. There are dual front airbags, ice-cold air conditioning, and a stereo AM/FM radio with rear speakers.

By 1997, the writing was on the wall for the Toyota Tercel. Its replacement was waiting in the wings, so Toyota chose to release three “special editions” to boost sales totals. Twenty-five years later, most of these have disappeared from our roads. This one has not only survived, but it has done so in superb condition. It has struck a chord with potential buyers, with the bid tally at fifty-eight. It seems people like what they see and are willing to vote with their wallets. As I said initially, the 1997 Tercel Redhawk won’t generally spring to mind when devising a list of classic cars. However, well-preserved examples like this will undoubtedly command attention. You will have to scour the roads carefully to find another one this nice. It may not possess the desirability of the sporty Celica, but its overall condition makes it worthy of being treated with ongoing care and respect.


  1. Moparman Member

    Absolutely STUNNING variant that I’ve never heard of! Appears to have been very well kept. GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 7
  2. DRV

    Want it….a great DD with mpg to match.

    Like 1
  3. Mwvickery

    That’s great to see. Most of these were driven into the ground, beaten to death, then driven some more. I can’t remember the last time I saw one that looked halfway decent. Hopefully, a sympathetic owner will keep it looking good.

    Like 6
  4. toyojerry

    NOT A RED HAWK. It would have an hawk emblem on each fender and Red Hawk badging on the rear. This is a DX model, not a special Hawk edition that also came as the Black Hawk (most common) and White Hawk(most rare).

    Like 5
    • Lothar... of the Hill People


      there is redhawk badging on the car in front of each rear wheel.

      Like 4
      • toyojerry

        I stand corrected. Missed it in the picture.

        Like 1
  5. nlpnt

    I had a base model in the early ’00s. Solid car, good mpg, incredibly compromised for its’ styling being a 2-door sedan rather than the hatchback earlier Tercels and later Yarises were. Automatic on this car takes away any fun a manual one would offer. Stodgier and cheaper than a comparably equipped Civic, more solid-feeling than a Geo Metro.

    Like 2
  6. TDS

    Thank goodness for the rear wing keeping those back wheels tracking the asphalt! LOL….. Nice survivor I will say – – –

    Like 5
  7. Gerard Frederick

    My sister-in-law had a 2000 blue Tercel here in Santiago Chile, drove it until she died. Today it´s being driven in the south of Chile by a relative of hers. To my knowledge, nothing was ever repaired on it, because nothing ever broke. The last time I saw it, about 5 years ago, it looked showroom fresh.

    Like 6
  8. MarveH

    I love economy cars, they are cheap and cheerful. Their light weight makes them, dare I say, fun. BUT that’s only with a manual transmission. I’ve walked away from many excellent examples of old ecno boxes I wanted because of a slush box. The auto literally kills any joy theses cars offer. The constant hunting for gears, the “wait for it” kick down, and the on/off the gas jerkyness. A manual in a small car, however, is transformative, so much fun to snick, snick through the gears. Pretty car, but pass.

    Like 4
  9. Gene

    Great looking Tercel, if i were looking for wheels it would definitely fit the bill…….

  10. Wayne

    In the winter or early spring 1997 or 1998 I was at a BMW training seminar in the LA area during the LA Auto Show. We were allowed to get in early in order to see more. (I literally bumped in Arnold Schwarzenegger coming out as I was going in and we exchanged pleasantries.) Anyway, there was one of these in white there in the Toyota spot. It looked really nice. But I thought that it would look even better lowered an inch or so and with some more aggressive tires and wheels. This is the first time I have seen one since that day. When you look from farther away there is a resemblance to the BMW 325 coupe/ M3 of the same vintage.

  11. Jim Muise

    My only Toyota was a new 1996 Tercel SD! Power train was fantastic! In the 40000 highway miles that I put on the car it needed 4 new wheel bearings,a new heater,radio and passengers seat belt. If you are thinking of buying this Tercel why not look for a nice Yugo or maybe a Lada? LOL

  12. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $6,355.

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