1984 Toyota Tercel Station Wagon from North America


It's driven from the Earth to the Moon


It's gone through two transmissions.

The timing belt broke, but it wasn't a big deal to replace, and wasn't expensive.

The air conditioning failed twice.

The brakes have been replaced at least three times.

The head gasket went around 200,000 miles.

The struts have been replaced twice.

General Comments:

This review is something of an epitaph for a car I've loved for years. I just heard that at 250,000 miles (the distance from the Earth to the Moon) my Tercel has "blow back" of oil into the combustion chamber, which is apparently fatal.

Nonetheless, this car provided mostly reliable transportation for an insane number of years and miles. Although it occasionally had something awful go wrong (like the transmission failing), the overall costs of maintaining it averaged out to be very low from year to year. Admittedly, I didn't take the best care of it: Oil changes weren't that frequent and tune-ups were rare. But it just kept going.

The layout of the dashboard was a little awkward: You practically had to put your chin in the steering wheel to reach down to adjust the radio.

The thing I'll miss most about it is the body style. The boxy, station wagon shape let it hold lots and lots of cargo. The roof was high and the windows were big, so that it had almost no blind spots. The tall roof also made it roomy and comfortable inside for all sizes and shapes of people. And the angular shape was easy to spot in parking lots.

The flat hatchback door reminded friends of an automatic teller machine. To me it was the perfect canvas for a collage of bumper stickers. The flat rear windows and door just begged for bumper stickers! I know I'm not the only one who felt that way: Look around, and whenever you see a mid-80s Tercel wagon it'll be covered with bumper stickers.

If you're able to find one of these cars and it's on its second engine, or has been well maintained I would highly recommend it. It's a dependable, cheap, safe, no-frills car with a certain amount of geeky cool. Buy it for yourself, or for your new-to-driving teenager. But buy it, and give it a kiss for me.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th March, 2004

4th Jun 2005, 05:41

I have this car and I love it too, but currently its CV joints are giving trouble. If any one of you know please tell me where I can find the front axles for this car. you can e mail me at kumudu_j@yahoo.com.

13th Sep 2007, 07:35

It's the year 2007 and I've just bought a 1984 model car! So far its the best thing I've ever done in my 45 years of life. I needed a small cheap runabout wagon for work and couldn't find anything, until I came accross this wagon. Its only done 100,000 km, runs like a bird, doesn't leak oil and always starts when its meant to. Cheap to run to 7l per 100km on the open road... What a gem they should still build them!

1984 Toyota Tercel Deluxe 1.5 from North America


The perfect car for the practical person with impractical hobbies


I've needed to replace both drive half-shaft (CV joints). They began clicking.

The carburetor needed a rebuilding to make it run smoothly. Could've gone without it though.

Rear brakes needed replacing (drums/shoes/etc.). This was my fault.

General Comments:

Gutless engine, but you can easily keep up with traffic if you work the 5 speed.

The car's handling isn't great, as is expected of a soft-sprung wagon, but the balance that the extra weight in the back affords is excellent when you're "at the limit" or in an emergency.

The car doesn't over-steer of course, but it doesn't under-steer nearly as bad as one would expect. It is very neutral.

Very sure-footed in the snow/rain.

Front seats are very comfortable.

The noisy cabin/motor at high speeds takes away from the comfort during long trips.

The wagon looks so small from the outside, but you'd be amazed at what it can swallow.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th February, 2004

25th May 2015, 14:14

I disagree strongly with the handling comments. I have an '85 deluxe wagon and one day met a 5 ton truck coming up a hill (double solid line). About the time I had just about reached the front of the truck, a car that had been right behind the truck (invisible to me before) pulled out to pass (about 1/2 his vehicle in my lane). I had no time to think, but just yanked the wheel to the right, then immediately back to the left to keep from hitting the bank (mountain country) on the right side of the road. Stuff in the back of the car was flying all over, but I never lost control, and the vehicle responded flawlessly. When I arrived home I sat and realized how close to a possible death I had been, and how wonderful my faithful Tercel had handled. I would suggest checking your struts. Push each corner firmly down and count the 'bounces' until it stops moving. It should come back up, then settle down slightly, and all four corners should be this way. If one or more corners are "soft" then you need strut (or strut insert) replacement. Good Luck!