I used to know the family that runs this car and when I last saw the thing it was pootling around town in the hands of their high school aged youngest son. I can’t describe the streaming jealousy I had watching that 1,800 pound car buzz by.
I don’t imagine that it possesses great refinement, handling, or roadholding. No point in looking up contemporary reviews out of Car and Driver or Road & Track – no matter what it was like then, I can’t imaging that the past 30 years have kept the car rattle free and buttoned-down in “enthusiastic” cornering.
But to paraphrase Olivier Renaud-Clément, what I look for in a car is a look – just that I want one that runs deeper than skin deep. This car projects such brio – I maintain that the best driving cars are the ones that you are most willing to cane – it has a keen stance and a reputation for reliability. In its day, the Tercel was billed on its efficiency – space efficiency in its hatchback shape and drivetrain efficiency with its new-for-Toyota front wheel drive. none of that is important now. I love it for strange details born from late ’70s design and what I imagine to be a shaking, nervous, over-light feel at the wheel.
California makes these cars – owned by one family and just passed down from a frugal young parent in the early 1980s to the kids in high school. Some of them live long like this one, others just die out. My mom bought a red one, my girlfriend’s folks bought a brown one. hard to say why one lasts and another doesn’t, but I want this one so bad to go driving around in. It’s 3000 miles away now, and I don’t imagine I’ll ever have the cash to buy one like this. Damn you, you grandma car!