Fascination of the Boring: 1983-1989 Toyota Van

Also known as the MasterAce, the Passenger Van, and advertised for its last two years as a Wonderwagon, the 1980s Toyota Van is a fascinating vehicle. 

Oh wait, no it’s not. I forgot that for a minute there. It’s just an old van.

Well, it’s probably not as much of a landmark vehicle as its contemporaries, the Chrysler and Renault minivans, none of them came with such a remarkably short wheelbase or escape pod styline.

Is this the closest the world has seen to a Syd Mead concept coming to life?

Its unpretentious manner and durable mechanics give it a definite charm, and any additional owner-added modifications just end up looking the business.

With such a plain exterior, the fuzzy zebra interior comes across as exceedingly awesome.

Even the factory appointments of zippy stripes shine out from such a straight-laced design.

In all seriousness, however, it is crazy to think that car enthusiasts so readily declare these cars as nothing more than humdrum and uninteresting. Toyota vans have had millions more miles on their collective odometers than probably every Ferrari ever built put together. If Toyota Vans like this one are just plain, everyday appliances, then they only show more clearly the habits and traditions of automobile use.

Car culture is always being defined by its extremities, and for good reason. The strange, unusual, rare cases of automobile history elucidate the trends and standards of mainstream motoring by testing their boundaries.

The Toyota Van “proved” no realities of driving and owning an automobile, but it is a clear picture of what transportation looked like to a vast number of delivery drivers and frugal families. For that it is interesting, and for its rough dynamics and intergalactic styling, I love this old Toyota Van.

For Reference:

I found my information on the Toyota Van at Toyoland.com and on wikipedia:



Also, some Toyota Vans showed up on DOTS, but I’m still waiting for Curbside Classics to do a piece on these old Toyotas:


This entry was posted in Davis, Fascination of the Boring, Pictures. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Fascination of the Boring: 1983-1989 Toyota Van

  1. Isaura says:

    I would like to know what is the price of the van

  2. TP says:

    i owned 2 but it was fun to drive and you could put a full size sheet of plywood in it they had head gasket issues

  3. victor cruz says:

    who has eny of this vans for sale??

  4. deez nutts says:

    I for one have a 1989 toyota van and I think its the coolest van out there hands down who cares what other people say I sure dont..im looking forward to the up coming years that im going to spend with this van

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  6. tom says:

    i have one of these vans and i love it. For the year it loaded with gadgets. The moon roof is really awesome. The little four cylinder engine isn”t the easiest to work on because of the compact design but that doesn’t matter because it”s so reliable. The turning radius is unbeat anywhere. Takes a little bit of time to get parts because of the age. Gas mileage is around 24 highway.

  7. Smacdoug1 says:

    im just so excited to get one of these beasts…. im gunna love the crap out of it and camp everywhere! aww so much fun, so cool looking, I love unique ugly designs like this! im sure they have the same engines in other cars that are more common right? engine parts are hopefully not to hard to find…..

  8. John T. Kuhrke says:

    It is interesting you wrote an articIe on the fascination with them. I don’t imagine it exists anymore, but there was Iike a cuIt foIIowing back in the day. I have owned a coupIe vehicIes over the years that attracted a crowd, but Toy Van crowd was the most avid.
    I had an ’86 I bought around ’90. It was in good shape. StiII shiny on the top side. And contrary to what most peopIe surmised, they did reaIIy weII in crash tests.
    The cuIt thing was freaky. If you stopped somewhere, 2 more wouId join you, just to jaw a speII.. Now there are 3 of us Toyota Van owners sitting in a gas station or roadside turnout, yakking about how wonderfuI our vans are. Around 1993, I had 260,000 on mine, and I was kinda proud of that. Geeze, I begin taIking to these cuItists that have Iike 400,000 on theirs. These peopIe were avid fans!! And the common thread to the conversations was, “Never done anything to it other than brakes and stuff”.
    They were buIIet proof. I had to have the aIternator rebuiIt once. And, one day, when I was pounding the road in OkIahoma, I threw a fan beIt. With 2 good beIts Ieft, I shouId have been abIe to get to a garage. But when the beIt went, it took out a radiator hose. So I had to get it towed in and fixed. That was my big experience.
    I absoIuteIy Ioved that van. I used to do a Iot of carpentry and stuff. The van was so short it amazed peopie what you couId get inside of it. You couId put 4X8 sheets of pIywood inside it,and cIose the door. The trick was, the sheets had to go on top of the cross tunneI behind the seats, and to compensate, I just put about 4 miIk crates in back so the pIywood sat IeveI.
    You know how hard it is to impress peopIe. One day I went down to the Sears store to pick up a washer and dryer I’d ordered. The guy Iooks at my van and says you can’t fit these in there. Mind you, the machines were stiII packed in those huge card board box/crates. WeII, I Iifted the taiIgate, and we sIid them in without any tiIting or jimmying. I mean just sIid the IN!! This guy actuaIIy was standing there with his mouth hanging open. The van was so taII inside there was room to spare. And there was stiII a coupIe feet Ieft over in back when I cIosed the hatch. I Ieft him standing in the aIIey, scratching his head.

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