Merry Shednesday. I was going to waffle on about Hyundai V6 saloons this week (I’ll cover them next week, if there are some available), until I saw the following 1980s masterpiece. That’s the great thing about Facebook Marketplace; one minute you’re perusing SUVs (the Vauxhall Frontera, in case you were wondering), then something random appears mid-search. It’s like Pokémon.
Ten months after I was born, in November 1982, Toyota released the TownAce. PetrolBlog’s American reader will know it as the Toyota Van. Its uprated sibling, and the subject of this week’s update, had the slightly more challenging (or supremacist) name of Toyota MasterAce Surf. While I try to put aside images of Hitler going tubular and “hanging ten”, what’s interesting is that the Surf was available in four- or rear-wheel drive. Clearly there is fun to be had.
Today’s car is a 1989 1.8-litre non-turbocharged diesel in rear-wheel drive guise. Before you start thinking about drifting in a genuine JDM vehicle (yes it’s imported), there are some issues to address. Firstly, there is the problem of the cooling system. Apparently the heating matrix is bypassed, which means the car will need trailering unless you live very close to Crookham Common in Thatcham.
Beyond this, the automatic gearbox needs attention and one of the rear indicators needs a new lens. It’s fair to say the bodywork isn’t great.
Beyond the problems, the car has done just 91,000 miles, it has an MOT until March next year, and more importantly, it looks gloriously bonkers with the Skylite roof and corresponding stickers. All that natural light is sure to cheer you up after all that time in lockdown. As a bonus, passengers can travel facing each other, taxi-style.
There are also some optional wire wheel covers, although I would probably decline them and put the extra £100 towards getting the heating issues fixed.
The car is on Facebook Marketplace for £1700, but also on eBay with an auction listing. It’s the only one I could find, so it’s difficult to say whether that is a good price or not. The only alternative would be something like this 1991 Hiace, listed at £1995. Over to the Major.
This is prime PetrolBlog territory. Although the blog is arguably best known for its love of French tat, there’s a deep affection for weird and wonderful Japanese cars of the 1980s and 1990s. Whisper this, but if PetrolBlog was told to pledge allegiance to one flag, spending the rest of its days driving cars from that nation, it would turn Japanese.
Put it this way: there are 14 vehicles on the PetrolBlog fleet. Right now, the Toyota Camry would be the last one out of the door. Don’t worry, I’ll be returning my #FrenchTat badge to Marie Claire on reception. After that, I’ll be scouring Facebook Marketplace (and Snowdonia) searching for Fronteras.