PetrolBlog's Whatever happened to? feature on the Toyota Space Cruiser certainly sparked people's imagination. One comment which caught my eye was from Jenny who waxed lyrical about her own Space Cruiser. I asked her for some more information and following a few emails I've been able to put together this rather bittersweet tale of life with Toyota's brilliant and pioneering MPV.
Jenny bought her Space Cruiser in 2004 after the tragic death of her husband a year previously. In Jenny's own words she had to ferry six children around on her own, so needed something large enough to take the entire family. A Space Cruiser for sale in Southend seemed to fit the bill nicely. It was in excellent condition, had two previous owners and had 96,000 miles on the clock. A deal was done and the Space Cruiser was hers.
With a relatively high mileage, Jenny was initially worried about future repair bills on her newly purchased Toyota. But her concern was unfounded as, up until the end of the last year, the Space Cruiser had a blemish-free record. Not bad considering the car has now done 125,000, meaning Jenny has averaged around 3,500 miles a year. And even the recent problems haven't been the fault of the Toyota, but more on this later.
Asking Jenny what she likes best about the Space Cruiser reveals an unsurprising answer - SPACE! Whether it's been used for a family holiday or transporting the children to football practice, the Space Cruiser's space and versatility has been a godsend. During football practice the rearmost seats are folded up to provide a changing area. Put one seat down to provide enough space for an unfolded pram. Fold all the seats down to provide enough room for a double bed. You can clearly see the bloodline of the new Toyota Verso!
Jenny was also full of praise for the driving position and allround visibility - something lacking on more modern MPVs. That said, safety is one area where a Verso would completely trump its great uncle from yesteryear.
But look at those seats - just look at those seats! They look like a cross between something you'd find on a ship and a spaceship. You could just imagine E.T travelling to earth on one those in the 1980s.
Trying to find negatives from eight years of ownership is a little harder. Jenny's only real complaint is the growing scarcity of parts, with eBay becoming the primary source of help. One suspects that signing up for instant notification of eBay parts is a must for those who run their Space Cruisers daily.
Sadly for Jenny and her Space Cruiser, things recently started to go downhill. Firstly someone attempted to break into the car when it was parked outside Sainsbury's. Luckily the would-be thieves were spotted before they could steal anything, but not before the lock was punched out. It's currently held in place with gaffer tape.
But worst was to come during the recent snowfall. Not one but two cars collided with the parked Space Cruiser resulting in an insurance write-off. It's the cost of labour that's the biggest killer, with the repair including the removal of the petrol tank and the welding of a plate to repair the seal. Why do these things always happen when you've got nearly a full tank of fuel?
Jenny fears the worst. Although the settlement figure may include a reasonable buy-back price, the end may be nigh for the Space Cruiser. Even in a repaired state it's unlikely to fetch more than £800, so if head rules the heart, the Toyota could be no more.
Which in turn could lead to the number of manual Space Cruisers falling below 100 for the first time. A psychological tipping point on the way to oblivion?
Jenny is looking on the bright side and her sunny outlook on life is to be admired. She describes her Ford Galaxy Titanium hire car as ‘pure luxury’ and the grandchildren are enjoying the novelty of a new car. But one suspects that it doesn't have half the character and charm of the ageing Toyota.
I absolutely adore the look of the Space Cruiser. It's an unashamedly boxy machine that could only have come from the 1980s. The offset Space Cruiser badge on the bonnet is a winner and I love the red piping running around the grille. Such a cool machine - right now it tops the list of MPVs wanted by PetrolBlog (although it's an admittedly short list).
If you're interested in buying the Space Cruiser, get in touch with PetrolBlog. There's no guarantee that Jenny will sell it, but PetrolBlog would rather see it kept alive than stripped for spares. And I know Jenny wants it to be kept alive.
Good luck, Jenny.