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midniteson Reader
10/19/17 1:46 a.m.

Back when i was 16 , my Uncle gave me a 1983 Toyota Tercel 4wd to drive. he felt sorry for me because my 318 1975 Duster id been working on since 14 was constantly leaving me stranded at school and work. He bought it for my cousin, she talked him into getting her a BMW e30 for getting good grades, and so the wagon sat.

It was cherry. Low miles Sun Roof, inclinometer, and plaid interior. Of course i took it into the hills to see what it had, and its performance even with the 13" wheels and tires was impressive. I finally got stuck in mud so deep we couldnt open the doors lol. those 13"wheels and dinky tires were not going to cut it. I promptly lifted it and added 15" wheels and some 28." cooper SST mud tires. I had my buddies in weld shop make me a bumper out of angle iron. I used a sheet of diamond plate i found in the junkyard for a skid plate.

with this set up, and the 6speed, (when in 4wd an extra low gear opens up and it becomes a 6speed) it was a very capable daily driver/camping adventure rig. I rallied it on Reservation roads, and through the many forest roads  here in WA state. I once pulled a Full size Bronco out of the snow.  it was dubbed"The Shaggin Wagon" due to its 7 thoughtfully placed interior  handles in SR5 Trim. 


Me circa 1998


Sadly i was T-boned in a horrible accident around the age of 18 , and the "Shaggin Wagon" was no more. It saved my life though. I always told myself if i found a rust free runner id build another.

I have a couple good buddies i race with who are toyota enthusiasts, and knew of my love for the Tercel4wd. For my 35th birthday suprised me with The best present ive gotten as an adult.


Enter "Mr T"

They found him in Idaho for $600 it is rust free and runs and drives, 4wd and all 6 gears work.  i am lucky to have such good friends.

I will do a similar build to the "Shaggin Wagon" I plan on using it for camping and cruising forest trails up here in WA state, but now being a father with a 9 year old daughter I had to come up with a more family friendly name for this one. While driving it home, it came to me like a 80s tv show Flashback..."Mr T"

He definiteley "Pities the Fool!" who thinks this thing wont rip it up off road. considering i did not have a computer or internet for the first Tercel build, I am much older and a tad bit wiser. The same recipe from the past should work along with new mods to try.

"Mr T", will basically be my 2200lb Slow street legal UTV. as you can see from whats on the roof rack, it will be getting its first round of mods soon. first things first, got to get rid of the 13" set up. Winter is coming....

midniteson Reader
10/19/17 8:47 p.m.

So i picked up some free 215 70 r 15 tires, they should be a big improvement. 

02Pilot Dork
10/19/17 9:18 p.m.

I drove a blue one in high school. This thread is already giving me flashbacks.

midniteson Reader
10/19/17 10:27 p.m.

had to find some wheels that fit, quick forum search and got a list. picked up some 15" escort wheels from the junkyard before the car headed to the scrap heap.  got my snow tires mounted, quite the difference

I like em


ssswitch Dork
10/19/17 11:10 p.m.

These things are probably the greatest of the 80s/90s "4WD tall wagon" trend. You have good friends.

Am I the only one who has found great deals on new 13" rubber? Stores with dead stock just want them cleared out.

midniteson Reader
10/20/17 12:08 a.m.

In reply to ssswitch :

I sure do, i'll keep this one until im dead. i hope to drive it when im 70 and feel 16 again, I didn't even look for 13" tires hate the way this car looks with them. ill probably be putting the old tires and wheels on craigslist for cheap:)

midniteson Reader
10/20/17 12:10 a.m.

Threw some cheap rubber spring spacers front and back, and threw the escort wheels on. 

much improved!

ultraclyde PowerDork
10/20/17 6:31 a.m.

This is awesome. I already love the way it looks. You should really consider doing some version of the Toyota offroad hash livery on it. I think the yellow/orange would look cool on the blue paint. Maybe go white/yellow/orange in stead of yellow/orange/red.


Toyman01 MegaDork
10/20/17 6:40 a.m.

This is cool. I love some 4WD quirkiness. 

midniteson Reader
10/21/17 12:18 a.m.

In reply to ultraclyde :

Man you are on to somthing. i was just stoked that it was blue, not one of the terrible factory colors these came in. but that livery though....

mndsm MegaDork
10/21/17 8:45 a.m.

Hah, I got a cheap corolla wagon for my birthday a few years ago too! Only this was a 93 corolla. 

midniteson Reader
10/21/17 2:41 p.m.

now that Mr T's Tire and wheel set up are figured out, i started to brain storm options to make more power. the stock 3ac in this car is very very slow. seeing as how i plan to drive this rig on the freeway to and from adventures a game plan for just a little boost in power is definitley necessary.



This speedometer is very optimistic, 

barefootskater New Reader
10/21/17 2:52 p.m.

In reply to midniteson :

Almost every speedometer I've ever seen is optimistic at best. My favorite (tie) was the focus that went to 140 but was governed out at 110 or the 73 vw that went to 110 but maxed out shy of 80. Second favorite is the s10 that only goes to 85 then the needle disappears. See how close you can get to the mark though.


Also I love the tercel. there are a few running around my town that I envy greatly.

midniteson Reader
10/21/17 2:55 p.m.

After some internet sleuthing on tercel4wd forum, it seems that the only motor that will bolt in withought any modification, and give me more power is the 4AC that can that can be found in the SR5 version of the ae86 corolla.

With a weber carb, and a Schneider regrind cam, Mr T would be able to merge onto the freeway with no pity. 


Lucky for me, My friend who got me the car recently acquired this


A SR5 Corolla that just so happens to have still have its original 4AC, and has a 4AG swap planned for the near future.

This is a glamour shot i snapped when He took it out to the Oregon raceway park for a track day, he put the car through its paces that day. The motor is in great shape, It even already has a Weber carb. 



midniteson Reader
10/21/17 3:07 p.m.

In reply to barefootskater :

Oh man, thats a great thread topic. "optimistic speedometers"


midniteson Reader
10/22/17 3:29 a.m.

Found some awesome 80's japanese magazine ads. The Tercel can be made into a poor mans Maybach lol. 

midniteson Reader
10/22/17 4:48 a.m.

and this wonderful gif 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
10/22/17 8:21 a.m.
midniteson said:

Found some awesome 80's japanese magazine ads. The Tercel can be made into a poor mans Maybach lol. 


I don't suppose your car was lucky enough to come with those blue plaid seats, was it?  They're pretty cool.

JamesMcD SuperDork
10/22/17 1:48 p.m.

So , are drive train parts available for these at all? Just wondering, because I recently found one that looks decent and may be for sale. 

XLR99 Dork
10/22/17 3:38 p.m.

There can only be one paint scheme for this thing....


midniteson Reader
10/22/17 3:55 p.m.

In reply to stuart in mn :

Mr T did come with those seats, the only hitch, is they are tan instead of blue. they were swapped in at some point in Mr. T's life they are the same as pictured above, which came in 82-84 models. In 85 and 86 they lost the plaid and got a diamond pattern. same seat though. handles come in....handy.


midniteson Reader
10/22/17 3:59 p.m.

In reply to JamesMcD :

Consumables are still available like clutches and u joints and CV axles. id be looking for a parts rig for other things. These cars are pretty robust though. Big part of the allure of the Tercel is good gas mileage, and dead nuts reliable. when properly maintained. even though they are like a sloth on the free way.

midniteson Reader
10/22/17 4:04 p.m.

In reply to XLR99 :

I totally forgot about it being in breaking bad lol. The blue is definitley growing on me. i saw a seafoam green one the other day. glad i got blue lol. i am going to try and buff this paint back to life. 

GCrites80s New Reader
10/22/17 8:22 p.m.

I never see cars like this in Rust States. Some cars over 15 years old just don't exist here.

midniteson Reader
10/22/17 10:40 p.m.

Found the commercial that gif came from, and it is full of 80's win!

In japan the Tercel 4WD was called the "Sprinter Caribou". its pretty awesome. "Happy Choice" lol.



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