Curbside Outtakes: 1980-82 Toyota Tercel & 1970-76 Porsche 914 – Baby, I Love LA

Los Angeles is a car enthusiast’s paradise. Oh sure, sure, the traffic can be diabolical. But look what it’s got going for it:

  • Amazing and iconic driving roads nearby, like Mulholland Drive and Angeles Crest Highway.
  • No snow and very little rainfall in general, making the climate great for driving and conducive to the ongoing survival of old cars.
  • Old cars. Everywhere.

I was literally returning my rental car when I spotted two classics directly outside the Enterprise lot. In fact, there was actually another classic on the street that I had to forego photographing. That’s LA for you.

During my time in Los Angeles – around three days, all up – I drove past more classic cars than I photographed. I saw old Darts and a Plymouth Duster. I saw bustleback Sevilles and Chevrolet Celebrities. I saw so many old Mercedes-Benzes I lost count. You eventually just have to concede that you can’t stop and photograph every car. The other classic on Bellanca Avenue was a mint condition 1987-91 Toyota Camry wagon in a deep chocolate brown. It looked fantastic but I didn’t snap it. My two weeks in Europe left me with what I call palace fatigue, when the beauty and grandeur of all the palaces and castles no longer astonishes you and you take it for granted. My time in Los Angeles left me with Curbside Classic fatigue or at the least an understanding that you can only pull over to the side of the road so many times…

I get a real thrill out of seeing a bone-stock old car, particularly if it’s a car that was once common but has now mostly vanished. But this little Toyota Tercel has been modified in such a charming way, I had to take photos. That and I’d literally never seen a Tercel of this generation, Australia missing out on this particular model and, in fact, all Tercels bar the 4WD wagon.

Toyota’s North American operations were quick to embrace the new front-wheel-drive models coming out of Japan. Arriving in North America in 1980, the FWD Tercel was sold concurrently with the more conventional, rear-wheel-drive Starlet from 1981 until 1984. But the Tercel won out and would continue to be sold for four more generations.

Rather more exotic was the Porsche 914 parked just down the street. Mind you, many Porsche enthusiasts spent years deriding this as “not a real Porsche” because of Porsche’s collaboration with Volkswagen in developing the 914 and its VW-Porsche badging in other markets. But this was no Beetle with a Porsche badge slapped in, instead being a dashing, mid-engine targa.

There’s not much I can say about the 914 that hasn’t been covered already in Robert Kim’s article. And our own GeelongVic is the proud owner of a beautiful red example. I was surprised to see a 914 in person and even more surprised it wasn’t painted in some lurid factory color!

Then again, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a 914 in person. I was in Los Angeles after all, a city where there’s always some classic lurking around the corner. Or three. And I’m kicking myself because yet again I visited Los Angeles (I’m up to four visits now) and again it was a short visit. I used to think I’d hate Los Angeles and each time I go I end up loving it more. Next time, I’ll stay longer. And if you run out of things to do in LA, just rent a car and go driving down random streets. You’re guaranteed to find something interesting.

Photographed in Westchester, CA on September 29, 2018.