Dealer Classic: 1997 Toyota Paseo Convertible – Quiero dar un paseo, pero no quiero comprar este coche.


(first posted 5/23/2016)    If you crave a comprehensive history about the 1997 Toyota Paseo Convertible, keep on walking, because this is among the last cars I’d be willing to buy, drive, or otherwise be seen in.  I’m also not all that keen on researching every last detail regarding its genesis and eventual execution.  It is, however, a somewhat nonconforming addition to the local used car lot, which is reason enough to give it a quick once over.


From what I’ve hastily gathered in a high school English student method of research (aka Googling it and going with the first couple of websites I could find, regardless of their potential for accuracy), the 1997 Paseo was the only year the convertible was offered, and only 1000 were made, all by ASC in California.


You see, the Paseo, even the standard version, is a car that has almost totally escaped my memory, like that just big enough one-hit wonder that brings all those memories flooding back because nobody’s played the song in years.  Unfortunately, in the heady days of my youth I was more a 5.0 Mustang guy than a Supra or Celica guy; therefore, this car brings back nothing but a deadpan, quizzical stare as I tried to determine the year of manufacture without looking at the dealer tag.

Full disclosure: At first I didn’t even know the make or model, and that doesn’t happen often.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before.


As it stands, the hangers on at the lot tonight must have wondered why a middle-aged man wearing a Schwinn Bicycles t-shirt and driving a ’53 Buick was taking pictures of this nineties oddity.  Having graduated in 1995, one would think that this was right up my alley, but I was already lost in a world of stuff older than I was…and gosh the nineties haven’t aged well.  After the eighties, I thought the nineties were tame, but then I looked at the seats of this Paseo.


So much for conservative attire.  Of course, the nineties only seemed fashionable at the time because it wasn’t the eighties.  For some reason, the song “Barbie Girl” by Aqua just popped into my head, and I can’t make it stop. Click this link if you hate yourself.

On the plus side, this Paseo is like a Fiesta!  Seriously, that driver’s seat is beginning to fray, and where are you going to find that pattern?  Anyone?


All jokes about taste aside, this car doesn’t seem like that bad a deal.  Showing just under 150,000 miles on the odometer, this Toyota probably has years and years to become stylish again.  All trends return, just as all waters lead to the ocean if you wait long enough.

With under 100 horsepower filtered through an automatic, you can drive slowly while waiting for the inevitable return of splashy teals and faded reds, just as I always wait for my sideburns to return to public favor.


This Paseo’s been on the lot for months, even at its $2495 “dealer special” asking price.  The pictures make it obvious that it’s been wrecked (just look at the front fender), so lay 15 Benjamins on the hood, and who knows? You could drive away with Will Smith’s “Summertime” blaring from the tape deck, thinking about the old days and how you never remember seeing a car like this.  Me?  I’ll just walk away.

***If Google Translate let me down in regards to the title, I apologize.  I don’t speak Spanish.***