Cars of a Lifetime: 1989 Toyota 4×4 Van- The Second Death or History Repeats Itself

Remember the 4×4 Toyota Van that met an untimely near-death a few cars back?  It appears that we were working on killing the un-killable. So for my next victim, I chose another similar Van. How long will a six hundred dollar Toyota Van go with minimal investment and a leaky radiator? Let us find out.

I missed my old Van very much, so when I saw the rarest of rare vans, a Toyota 4×4 five speed, on Craigslist for six hundred bucks, I had to jump on it. It was located in a small town some miles away from us and the man had several of them. He was selling all of them due to his girlfriend not liking them (thank god for girlfriends and wives, the best deals are because of them).  The Van had been sitting and the front seats were in the back of it. He had repaired a radiator leak and then just left it. He said that the radiator would need replacing but that I could probably drive it home. We put the Van back together and gave it a jump start. It coughed to life and then settled into a nice Toyota sewing machine idle. The outside was a bit beat up, the interior was no so hot and was full of cobwebs. And to top it off the transfer case shifter knob had been replaced by a rubber Scooby Doo head. He called the van Scooby, because that’s how he got it (charming).

We aired up one of the tires and drove it around. The radiator wasn’t leaking (he had epoxied it) and it drove just fine. So I paid him the six hundred bucks and drove over to the department of motor vehicles to get the registration current. Next stop, the auto parts store for a new battery, coolant, and stop leak. And then we were on our way. I stopped several times to top it up with water but the radiator was holding fine. That was partly due to the fact that I left the cap loose to prevent pressure from building up for the time being.  But we made it back without a hitch.

Next thing was to give it a good washing and to put the interior back together. I left the cobwebs for now though, since it really was just a beater.

I began using the Van for work. I had been out of work for a while and my friend Peter was retiring and selling his walk up coffee stand on the mall of our state capitol. So I purchased the business from him and though it didn’t make much money, at least I felt useful. The van fit my umbrella or awning plus my supplies perfectly.

After having used the Land Rover for this task, I was a little embarrassed driving this beater up on the mall every morning and afternoon to unload and load my stuff. But it was infinitely more practical than the Disco. Eventually after driving it long enough, I began to realize that besides having to add water to it every few days, it was not such a beater. I cleaned up the interior and began driving it as our primary family vehicle.

And of course it was a shoe-in for beach trips!

After all, if you can’t take your family to the beach in it, either because of poor fuel efficiency or because it’s a “project”, or another reason, than what’s the good in owning it?

Back in the seventies they used to call it the “Vannin Lifestyle” and as much as I hate the seventies, they might of had a point!

But I digress. You may wonder what happened to this little gem? A certain person who hails from Haiti and was mentioned in another post happened to it!  You see, the unnamed person was in the habit of borrowing my Land Rover or Van for his camping trips with his wife. Since he owned Saabs this made perfect sense!

One day he asked to borrow the Van. I warned him bout the water, well you can guess the rest. Amazingly it did still run (sort of). But I knew I would never get around to rebuilding the engine, so I put it on Craigslist. Several days latter a lady called up and wanted to give me a deposit to hold it for a month. Normally I think scam, but she sounded legit. I told her all of it’s problems and sent detailed pics. She still wanted it bad. So I took her money via Paypal and held it. When she came down to get it she was ecstatic!

In the end I ended up making money on the deal and I figured that sort of let my friend “the destroyer” off the hook. But now I wish I could find another 4×4, manual, Toyota Van. However, I am a bit gun-shy now that two have met their near-death in my ownership!