Chaser Avante Lordly? The mind boggles. At Toyota, a group of serious guys (in ‘80s Japan, it would almost certainly have been only guys) wearing three-piece suits and considered valued members of society, gathered in a meeting room to workshop a new series name for one of their highly prominent automobile ranges, and they actually came up with that. And their boss, as well as that boss’s boss, thought that was great.
The bind moggles even more. Another group of serious, suit-wearing folks designed badges – one that said “Avante” in italicized cursive, the other spelling out “LORDLY” all-caps and in gold – and stuck those next to each other on the trunk lid and thought “Yeah, that’ll do.” And the funniest bit of it all was that, indeed, it did do. To be entirely fair, the Lordly name was also used on the previous generation Chaser. And on the next one, too.
So one must figure that, back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, legions of serious and fully clad Japanese (most of them, anyway) citizens visited their local Toyota Auto Store, to check out the new Chasers. Hey, it was the go-go ‘80s-slash-’90s after all, money was piling high in the savings accounts and it was about time to trade in the old car for a new one.
A new Chaser – now that’s an alluring proposition. The higher trim Avante, with the 150hp DOHC 2-litre straight-6? With the special edition Lordly package, including Super white body colour, alloy wheels, a digital speedo and a great sound system? Tempting…
“Do I want doilies?” wondered our putative Japanese Chaser client. “Of course I want them. How could I live without them? Give me those doilies. And make the velour brown, please. Brown is so soothing.”
And so the dealer obliged and fit a set of doilies that helpfully spelled out “Chaser” on the brown velour seats, both front and back.
Sign the dotted line? Well in Japan, you don’t sign things, you stamp them. Everybody owns a set of stamps with their name on it, and important documents are always stamped in red ink. So some serious person, back in 1990, stamped the dotted circle, and got this Lordly presence in their life. And probably a five-year payment plan.
But what’s five years when you can keep the thing on the road for over three decades? Just keep petrol in the tank and air in the tyres, and this Chaser will go Avante forever. In a Lordly sort of way.
In the X80 family, the Mark II was the popular one (about 850,000 sold by 1993), available in both standard saloon and so-called hardtop version. The pillared Cresta was the one with delusions of deluxury, and that generation garnered over 350,000 sales. For its part, the “hardtop” Chaser was the sporty spice of the girl band. Toyota sold just under 300,000 of these Chasers. But the Lordly ones were only a small fraction of that.
Now that we’ve seen all three variation on this particular theme, perhaps we can focus on other generations of Toyota’s iconic X platform. The problem is finding them – the X80 sold so well and is still so present today that it eclipses other generations, especially the older ones. Even standing still, the Lordly moves in mysterious ways.