Found this one-owner gem on the internet with 29k miles. My 12th Toyota, 3rd Tercel. Toyota's place in America was won with a simple strategy: make their entry-level cars cheap to buy and keep, and buyers will keep coming back for upscale models. The Tercel exemplified that strategy. Comfortable seats; simple, serviceable drivetrain; straightforward interior (you never need an owner's manual to figure out how everything works). Smooth runner (tho noise levels high when compared with 20 today's cars)-- and with 76 bhp, you won't be winning any races. 3-spd auto revs high and hurts mileage (28-30 avg), but does the job; it gets you there cheaply, and with just a little bit of fun thrown in too!
Starts instantly (though it needs 10- sec warm up to run best); very good seat comfort; corners like a go-cart with 185/70-13 tires; tight turning radius; good visibility; previous exp. w/ Tercels bodes 300k miles with minimal TLC. HEY TOYOTA: why are the seats more comfortable in this than the Yaris?
Road- and engine-noise makes conversation tough above 55mph; oil filter in LOUSY place close to exhaust manifold; sheet metal THIN; OEM tires so small they belong on a stroller; poor headlights and VERY DISMAL brakes mean leaving lots of room to stop-- good luck if you need to slam on the brakes!!
My aunt gave me this car 3 years ago. this car is a great commuter car : I drive 140 highway miles round trip, it gets great gas mileage and I regularly go 70mph. Its a fun zippy little thing and its very responsive. No rust, no maintenance issues. It won't win any beauty contests, but it is so reliable and fun to drive.
I bought this car seriously neglected for $1K & 50K miles. I doubt they changed the oil ever as it was owned and operated by an elderly woman who actually died and the nephew sold it to me. That's not a good combination for a reliable vehicle, but after investing another $700 in overdue maintenance, it has given me nearly flawless reliability for two years and 15K miles/yr. The car has had an issue with its thermostat, and it can overheat without you knowing it, so be aware that near-red is actually RED. Also, there is a carburetor adjustment screw that we had to dig-into the carb metal to get to at the back (near firewall), but after that, it runs fantastic for simple transportation.
I LOVE the geeky seat belts. Very useful to keep me from forgetting or hating putting a seat belt on, and it serves as a great handle to pull the door closed after you're in too.
That main carburetor adjustment screw is key to having a car with actual (and safe) power to accelerate in traffic. I still have to merge by braking, but it takes a professional mechanic to figure out where to literally dig-into the carb metal to adjust that carb screw at the back of the carb.
I bought this car when it was already 11 years old and with about 70K miles on it. I kept it for 6 years and put another 30K miles on it. When I parted with it, it was still going very strong. The car had zero problems. Besides routine maintenance, once in a while I did have to replace a part. But that's once in a long while. In the six years I owned it, I might have put in $500 to $600 in maintenance and repairs, and I don't even do the oil changes myself.
Indestructibility. This car will die from salt rust before anything else.
Add a right hand side mirror. I know the EZ Hatchback is the econ model, but it's a pain (and potential safety issue) to check the right blind spot twice just to make a lane change to the right. Exterior styling is non- existent.