Illegal Alien Van Nabbed: JDM Toyota 4×4 HiAce – TheTruthAboutCars

Running into this Japanese Domestic Market Toyota Hi-Ace in Eugene was about as unusual as the cold weather that week. It was a frosty December morning after an overnight low in the single digits; pretty uncommon hereabouts. Well, it did have British Columbia plates on it, so that helps explains it. But it’s right hand drive, and a long way from home.
This is a larger vehicle than the smaller Toyota vans that were sold here in the eighties and have all ended up in Eugene. A separate CC feature on old Japanese vans is overdue.
I couldn’t get a good shot, but this baby has a full transfer case and stout drivetrain that looks borrowed from an old Hi-Lux 4×4 pickup. If it had a diesel, this would really be something for a globe trotter.

More by Paul Niedermeyer
Here in Seattle Previas seem to be everywhere. Seriously, I see several every day. They are cheap enough and common enough I have considered buying one just as a beater/driver. A friend had one when I was in college and I remember it as a very useful and pleasant to drive vehicle. The older style toyota vans have all gone south to Eugene however – they were pretty common once but it seems like ages since I have seen one on the road.
I drove one Hi-ace 2.4 petrol (slightly detuned engine as in egg-shaped Previa) , which served as school bus during my studies in Switzerland. Rigid rear axle, leaf springs, vintage tires, but handle surprisingly well even unladen, on wet tarmac…with modicum of common sense applied by driver, of course! On dry, however….with 150kg of baggage, carefully distributed on the floor, that thing was FLYING on the road!:) at 170km/h ( 102mph) it was still accelerating (granted, tacho could have been lying slightly 🙂 ). It was great in every way, very reliable. Any car surviving 23 drivers during a 6 months, with just regular maintenance deserves that adjective.. Fly in the ointment…during 200km round trip it burned through about 35 liters of unleaded! My student budget wished it had had LPG conversion 🙂


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