You’ve probably seen a Previa. It’s the one that looks like an egg, which is imagery Toyota has used in ads for it.
Most don’t know about the more idiosyncratic elements of its design. The engine lives under the driver’s seat at a slant. That engine is an inline four with a supercharger mounted out front under the hood. It was nearly unstoppable when equipped with four-wheel-drive (less so with RWD, more about that later). It was even possible to order it with swiveling chairs in the second row. Among other available options, two moonroofs (well before Subaru did it) and a refrigerator under the center console.
Mine’s a 1995 LE S/C. It doesn’t have the fridge, the swiveling chairs or the 4WD, but it’s a treat to drive. The view from the driver’s seat is more spaceship than gunsight. Acres of glass, a low beltline and a high seating position, as well as the stubby hood make it feel more like a futuristic capsule than a 17 year old van. It came out of an era when Japan’s automakers were still bringing some of the more interesting domestic market offerings to the US.
The impetus for buying it though, was the space. Thanks to the underfloor drivetrain, the interior is expansive, which means fitting 4 people, 4 bikes, and a bunch of other stuff inside is a cake walk.
While the van’s fundamentally inspired, it does need some love.
Another post coming soon with the breakdown of the planned work. For now, another inscrutable JDM ad.