Toyotas, especially Toyotas of this era, are renowned for their over-engineering and attention to detail. It’s the reason early 90s Corollas and Camrys are still so common in the wild. The less endearing reputation they, and other Asian imports of the era carry is their tendency to turn into dust in the presence of road salt. It’s the reason why so many flawless examples remain on the west coast for Supcat to taunt me with.
The Previa benefitted from many corrosion inhibiting measures, which means even my 17-year-old example only has the same rust behind the rear fenders as every other Previa on the east coast.
The undercarriage was not as lucky. I suspect the van was parked on grass, but only on one side, since the tinworm seems to have attacked the left side of the van much more aggressively than the right. I took some scary looking pictures of the damage on the Previa’s belly and analyzed them with worry.
Frame damage has undone many otherwise mechanically sound cars, because it’s just not cost effective to repair, and in the case of rust, so hard to stop.
I brought the car over to Ed’s Auto Body (http://edsautobody.net/) in Easthampton for an assessment, since I didn’t want to put more time and money into a van that was about to split in half.
They put the van up on the lift and went to work with flashlights and screwdrivers, finding and removing Swiss cheesed metal.
When I came back for the verdict, Ed (I think) had good news for me. While there was some metal behind the front left wheel that was pretty much gone, the actual structural member was above it and in totally fine shape. He told me what he could do, with an estimate, but he also gave me instructions on how best to treat it.
Per his instructions, I picked up some POR15, (POR15) which is magical but expensive stuff and grabbed a mallet. I went to town on the cross-member and trim and a whole bunch of rusty chunks fell out transforming the van into Previa Superleggera, in my mind at least. Once it was all out in a brown pile next to the fan, I got to painting.
The POR15 goes on pretty thick, but it doesn’t drip much, which is nice when painting under the car. I got the front half nicely covered (on ramps) and hit the parts of the back that I could reach.
Now it’s wearing a nice winter coat underneath that should keep the rust that was left from spreading.