4AGE Makes it Better – 1986 Toyota Tercel Wagon

Toyota’s mid-1980s Tercel wagon has evolved into something of a cult car. Likely pulled up by the rising tide of the competing Civic Wagovan, this oddball Japanese wagon with its funky high-roof styling and pseudo-off-road cues can’t be getting popular because of the driving experience, though – with a meager 63hp to motivate a 2100-lb. wagon (not very porcine, but overwhelming for a 1.5), it’s not going anywhere fast. That said, with an improvement in power-to-weight, owning one of these quirky j-boxes might be a little more fun. Fortunately, someone already came to that conclusion and grabbed a 4AGE from a Corolla FX16 or MR2 and dropped it in an unsuspecting 2wd wagon. Check out this 1986 Toyota Tercel 4AGE wagon for sale for $2000 in Vancouver, WA.

1986 Toyota Tercel Wagon 4AGE right front

Hopefully, some of the donor’s suspension and brake parts were also transferred over – looks like the car has been at least lowered and given wider wheels from a Miata. The seller only mentions cut springs, and no improvements to the brakes, so either he’s forgotten or those details remain to be addressed. With 500 miles on the swap, you may have some debugging yet to do, but it seems the hardest part – fitting the engine to the car – is already done.

1986 Toyota Tercel Wagon 4AGE left front

The body looks pretty straight overall, though it might be fun to restore the paint and do some period graphics. It would be cool to do something to further accentuate the high-top roof; foreign market cars boasted some odd graphics packages, and it seems some cars have contrasting hatches. Based on personal experience, while the concept of a compact 4wd wagon was pretty neat, the engine made it fall flat on its face, so having the twincam in there will make up for the fact this is a 2wd version.

1986 Toyota Tercel Wagon 4AGE engine

The same car is listed here by a previous owner for $1800 last spring. The current owner appears to have added the MR2 seats inside, and tidied up the valve cover somewhat. Fortunately, the conversion looks pretty clean – the only thing that’s rather odd is the “cold” air intake is in a position where it will get mostly warm air, but even if you lose a few horsepower, you’ll be vastly ahead of any similar car.

1986 Toyota Tercel Wagon 4AGE interior

The interior looks pretty clean – no doubt all the 30-year-old plastic rattles, but you won’t hear that over the sound of the engine. And speaking of the engine noise, the first thing to do is get ride of that overcompensating tail pipe and fabricate something that sounds nice without, um, protruding so much. For some reason the seller has also removed the center of the steering wheel, and added a very conspicuous tach – is there a way to make this look more factory? That said, with the nearly stock look of this car, the best thing to do is roll up at the local autocross and surprise a couple of sportier cars – what would you do?


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