Ever have a good car that you simply love to hate on? Mine was a 1989 Toyota Tercel like the one you see here and looking back on it, I feel truly guilty about the way I treated it. This car was all about basic transportation, which was something it did quite well and it deserved better than a young adult who simply wanted to beat on it and go fast. If you look at the spec sheet it’s really quite dismal. Power came from a 1.5L I4 that produced 78 hp and 87 lb-ft of torque through a 3-speed automatic with manual overdrive. Mine only had two options – the aforementioned automatic transmission and A/C. Everything else was bargain basement. It had an AM/FM radio with two speakers, crank windows, cloth seats and that was it.
I used to use this car to commute about 75 miles everyday, and while it was good on gas (31 city / 37 hwy), a stiff fart would have blown it off the road. I abused this little car by doing neutral drops, reverse donuts and off-road stunts that would make a Jeep Rubicon envious. However through all my shenanigans the little Tercel never once let me down, until that is, I forgot to change the timing belt. There I was cruising along at 85 mph (which was about max momentum) with 111,000 on the odometer, when BANG! The belt let go. I was about 25 miles from my home and on a pretty desolate stretch of road, so stopping was really not an option. My thought was that if it was running, I was driving. I kept my foot to the wood, and watched steadily as the engine temp rose, all the while listening to strange noises coming from under the hood. The farther I went, the less power the car had, until finally, about 1/2 mile from my apartment, it died and puked coolant and oil all over the side of the road.
I called my roommates and we pushed the little Tercel home. It was a sad sight. The next morning we explored the underside of the hood and noticed an empty radiator and an engine compartment that was coated in oil. It was dead and thus a call was placed to my local Church for a donation. Who knows, maybe some high school shop rebuilt it and got it back on the road. As for me though, the little Tercel lives on only in my memories.